The "How To" Guide for Beginners
Cross County skiing doesn't require a lot of specialised gear, (apart from skis!). However, you must be prepared for extreme weather conditions. A few simple precautions, and a few items of clothing and equipment, can make the difference between being safely prepared and foolhardy. This needn't cost a lot - there are cheap alternatives to most of the expensive specialised gear. Much of the gear required is the same as for bushwalking. Before undertaking a trip, ask the advice of experienced club members.
Clothing, personal and snow safety tips
Cross country skiing involves a fair degree of exertion, more than down-hill, and 'body self-heating' will occur. In warm weather excess clothing should be removed (eg. into a back-pack, or left in the car) - little clothing can suffice most days. Bring sun-block & sun-glasses.
In wet weather(eg. steady rain, sleet or wet snow), clothing should consist of a rain-proof jacket & pants, eg. waterproof overpants. Jeans are worst - they absorb too much water too readily. In very cold/windy weather, gloves, hat/beanie and thermal underwear are essential. Weather on the mountain may be worse than in Melbourne - so be prepared.
For a day trip: a small back-pack (‘day-pack’) is great to carry your lunch, energy-giving snacks (chocolate, fresh or dried fruit), packaged drinks and/or water (half/one litre per person at least) , sun glasses, sunscreen, plus items of clothing, eg. a spare pair of gloves, a tee-shirt or pullover, depending on the weather outlook (see further below).
For a comfortable journey home, or dining out later, a change of clothing (perhaps everything!) and towel - left in your car - is good insurance. Changing rooms, toilets, and snack food are available at Gerraty’s (Lake Mountain) and at Windy Corner (Falls Creek).
For a ski weekend it is suggested you bring: Day-pack, water bottle, sun glasses (preferably wrap-around or goggles), personal first-aid kit, sunscreen, toiletries, towel, boots, socks (2 pairs), long pants (preferably nylon track pants or sport pants (not cotton/jeans), thermals, waterproof over-pants and jacket, woollen shirt, polar fleece, fibre-pile jacket or woollen jumpers, mittens or gloves, hat, spare clothes. Optional: camera.
Hiring Ski Gear
If hiring (or borrowing), be aware that cross-country skis, boots, poles are not the same as down-hill gear. Refuse any gear which is not in A1 condition - just walk out and hire good gear elsewhere.