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post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Help! I've signed up and paid for for a three day long weekend trip to Sun Peaks in interior B.C. this coming weekend. The predicted temps are a low of -30C to a high of -27C (-22F to -17F). : I'm a weather wimp from Western Washington. I've skied at -5 and it was as much as I ever wanted to deal with. How does one cope with these kinds of temperatures? I know I need a face mask, but does anyone have other ideas to help? I'm praying that the forecasts will change and it won't be so bad, but I need to prepare.
post #2 of 46
I just can't imagine it! But I can sympathize. The worst I've skied for a day was a windy 4F, and it basically got more and more unpleasant because I wasn't properly prepared, though I loved the crumbly, "Eastern powder" it seemed to produce. One thing I can say for sure: you better have some high-fill down clothing and NO exposed skin, but you know that already, I'm sure. In theory, with the right gear, it seems you could have a fantastic time. Where I ski, in New York, the locals disappeared that day. The only people on the slopes were dummies like me from out of town.
post #3 of 46
Wear lots of layer and a good ski jacket. I would wear Hot Chillys base layer for top and bottom (get the warmest one..I have one and it is great and comfy too). Then something cotton over that. If you are not used to cold temp, a fleece jacket or pullover (those are nice and toasty). Finally, a good jacket (Arcteryx or Spyder..I have the Spyder Pursuit and it is one warm sucker, water and wind resistant too). For the bottom, you can get a heavy duty Gor-tex (sp?) ski pants to go with the Hot Chllys leggins and you should be warm. For the feet, try a thin silk sock (thermal ones for skiing) with heavy socks on top to layer it (I have one made of Thorlon and it is really sturdy and warm). I have noticed that on top of the face mask, wear a helmet. That keeps your head warm. Since you lose about 80% (or more) of your body heat through your head, keeping the head warm (and safe) will greatly help regulating the rest of your body.
With that, I have endured -10 to -20F wind chill while feeling pretty warm (had to open the coat's vent sometimes). The feet will be the limiting factor as you can only layer it so much before your feet do not fit the boots.
I have heard that a ghetto way for base layer is to use panty hose and then long johns with ski pants. For the top, silk base layer (I have seen some at the Sport Authority for $13), cotton shirt, fleece or cotton pullover then jacket.
post #4 of 46

Repost from other thread

Following is a post I made on the Marmot thread in Resorts. It is pretty chilly in Alberta too, so we've been practicing our cold weather survival skills.

The minus 30 weather won't last for long. You may see the occasional -20, but usually Jasper and Banff are a little warmer than the areas east of the mountains. Looking at the 10 day forecast on weather.com for Marmot there is really only one fiendishly cold day (low -36, high -21 the next day) and then we are into a more seasonal range (-12 lows, -3/4 highs all temperatures Celsius). And you may have heard this before: it's a dry cold so you don't feel it as much.

I was up at Sunshine yesterday and the thermometer at Angel Chair was reading -22, but I was relatively warm in my gear so you might want to use this as a guide. Base layer: briefs, polypro long underwear, fleece/polypro undershirt, Outlast ski socks. Midlayer: fleece sweater/pull over (had it been a few degrees cooler I might have added fleece tights or pants but my legs usually stay warm. Outer layer: Ski jacket (nylon shell with detachable fleece lining/inner jacket, Ski Pants (windproof, water resistant shell with fleece lining and nylon inner-shell). Accessories: Thinsulite or Liteloft insulated gloves, a mid-weight fleece neckwarmer that can be pulled up over the nose on the lift, goggles, helmet. If I were follicly challenged I would add a skullcap/beanie under the helmet but I have enough hair to insulate it fairly well.

