Most American skiers and snowboarders, whether going to their local hill or some destination resort in the Rockies or Sierra, travel by car.
And because their favorite pastime occurs in the winter, they often encounter some rather challenging road and weather conditions. Blizzards, avalanches, overturned big rigs, human error, whatever, can conspire to make your trip to the slopes take quite a bit longer than anticipated.
Winter driving is fraught with peril, and getting stuck by the roadside is a real and present danger.
Since Triple-A can’t always answer the call, it’s wise to head for the hills with as much self-reliance as possible. So here are some items that should be in every skier and snowboarder’s trunk or storage space during the winter months.
These contraptions are mandatory in some states, including California and Nevada, on vehicles without snow tires and/or all-wheel or four-wheel drive. They can make a hell of a racket and turn your car into a vibratorium, but they are unsurpassed for traction on slippery roads.
Spread a little of this — or road salt or sand or even potting soil — under your drive wheels, even if you have all-wheel drive, and your tires will gain more purchase and you’ll have more traction if you’re stuck in the snow.
You’ll need it if you’re high-centered on a snow-filled road. Or a major dump came through overnight and you’ve got to dig out.
Window maintenance tools
A snow-removal push brush, an ice scraper and a couple of spare gallons of window-washing fluid (the minus-15 degree type, of course) will improve your visibility in most wintery conditions.
Cold weather’s not good for most car batteries in the first place, and if you’re running your vehicle’s sound system without the motor running during a road-closure situation, you could find yourself not moving when the rest of the traffic is. Jumper cables can help remedy that situation.
Whether used as a flare to signal for help or to make things a bit easier while installing chains at night, a flashlight is invaluable. Oh yeah, don’t forget to pack some extra batteries for the torch.
Even though you’re prepared to frolic in the snow all decked out in your Arcteryx or Helly Hansen ski wear, it’s always better to have a little more insulated warmth. A wool blanket works just as well, too.
Water and snacks
There are worse things than being stranded by the side of the road while being buffeted by nature’s wrath without food and water, but I can’t think of very many.