Before you travel to the mountain, make sure your car is ready for the colder alpine environment. Top off all fluids, including antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Add lightweight winter oil if necessary. If your car is not equipped with snow tires, you should buy and carry a set of tire chains. In time you may want a rooftop rack to carry skis, snowboards or other snow toys. Make sure to zip your car keys into a secure pocket when you leave the car. As a back-up, give an extra set to someone else in your party.
Make a checklist of the essential items you need (or use our Overnight Packing Checklist), and check it before leaving for the resort. This will go a long way in preventing the need to replace forgotten items once you arrive at the slopes.
Snow sports are for everyone - regardless of age, body type and fitness level. But it's important to work within your own fitness level. Pace yourself, don't venture too far from resting places and shelter, and don't overdo it. Stay with companions who are close to you in ability and fitness. As you progress in your abilities, you may consider regular workouts to prepare for mountain adventures.
Infrared and ultraviolet rays can be extremely harmful to your eyes, especially at higher altitudes. Good quality sunglasses are an important investment. Wind, blowing snow, cold, and fog can also be very uncomfortable for your eyes. Goggles are every bit as important as sunglasses. Always take both with you, even if the day seems perfect. Remember, weather changes rapidly in the mountains. It's easy to be caught unprepared.
Some prefer the added warmth of mittens, while others like the finger freedom of gloves. Whatever you prefer, make sure that your gloves are waterproof and always protect your hands from outside elements. Even on warm spring days, the snow is very abrasive to your bare skin.
In the higher elevations of the mountain environment, the sun's rays are less filtered. Snow also reflects sun rays, making them even more intense. You can get severely sunburned very quickly. Wind will burn your skin, too. Even if you have darker skin, or believe you always tan instead of burn, use strong sunscreen anyway. We recommend applying sunscreen (SPF 15-30) at least 1/2 hour prior to hitting the mountain and re-apply every two to three hours.
Many snowsports enthusiasts wear helmets. The best ones are light, comfortable, warm, and allow you to see and hear clearly. If you use one, you not only provide yourself added protection, you never have to worry about hats. Use a helmet especially designed for snowsports.
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, so be sure not to skip it. And bring along a snack to refuel mid-morning. You will be happily hungry and tired after a day on the snow. Eating too heavily at lunch can leave you sluggish, but a hearty evening meal is a great way to replenish nutrients. Too much alcohol can make you groggy and dehydrated the next day. Never drink alcohol while engaging in sports. Your muscles and reactions will be much less responsive. A good night's sleep should make you feel great.
Wearing layers keeps you warmer and lets you adjust your clothing as the day gets warmer or colder. You can add or remove layers to remain comfortable. The two most important layers are the one closest to your skin and the one on the outside. The best underwear is absorbent and "wicks" perspiration away from your skin. The outermost layer, including pants, should be wind and water resistant. Clothes such as jeans or sweatpants absorb water, making you wet and cold. You can lose tremendous amounts of body heat through the top of your head. Wear, or carry, a hat at all times. We recommend that you do not layer when it comes to your socks. One pair of quality wicking socks will keep your feet nice and warm and free from blisters.
As you ascend to higher altitudes, atmospheric pressure decreases. It is also colder, drier and the ultraviolet rays from the sun are stronger. Each of these changes may have effects on your body, most commonly occuring above 8000 feet. Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort's village elevation is 6300 and the summit is 8600.
Avoid Altitude Illness