Can You Ski In The Rain?

The temperature is usually warmer at the beginning and the end of the season due to which it rains instead of snow on the mountains. Imagine being at your favorite resort all excited for your ski trip and it starts raining. This is a situation where you ask yourself – is it possible to ski in the rain?

Short answer: Yes, you can absolutely ski in the rain. It is a little different than skiing in the snow. Rain doesn’t melt snow instantly but makes it slushy or icy which depends on various factors. When going to a resort for skiing, research the weather to see if you will be facing rain. Get the right gear if you will be skiing including clothes with high breathability and waterproof ratings to stay dry and warm.

The Upsides

Despite seeming dangerous and uncomfortable, there are some upsides to skiing in the rain. Yes, you read that right. The best reason to ski in the rain is that there is no crowd because as soon as it starts raining, people start leaving providing a lot of convenience and fun on the slopes.

Empty slopes also mean no lift lines. You can ski right onto the next chair. If you are lucky to be at a resort with heated seat chairlifts with protective covers, you can have a very enjoyable experience in the rain.

If you are taking ski lessons, group lessons become sort of private or semi-private lessons because many people don’t even bother showing up in the rain. So you get to have more attention from your instructor for less money.

The Downsides

Skiing in the rain and after it has rained can be dangerous. However, it is doable if you are careful. It requires the same techniques as regular skiing. The only difference is that you have to be more careful. Rain can make the snow softer and challenging.

The most important technique to learn is edge control. You have to be more precise with it and improve your weight transfer making it easier to control your moves. Learn to ski with a wider stance to remain balanced during slippery slopes.

You also have to be patient with your turns because the turn radius will be wider as you slide due to decreased friction. Furthermore, your horizontal movement becomes quicker and so you have to pay attention to your balance. You would also need to dig your poles deeper if the snow is soft.

How To Ski In The Rain: Some Useful Tips

As mentioned above, rain requires some adjustments to how you will ski. Here are a couple of conditions you need to be aware of.

1. Skiing in slushy ice

If the weather is warm after rain, snow will become heavy and difficult to ski in. It is hard to turn and so skiing becomes tiring. Snow becomes sticky and it slows you down. Turns in situations like these are slower and so you won’t be able to retain your speed.

In the end, when you will be tired of fatigue, your potential of making mistakes will increase. These mistakes can open you to serious accidents, especially, if you don’t have enough experience to deal with them. However, if the temperature is just around the freezing point, the rain will soften the snow, making turning easier and more fun.

2. Skiing on hard glazed ice

Skiing on hard-packed ice can be dangerous. If the snow freezes into ice, it will give you an extreme skiing experience where you will have more speed and less control. Less friction from ice will make it pretty hard for you to stop.

It’s a treacherous scenario that quickly becomes dangerous. It is like driving a car downhill over ice with no brakes. This is especially true if the temperature is around freezing point and it starts raining. Freezing rain will also generate a layer of frost on your goggles which you will have to scrape off if you even manage to do so. In such a case, it is probably better to stay inside.

Pick The Right Clothes

As seasoned skiers would say, there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing. It is important that you are aware of the weather forecasts before going on your ski trip. If you have got the wrong clothing, you will have a miserable skiing experience. Additionally, it can also potentially lead to hypothermia.

If you are wet through your shell, you can get cold which could pose a huge problem. If you have to take a long ride back in the chairlift, it will be very hard for you when you are cold and wet. In freezing temperatures, cold is no joke. It can quickly lead to hypothermia.

1. Waterproof ski clothes

Cheap manufacturers often skip on waterproof and breathable layering like Gore-Tex. Instead, they treat the surface fabric with a durable water repellent (DWR) layer which is what it is, water repellent, not waterproof. Therefore, to get protection from the rain while skiing, you would have to spend some extra bucks.

You should get clothing with at least a 10,000mm rating. If you are expecting heavy rain, you should go for clothing that is rated between 20,000mm to 30,000mm. Also, make sure that you get sealed seams with waterproof tape when looking for clothing for such scenarios.

2. Rain gear over a shell

If you don’t have a waterproof ski jacket, you should put on your rain gear. If you have good waterproof gear, you can wear it instead of your shell or over your shell for extra protection. Do keep in mind that these solutions will not be breathable.

3. Dry ski clothes between ski days

Sometimes the rain can last for days. Find a way to dry your ski clothes overnight. Some resorts have options like a drying cabinet or a ski room where you can dry all your ski gear overnight. Use these facilities if you have access to them. If you don’t have access to such luxury, hang your clothes to dry near a radiator or a wall heater.