We all want to wake up to the perfect powder day, it’s the “Holy Grail” of skiing and if you are in resort on that day, there are a few skills that will help you find powder paradise.
Early Bird – I know it’s a cliché but if you think its going to snow all night, wake up and head to the mountain to be there two hours prior to the lifts opening.
Be prepared – Call the resort, find out if there is a first tracks program that provides early access to lift opening. It’s worth every dime to be on the first chair.
Have a plan – On most decent powder days, there can be delays in chairs and trails opening. You will have to move across the grain and be willing to risk being caught up in the herd. Think hard about where you will go. It might be worth letting the first pack go and pouncing on a delayed trail opening.
Keep a sharp eye on Patrol – Ask lots of questions to patrol, watch their movements and listen to any radio chatter that might give you the edge on conditions and locations. If possible grab a chair lift ride with a patroller and pepper them with respect and questions.
Set expectation – Talk over your plan with your ski pals and be clear about the “Keep up and meet up” policy. Discuss your plans and be honest about what your goals are. If you are showing people around, be patient. If you’re a selfish powder hound state the obvious and buy the first round of drinks at happy hour to make up for any hurt feelings.
Breathe – Most skiers burn out on powder days because they hold their breath while skiing. Make breathing a priority as you “shred the pow” to insure you’ll have some gas in the tank to ski buzzer to buzzer.
Mind over matter – Remember often on deep days the powder can be wind blown, crusty or inconsistent. Don’t get caught up in the quality of the snow rather focus on the experience and go for quality of runs.
Island hop – On certain days cut up powder snow is better than fresh tracks. You can find lots of joy in skiing the islands of snow between the tracks. Island Hop your way to powder turn to powder turn
One good powder day will drive most skier’s addiction to deep snow for years. Ask most skiers about their best day ever and settle in for a good story that happened one day a few years back. Over my ski career I have seen all types of snow all over the world. In the past thirty years I have had my share of perfect powder days and I allow that definition of “perfect” to be wide open. Some days it’s the people I am with, other days it’s the texture of the snow or the location.
Keep an open mind, be prepared, patient and focused on the weather patterns at your favorite ski area.