It’s officially been one year since I moved to winter ski holiday wonderland, Vail, Colorado! Since joining the ski resort industry, I receive so many questions on how to stay warm on the mountain, and how to stay healthy (hello, altitude sickness!). If there’s one thing this wanna-be snow bunny has learned this past year, it’s definitely how to survive the winter season.
With the chilly, but sunny weather and the thin, mountain air at over 8,150 feet, it can be confusing on how to dress appropriately and avoid getting sick. Here are some of my tips to surviving your winter ski getaway. Whether you’re more excited to hit the slopes or for apres-ski is up to you!
The most important thing you can do to enjoy your first time on the slopes is to make sure you’re dressed appropriately. This is not the time for skinny jeans! Layers will be vital to ensure maximum warmth!
Layer 1: Your base layer should be made of silk, wool, or a synthetic sweat wicking material. NO COTTON! Cotton retains moisture, so if you want to stay warm, avoid it at all costs! I don’t use anything fancy – just my usual workout pants paired with a running tee and sports bra. For socks, you might be tempted to go for the extra thick wool camp socks. This will only cause bunching and discomfort in your boots! I recommend a medium/thin wool sock.
Layer 2: Throw a soft-shell jacket on! Typically fleece is a go-to since it is breathable and warm. I typically opt for a lighter workout jacket; however, on colder days, I end up using both the workout jacket and a fleece. This is where layers are important – if you end up being too warm, you can just throw the fleece into your ski locker or around your waist.
Layer 3: Waterproof everything! Waterproof ski pants will be your best friend – especially if you fall a lot like me. Throw on a gaiter to keep your neck warm and protect your face. A waterproof hard-shell jacket seals all of the heat in. Mittens are always a better option than gloves since they will keep your hands warmer. If you’re prone to cold hands, you can throw a pack of hand warmers into each mitten to help, too.
Pro tip: Your ski pants will have two layers. Do not put the inside layer (the “snow guard” layer) inside your boot as it can hit pressure points and make the whole experience uncomfortable. Place this layer over your boots!
Top off your look with a pair of goggles and a helmet to protect your noggin! The sun can be pretty intense at the top of the mountain so protect your eyes from it’s reflection off of the snow with a pair of goggles. A helmet is a must for safety unless you want to be mountain roadkill after a fall! Save the pom-pom topped beanie for Apres-ski!
Things to keep in your jacket pockets: small packet of tissues for the inevitable runny nose, hand warmers, chapstick to protect your lips (can also be use to protect against windburn on your cheeks & nose), small tube of sunscreen, ski pass (do as the locals and go without the lanyard), and credit card for any on-mountain dining purchases. You don’t need anything else! Now you’re ready to shred the gnar (eyeroll).
How to Stay Healthy
Drink LOTS of water. Seriously, you really can’t drink enough water while in the mountains! Dehydration is no joke and your body dehydrates faster at higher altitudes. Many times, when my guests complain about feeling nauseous or dizzy, I recommend they drink more water, or any water-based beverage with electrolytes (like Powerade or Gatorade), to refuel. It also helps to have a humidifier installed into your hotel/condo. Most resorts offer these in-room.
Get oxygen if you need it! The air is significantly thinner in the mountains which can cause some health problems in people, especially those with asthma, etc. There are many businesses that offer oxygen tanks that can be delivered to your hotel/condo. There are also smaller tanks that you can purchase to carry around. Do what you need to take care of yourself. No judgement here!
Use plenty of sunscreen. Since we are at such an high altitude, we are much closer to the sun. While it may be cold and you don’t feel the heat, your skin will surely pick up on the UV rays, especially since the snow acts as a mirror. Use plenty of sunscreen and reapply throughout the day to avoid painful sunburn!
Take your vitamins! Personally, I find taking my vitamins everyday helps boost my energy levels and immune system, which means less fatigue and sickness, and more time enjoying the slopes! I even try to drink Emergen-C once a day to boost energy and immunity.
Have you ever been on a ski holiday? If you’re planning your first ski holiday – tweet me your questions at @DarlingNomadess!