Ever wonder why anyone would ski at night? Isn’t the night about the apres-ski party scene? Isn’t it dark and scary to be skiing at night? Well, I am hear to tell you under the right set of circumstances night-skiing can be great and I will tell you all about night skiing!
All About Night Skiing — The Benefits
Night skiing at first sounds like a crazy idea, but given the right set of circumstances it is not. What are those circumstances? First, the resort needs to offer it and that is dependent on whether they have sufficient lighting. This obviously varies from resort to resort. Resorts run the whole gamut from none, to some, to the whole resort having lighting. Most likely a given resort will have no night-lighting or only partial lighting.
I have also found most resorts offer separate lift tickets for day and night skiing. However, I’ve been to one resort offering a combined day/night lift ticket, that resort’s tickets mean eight hours of skiing regardless of when you start (provided you can get your eight hours in before 9:00 pm).
Those resorts offering night skiing on a separate ticket often sell those lift tickets at a steep discount compared to their regular full day passes. In the case of my recent night-skiing trip the lift-ticket is ⅓ the cost of their full day-skiing ticket. This resort also allows night-skiers to start before their official daylight skiing ends allowing night-skiers a nibble of the terrain that closes at the end of day-skiing. So, we have a good head start in the value proposition!
The resort I was recently night-skiing at allowed night-skiers to ski from 3:00 pm through 9:00 pm which is one hour less than what typical resorts allow their day skiing patrons to ski, typically 9-4 which is seven hours so we have 86% of the hours at ⅓rd the price, obviously a deal!
This may cancel out the value of the cheaper lift tickets. I’ve seen some resorts with nearly their whole operation going during the night hours and I frequent one resort that has a ½ run and a rope-tow open. The resort I was just at runs two high-speed six-pack chairs and a few other older chairs as well which serves about 13 main runs. They shut down one high-speed six-pack that serves about seven main runs. In this case, quite a bit of the resort remains open and includes runs of all ability levels.
Weigh the Factors
For the resort inspiring this article, the costs of night skiing versus what they close and the reduced time are attractive and make good sense. However, other resorts may not offer a worthwhile night-skiing value proposition.
We all know apres-ski is the reason many people actually ski and adding in all the other considerations many people are likely to find night-skiing less attractive. So therefore, the crowds are greatly reduced at night. You get on the chairs quicker and the runs are more wide-open than during the daytime.
Yes, you are reading that correctly. If the resort does a good job with their lighting system, then lighting will be better. Even on days with good natural lighting the terrain is subject to falling into shadows and the like. At night the resort can turn what was earlier a flat-lighting day into a situation where the lighting is good.
Views can change from blah to stunning. The views can starry skies above to highway or city lights.
All About Night Skiing — Drawbacks
We all know what happens when the sun goes away, it gets colder out. So the weather definitely plays a role in the value equation. However, we are skiers and we know how to deal with cold weather so deal with it!
By the time night-skiing hours come on, the snow has been well skied on and unless the resort groom continuously (doubtful, most grooming occurs when there are no skiers present) the snow will be bumpy or you will encounter exposed ice. So, be on guard for less than pristine snow conditions.
Yeah, you will miss out on some apres-ski happenings, but of course most ski resorts apres-ski well after the night-skiing shuts down.
Terrain and Lift Restrictions
Resorts especially large ones shut down at least parts of their terrain. As I observed above, this can range from almost the whole resort and nearly all of their lifts to only a small portion of their resort and lift capacity. So, before committing to night-skiing check with the resort to verify how much of the resort remains open to night skiing.
Also, don’t go through closures and I strongly advise to stay on established trails!
All About Night Skiing — Equipment
Night skiing equipment is mostly the same gear you use during the day. You may need to step up your clothing to deal with colder air temperatures and equipment around protecting your eyes changes.
I carry with three sets of goggle lenses. A lens for bright-day skiing, a lens for flat light skiing, and then a clear lens for night skiing. In addition, I carry my cycling glasses with me for night skiing as well. The weather determines if I wear my clear goggle lenses or my cycling glasses. My last two night-skiing trips I wore my cycling glasses.
The only other equipment variation I consider when night-skiing is making sure I have a tripod available for my photographic needs, but of course that is not strictly ski related
All About Night Skiing — What do you like about night skiing?
Do you night ski? If so, what do you like about it and what tips or pointers can you share? If you do not night-ski, why not and what is holding you back from doing it?