WINTER IS HERE!!! For most of us, that means trying (and failing) at the clothes-layering process and battling to stay upright whilst walking on ice through the means of involuntary, interpretive dance. However, for some of you lucky so-and-so’s, December to March not only bring the danger of chilblains, but also the spine-tingling excitement of sun, speed and snow.
Whether you’ve given it your all on the scourer-brush covered hills of Hemel Hempstead, had to use your imagination whilst sampling the white powder at Milton Keynes or the closest you’ve been to a mountain is buying a bottle of Evian; you’re probably itching to take on the sweeping moguls of Chamonix and the like.
Now we don’t wish to be the fun police and remind you of the practicalities, but it’s a tough job and someone’s got to do it, so it might as well be us.
They say that charity begins at home, however so does ski holiday preparation. Think of it as donating to the good of your backside. And in lieu of smuggling a roll of bubble wrap through airport security for safety purposes, we have saved you the trouble of googling ‘what to buy to prevent frostbite’ so you can spend more time rubbing Arnica onto those bruises (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
Without further ado, here are our top 7 things to pack for your first ski holiday:
1 . THERMALS
Sure, people will have told you it’s cold, but until you step off that gondola and into -6, you cannot comprehend what *freezing* is. We don’t care if underneath your 80’s throwback ski suit, you look like an extra from Brendan Fraser’s ‘The Mummy’, we guarantee that you (and your vital organs) will thank us that you just spent a small fortune on underwear that isn’t going to be enjoyed by anyone but yourself.
2 . SKI SUIT / JACKET / SALOPETTES
Well, you know, just in case we need to state the obvious. Whether you’re into the onesie look or stylish separates, do remember to pack these unless you are ready for the world to see your insulated unmentionables. And although ‘whatever you do, don’t mention the word avalanche’, wear something colourful. Gold and magenta may not be the colours-du-jour in Milan, but they certainly won’t be hard to miss when you’re showing off your freestyle / total loss-of-body control skills.
3 . ACCESSORIES
Thought you could get away without accessorising? Dah-links, you were wrong; the mountains were made for show-and-tell. Just rather than Gucci’s double ‘G’ belt of the moment or Raybans’ Wayfarers, it involves accessories of the heat-induction kind…
- First, gloves. Waterproof ski gloves, wool gloves, fingerless for mid-Alp Snapchatting, you name it, you need it. Minimum of a pair each. No maximum. On your first trip, it will be a miracle if you return home with any at all, but you will be counting your blessings when the sun drops and you need to double up during a run.
- Second, a hat. Unless you wish to have your ears taken hostage by the cruel wind that exists only at 2,137m above sea level; take one. The, louder, sillier and more colourful, the better. And perfect for standing out against the white surroundings when you’ve lost your friends post après-ski. No, mulled wine is not ‘practically juice’.
- Next up: glasses and goggles. Most people nowadays choose to wear one of the other, but if you want to look like a pro, bring both. You will appreciate the former when you’ve mastered the parallel turn and want to look cool (you will get over the snowplough – we believe in you!) and appreciate the latter when the heavens open and remind you that blizzards are horrible-vision-altering things instead of a Hollywood scene that ends in unadulterated romance and hot chocolate.
- Last, but by no means least of the accessories list, is socks. Thick, polyester socks (probably the first time anyone will tell you to actually go for man-made over natural fibres). But forget rad 90’s trainer socks, you need those knee high bad boys that will fight tooth and nail (no pun intended) to keep your toes attached to your foot in sub-zero temperatures and prevent your ski boots from rubbing your shins raw.
4 . WALKING / SNOW BOOTS.
No, your Converse All Stars won’t cut it and you can think again about wearing any kind of shoe with a heel. Snow doesn’t care if you need the extra height; it’s deep, it’s cold and it takes no prisoners. Even if you’re going out to dinner in your Sunday best, from the ankle down you should be strapped into footwear that will not win you any trophies in the ballroom, but will keep you upright and dry.
5 . CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT PRODUCTS
For every lead performer, there is a supporting role. In the ski world, these are humbly and faithfully taken on none other than:
- THE HANDWARMER – these teabag impersonators don’t look like much but give them a shake and put them in your gloves. Wait a couple of minutes and hey presto, rather than a cuppa, you will have toasty mitts whilst you’re waiting what feels like 12 long years in a queue for a chair lift to the top of that run that will take you a maximum of 3 minutes to get down. Falling or otherwise.
- DEEP MUSCLE SPRAY – Regardless of whether you are a beginner or competing for a place on the 2018 winter Olympics’ squad, you will feel the burn. Return the love to your thighs and calves by massaging this in every night post-bath. Bonus points if you get the hot ski instructor to do it for you.
- PAINKILLERS – For the bumps / altitude (alcohol) hangovers. Enough said.
6 . GOING OUT CLOTHES
It’s your first trip to the mountain, you’re going to want to party. So take non-ski clothes to wear. But yes, they will still need to be warm. A big fan of the 90s crop top or classic polo shirt? Cover it up with a fleece until you get to the bar. Unless of course you wish to run the risk of doing the Macarena with icicles rather than arms. And yes beer jackets do exist, but they last about 2 seconds before you need a real one.
7 . COURAGE
And finally, you must pack a can-do attitude. As a first timer, skiing will be at times frightening, exhausting and difficult, but it will also be ruddy good fun. So long as you bring your A-game, bravado and as many good luck charms as you want, you will be fine. Great even. Get out there, get snow-ploughing til your heart’s content and most of all, get enjoying it. There is nothing better.
N.B. For those that are wondering whether or not to buy any ski equipment pre-holiday; don’t. Hire it when you’re out there. Not only will it save you a sledge full of money (see what we did there) in excess baggage fares, it will also allow you to take your time getting used to the boots / skis / poles. Once you’ve improved and learned what style you like, then you can get flash with the cash. Mountain swagger optional