How to Beat the Cold

A Guide By a Wimp, For Wimps

I plan my life around skiing. I start workdays with a starry-skied dawn patrol and spend weekends pilfering powder at Solitude. I wear a slap-happy grin when above 8,000 feet. I also happen to be the most gigantic wuss ever when it comes to being cold. I’m simply not self-heating: I slink around my office in an oversized shawl and have never used the air conditioner in my car.

My deep disdain for the cold would seem to be at odds with my high-alpine sportiveness, but after dedicating years to the art of warmth, I have enough pro tips in my toolkit to never sacrifice a good powder day to the shivers. To stow my implements of warmth, I always have at least a small backpack on, even when just messing around at the resort for a couple of hours. Here are few tips for my fellow cold-blooded skiers. (While it’s mostly women who suffer from permachill, man friends take note: even if you’re always warm, it behooves you to keep your lady happy on the hill.)

Bring a Thermos

The Thermos: an unassuming vessel of piping-hot awesome.

A Thermos full of hot tea is a lifesaver on a chilly lift ride—and better yet, fill it with a hot toddy. (Whiskey + hot water + a spoonful of honey and a dash of lemon juice; you’re welcome.) But what’s better than one thermos? Two Thermoses (Thermi?). Because what do you do when you need a mid-morning snack—break a molar gnawing on a frozen-solid energy bar? Nope: the cold-conscious skier has a second thermos full of miso soup. There are two ways of making miso. The lazy way is to just grab one of the just-add-water mix packets from the Asian aisle at Whole Foods. But if you’re feeling 5% more ambitious, head for the refrigerated section where you can get actual miso paste. It’s much easier than you’d think: just stir a spoonful of miso into hot water and add whatever else you want: little cubes of tofu, a little shredded ginger or garlic. … Maybe a dash of soy sauce or sesame oil or extra flair. The result is downright divine, and the concoction fuels, warms, and sustains you on an active winter day.

Women Skiers at BrightonDon’t just layer—layer properly

Yep, doing it right makes a difference. Two pairs of socks sounds warmer than one pair, but you end up pinching and constricting the blood flow to your feet. Same with wearing overly restrictive layers elsewhere: if you wear thick glove liners under your mitts, you could actually restrict the blood flow to your fingers and up with icicle digits. Get thin glove liners and add hand warmers to the mix as needed. Wearing any cotton at all is for masochists and newbies. If you wear cotton socks or a cotton shirt under your jacket, you’ll become a cautionary tale: the person who had to bail on a perfectly good ski day. Another common issue is having your scarf or neck gaiter ice up from your breath’s condensation. Either keep a spare dry one in your pack or use wool, which stays warm when wet. So even if it’s moist, it’ll insulate.

Feel the power of the puff

I keep my two all-time favorite pieces of clothing in my pack: my MontBell down pants and my Patagonia ultralight down sweater. If your legs are ever so cold that regular long-johns won’t cut it, duck into a mid-mountain lodge and put some down pants on under your shell ski pants. Same goes with the down sweater: pull it on over your other inner layers, then zip your shell on top. You’ll feel fuzzy-warm as a sheep, with enhanced ski powers.

Pack Some Heat

Hand warmers are awesome for hands, but the possibilities don’t stop there: wear a vest over your base layer and stick some in the two front pockets to keep your core warm. Another move that changed my life: opening a packet of large hand warmers, stuffing them into my boots, and then driving to the resort. By the time I get to the parking lot, my boot liners are toasty. It’s a creature comfort that truly starts the day off right. Here in the Wasatch, we’re pretty lucky. It’s very rare for temps to dip below zero. But if they ever get too cold for comfort, consider yourself armed and let no storm go un-skied.

Skier Walking in the Snow at Alta Ski Resort