As the mercury drops and the winds pick up, it’s important to make sure you’re well prepared to battle the cold and get the most out of your ski holiday. Cold weather can dampen the spirits of the most enthusiastic skier, but if you follow a few simple tips, you’ll be charging through to the last lift long after the crowd has called it quits for the day.
1. Layer up
Niseko weather can be fickle at the best of times, so it’s important to come dressed for any situation. A few good quality layers are a much better option than thick and heavy jumpers and jackets. Start with a polypropylene or Merino wool base layer, add a fleece or light down jacket, and then finish with an outer shell – one that protects you from the wind and moisture without adding too much bulk. If you get lucky and the sun comes out, drop the mid layer!
2. Take the gondola or hooded chairs
Here in Niseko, we’re very fortunate to have gondolas and hooded chairlifts to keep us protected from the elements. Hirafu, Annupuri and Niseko Village all have their own gondolas, while Hirafu and Hanazono are equipped with hooded hairs. If the cold is starting to get to you, plan your runs so that you link up with the warmer lifts. It will give you some respite from the cold and you’ll be ready to go when you get to the top!
3. Only 1 pair of socks
Resist the temptation to double up on socks on cold days. A single pair of ski or thermal socks inside a pair of professionally fitted boots is the best way to keep them warm. An extra sock can cut circulation in your foot, making it even colder.
4. Wear mittens, not gloves
If your fingers are prone to getting cold, consider wearing mittens, not gloves, next time you’re out on the mountain. Your fingers will generate more heat inside a mitten because they share the same compartment. You’ll lose some dexterity, but for all the extra time you’ll be able to spend tearing up the slopes it’s got to be worth it!
Pro tip: to warm your hands up rapidly (in mittens or gloves), curl your hands into a ball inside the palm area of the glove or mitten when you’re on the lift or not using your hands.
5. Purchase hand warmers
Disposable hand warmers are a fantastic and relatively inexpensive way to keep warm on the really testing days. Just squeeze or shake to activate, slide one inside each glove, then ski for hours on end. Simple!
6. Wear a helmet
Wearing a helmet while you’re skiing or boarding is always a good idea, regardless of the weather conditions. What many people don’t realize though, is that they’re also very warm (in our experience, much warmer than a beanie!). Most helmets will also have air vents, which make them a great choice for skiing in any conditions. We’re sure you didn’t need an extra reason to stick on a helmet this winter, but there you go!
7. Head to one of Niseko's on-mountain restaurants
This one’s a last resort, but if you've tried everything and you’re still struggling with the cold, it might be time to head inside, stretch the legs out and warm up with a hearty bowl of ramen or a hot drink. Niseko has many fantastic on-mountain dining options, but our favourite is Boyo-so, located just above Hirafu’s Holiday Pair Lift #1. It serves a great selection of Japanese lunch favourites, drinks and even hot chocolate. It’s also Niseko’s oldest on-mountain restaurant and is bursting with character and charm.