Throughout our lives, the number of times we’ll say, “Oh wow, that’s a great idea; I should do that next time,” is infinite. We’re always sharing and borrowing innovative ideas, sometimes to better the world, and sometimes — in all honesty — just because these ideas make life a whole lot easier.
The chairlift or lodge at a ski and snowboard resort is a great place to mentally take note of other people’s hacks for optimizing a day on the mountain, whether increasing pocket space or bringing specific snacks. While I won’t reveal my super-secret parking spots (because then they wouldn’t be super-secret, but rather super-crowded), this article compiles some of the best ski and snowboard hacks out there, ranging from how to stay warm to the best chairlift snacks.
Getting gear and getting to the mountain can be tough, maybe impossible, if you don’t have the money or the car. You can try to offset the price of rentals by posting in CC Facebook pages asking to borrow gear for the weekend. There is always someone out there not using their gear for the weekend; it’s just a matter of if they are your size and willing to share. Sometimes it is also worth inquiring whether a resort has free demos or not; on the off-chance that they do, you’ll have free rentals for the day. CC Rideshare is also a great Facebook page for arranging a carpool to the mountains. With a group motivated to leave early enough, you might even snag a great parking spot on the beach at Arapahoe Basin.
If you’re someone who can’t stand the cold, but wants to take a stab at skiing or snowboarding, before you leave your house (no later than 6:30 a.m. if you want to avoid traffic), toss your base layers in the dryer to get nice and toasty before your two-hour drive. When you get to the resort, always remember you can use the hand dryers in the bathrooms to de-fog your goggles or to get your gloves all nice and toasty again. You might even consider putting your ski boots under the hand dryer if you’re like me and have had the same pair of ski boots since eighth grade. The cold can make it borderline painful to squeeze into boots if they are slightly too small, and the heat from a hand dryer or the vents in your car can slightly expand them.
Sometimes it’s a relief when your phone dies from the cold in the mountains — it leaves you, your buddies, and maybe a beer or two in social media-free serenity. Other times, it can be really inconvenient if you need to get in touch with someone or snap a video for Instagram. Usually, putting your phone in an inside pocket keeps it warm enough and still allows accessibility for changing a song on your playlist — which is critical, since you must have a playlist filled with bangers when you’re in the mountains.
One of the most ridiculous hacks that I’ve come across involves filling a contact lens case with sunscreen — the perfect amount for one day in a container that barely makes a dent in pocket space. Alongside this, Chapstick is another essential. Chapstick is your best friend; it can prevent windburn on your face and relieve dry noses, blisters, and cracked lips. Chapstick can also help fix a wonky zipper that keeps getting caught.
Last but not least, there are snack hacks. Your options are unlimited if you have a backpack with you — hot soup or cocoa in a Hydro-flask, a rotisserie chicken, chips, etc. Unfortunately, not all of us ski or snowboard with a backpack. Over the years, I’ve seen pasta-in-a-bag (leftover pasta with shredded parmesan cheese in a Ziploc bag), pocket pizza (the perfect food because it’s flat and doesn’t create a bulge in your pocket), Pop Tarts, and foldable water bottles filled with Emergen-C. All of these options are ideal, but they are contingent on your jacket — does it have enough pockets for a three-course meal? Keep this in mind when determining your food the night before.
My personal favorite treat to bring with me when I ski is a York Peppermint Pattie. There’s just something about being in the cold and taking a refreshing bite of chilled, minty chocolate while admiring the scenery from the chairlift. Combining good snacks with a killer parking spot found through carpooling, hand-dryer warmed mittens, plenty of Chapstick and sunscreen, a phone on full charge, and an epic playlist, you can’t get a much better ski or snowboard day.