Get Prepared for Ski Season
Take the pre-season to get primed and ready for your next ski season! Here’s areas I like to focus on during the pre-season months:
Fix Up Your Gear!
During the ski season I feel stressed out whenever I need to put my gear on the sidelines and repair it. During the off-season I try to fix up my gear for the season ahead, focusing on the holes, scrapes, scratches, and other bumps/bruises my equipment has taken the season before.
Wax Your Skis!
This is something I do at home, but there are plenty of shops that will do this for you if you don’t feel comfortable. Waxing your skis can be broken down into a few steps:
- Clean your bases. Brush off any dirt, make sure they are dry.
- Heat up a waxing iron. You can use a normal household iron as well but you want to make sure you aren’t exceeding the temperature of either the wax you are using or your ski bases.
- Melt on your wax. Make sure to even it out.
- Let it cool. At least 15 minutes for the wax to set in.
There are tons of YouTube videos on waxing your skis, as well as this great article by evo.
Inspect Your Ski Boots
Typical ski boot manufacturers have at least a one year warranty on ski boots. I find it valuable every off-season to take a careful look over my ski boots to make sure there aren’t any major issues.
- Look for cracks in the plastic shell.
- Take out the liners and inspect them. Are they packed out? Do you need a new pair of liners?
- Inspect the velcro on your power strap. Look for frayed hooks and hoops.
- Check the ‘play’ in your pivot/bushings. Are your boots ‘squeaking’?
- Look at the sole of your boots. Are there tears?
Show Your Climbing Skins Some Love
Throughout the course of a season, climbing skins can get worn down, either by the plush becoming frayed or the glue ‘globbing’ and not being evenly applied anymore.
Before the start of any season, I make sure to check my climbing skins, in particular:
- Is the glue evenly applied? If not, I’ll try waxing my climbing skins to rejuvenate them and add some life back. For tutorials on how, and why, to wax your climbing skins, here are some good YouTube videos.
- Is the plush still ‘healthy’? A quick look-over will suffice for this check. Look for fraying, ‘chunks’ of missing plush, and just a general appearance.
- Do you need a new pair? Think of a climbing skin like your ‘lift ticket’ for the season. You may need a new one.
Identify Some ‘Goals’ for Next Season
I like to set ‘goals’ for myself for each ski season, usually just a list of 5-10 lines or experiences I want to try and make happen throughout the year.
Write them down on a whiteboard, on your fridge, on a post-it… anywhere, it doesn’t matter. I find that the process of actually putting ideas down somewhere helps you come back to them when you are looking for places to go or things to do. Chances are, if they are written down you’ll put more effort towards making them happen!
Get in the Gym!
About a month or two before ski season I try to ramp up strength training that is more specific to ski movements. This allows my body to put in some valuable work that will help me stay strong, healthy, and fit throughout the months of ski season. During ski season it’s hard to fit in consistent lifting routines, since resting between ski outings usually interrupts any regular cadence I try to maintain.
I like these 4 fundamental movements in the gym: Side Lunges, Squats, Reverse Lunges, and Kettle Bell Swings.
I’m no physical therapist or trainer, but these movements are great lower body-focused exercises that hit many of the major muscle groups that skiing engages. There are tons of great resources online for more ski-specific training routines, including:
- Teton Gravity Reserach ‘Wright Training’ Series
- ‘Strength Training for Ski Touring’ by Hayley Krzezowski at the Athletic Republic
- ‘7 Moves That Will Get You Ready for Ski Season’ by Crystal Wright
- ‘Strength Training for Ski Touring’ by Jimmy Picard
Stoke the Stoke With Some Ski Movies!
Fall is the perfect time for ski movie nights! Grab some friends, turn down the lights, and stoke the stoke with some awesome ski movies to get you excited for when the flakes start flying!
Here are some of my favorites:
These three short movies on YouTube are a gem. Shot in the 1980s and 1990s in Chamonix, they are goofy, yet also quite impressive. Each is around 20-30 minutes, entirely in French, but there’s no need for subtitles… simply sit back and watch in awe.
Nikolai Schirmer and his Norwegian ski friends take a boat to the northern fjords of Norway in this great ski movie about exploring your own ‘backyard’. It’s a great story with beautiful cinematography, impressive skiing, and a reminder of how powerful the mountains can be.
- La Liste: Everything or Nothing (2022)
La Liste is a production film by Red Bull Cinemas starring Jeremie Heitz and Sam Anthemattem as they venture to Peru and Pakistan to ski 6,000 meter peaks. It’s scary, jaw dropping, and includes great journalism about the trials and tribulations of big mountain skiing. It’s available on Amazon and YouTube.
Bonus Post-Season Tips
Debrief and Reflect on the Season
After every trip I take, I write up a trip report where I reflect on the experience of the day(s). The purpose, for me, is to think back on the decisions that I, or my partners, made during the day. I do the same thing at the end of the season. I try to ask myself:
- What were my goals going into this season? Did I accomplish them? Did they change What did I improve on this season? What did I continue to struggle with? What new struggles did I develop?
- What were my ‘best days’ out this season? What were my ‘worst’? What made them good or bad?
- Who were my best ski partners this year? What made our relationship effective?
Thinking about these questions will often provoke a lot of thought, both introspectively and with other people (if I choose to have these conversations with them). It’s valuable to think about these things as close to your season’s end as possible so that they are fresh in your mind. They will help frame your mindset going into your off-season.
Take those batteries out of your beacon!
It is critically important to take the AAA batteries out of your beacon before you put it away for the season. Leaving batteries in your beacon over the months of the off-season can lead to corrosion and eventually break down the circuits in your beacon.
For more about batteries in your avalanche beacons, this is a great article by SnowBrains.
About the Gear Tester
Sam Chaneles is an avid mountaineer and backpacker, climbing peaks in the Cascades, Mexico, Ecuador, and Africa, as well as hiking the John Muir Trail and off-trail routes in Colorado. He has climbed peaks such as Aconcagua, Mt. Rainier, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Kilimanjaro, and many more. Sam graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. During his time there he was a Trip and Expedition Leader for the school’s Outdoor Recreation program (ORGT). He has led expeditions to New Zealand, Alaska, Corsica, France, and throughout the United States. Sam is based in Issaquah, WA just outside of the Cascade Mountains. You can follow Sam and his adventures on Instagram at @engineeredforadventure, or on his website at www.engineeredforadventure.com.