Note that not an inch of exposed flesh was visible when I had my neckwarmer pulled up. I also bore a passing resemblance to the Michelin Man in my full gear since it has sufficient room to create insulating air pockets, but on a cold day I'll always choose warmth and safety over my status as a fashion plate.
post #5 of 46
Well, I just looked at the forecasts for Sun Peaks and Kamloops, and it looks like they will be under the influence of the same major arctic air mass that the entire province of B.C. is shivering under, until Monday or so. If possible, I would try to postpone that trip. If you are unable to change your plans, prepare to battle the chill with everything you can comfortably move in. Plan to ski only during the warmest part of the day, early afternoon, and try to stay in the sun and out of the wind. I hesitate to ride on chairlifts in extreme cold, because if the lift stops for long while I am hanging in the wind with a wind chill factor of -40 it doesn't take long to freeze toes, fingers, and face.
You will notice your boots get much stiffer in the cold, so loosening the buckles a notch can save your shins and allow better circulation. I don't put on thicker socks, it just makes the fit too tight and reduces circulation. If you feel toes freezing, go inside and take off your boots right away. Helmet, goggles, and neck tube should fit to cover all parts of the face. One piece suits, so often mocked as fart bags on this forum, keep the heat in best, especially when topped with a down vest. Inside, expedition weight base layers and a thick wool sweater trap heat. If you drive up, don't forget to winterize your car. Make sure your antifreeze is okay, and hopefully you have a block heater, winter weight oil, good battery, and snow tires. And have fun.
Welcome to the Great White North, eh!
post #6 of 46
And if all else fails... wear one of these: http://www.thenorthface.com/opencms/...?productId=105

And if that doesn't work, here's your final option: http://www.astronautix.com/graphics/n/nasamsui.jpg
post #7 of 46
Originally Posted by magnusPAH
Wear lots of layer and a good ski jacket. I would wear Hot Chillys base layer for top and bottom (get the warmest one..I have one and it is great and comfy too). Then something cotton over that. If you are not used to cold temp, a fleece jacket or pullover (those are nice and toasty). Finally, a good jacket (Arcteryx or Spyder..I have the Spyder Pursuit and it is one warm sucker, water and wind resistant too).
This is pretty good advice, except I would disagree with wearing anything cotton-based in severe cold like you're describing. Cotton just doesn't breathe -- it just gets damp (yes, you will sweat even when it's that cold), and then you'll really start getting uncomfortable.

One other thing -- "double up" the layers on everything (except your socks). Wear a balaclava under your helmet / hat, wear glove liners under mittens (mittens are much warmer then gloves), and seal off air gaps as best as possible. Unbuckle your boots for the lift rides up to release pressure on your feet. Air traps warmth -- the more air pockets you can create, the better off you'll be. Basically, little things can make a big difference.

Finally, don't be "macho" when it's that cold. Last January here in New England was extremely cold, but I went out every chance I got. Staying outside for more then an hour or so was difficult -- I'd pop inside the lodge for five minutes and head right back out feeling a lot better.
post #8 of 46
Oh. One other thing. Toss a hair dryer in your ski bag, especially if your boots can be hard to get off anyway. You'll have a new appreciation for what "frozen stiff" refers to when you try to get boots off that have been chilled to -30. Blast 'em for 30 seconds with a hair dryer and they come right off.
post #9 of 46
Originally Posted by KevinF
.wear glove liners under mittens (mittens are much warmer then gloves)
Focusing on just one element, this is very good advice. Mittens are warmer because the heat generated by the surfaces of the hand, palm, and fingers stays in the air pocket of the mitten. Try a slim wool glove inide the mit, and move your fingers regularly to keep things moving and flowing.
post #10 of 46
Skip your ski trip and come to Central Europe.
We have new temperature records set with as much as 10 C above average :
post #11 of 46
For me, extra cold means I love my accessories even more. My helmet helps (outlast liner), plus I use a gator, boot gloves, and Hotronics boot warmers. Put it all together, I feel surprisingly comfortable. Keeping the head, hands and feet warm are crucial. The boot warmers with boot gloves is a terrific combination to prevent cold feet.
post #12 of 46
Depending on wind, etc. they could close the mountain. As a kid (60's) I was at A-Basin when temps dipped to the -30'sF and wind chill was at -80. Lifts shut down and patrollers headed out to bring everyone in. Have never had that happen since.
post #13 of 46
There is a temperature below which any form of outdoor recreation becomes just plain foolish. It stops being fun long before it becomes downright dangerous. And when it becomes dangerous, assuming the mountain hasn't closed yet, one must be smarter than the mountain. The fun threshhold varies per individual. "I'm out a lot of money," "I don't have any more vacation days," "I don't want anyone to think I'm a wuss," these are among the dumbest reasons to be on the hill I can think of. Do something else...it's still a vacation even if you're not skiing. Have some fun....don't submit yourself to torture.
post #14 of 46
Do you wear a pack? I usually use a small backpack to keep extras of certain things-extra glove liners, face mask, mid-layer, hand/toe warmers etc. Helps, if for some reason, your stuff gets wet/damp from the elements or sweat. Also, if possible, be sure to drink plenty of water.
post #15 of 46
I have a pair of fleece sweat pants that are comfy and make for a great middle layer on the coldest days. They're too warm for all but the coldest. A balaclava over your head is another good layer. I also like those toe warmer thingies. Finally, mittens instead of gloves. The coldest I've ever skied in was -25F and it was too cold. Dressed well I've been able to stay out all day in -12F weather.
post #16 of 46
follow what the other people in here are saying, wear a lot of layers. More than you think you might need. The coldest I skied before was when I was in Mt. tremblont. At the summit, it dropped to about -20 to -30.

