You may have been planning the perfect ski outing with your friends when there’s a sudden forecast of rain.
Considering that skiing includes running down hills made of solid water, you may wonder if it’s safe to ski in the rain or not.
After all, rain can sometimes start the melting process of snow.
Knowing whether you can ski when it rains or not can help ensure you limit the chance of injuries when skiing.
Here’s what you need to know about whether you can ski in the rain.
Can You Ski In The Rain?
Yes, you can ski when it’s raining, but it does add a bit of difficulty.
As such, only those who have experience skiing should ski when it’s raining.
In most cases, resorts won’t shut down slopes if it starts to rain.
The only time they might shut down the slopes is in the presence of lightning.
That’s because there’s a chance that lightning might hit a chairlift pole.
Since thunderstorms are rare in winter, you usually don’t have to worry about them when skiing.
The biggest concern you have when skiing in the rain is the conditions of the snow.
Rain can make snow either icy or slushy.
That can change how you ski and your reaction time.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with skiing, you may find yourself unprepared to ski in those conditions.
As a result, you might injure yourself.
How To Ski On Icy Snow After It Rains
One of the conditions that you might face when skiing while it’s raining is icy snow.
This usually occurs when the temperatures drop and the rain turns to ice.
Rain leaves a wet surface on the snow.
As the temperatures drop, in most cases, water crystallizes and becomes ice.
Skiing on icy snow can be difficult.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when skiing on icy snow.
1. Watch Your Edge Control
One of the first things you’ll need to be mindful of is your edge control.
When you turn on your skis, it’s common practice to use the edge.
However, on icy snow, using the edge can be tricky.
That’s because you don’t have a lot of surface area or friction.
Ice limits how much friction your skis can get on the surface.
When you turn on the edge of your skis, you might slide too much and fall.
To ensure you’re able to ski properly on icy snow, you need to be mindful of how much edge you’re using.
It’s also a good idea to watch your weight distribution.
Putting too much weight on an edge can make it slip and cause you to fall.
Having the right weight on the edge ensures you’re able to turn on icy snow without falling over.
It takes practice and experience to get it right.
2. Turn With Larger Radiuses
When you ski normally, you might become used to turning sharply.
However, that isn’t something you want to do when you’re skiing on icy snow.
Turning too sharply can cause your ski to slip since it doesn’t have a lot of friction on the icy surface.
Instead, you’ll want to use a larger turn radius.
This method gives your skis plenty of surface area and time to turn.
Since you’re not turning sharply, but rather gradually, you maintain more control.
That can help reduce the chances of falling on icy snow.
3. Use A Wider Stance
One of the best things that you can do when skiing on a wet, icy, surface is to keep your stance wide.
A lot of skiers will keep their legs close together to go faster.
When you’re skiing on an icy surface, you don’t want to go faster.
You need to stay stable.
Adopting a wider stance is the best way to do that.
With a wider stance, you’re able to better distribute your weight between each ski.
You don’t want to go too wide, however.
If you end up splitting your legs too far apart, your skis might slip and you could end up doing the splits.
So, having a slightly wider stance than you might normally use is the best practice on icy snow.
4. Ride Out The Turns And Stay Calm
When you start to ski often, you can start to feel or sense when your skis are starting to slip.
The best thing you can do in that situation is to stay calm.
You shouldn’t fight your skis.
They usually end up winning.
Instead, you’ll want to follow the path that your skis want to take.
You may need to correct the path later, but if you follow the turn and let the ski do what it needs to do, you’ll stay on your feet.
One of the reasons why your skis might start to veer off is because they hit a particular part of the icy snow that has a groove in it.
It’s easy for icy snow to become chipped by previous skiers.
If they leave a groove behind, then your ski might fall into it and become locked in place.
You need to ride through the groove until it passes.
Then you can move your ski back into its proper path.
By staying calm and following your ski’s turn, you can have a safe, and easier, time skiing on icy snow.
How To Ski On Wet, Slushy, Snow After It Rains
If the temperatures remain high, the rain won’t cause the surface of the snow to freeze.
Instead, the snow will become slushy.
That’s because the rain has kickstarted the melting process.
While it’s unlikely that the snow will melt entirely, you are going to have to deal with a slightly melted surface.
That’s because snow melts layer by layer.
It starts with the top layer and works its way down.
Since the top layer had exposure to warm rain, it’s starting to melt.
You can still ski on slushy snow, but it is going to be a bit more challenging.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you’re able to ski down slushy snow safely.
1. Use More Power
One of the biggest problems you’re going to have when skiing on slushy snow is weight.
Slushy snow tends to cling to your skis.
You end up having to ski with that snow attached to your skis.
That adds a good amount of weight.
To overcome that weight, you’re going to need to use more power and strength to turn.
You’ll want to keep your movements precise since the weight will add a lot of drag to your skis.
If you find that you’re exhausted or too weak to overcome the added weight, try to ride down the hill as slowly and directly as possible.
Try to avoid taking turns as this is when you need to use the most power.
