Bluebird skies, warmer temps, longer days and spectacular end-of-season parties and events— Spring is arguably the best time to hit the slopes! Here are a handful of tips to help you make the most of your spring skiing. Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
1. Follow the Sun
Spring’s higher temperatures and sun angle create a freeze-thaw cycle that affects how you ski the mountain. The snow typically refreezes each night, so going off the groomers first thing in the morning can be an unpleasant experience. While warming up yourself on the groomers, look for the slopes with an eastern exposure that are warming up in the morning sun. Those runs will soften up first.
After a few hours, the softer snow turns to corn, the holy grail of spring skiing. Corn snow is sometimes called “hero snow,” because it is really forgiving and easy to ski. Corn snow turns to wetter slush after a few more hours, so the strategy is to move across the mountain staying on the trails that are in that precious time window of corn.
2. Use warm-temperature wax
Ever feel like spring snow makes your skis feel like suction cups? When the snow surface gets too wet in the direct sun, it can indeed get sticky. The effect is especially evident on a catwalk with sunny and shady spots. Skis or a snowboard will glide easily over the shaded stretch then grab on the wet snow in the sun. A wax rated for warm temperatures can reduce that water suction effect.
3. Still pack a winter jacket
Despite the warmer temperature, plenty of storm days do happen in March and April. At Alta Ski Area in Utah, for example, March is the ski season’s snowiest month with a monthly average of about 100 inches. Even April receives an average of 80 inches. Base depths can be the deepest of the season during the spring.
4. Find the party
Ski resorts are known for their epic spring parties. Virtually every major ski area has some sort of concert, pond skim or festival to wrap up the season.
At Squaw Valley in California and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado in particular, the party vibe is a famous daily tradition. Both resorts stay open into May, June or even July, depending on the year. Squaw Valley has its mid-mountain High Camp for outdoor pool and hot tub frolicking. A-Basin has “The Beach,” an area next to the base parking lot for tailgate barbecues.
5. Find the deals
The beauty of skiing or riding in April or later is that the masses do not realize that the ski season is not over. The industry’s little secret is that many resorts close for the season due to a lack of skiers, not a lack of snow. As a result, everything from hotels to lift tickets can be less expensive in the late spring (Don’t believe us? Just compare the prices of March and April on Liftopia for almost any resort).