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How cold is too cold?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Booking last minute again (circumstances out of our control this time!). Eyeing up a cheap package deal for next weekend, except it's a high resort and forecast is somewhat chillier than I'm used to with predicted temps -5 to -20 at resort level and 3-4 degrees colder up the mountain. Fair bit of snow but low winds.

Never knowingly been anywhere this cold so no idea what this means in practice - will we likely be ok with decent layering or is this too cold for comfort and best avoided for leisure skiers? We're after a holiday not an ordeal so if it's unpleasantly cold then rather go somewhere lower/warmer!

Did I mention it was a good deal...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
yes, but you didn't say where? might help with the advice..

presume -5 to -10 is daytime? not so bad. you'll be fine snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hi polkadot,
I'm a leisure skier and when I found temperatures lower than -20 Celsius, decent layering kept my body warm but toes and fingers were uncomfortably cold (you may have better insulated socks & gloves than me). Face had to be fully covered. Other than that, beats a day in the office. And sounds like you can't resist a bargain. I'd go for it.
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Been to Canada at -30 and that was cold, but certainly didn't put me off skiing. Seen -20 in Europe often enough.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I did buy a new jacket in Canada though wink
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Skied at Glenshee at -25 (not Inc wind chill) in the 70's. I don't feel the cold easily but it was noticeable when you weren't moving. Waiting for lifts wasn't much fun & my brother had a tiny hole in the finger of his glove & got frostbite & nearly lost his fingertip.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
-20 regularly in Hemsedal Norway. If it is open and blowing it is chilly but not cold if you are layered up. In the trees lowed down it is sheltered so quite nice.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I'm a bit of a whimp. So below -20, I ski for 40 minutes, then take a hot chocolate break.

I also cover my face with a snood if it's chilly.

On the upside, at low temperatures there are never any queues at the lifts Very Happy
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polkadot, Always told anywhere from about - 45, would close lifts, because if they break down people could die before being evacuated.
Last year we saw warmest temps of -16 and down to around -28 road tripping around BC. No problems at all, luckily wind chill didn't feature much or I may have had to wear a hat Toofy Grin

Cold weather gloves saw some use though and a decent mid layer used. Toes were cool at times, but the standard liners are really up to much.
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Below -15 is properly cold even if it is not windy. By the time you are going downhill at, say 25 kph that gives a windchill of -25 which is a bit parky.
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When you say -5 to -20 I reckon the -20 should be late at night, which is irrelevant for skiing of course. Skiing at -10 to 15 should be OK if you prepare to cover evth. including face. Chapped lips are an issue , too.
Small breaks with hot choco get to be more meaningful this way Smile
I always take a small back pack with a thin ski fleece cardigan. Beneath my ski jacket i wear 2 insulated layers, one thin and the 2nd a micro fleece. The cardigan was a life saver sometimes. Specially at the beginning of the day
Sole caveat: check the hotel's reviews. If they don't have a sauna but they have a pool and people have complained that the water was not warm enough, for me it would be a deal breaker. I can happily stand the cold wind all day but i long for heat at the end of the day
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Below -25 begins to get less enjoyable for me, assuming not much wind. At that temperature you don’t want to stand around too much or spend much time in slow chairlifts. However, anything more than a gentle breeze adds considerably to the discomfort. I skied in -25 at the start of December under a calm, blue sky and it was OK (and the snow was glorious because of the cold temperature). The following week it was maybe 10 degrees warmer on one day, but with very strong wind. That was absolutely brutal and I had to wear a facemask for the first time ever. If I’d had the option I would have stopped skiing for the day.

Best tip is to have a pair of thin inner gloves, a neck buff, and splash out on a set of boot heaters if you usually struggle with cold toes.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Sat 13-01-18 8:33; edited 2 times in total
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@polkadot, If it really is -20 during the day at resort level then I think that would be pretty unpleasant. However, I think that’s unlikely. It just doesn’t seem to happen very often.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Where and what forecast. My favourite weather bot for Val Thorens not showing that cold. Which isn’t that cold anyway.

