The AIS Rule

First Run at Saddleback Maine
For our family, one of the keys to a successful day of skiing is to get to the mountain as early as possible. The first hour the lifts are open are often the best ski runs of the day. There is something special about ripping a freshly groomed trail first thing in the morning before the masses start arriving around 9:30am.

To achieve this takes some planning and work the evening before so we can adhere to our set AIS time. What is the AIS time? Fans of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond may remember the following dialogue between the characters Raymond and Debra.

Raymond "Ray" Barone: Let me tell you. My father had a system: AIS. Like whenever we'd go somewhere, he'd set a time and he'd be like: "We're leaving. 9:00, AIS!" 
Debra Barone: AIS? 
Raymond "Ray" Barone: A$$ In Seat. Whoever's a$$ was not in their seat at the designated time, that a$$ was left behind. 
Debra Barone: So during the fall did you have to set your a$$ back an hour? 

So that is our running joke and motto we live by on a ski day. For a Saddleback day-trip, our AIS time is 6:15am. That gets us to the mountain about 8:20am and we are ready to go when the lifts open at 8:30am.

6:15am is pretty early! It takes some prep and planning to get out the door and rolling by our designated AIS time. Here is our typical ski schedule with some hints to help you get out the door.

Evening Before

  • Locate and pack all your ski gear! We have a list with the essentials for the ski-bag. Helmet, gloves, jacket, ski pants, hand/foot warmers etc. Some of the things you will put on your list seems obvious but it is best to have them on the list then not at all and forget.
    • Our kids are teenagers so we make them pack their own bag. They both have their own individual bag that holds their boots and other ski gear.
  • Make sure the car is full of gas so you don't want to waste time filling up in the morning.
  • If you are packing a lunch, make it and pack it the evening before.
  • Get all your packed gear by the front door for easy loading in the morning.
  • Get your skis and poles loaded in the car. Best to leave boots inside where it is warm.
  • Set the coffee maker on auto-brew for 5am.
  • Set the alarm and go to bed at a reasonable time!

Ski Day

  • After waking up, start the intravenous drip of caffeine... or just have a cup of coffee.
  • While the kids and wife are sleeping, load up the car with the packed ski gear.
  • Get all the breakfast bowls, cereal and juices etc. out on the counter.
  • Wake the family at 5:25. I usually tell them the GNAR (another word for snow) is calling and get them eating breakfast.
    • In our family, Juley (Mom) needs to take care of the family pets with food etc so need to give her enough time for that.
  • At 6:00am, start giving updates for time left to AIS.
  • At 6:05am, start the car to warm it up.
  • At 6:10am, give the final AIS warning. Teeth should be brushed and everyone should have used the bathroom by this point.
  • At 6:15am, A's are In the Seats and you are rolling!
In addition to the great first hour skiing, the other big reason we do this is to avoid the people-crush at the mountain lodge. After getting on our skis at 8:30am and skiing for a couple of hours, we typically eat lunch around 10:30am when most everyone is just heading out for their first runs. By the time we are finished lunch and ready to go skiing again, folks are starting to head in for lunch. When they are done with lunch and heading out, we are heading in for a break. Works pretty well for us!
The Reason AIS of 6:15am is Worth It!

Depending on the snow conditions we will ski to at least mid-afternoon but we have been known to ski opening bell to closing bell. When you have a day like this picture shows, all the work and effort is worth it and it helps build memories that will last a lifetime!


  1. Great post! We follow most of those AIS rules, but luckily our car doesn't have to roll until 7:15! Have fun!

Hi - thanks for taking the time to comment. Please keep the comments on-point and lets be nice to each other!


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A Family Skiing in Maine: The AIS Rule
The AIS Rule
A Family Skiing in Maine
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