Stuck in the clouds? How to ski in low visibility |

Stuck in the clouds? How to ski in low visibility

Steamboat Springs' Dan Gilchrist pulls a disappearing act in deep powder on Mount Werner.

— On days like Tuesday, when the wind is howling, the clouds are low and the snow is falling, visibility can sometimes just stink while navigating the runs at Steamboat Ski Area.

“Out in the middle of the runs, you couldn’t see anything,” said Dan Gilchrist, a Steamboat skier who is a regular in Warren Miller films.

An experienced and prepared backcountry skier, Gilchrist headed for the trees.

“It’s like another world,” he said.

The wind was calmer, and the trees allowed his eyes some depth perception.

Follow a few simple tips, and anyone can conquer low visibility.

“The best days are the stormy ones,” Gilchrist said. “It’s what it’s all about.”

If a skier is not comfortable going into the trees, skiing next to the trees at the edge of the run also provides the depth perception.

Weather and ski conditions can vary throughout the mountain. If possible, Gilchrist said to find a side of the mountain protected from wind.

A good pair of goggles with the appropriate lenses is probably the most important piece of equipment in storms or on days with flat light.

Local ski shops can help skiers make the right choice.

Chris Cantrell at One Stop Ski Shop recommended the Smith I/O goggle with Chromapop technology. It comes with both a low-light and bright-light lens.

For low light, look for a rose or yellow lens or something in between.

For the sunny days, Cantrell recommended a green or red solar-mirrored lens. The mirror helps direct glare away from the bright snow.

To prevent fogging, Cantell said it was important not to touch the inside of the lens.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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