Once again it's hard to believe that the skiing and riding season has come to an end.
We started the season with dreams of another La Nina year with tons of snow, great weather and endless days of skiing and riding.
Well, that didn't happen in the lower 48. One of the warmest and driest winters on record led to the earlier than usual closings of most areas in the Northeast. Several record high temperature days and several inches of rain in March ended the season for all but a few resorts in the most northern latitudes earlier than usual.
There are also mountains in the West which remain open but they are winding down also. There probably won't be too much May and June skiing and riding this year.
Despite the uncharacteristically warm and dry winter, many still enjoyed good skiing and riding. The snow makers and groomers are to be commended for continuously providing the best conditions they could given the circumstances.
It's time to put the gear away and think about things summer and dream of next season. Hopefully, as always, it will be better than the one just ending.
This year I am making a concerted effort to properly care for my equipment before is it put away. In the past skiing has ended and I moved on to warm weather activities and not taken the time to clean, inspect and repair my equipment.
Consequently, I have gotten my things out the night before the first outing trying to find everything I need. I specifically recall saying “that's where that is” when I found my multi-tool that I had looked for for seven months.
So here are a few tips for caring for your equipment at the end of the year.
Clothing- Empty the pockets. Old napkins, tissues gloves, mittens should be removed. Check for broken zippers, on the pockets and hood and certainly the main zipper. Fix them now if you intend to. Remove lift tickets that might be attached. Launder or dry clean as needed checking the tags on the clothes for instructions. Improper care may result in decreased water resistance.
Match gloves and mittens with their mates. Check for tears. Remove hand warmers and discard them.
Helmets - Give your helmet a good whiff. Sweat from spring skiing can only make the smell worse over the summer months. Remove the liner and inspect it as well as the buckles and snaps. Inspect the overall integrity of the helmet. If it is cracked or otherwise damaged it should be replaced. Helmets are not designed to take more than one impact. Wipe the helmet down with warm soapy water and let it dry thoroughly. After is it dry, store it in a cool and dry place.
Goggles – These should not be left on the helmet. Inspect them for cracks on the frames and lens. If the lens is scratched, make a note and look for bargains before the beginning of the next season. Store them in a soft bag where they will not be crushed. I actually store them inside my helmet to protect them.
Boots – Remove the liners from the boots. Wipe them off with a cloth and warm soapy water and let them dry thoroughly. Inspect the buckles get them repaired right away lest you forget. If the boots or liners are broken or worn excessively make a note to shop for bargains. Sprinkle some foot powder in them to absorb moisture and help eliminate odors. Buckle ski boots or otherwise fasten the snowboard boots in order to maintain their shape. Store them in a cool dark place off the floor where mice can get into them.
Socks - I have two pairs of "Darn Tough" ski socks. I use them exclusively for skiing. I always hand wash mine and air dry them and ensure that they are properly mated. At the end of the year I keep them in my dresser so that moths or other critters don't get into them. Don't store tehm inside your boots.
The Ski Bag - My brother-in-law often remarks that in my ski bag I carry everything anyone needs plus one extra. While that is not entirely true, I have a lot of stuff and it increases as the year goes on. Take time to empty everything from your bag, all the pockets. It you don't need it, get rid of it. Inspect the bag itself. When I did this this year I found that the bag itself one its last legs. Time for a new one!
Once you have taken care of your clothing put it away neatly either in your bag or someplace where it all stays together. This will make the start of next year even better.
Skis and Snowboards - Take the time to inspect your skis and/or board. Tune them yourself or take them to be tuned. Leave a thick coat of a hydrocarbon wax. This will protect the edges from rust. It will also protect the polyethylene structure.
Take note if the DIN settings of the heal and toe bindings. I put a piece of blue painter's tape en each ski and write the DIN setting on it. Turn the toe and heel bindings down to the lowest settings. Leaving the ski binding springs under tension all summer will fatigue the spring's steel and shorten the life of the binding.
Inspect your board. Check the bindings for signed of wear or cracking. If they need repair or replacement now is the time. Tighten any loose screws on the mounts. Take the time to look over the bottom of the board for damage. Repair, tune and apply wax as outlined above.
Boards and skis should be stored in a cool and dry place. A high overhead place in your garage or your attic is too warm and might damage the construction and the bases. The lubrication in the bindings might liquefy and pool in one spot. This might make future adjustment difficult.
Keep in mind that there may be end of the season sales that may be worthy of investigating. Knowing what you need now and shopping for it may result in some good deals.
Taking the time at the end of the ski year will make the beginning of the next ski year easier and more enjoyable.