You can always take more frequent breaks if it gets too cold for you, sometimes just a quick stay inside is all you need.
post #17 of 46
It was nearly this cold at Sun Peaks right after New Years too (-20s celsius). Check the temperatures at the top of the mountain, they get inversions during spells like this and often it's actually warmer up top then down in the village. Also, stay in the sun, it really didn't feel nearly as bad in the sun.

If you're into doing some hiking for your skiing, head out the backside. Hiking around will get the blood flowing and keep you warm. On one of the coldest days we only road the lift up once and hiked around the back side for 3 hours, I was sweating with my ventilation zippers open.

If you want to stick to the lifts, the Sunburst Chair at SPs has one of those bubbles on it, so it can be a warmer ride up. DON'T ride the Burfield Quad (at least from the base), it's a COLD 22 minute ride.
post #18 of 46
If it's that cold, don't forget to bring your 'stunt' liver. No point in poluting your own because you started boozing at 11am.

I hope it warms up a bit for next week. I'm up at Sun Peaks doing dedmos on the 22&23 Jan. Standing around in that temp is even worse, but at least I don't wear ski boots then.
post #19 of 46
In the late 70's, fully decked out in skin-ski pants, cotten undies, sweater, hipster ski blue ski coat - and nothing covering my face, I took one run down Lake Louise when it was -30. By the time I got down to the end of the run, I immediately went into a ski shop to warm up and buy a cotton rag to cover my face. It was then I first realized that my cold nose was actually frozen solid. Rock solid. It took 15 minutes to thaw.

With my new super high tech nose rag, I hit the slopes for the rest of the day. My legs got cold on the lifts, but not so bad that I didn't continue. Not many ventured out.

Over the next week or so, the skin on my nose died and I had acquired, other than in career enhancing situations, my only brown nose. Once it peeled off, I was back to normal.

That said, with all the new tech clothing, I would go out again, particularly with what seems to be a permanent below the skin base layer.

post #20 of 46
Lots of good advice here with the exception of the cotton recomendation.I dress for the weather and ski regardless of the temp. I do most of my skiing in northern Vermont so cold is someting you get friendly with. Sun Peaks has a nice mid station lodge so don't be afraid to pop in there to warm up once in a while.Skip the alcohol and forget low carbs. pass on the sugar and eat well. Core temp is the key. I actually enjoy skiing in extreme cold. No lift lines and usually good snow prevail.
post #21 of 46
Originally Posted by Dgudaitis
boot gloves
What are these boot gloves?

edit: I found what they are! Do they actually make much difference? My toes tend to get cold at the best of times letalone the coldest! Are boot gloves something you get in a normal ski store?


post #22 of 46
Get a few of those hand warmer things (heat packs) and keep them wiht you. Put them on the backs of your hands.

If you have room in the front of your boots, put them on top of your toes (on top of the sock - not against your skin)

Mittens with liners and hand warmers

Boot gloves are good

On the legs, wear sweat pants between the leggings and ski pants. Make sure the cuffs of the sweatpants goes over the ski boot, not in it (ouch!)

On the head, a Greek dessert (balaclava) or at least a skull cap under a helmet.

If you have any exposed ski, put vasaline on it (thick)

Take breaks before they become vital to survival (before the toes are in so much pain you can't stand it anymore)

If you wear a backpack, they also help keep your torso warm, which allows more blood to the extremities (fingers, toes) to keep them warmer, as your blood won't need to pool in your torso to protect vital organs.

Goggles that fit snugly against the front rim of your helmet.

You may want a second balaclava in case your breath gets the first one all wet, which will then freeze. You can switch back and forth at breaks. They'll get a chance to dry a bit in your pack while you are using the other one.
I've skied on -20F days a number of times, and this much would bake me. I'm pretty good in the cold. But I know a lot of people that need this much protection. If you do have a backpack and get too warm, you'll have a place to store extra stuff.

