Winter is a magical time, when the search for snow can override almost any natural urge and conversations are inevitably started with, “So I was up at (insert name of ski resort here) the other day…”
That is, if you’re a ski bum. If not, you probably spent more days in the office than is healthy and you’re stalking people on Instagram who have seen more pow than you this year. But never fear: There’s still a chance to get out there because one of the best times of the year is approaching: spring skiing. We’re talking longer days full of sunshine, plenty of events that’ll lure you to various resorts and — the pièce de résistance — corn snow. Here’s your guide for enjoying everything that’s awaiting you this spring on the slopes.
Prep your gear
Though hearing about some fresh powder from a spring dump in April makes you want to throw everything in the car and hit the slopes as soon as possible, be sure to take a few precious minutes to sort your gear and make sure you’re prepared. Spring skiing often means warmer, sometimes slushier, conditions (that powder will only stay fluffy if it’s cold). The base grind and wax that you had for the freezing days aren’t appropriate for the softer snow, which leads to more water under your skis and create a suction cup effect. If you’re in too much of a hurry to change your base grind, definitely change your wax. Not only will a spring-specific wax often include additives that can help repel dirt, but it’ll make gliding over the slush feel much more like surfing than sinking.
Ski Bum’s Bonus: Spring days often bring gear companies to the slopes. Take advantage of demo opportunities to try out different sticks in the varying conditions: you could find the perfect pair to add to your quiver. And, as some rental shops sell used skis at the end of the season, you could find them at a reduced price.
Let the sun shine in
The closer we get to summer solstice, the days get longer and we get more sunshine to enjoy because science. Though the resorts don’t stay open later, this lengthening of days means that you can enjoy taking runs from first chair to last without worrying about being permanently frozen to the chair. And if you’re not feeling a full day? Not a problem — that’s why decks were invented. Spring is the perfect time to seek out a sunny deck on the mountain, shed a few layers and socialize. Just be sure to retain your goggles for the perfect “I’ve been skiing” tan line.
Ski Bum’s Bonus: Do some research into the facilities offered at the resort before you go. Some slopes have grills that are open to the public which not only provide a great opportunity to hang with friends, but will also save you money on slope-side noshing.
Dress for success
Being prepared for any weather is crucial for an enjoyable day on the hill. Having multiple layers, plenty of sunscreen and proper eyewear is always important. However, during the laid-back days of spring, a cape might be appropriate. Or a bikini. Up to you. Spring skiing often means costumes, whether you’re commemorating April Fool’s Day, celebrating closing day or just feel like your awesome 80’s onesie doesn’t get enough play during the rest of the season. From pink gorillas to tighty-whiteys, you never know what you may encounter spring skiing.
Ski Bum’s Bonus: You don’t have to spend a ton of money to create an outfit that’ll set you apart on the slopes. A trip to the thrift store could supply you with some spectacular gear, or simply pull out that wig that you bought for Halloween. Anything goes as long as you can still see well enough to ski or snowboard safely.
Get your skim on
Speaking of costumes: One of the most pleasurable parts of spring skiing are the multitude of events. From concerts and après parties to unbelievable competitions involving grace, strength and speed, there’s almost no end to the entertainment available on the slopes during the spring. Case in point? Pond skimming. And cardboard derby. And Schneetag. These specialized, on-the-snow events take place during the spring and involve (in order): skiing across a shallow pond to the other side; hurtling yourself down the mountain in a cardboard box; hurtling yourself and three other people down the mountain in a vehicle of your own making. Waiting at the end is fame and glory, my friend and, in the case of pond skimming, usually some sort of ersatz hot tub. Participating is not for the faint of heart, but luckily spectating is almost as fun.
Ski Bum’s Bonus: Pond skimming is perhaps the most popular spring event with competitions taking place at resorts from Banff to Big Sky. It’s usually free to enter but be sure to sign up early as the number of participants is limited.
Whether you choose to celebrate spring skiing by simply soaking up the sun or by rocking your best gorilla suit in the pond skim, it’s all good. Spring is a time of rebirth, of going after every last run before the season ends. Heraclitus probably said it best (and I’m revising it a bit): “No man ever skis in the same run twice, for it’s not the same run and he’s not the same man.” So get out there and savor every spring run that you get.