Images by Drew Gilmore

After a long summer dreaming of snow and the imminent ski season; the first real snowfall of each winter season is sure to hype any serious ski bum up. With Colorado and Utah looking to see 12″+ of snow accumulation this week, winter 2018-2019 is starting to show its face already.

When early season storms bring substantial snowfall to the mountains, how do you best take advantage of the freshies when there is no base? Believe it or not, even a 6″-12″ storm is skiable by taking the right approach and being patient.

The Early Season Essentials

Rock Skis/Board

When skiing in October or early November, rocks are par for the course, although you are excited for the new season, now is not the time to bust out your new sticks. Instead resurrect your old skis from a couple of years ago and don’t fret when you clip a rock or ski branch. Early season snowfall is also great for playing around on snurfers, novelty skis or equipment you don’t obsess over too much.

Clean Grassy Slopes

The first snowfall of the season is no time to get injured or risk missing out on the season ahead, picking your early season slope is essential to a successful mission. Avoid tackling big lines or slopes littered with rocks and trees; we just want to get back in the groove and not risk a major injury. Golf courses, parks and sports fields lead the charge for great locations to ski on a thin base. Knowing the terrain of your ski slope is also key to getting early season turns, ‘sharks’ can easily be covered in 6-12″ of snow and present a serious hazard to any speed you gain.

Low Angles and Short Hikes

Early season snow pack is unreliable and not the time to get dragged over rocks or other obstacles, so to build up your strength and make the most of the small window of new snow, look for short boot pack hikes you can lap safely. Something simple like a short pitch on your local golf course is enough to satisfy the itch, make some turns and stay ready for the upcoming season.