I did my first snow jump last season and it was really cool. Just a hop and pop from 3500ft out of a Cessna, and I'll tell you, I got out directly over the DZ, but after spending 300 jumps that season looking down at green grass and leaves and stuff, I had trouble making out the landing area at first all covered in snow. Anyways, I came in and did a sick surf dragging my rear foot through the snow for about 40 yards, and then I flared......and SUNK......about three feet into the snow. Dumbass that I am, I didn't check the depth of the snow. All my buddies that followed me in landed in it too, and we had to trudge through an icy river (ankle deep) under the snow back to the hanger.
While I have technically not jumped in the snow, I have made an ass load of jumps in the cold. The most important things I can recommend are a neck gator, several thin layers of clothes (top and bottom), some decent gloves (though not heavier than neuman "winter-weight"), and a full-face helmet. Jumping with just goggles and an open helmet will give you a tremendous ice-cream headache. Doesn't bother some people so bad, but it get's me pretty good. What gets to me the worst, though, is the terrific pain in my fingers directly after opening. Makes it hard to grab your toggles cleanly and hurts like a bitch! Make sure you don't catch your glove fingertips in the brake stows when you un-stow.
The most important things I can recommend are a neck gator, several thin layers of clothes (top and bottom), some decent gloves (though not heavier than neuman "winter-weight"), and a full-face helmet.
Great advice! I am a Canadian too and jump throughout the winter and I have to agree that your hands are the worst part! They will hurt for awhile after each jump. But on the upside, if you ever want to learn to swoop, the winter is the time to do it. The air is more dense and therefore your canopy is more forgiving and even if you do burn in a bit, there is a ton of soft snow to land in.
Thanx for the advice all, Does thin thinsulate leather gloves do the trick? Can you compare the coldnest with ridding a motorcycle late in November (in Ontario) or colder?
My limited research (jumping in the cold and watching others do the same) suggests that absolutely nothing can protect your hands/fingers in the cold. I've seen people with a countless variety of gloves and liners and they all feel the pain of the cold once they're back on the ground. It's one of things everyone just has to deal with jumping in the winter.
My suggestion about the hands is to make sure they are really warm before you get in the plane, and wear good gloves. You will have to try a few before you find ones that you like. I use SCUBA neoprene 3mm gloves and do ok.
don't wear your gloves in the plane on the ride up to altitude. Your hands will sweat and then the sweat will freeze in freefall. Just put your gloves on about 1,000 ft before you exit. Alos, I've seen people stick thick winter gloves in their jump suits in addition to the ones they wear while in freefall. Once under a good clean canopy, they change gloes and put the thick ones on. Just watch out for other canopies while your making the chnage! Cheers! Tom