Sunny (Bluebird) days are fantastic - but mountains come with weather and sometimes that means you can’t see the contours of the slope easily in “Flat Light” or even much of anything in “Whiteout” conditions.

Equipment

  • Low light lenses in your goggles. (You’ve got low light lenses, right? See the Goggles FAQ)
  • Don’t try riding with bare eyes - you will damage them
  • Some slight tint is better than totally clear at bringing out some contrast
  • However no goggles are magic. If it’s a bad whiteout day then nothing short of radar is really going to do much.
  • Dress a little warmer. You’re likely to be moving slowly so generating less body heat. Also no sun and maybe lots of wind will make it cooler.

What is the weather doing?

  • Do your homework over breakfast at the Chalet.

    • Is the weather forecast to clear up a little later (or get worse)?
    • Scan the webcams - is it better up high or low down, or perhaps another part of the mountain (e.g. in the 3 Valleys the weather can be very different in each).
    • Don’t rule out Bus or Gondola to another area if it will be a long commute through pea soup or if the transition lifts between areas are likely to close because of bad weather.
  • Whats causing the bad visibility?

    • If it’s high winds and blowing snow then lower and more sheltered slopes will be better.
    • If it’s clouds passing then maybe you can wait a few minutes for a break in the cloud?
    • If it’s a layer of fog or clouds then can you get above it into bright sunlight? (But remember you still have to go back down!)

Plans

  • You can’t just do the same as you do when it’s clear - adapt your plans to the conditions
  • Where you are going?
  • What you are doing (may not be a day for the park if you can’t see where the kickers are!)
  • How much you want to get done - maybe don’t plan on that big 30 lift traversal of the entire ski area
  • Think about keeping to areas you know - it’s not a day for that new off piste route you saw from the gondola yesterday!
  • When you will start and stop - you’re going to get tired quicker so maybe take an easy day
  • If you need a rest day - this is the day!

Terrain

  • Generally lower down will have better visibility & if you can find a run that’s in the trees it will be much easier to ride as the trees contrasting with the white help your brain figure out which way is up!
  • Otherwise if in the Alpine - keep towards either side of the piste and go poll to poll. (Fluro tops = right hand side). Yellow and Black striped poles = danger nearby.

Riding

  • Slow and steady - keep it under control
  • Soft bent legs and calm turns to soak up bumps you can’t see
  • Concentrate on good technique - when you’re stressed it goes out the window and your legs will go straight and stiff.
  • Look at your feet to check you’ve actually stopped!
  • Pairs or a group - keep tight group as just like with the trees seeing where each other is will help you orientate. Best skiers at front and back (but don’t bash into each other!). Regular stops to regroup.
  • Think about something different to what you normally do to have fun on the slopes :-
    • Maybe find or build a little feature to throw yourself off into the fluffy powder. You can mark with pine needles or other bits of mountain fluff so you can see it.


See the other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)