The Art of The Down Day

Once you start skiing in the mountains above treeline, you are bound to deal with some down days. Travel to places like Alaska, Chile and Iceland and spending time sitting around is just part of the program. Every year, I watch people go stir crazy as we wait out storms. And I understand, it's tough to sit on your ass when you've only got a limited amount of time away from home. Being well practiced in waiting around, I thought I'd share some tips. 

Sometimes it's an uphill battle. Not a promising outlook at the start of the day.  

Sometimes it's an uphill battle. Not a promising outlook at the start of the day.  

Above all else... Chill out. If you've got some time to kill, don't be in a hurry. For most of us, relaxing is one of the hardest things to do. But it's an important skill.  

The Importance of Multiple Breakfasts

It's time to put some calories back in the system. The day likely started with a simple breakfast like muesli or oats with coffee. That's good. This prevents people from getting hangry as you assess the situation. If it looks like it's going to be a slow morning, it's time to start making "second breakfast." This should include another round of coffee and then some food that takes a while to make. Crepes, pancakes and bacon are usually perfect. You should be able to get into the later parts of the morning by eating and generally goofing off. 

 Straighten Out Your Gear

There's a good chance your kit is kind of falling apart, especially if it's late in the trip. This is a great time to get your poop in a group. Dry out your clothes. Tune your skis. Play with your boots. Straighten up the camp sight. Take care of all the little things that have been bugging you. 

Get Some Exercise , But Not Too Much

I think of down days as an opportunity to store up energy. If I'm missing a day, I want to go a little bigger the next chance I have. My goal is to rest, even if it's torture. This said, I don't want to get stiff either. I try to get out for a walk or easy hike. Even if it's raining. The exception to this is if I am camping. Then the goal is to stay dry. 

Checking out a waterfall on a wet day in the Andes.  

Checking out a waterfall on a wet day in the Andes.  

Take a Nap

Read yourself to sleep. Catch up on the sleep none of us get enough of. If you can pull it off, convince someone in the group that a "nooner" is a good idea. Remember, every minute of sex is like two-minutes of sleep. This is fact.  

 Drink it Blue

Another proven fact is that the day everyone is so hungover that no one wants to ski is the day it will clear. The pain in your head and the blueness of the sky are related. Again, this is science. If you've sat around all day and the rain still pounds the roof tops, it's time to start drinking. Beer and wine may suffice for the first day, but if this doesn't work you will need to move to the hard stuff. 

Explore the valleys and check out the things you can't see at home - like birds with 10-foot wingspans.  

Explore the valleys and check out the things you can't see at home - like birds with 10-foot wingspans.  

Down days are a part of the big mountain experience. Learning how to deal with them is just as important as all the things you will learn while skiing. 

Donny Roth