Also!!! Eat a lot. It keeps you warm! Big breakfast and carry something to eat or at least stop and eat. Your body burns lots of calories when it's that cold. No Powerbars (brand). They turn to concrete at 40F. -20F and they will be titanium.

If you have stiffer boots (Lange WC 130s?) they may take a LONG time to get off when they are that cold. Stand on the hearth of a fireplace for 20 minutes.

If your feet get cold, go inside, take the boots off (put on a dry pair of street socks) and walk around for a while. Have another pair of dry ski socks with you. Putting talc powder in the boots in the morning will help keep your feet dry and warm.

Lastly, if it's not fun, find a hot tub. Don't be miserable just because you bought a lift ticket.
post #23 of 46
Originally Posted by buns
What are these boot gloves?

edit: I found what they are! Do they actually make much difference? My toes tend to get cold at the best of times letalone the coldest! Are boot gloves something you get in a normal ski store?


Yeah, they work (better on sunny or windy days), but if you have cronically cold feet, you're better off investing in HotTronics or other boot heaters.
post #24 of 46
I can't believe no one mentioned chemical hand and foot warmers!! These babies are a life-saver! If you plan to be out all day, bring a second set for the afternoon - in severe cold they don't last all day.

I'll repeat what the others have said (I'm from Minnesota, where they often recird the coldest temp in the US, so I know what I'm talking about).


I really like silk long johns. They are thin enough to not create any bulk at all.

Polypropelene is a good second layer. Make sure you wear a turtleneck.

Don't put on too many socks - you'll need all the circulation you can get in your feet. I like a thin polyproplene sock, followed by a wool blend.

If it's really cold, I add a pair of cotton gym shorts before I put on my ski pants, to protect my big butt from ice cube chair lift seats.

Two layers on your hands - thin gloves and heavy mittens - and chemical handwarmers! I slide the handwarmer to the back of my hand going down the hill, so it doesn't interfere with using poles.

Warm hat (a headband is NOT going to cut it!), a face mask of some sort, and goggles. Mad bomber hats are especially warm - they help protect your face and neck too.

Keeping goggles clear can be a challenge.

And stick close to the chalet! As soon as you start to get cold, head in and warm up. Better to take fewer runs and bring all your fingers and toes home in one piece.

The upside to skiing in the cold is short lift lines!
post #25 of 46

Forecast no longer so cold?

I just took a look at the ten day forecast on weather.com

They are forecasting highs for Friday to Sunday in the -11 to -3 Celsius range, lows are still somewhat brisk -21 to -8. That sounds like ideal skiing weather to me. Just take along the cold weather gear in case the Arctic outflow returns.

post #26 of 46
The coldest I have experienced was at Smuggs last year. It dropped down to about -63 at the top with the wind chill (-30 something ambient). The next day it got colder (like -80 to -90) and they shut down the lift.

Anyhoo, just like most others have mentioned, start with wearing your goggles (and keep them on when outside), dressing in layers (good -not thick- and no cotton), putting on sock/glove liners, wearing a good neck gater and using hand/toe warmers (little heat packs). Remember to leave no exposed skin and keep your blood circulated. If that is not enough, use boot gloves, a warm helmet and warm mittens. If you're dressed for the temperature, it is really better than one would think and you can still have fun. Good luck.
post #27 of 46
In the east I do not consider it cold until my eyelashes start to freeze which happens around -15 or so. Generally your nostril hairs will already be frozen solid at that point. Anything below -30 and it becomes tough to breath which would make it tough to ski..... these temps are Farenheight btw

post #28 of 46
Originally Posted by jstraw
There is a temperature below which any form of outdoor recreation becomes just plain foolish. It stops being fun long before it becomes downright dangerous.
You're so right, Jstraw. Anything below 0F is strictly for idiots. You people who like to complicate skiing, who want to take fifty consumer products along with you, have a lot more tolerance for tedium than I do. While you're worrying about whether your second sub-ultra-over-under baselayer is functioning correctly, and trying to figure out where you put your hand-warmers, I'd rather be sleeping in, enjoying vacation, and waiting til the weather is civilized.
post #29 of 46
Wear one-piece ski suit. Nothing is warmer than a suit and if you don't need the latest brand and fashion, vintage suits are pretty cheap on Ebay.
post #30 of 46
To hell with fashion. Wear a snowmobile suit. Get something like neoprene boot covers, or else oversize fur boots with the bottoms cut out for over your ski boots. That's what I would do.
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