Windchill shouldn’t really factor if you are correctly clothed I.e. wind and water proof, insulated.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
If can actually be warmer on the mountain than in the valley due to temperature inversion (cold air being more dense and heavier).

A lot depends on wind. Anyway, down to about -10C feels ok for me. I just have some buffs (spare also as they freeze from your breath). Below -15C I wear a cheap full face baliclava - got a thin one and a fleece one. I’ve been looking at the Bula face masks and baliclavas as they look good and I see people wearing them.

At -20C I’ve used little hand and toe warmers inside my Hestra mitts and stuck on the stocks on top of my toes. They contain Iron powder that warms up as it oxidizes. Works amazingly well. Plus I’m also a wimp and take regular “Fika” breaks (those of you that have been to Sweden know what I mean Very Happy ).
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Have skied at -20°C. Used lots of layers - and a snood as a face mask, IIRC. Our group had a great day, I wouldn’t have wanted it colder. A side issue was the windscreen wash being frozen throughout the drive between Flaine and Chamonix both ways. This was some years back - maybe modern windscreen wash gloop would stop that.
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Skied Obergurgl alone once at -26C with high wind (friends were hungover). My lips cracked and started to bleed so in a rush I bought a lip balm which turned out to be a combined lip balm & lipstick. Had me looking like Coco the Clown until I realised late in the day. Embarassed
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ski'd in -30 in Canada a few times... add wind chill tomthat when you're moving i.e. skiing and beware.

Do NOT have ANY exposed skin - it'll be frostbitten before you know it, and that means dead skin layers.

Tried those Canuck face cover thingies, but a good full face balaclava is best - google 'Dissent' as there's is fantastic. Add a 'skull cap' below your helmet and goggles, neckwarmer/snood and that's the face sorted.

Feet - decent fitted boots, otherwise you'll have to crank your clips too tight and cut off the blood supply t your feet which is what'll keep them warm...ish. A set of the Dryguy boot covers, neoprene booties that cover the forefoot are a good idea - and you should have room inthe boot to slap one of those heat pads ontop of your foot just next to your toes for help too.

Get a goose down 'gilet' (?) to keep your body warm, so you can keep pumping warm blood to the freezing extremities.

Hands - good thin glove liner, then a 'spring skiing' weight glve over that... and then a 'main' glove, pref mitten and prob need to get a new one at least a size bigger to fit the two layers beneath it (!)...

Sounds a faff... but, really, really cold temps mean if YOU can stay warm, everyone else is huddling in an overcrowded restaurant while you'll be outside enjoying the empty slopes.
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I have a Gore Windstopper half face mask which goes under my goggles, with a horizontal slit for nostrils and dots for the breath. Very good.
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Been down to -36 in Canada a few years back. It's ok as long as you layer up and below -20 total skin cover is a must.....hand warmers and mitts are also a great help.
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I've skied -25 a couple of times. That's about the limit of enjoyable imv. Any colder goes towards endurance.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sat 13-01-18 13:50; edited 2 times in total
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Call me a wimp, but minus 15 and a bit of added wind chill is cold enough for me.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
pam w wrote:
Call me a wimp, but minus 15 and a bit of added wind chill is cold enough for me.


WIMP!

A bluebird -15 with little or no wind is a proper day out. Snow is usually pristine around those figures. Madeye-Smiley
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to cold when I drop the top half of my bib pants & cant make it reach the urinal
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-10 is cold enough for me. My fingers get too cold although I don't have expensive warmer gloves like Hestra. If you're too cold there's no pleasure in it. Having said that I was in Norway for a week last January and survived although wore long johns , snood and balaclava plus hat every day. I much prefer -1/ -3 as I don't like wearing hats.
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Quote:

