Spring Skiing and Snowboarding Safety
- Prevent Sunburn
The intensity of the sun at high altitudes, combined with reflection off the snow, can result in sunburn if you don't cover up.
- Prevent Abrasions and Lacerations
Exposed skin may feel great while skiing, but falls on spring snow can cause scrapes and cuts.
- Prevent Dehydration
Regardless of the time of year, it's important to drink plenty of fluids when engaging in physical activity.
- Know How to Layer Clothing
Dressing for spring skiing can be challenging as the temperature can change drastically throughout the day. Knowing how to layer your clothing can keep you warm and dry, or cool and dry, depending upon the conditions. Slushy conditions mean you may want to wear something waterproof, as well.
Protect Your Eyes
The glare from the snow is certainly something to protect your eyes from, as it can be very intense. Learn what sort of lenses are best for skiing.
- Prevent Altitude Illness
If you are traveling to the mountains from low elevations, you may feel symptoms of altitude sickness, including dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. Recognizing and treating your symptoms quickly may prevent a ruined vacation. Drink plenty of water and get lots of sleep. Also See: Preventing Altitude Illness During Active Vacations.
- Shield Yourself from the Elements
Even though the temperatures are warming up, you need to beware of the possibility of cold weather emergencies, such as frostbite and hypothermia.
- Be Wary of Additional Risks
Experts attribute the increase of head and spinal cord injuries on the ski hill to increased speed and jumping among boarders and skiers.
- Know the Trail Conditions
Afternoon slush can freeze overnight and create a top layer that is frozen solid, often called "boilerplate." These conditions can cause problems for novice skiers and aren't that much fun for experts, either. Once the temperatures increase, this starts to soften. Mountain conditions late in the day can become slushy. Melting snow also means that once hidden obstacles start showing up. You need to be more vigilant and watch for exposed ground, rocks, trees and other hazards. Avoid skiing when snow is frozen solid or melting into puddle. Both types of conditions can lead to injuries.
- Follow Backcountry Safety Tips
In the mountains, there is a danger of avalanche any time of the year. But spring brings conditions that are often ideal for an avalanche. The warm afternoons soften, loosen and can create snow slides. To minimize your risk of getting trapped, always check the latest avalanche reports and weather forecast in the area where you'll be skiing before you go.
Ackery, Hagel, Provvidenza and Tator. An international review of head and spinal cord injuries in alpine skiing and snowboarding. Injury Prevention 2007; 13: 368-375.
National Ski Patrol, Winter Safety Guidleines, 2008. www.nsp.org.