Top Ten… For Visiting the Snow (Part 1)

All photographs and text by Tess McLennan ©. 

I am an Australian, and therefore it’s embedded in my DNA to survive through sweltering heat. In Summer, our temperatures can sometimes soar in the 40s and 50s. Seatbelts become branding irons, and anywhere with air conditioning warrants the age old ‘Phwoar, it’s nice in here!’ comment. So, what is it like when an Australian departs this extreme weather and visits the snow instead? In short, it’s absolutely wonderful. Cold weather warrants as much clothing as possible. Hot weather demands you keep at least a scrap of clothing on your body, for the sake of common decency. But no matter how many times you visit, there is a real novelty to visiting the snow, particularly when your home never experiences the phenomenon itself (in sunny Queensland anyway!)

So, to celebrate the end of another scorching Australian Summer, here is part one of ‘Ten Tips for Visiting the Snow’. More to come very soon!

1.     Snow is a lot colder than it looks, pack more clothes than you think you’ll need. This might be a no-brainer, but I’ve been caught out so many times because my ears/face/hands/everything were just way too cold. Let’s make a comparison to Australian weather, self-proclaimed to have one of the harshest environments in the world. In extreme heat, people become dehydrated, get heatstroke, see mirages in the shape of Coke bottles. Snow and ice are just the opposite end of Mother Nature’s extreme, so you need to rug up. Thermal layers are a must, so are gloves, hats, scarves, the works … it’s better to wear too much and take it off, than to be shivering all day. And don’t bother wearing those stylish leather boots in the snow. Snow is wet, and it melts. Invest in an equally stylish pair of snow boots and you’ll save yourself some seriously frostbitten toes (mine are the boots with the fur. Literally.)

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-19 degrees and windy in Switzerland. Don’t be a fool in the cool. Dress appropriately. 

2.     If you are into skiing and snowboarding, be organised. Don’t pay full price at the manned kiosk because you were too lazy to look on the Internet for a better deal. Your lift pass is like finding a decent man. Why take the first old thing offered to you? Look around, find the best fit for you, flirt with a few websites before you commit to a price. And I’m speaking from experience. Websites like Liftopia and Groupon offer great deals on lift passes and rentals, often in the one package and for multiple days. While skiing at Powder Mountain, Utah, we bought a two-day pass and rentals for only $100 through Liftopia. My sister got a similar deal for snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb in Canada. Don’t settle for second best. You deserve a lift pass that loves you back.

3.     Snow sports are inherently dangerous. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. So if you really aren’t sure about your place on the slopes, either get a lesson, or stay in the heated café with your caramel latte. I can now hear my family in the background yelling,  ‘Practice what you preach!’… And this is also true. My first time skiing, I had no lessons or training to speak of. It took me two hours to get down the beginner slope, and it wasn’t until a ski instructor in the middle of a group lesson took pity on me, and showed me the basics that I became the champion skier you know and love today. This method is probably not recommended, as I literally crashed into his group. However it saved me a few hundred dollars on lessons.

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I totally know what I’m doing. But I still didn’t wear appropriate socks. 

4.     Snow is sometimes like quicksand, particularly with sentimental items like gloves, credit cards, necklaces, the list goes on… If you do lose something in the snow, you either need to plan a trip back to that place in Spring with your metal detector, or say la vie. Chances are, you aren’t going to find your credit card that you tossed away on a drunken night out. Or that precious glove that you dropped on the ski lift. So when you have cold fingers, and are broke, you’ll learn your lesson: hold onto your precious items for dear life, or the snow will do it for you.

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RIP Emily’s Credit Card.

5. Snowmen making – what a task. Firstly, you need to work out whether your snow is the ‘right type’ for this epic endeavour. There’s sticky snow, that easily rolls in your hands. Perfect for snowballs, and snowmen. That’s the type of snow you want. Or you could be like me, and end up with powdery snow instead. Still gorgeous, great for skiing. Not so great for snowmen making. See the below picture and you’ll understand why. Say no more.

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Or this…

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Something else you want to know about visiting the snow? Stay tuned for my next instalment !

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