to cold when I drop the top half of my bib pants & cant make it reach the urinal


One cold day my OH came back from the loo in a restaurant with a horizontal scratch across the bridge of his nose. He said he'd had to lean so far forward to reach the urinal that he'd toppled over and encountered the top of the tiling.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Skies around -29 in PDS once. Absolutely freezing, lots of hot drink stops but wouldn’t do it again. I reckon-25’s my limit.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
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Skies around -29 in PDS once. Absolutely freezing, lots of hot drink stops but wouldn’t do it again. I reckon-25’s my limit.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
-40 in Mount Tremblant. Toes were the main issue. Skiing ok but sitting on the chair lift was the main issue. Had to go into restaurant at the top each time to warm back up. At the time they were filming Ivana Trump's life story "For Love Alone". In addition to seeing all these Austrian Piste markers was also funny seeing the actors skiing in traditional kit. I do wonder how cold they were. Regularly ski in -25 with current kit. Anybody who's familiar with sailing I recommend an all in 1 "wooly bear". Normally fit under a drysuit but but also really good when it gets parky. Hestra mits, Low Alpine combined hat/facemask/balaclava and extra large cycling booties. Try to keep off too many uncovered chair lifts and reckon could do a decent days's skiing At -30.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

I recommend an all in 1 "wooly bear".

complicates going to the loo, especially for females. But still easier than on a boat in a seaway. wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It is cold with wind that is the killer. I have skied in minus 15 c in calm clear conditions and had a good time with only one extra layer and mittens.

I have also frozen in minus 5 c with a 20 knot wind.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Low winds is the key forecast, as well as clear skies (which are likely at those temperatures). It tends to be warmer when it snows.

If you feel too cold, go in for extra pit stops in the mountain huts. I have skied in -40 with wind chill in Espace Killy. It was pretty chilly on the chair lifts, but when you were skiing the wind was less intense.

Face masks, balaclava, neck scarfs, all are essential in those temperatures. Anything that covers your nose is great! Also take spare hankies.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
The main thing is to look out for each other, checking for signs of frostbite (white patches on exposed skin), and for relatively quick changes from being fine to suffering.

My record so far with photo evidence was at Asahidake, it went colder, but no one as inclined to take a picture.

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pam w wrote:
Quote:

I recommend an all in 1 "wooly bear".

complicates going to the loo, especially for females. But still easier than on a boat in a seaway. wink

I will admit that when the wooly bear is needed pit stops by the side of the piste are probably less frequent.
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When your nostril hair or eyelashes freeze when you step outside that's too cold. Having had frostbite/ nip I really don't think it is worth skiing on those days when it's one run then back inside to thaw out.
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That happens pretty much all the time. If the snow squeaks then it's starting to get into serious toe wiggling territory.

Pretty much the first two weeks of this year were mostly around minus 20 and a bit below depending on altitude. Cold for standing around but not much of an issue. Some people throw money at it with electric things, I can't be bothered with the wires, but I use decent kit and I know where the warmest place to sit is in a helicopter.
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Skied in -20 in Finland without wind, and warmer with wind: wind is the real nasty.
Either way, it's very personal as to how you feel the cold and how hot you get as you ski. Personally I can layer and layer, wear silk liner gloves, buffs, goggles, helmet ear flaps, balaclavas or whatever and be fully toasty - except that in my latest boots I get cold feet (don't know why, just model, not fit). Other people I come across can't cope with cold at all, either because dressed wrongly or just because they ain't cold weather people. If you don't know if you like it, but the deal's cheap, go and find out Very Happy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Totally depends on the wind. I've skied -34C comfortably when there was no wind, just dressed for it. I felt much colder at -15 with a breeze. Took my 5 year out at -24C this year, 15mph breeze but it was a smallish hill (less committing) and had every inch of our bodies covered! -10 is very comfortable. Just depends on what you're used to, your clothes, and how keen you are? Sorry I'm no help at all!
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Just layer up. Take a day pack. Easier to take a break and take an excess layer off than add one. A lot depends on how much body heat you generate whilst skiing. I once skied Aviemore at -5 with a 50mph wind chill. Thermals, 2 t shirts, wool jumper and ski jacket, Balaclava. I only felt the cold when on lifts. (I was a lot younger than now!)
Only quit the mountain when the wind started throwing lumps of ice the size of golf balls. (head on to the wind on a T-bar. visiblilty 10ft). That was painful. Mountain was closed shortly after that.
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Remember wind makes a difference but wind chill is all about exposed skin and metabolic response.

Do you get a wind chill effect in your cars?
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