‘Yes’...well we think so. I suppose it’s a pretty tricky question to answer isn’t it? But we’re going to take a look at why we think the answer is ultimately, ‘Yes. You can or could in fact ski on the moon’.
If we’re being logical about this, the first problem here is actually getting to the moon. The moon is roughly 240,000 miles or 386,400 kilometres away from Earth (about 3 days in a spacecraft). So yes, it’s unlikely many (or more likely any) of us will ever make it to the moon. But that still doesn’t necessarily actually answer the question of whether it’s possible or not to ski on it when you do get there? After all, for many of us we have to jump on a plane to go skiing anyway, so what’s the difference between that and jumping on a spaceship instead? (...about 239,000 miles for most of us).
There are only 12 people who could even attempt to somewhat accurately say whether or not it’s possible to ski on the moon, and only four of those are still alive. These are of course the only people to have actually stepped foot on the moon. Now, we’re pretty certain none of these took skis with them, and it’s notoriously tricky to find good rentals on the moon - so we’ve not exactly got any concrete proof to work with here.
Having said that, you might be surprised to hear that despite all of this we do have some fairly good evidence that could give us a definitive answer to this question. Enter former NASA astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmitt. Now 87 years old, geologist Schmitt was part of the Apollo 17 crew who landed on the moon in December 1972 - a little early in the season perhaps, but we’re still hoping the conditions were ok for him to get some runs in.
Joking aside, Schmitt does genuinely believe it would be possible to ski on the moon, and he might even lay claim to being the only person to ever have done it. Now whilst Schmitt didn’t actually take any skis with him, he has spoken about his experience of what is as close to ‘skiing’ on the moon as we’ve ever come to as a human race.
"Once you get a rhythm going it's very easy. You can propel yourself with a push. On the moon you don't slide, you glide above the surface," Schmitt said when talking about his skiing technique on the moon.
He even went on to suggest; "I think downhill techniques would work very well on the moon. You even have built-in moguls, the impact craters on the slopes. Lunar gravity would allow all kinds of jumps and hops that you might find difficult on Earth." Sounds promising.
At this point it’s a shame to burst the bubble, but there is one major problem. Unlike the soft powder in the French Alps, moondust is very abrasive and would be like skiing on broken glass. "To ski the moon, you'd need gear that could slide over this very abrasive material. Maybe Teflon-coated skis would work," Schmitt suggests. Why not? After all we ski and snowboard on sand dunes on earth don’t we, which is essentially broken glass? Unfortunately that argument also falls down, as moondust is much more abrasive than sand, and even your teflon skis might not last for long.
So it might be a while until we see a moon X Games or Freeride World Tour event. But it’s nice to know that it’s not completely out of the question, isn’t it? Who knows, the next generations could be packing their boots and skis for a moon escape one day as if it were a weekend trip to Vail or Val d’Isère.