Don’t like crowded resorts filled with riders making wide turns? Head to your local mountain after a day of work for some fresh air.
I am new to skiing, but I know I’m hooked and want to take it to the next level. But backcountry skiing, which is what I’m aiming for, doesn’t have maintained slopes. This means I need to get as much inbounds experience and variety as possible before sticking skins on my skis and heading to the backcountry.
I work the standard work week, Monday through Friday from 9 to 5pm. This left me heading to the local ski areas on the weekends, which was full of frustration. The crowds of other weekend warriors were just too overwhelming. Long lift lines on a busy day means less turns and less vertical clocked for practice. Additionally, along with navigating the terrain, I found myself navigating others at the resort, constantly trying to figure out when to make my next turn in a sea of unpredictable skiers. If I was going to get better, I needed an emptier slope.
So, how do you practice without being surrounded by others?
Go night skiing.
Since my job requires me to be present during the weekday, I needed to find an alternative. That’s when I found that I was in drivable proximity to a resort that offers night skiing.
Night skiing is not included in the day pass at my resort, so most of the weekday riders leave as soon as the slope-side lights brighten the snow. Luckily for me, as a season’s pass holder, I have the benefit of all-access skiing and I take full advantage of it.
Skiing in the Pacific Northwest usually means terrible visibility, but the lights at the resort illuminate the terrain so well that visibility is not an issue. The bonus in night skiing during the week is the runs have even fewer people than on the weekends, making it the ideal time to practice!
I want to get to the point where I can embrace all slope conditions. Without the crowds, I am able to control my ride down the mountain with varying conditions at the speed and pace I want. The bonus is that it doesn’t matter if you wipe out during night skiing; the semi-dark surroundings means practically no one will see you if you fumble. It’s also a fantastic time to concentrate on your skills, since the lack of people means you will have little to distract you from your practice. It’s so quiet I swear I can hear the snow falling!
No resort near you? Already skilled in backcountry riding but can’t find time to go during the day? For those who have avalanche safety and backcountry navigation skills, night skiing could also involve using a headlamp and going out into the backcountry you have access to, keeping you active in your favorite sport no matter what your work schedule.
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