Heather Munn, a professional ski patroller and snow safety director at Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, spends more than half her workday in ski boots out in the elements. On a busy day, this can mean nearly six hours on skis either helping skiers and snowboarders out on the mountain or doing avalanche mitigation.
On her days off from patrol, she’s back at it, still in her skis and snowpants, but out in the backcountry exploring the powder-packed wide-open slopes surrounding her home with her avalanche-rescue-certified dog, Levi. In the thick of winter, subzero days aren’t abnormal, so warming up post is an important task—and it needs to be done quickly.
After eleven years as a ski patroller, Munn has it down to a science.
“For days when I am at the resort, it’s all about having a hot beverage,” Munn says. And while coffee or a hot tea might come to mind as an obvious go-to, Munn recommends sticking to a decaffeinated drink of choice or even just plain hot water. “Caffeine is a dehydrator and staying hydrated actually helps keep your body warm.” Hot or not, Munn says the more water you can drink before and during skiing the better. Then, once you’re out of the snow, sipping a hot beverage can help bring your body temperature back up to toasty.
Her other trick of the trade is to pack an extra puffy jacket—most importantly, one that she doesn’t wear out skiing. “When you come in from being out of the cold, take off some of your intermittent layers because they might be damp from sweat,” she says. “Then, put on a big puffy down coat. Your body heat warms up from the outer coat more quickly if it doesn’t have to warm up the other layers first.”
It may sound counterinitiative, but Munn also says to start cold when out in the elements. “If you wear too many layers at the beginning, you may sweat and end up much colder at the end of the day and unable to warm up.” Starting a bit cold allows your body to adjust accordingly.
Whether post-patrol or at the end of a day in the backcountry, Munn's favorite trick of the trade is to quickly jump in a hot shower. Then, there isn’t much better than cozying up by the fire with her dog by her side.
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