So what is it about Spring skiing that excites our very being? If you’ve already booked a trip out to the mountains in what’s known as “late season”, you’re obviously going! But your reasons could be anything from work commitments to kids school holidays or (we hope) the inside knowledge that late March into April offers some of the finest skiing conditions in the entire season… Maybe even THE finest, as we discuss here.
If you’ve been to the mountains in the deep winter months of December and January (in the Northern Hemisphere) you’ll be all too familiar with the amount of layers needed to stay comfortably warm on the slopes. Add in to the occasional warm afternoon and you have the recipe for “bumper back”. You know, when you have to peel off layers and cram them into your backpack, making you look like a skiing 6ft turtle! Well the weather in the spring is steady as you like. No messing around with loads of layers. Maybe just an extra base for the morning before the sun warms up, but other than that the longer days and tendency to snow at night create the best conditions. The potential for a “bluebird powder day” is well in your favour.
Contrary to some beliefs, the snow doesn’t all melt in the mountains in Spring. The snowpack can begin to thaw in the day, but overnight the temperatures are still plenty cold enough to stabilise and re-freeze for the morning. This can create some “hardpack” conditions for your first few runs, but usually by 11am this hard snow (not ice!) has turned into premium “spring corn” (as they say in Colorado). It makes the ideal surface to ski on – slick but forgiving under-foot. With the spring weather an increase in storms is common, but due to the warmer days precipitation usually falls at night, when its cold. That means you wake up to a blanket of fresh powder snow in the morning (3 or 4 days of the week if you’re lucky!)
So you have good weather and great snow… but what else is in it for you? Don’t forget that those extra hours of sunlight have extended the lift operations on the mountain which means a longer ski day. In addition, you’ll often find that the on-mountain bars and restaurants that used to close by 3pm start to stay open for the evening. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cold beer on a sundeck with the view of snowy mountains under an alpenglow sunset! But if you need a bit more entertainment you’ll be hard pressed to find a resort that isn’t offering some kind of outdoor event during the spring weeks; either a big-name dj or band, or maybe a big freestyle ski and snowboard contest. Most resorts have details for these events on their websites, and North American resorts celebrate BIG for their closing day parties in the Spring.
Now, whilst we’re all about sharing knowledge with our friends, try not to tell everyone! Spring skiing is only to be enjoyed by those who truly understand. And now you do, young grasshopper.