Sometimes, when the temperatures are warmer (usually at the beginning or end of a season) it can rain in the mountains instead of snow. It can also sleet which is a combination of rain and snow.
Rain doesn’t instantly melt the snow, but it can make it slushy or icy depending on how much rain there is and how cold the snow is.
You can ski in the rain, but without the right gear, it can be miserable. Wear clothing with high breathability (15kmm) and high waterproofing rating (20kmm) to stay dry and warm.
How to ski when it’s raining?
You ski with the same technique as you do in normal dry conditions, except you need to be more a bit more cautious.
If the rain is heavy and the snow is warm it can make the conditions slushy which will slow down your skiing.
If the snow is cold and it has been raining for a while, the rain can freeze and make for icy conditions. Especially on pistes that have already been prepared for racing.
If the surface is icy and already hard-packed snow, then rain can make this surface very challenging to ski on.
How to ski on wet icy snow?
If the rain is making the conditions icy or slippery, then use the same technique as I lay out in more detail in my guide: Ski Safely on Ice.
On icy surfaces, you’ll need to be more accurate with your edge control. With less friction and a harder edge, you’ll need to be more patient with your skis and precise with your weight transfer.
Slide with patience
Turning on icy surfaces means you’ll need to slide through a larger turn radius as your skis will move faster horizontally. Ride our the turns and focus on balancing yourself rather than sharp or sudden movements.
Slightly wider stance
A slightly wider stance than usual will give make your legs a more stable platform.
If you’re sliding out during a turn, don’t panic. Ride out the turn and let your skis do the work.
Pivot vs Edge
The icier the snow, the more challenging it will be to dig into your edges and not be thrown off balance.
Unless you’re an experienced skier, able to react and counter-balance your weight at speed, then slide through the turn instead of digging deeper into your edges.
How to ski on wet slushy snow?
In spring and during rain in warmer temperatures, the snow can become sticky.
In slushy snow, your skiing technique should be more precise. Slushy snow can make your skis heavy and slow you down quite quick.
Make wide rounded turns to keep your skis from sinking too deep into the snow.
Use warm weather ski wax for slushy snow
If you can freshly wax your skis and opt for a softer spring wax that will help you glide better in this type of heavy snow.
Best Warm Weather Wax (Early or late season) ☀️
–ZUMWax Ski Racing Wax – check the current price.
For more info read Ski wax for dummies.
Is it dangerous to ski while it’s raining?
Skiing while its raining is can reduce your visibility and make the snow harder to ski on.
Wet clothes and poor waterproofing can make you cold and lower your concentration.
If you’re feeling cold, wet and tired then you may be more likely to make a mistake and crash.
Go steady and take a break if you need somewhere warm to wait out the rain.
To make yourself safe, wear a helmet, ski with a buddy and don’t go off-piste or backcountry unless you’re a very good skier.
Skiing in the wet is not necessarily dangerous, but you need to be more cautious.
How to keep warm skiing while it’s raining?
Rain will make you wetter than snow because it’s more absorbable by your clothing.
It’s important that you’re wearing ski gear with a high waterproof rating.
Waterproof rating on ski clothes is measured by the hydrostatic test.
Manufacturers place the fabric under a sealed tube of water and then keep adding more water to the tube.
The point at which water seeps through the material determines its waterproof rating on a scale from 0-20k+mm
Look for a ski jacket with more than 15kmm waterproof rating for wet weather.
|Ratings 💦||Water Resistance 🚫|
No resistance/Little resistance
|20,000mm +||Highest resistance|
The higher the rating the less water will seep into the material and reach your body.
You’ll also want a ski jacket that is breathable so internal sweat doesn’t build up and make you wet and cold from the inside.
Breathability is just as important as waterproofing to keep you dry and warm. Look for a breathability rating of 8k mm or more.
It isn’t dangerous, other than hypothermia, but as a longtime instructor in the Northeastern US, it sucks if you don’t have good clothing. If you have to do it wear all synthetic layers. Consider rain gear, vs. skiwear for your outer layer.
Brom Kim, Ski Instructor
How to ski when it’s windy and raining?
Wind and rain can be dangerous on steep edges or near drops. The wind can through you off balance and the rain can reduce visibility.
Ski to a more sheltered area of the mountain and keep a watchful eye on the slope markings.
Wear a neck gaiter to protect your mouth and nose, googles (with a brown, permission or other low-light tints) to protect your eyes from the rain at speed & of course helmet.
Skiing while it’s snowing
If it’s snowing the fresh powder can make for perfect skiing conditions. Too much snow reduce visibility and turn groomed slopes into deep powder.
Here are the top tips for skiing in fresh powder
- Choose all-mountain skis which work better in powder.
- Ski with a gentle leg bend and stable torso, with legs ready to react to hidden bumps.
- Ski with your feet closer together to stop one ski from sinking.
- Ski short runs and work your way up to steep gradients.
- Bounce movement is essential for deeper snow, to prevent skis from sinking and to guide you into the next turn.
- Pole plant to create a rythym and set you up for the correct posture into each turn.
- Move with the terrain. Aim to turn and move with the rolls of the mountain rather than against it. This sets a nice flow for your skiing.
Detailed walkthrough of all these steps and more over on my article: Skiing while it’s snowing.
Skiing in a whiteout or blizzard
Sometimes the snow comes in hard and visibility quickly evaporates to a few feet in front of you.
Keep these in mind during a whiteout.
- Seek shelter or ski back to the gondola or base.
- Stay close to your ski partner.
- Ski slowly (side step down the mountain if you have to)
- Pay attention to any signs and stay on groomed slopes away from tree wells or cliffs.
Best Ski Goggles for Raining
During rain, visibility is likely reduced from the cloud cover. All weather tints will work fine unless its very overcast, in which case a flat-light tint like permission, grey or brown will provide greater clarity.
It’s totally fine to ski when it’s raining, just be aware that the snow will either be icy and slippery or slushy and heavy depending on the temperature and condition of the snow on the slopes.
Use the right wax for the temperature (if you can), wear warm waterproof clothing and ski with more caution.