More ski areas are open in North America this spring and summer after some huge winter snowfalls left deep bases which in some cases may well still be there when next winter rolls around.
Among the resorts staying open at least to the end of May, Breckenridge has extended its season through to Memorial Day and Sunshine ski area near Banff will be open until the weekend before.
Mt Bachelor in Oregon is also open to Memorial Day and at the time of writing California’s Donner Ski Ranch hadn’t decided how late it would stay open.
Killington and Arapahoe Basin say they’ll be open in to June, Mammoth and Squaw Valley to July and Timberline in Oregon usually stays open right through the summer.
In addition, Whistler Blackcomb is open to the end of May then re-opens a few weeks later to offer glacier skiing and boarding in June and July and the Beartooth Basin summer ski area is usually open through June too.
But skiing in late spring and summer is very different to asking in winter so here are a few tips on how to prepare.
Set the Alarm
Summer skiing and boarding starts early each day – often around 7am. At some areas the skiable snow may be high on the mountain too so you may need to set off even earlier to make the lift ride up to the top.
Summer weather in the mountains is often very hot by lunchtime but at the start of the day it is often well below freezing and in addition at these altitudes it can snow any month of the year or other winter weather can blow in. So in other words you need to have clothing that keeps you warm, and fully protected from the element but equally have layers you can peel off in the summer heat so you don’t get too hot.
Hydrate and Apply the Factor 50
When conditions are warm you’re going to need to keep hydrated even more than in the winter and again the effect of the sun is multiplied as it bounces off the snow as well as hitting you from above so strong sun screen is needed to save you from burning.
Leave the Powder Skis at Home
It is not unheard of for a heavy snowfall in May, June, July or even August and you do get those rare days of a powder in summer maybe once or twice each year.
But realistically you’re most likely going to be on a much smaller area of old snow high on the mountain which will probably be hard and icy first thing, softening to a lovely texture between around 9 and 11am but then getting increasingly slushy and sticky around lunchtime.
So what we’re talking about really is a pair of all mountain skis with some sharp edges for the early morning and a fairly rugged construction for later in the morning when you want to blast through the slush.
Of course many spring and summer ski areas maintain a great park set up so some skis with a park set up, maybe twin tips, work perfectly too.
There’s a different vibe to summer skiing. Other than those you may run in to that are maybe in the US or Canadian national squads doing their summer training, most people are going to be relaxed and happy to have such a blessed life that they’re able to get out on the slopes at this time of the year when most people are reduced top the drudgery of playing golf or going mountain biking.
The usual routing is to ski or board until lunchtime then relax the rest of the day and do something else like, er, maybe play a round of golf or go mountain biking. Or perhaps just chill with a cool drink by the pool.