2. Don’t Focus On Speed
If the conditions are slushy after it rains, skiing will be slow.
Part of the reason it’s slow is because of the added weight on your skis.
The friction will also be higher which means you’ll need to generate more power to overcome that friction.
While this might make skiing a bit easier for some people, for others who are looking to go fast, it can become a problem.
If you’re skiing in slushy conditions, you shouldn’t try to go fast.
The weight and friction are going to slow you down.
If you try to push yourself and go faster, you might end up toppling head-over-skis as a result.
You’ll also exhaust yourself more which could prove problematic later when you’re too tired to correct the direction of your skis.
When it’s slushy outside, you should focus on enjoying the ride rather than focusing on speed.
3. Use Wide-Rounded Turns
Another problem you’ll face when skiing on slushy snow is how deep the snow becomes.
On icy snow and normal snow, you’re usually skiing on the surface.
The surface area of the snow and the speed you’re going keep you from digging too deep into the snow.
That isn’t the case with slushy snow.
Slushy snow means that the snow is melting.
It’s melting around your skis which means you’re essentially sinking into it.
That can make turning very difficult because instead of bouncing off of the surface of the snow, you’re digging into it instead.
Sharp turns, especially, can get you into trouble since you end up in deep snow.
The best solution is to take wide-rounded turns.
This ensures your skis don’t dig too much into the snow.
You’re can turn with more control which allows you to move down the hill safer and easier.
4. Use Warm-Weather Wax
If you’re not already waxing your skis, you’re doing them a disservice.
You’re also not maintaining them well which means you won’t get a lot of life out of them.
When dealing with slushy snow, the best type of wax to use is warm-weather wax.
This is the wax that is specifically designed for use in slushy conditions.
The wax helps make your skis glide in heavy snow conditions by making it more difficult for the snow to cling to your skis.
With less snow clinging to your skis, it’s easier to maneuver.
Before hitting the slopes with slushy snow, you should apply warm-weather wax to your skis.
Is It Dangerous To Ski While It’s Raining?
Yes, it can be dangerous to ski while it is raining.
Although you can technically ski while it’s raining, that doesn’t always mean that you should.
There are problems that can occur while it’s raining on the slope that could lead to greater chances of an accident or an injury.
Here are some reasons why it can sometimes be dangerous to ski while it’s raining.
1. Poor Vision
One of the biggest reasons why it’s dangerous to ski while raining is because your visibility becomes reduced.
If you’re not wearing ski goggles, you can get water in your eyes.
The rain is coming down and pelting you in your eyes.
You may need to close your eyes to protect them or narrow them significantly.
This limits how much you’re able to see.
Even if you are wearing goggles, your vision can still be impaired.
The rain can start to smear on your goggles.
It’s not unlike driving in a car without windshield wipers.
The rain will collect on your goggles until you wipe them.
Depending on how hard it’s raining, you could need to constantly wipe your goggles.
Finally, if it’s raining, then that means the temperatures are a bit warmer, so you could have some fogging occurring on the inside of your goggles.
All of these things make it difficult to see.
When you’re unable to see, you can run into other skiers.
You can also run into obstacles, trees, or even chairlift posts.
Skiing down a slope while being unable to see is dangerous for yourself and others.
To avoid giving yourself or someone else an injury, you should consider not skiing while it’s raining.
Another danger of skiing while it’s raining is the exposure to the cold.
While the rain may feel warm, all it’s doing is making you wet.
If you’re not wearing waterproof gear, the wetness can start to soak through your clothes to your skin.
If the temperatures drop again, you’re facing cold temperatures with a wet body.
That can lead to hypothermia.
You may not even be aware that you’re slowly freezing to death until you can no longer feel certain parts of your body.
Hypothermia is a serious threat because it can result in death.
As your body loses heat, your organs start to fail.
Since skiing is physically demanding, you could be overworking the organs that are trying to shut down.
You could cause a heart attack, stroke, or any other sort of condition that could kill you.
Even if you are wearing waterproof clothing, the rain can make you feel colder.
You may start focusing on how cold you feel rather than your surroundings.
That might also lead you to crash into others or run into something yourself.
Skiing in the rain can sometimes be dangerous because of the risk of hypothermia.
3. Increased Chances Of Injury
When it rains, it makes skiing a bit more difficult by making the snow either icy or slushy, which can be difficult to ski on for beginners.
Even advanced skiers can make mistakes.
Since it’s easier to make mistakes, it leads to a greater chance of causing an injury.
This especially becomes problematic if you’re skiing alone or are skiing in the backcountry.
You may not be able to find help in time.
If you do find help, it may be at a point where the only way you can survive is to lose a limb.
Your entire life could change because of your choice to ski during rainy conditions.
Skiing when it rains is dangerous because it increases the chances of causing an injury.
While most resorts won’t close down if it rains, skiing in the rain isn’t always a good idea.
It’s important to know how to handle certain conditions when skiing to keep yourself and others safe.
While it is doable, as listed above, there are dangers that skiing in the rain can present.