Long live spring skiing – Sentinel and Enterprise
While the rest of the summer time world complains about the lost hour this weekend, the skiers toast and celebrate.
Coming spring, you see, means more daylight (and warmth!) every ski day for the rest of the season.
It’s also a kind of “first day of real spring skiing”. From now on, it’s all sun, tan goggles and afternoons outdoors.
OK, given that I skied in late March in subzero conditions, maybe that’s hyperbole.
But still, even with a few cold days thrown in for good measure (and hey: it still helps extend the life of the snow surface), spring skiing is what we’ve all been waiting for all season.
By choosing the right location, knowing how to manage your day and understanding how to ski spring conditions, you can always find your perfect day, weekend, week or more of skiing.
You don’t have to go west: sure, skiing in the west usually has a bit more snow than the east, but the eastern resorts have increased snowmaking and grooming all seasons so you can really find great runs all spring. to the east too.
For example, the Okemo resort in Ludlow, Vermont was still blowing snow in late February (an unusual move and one they chose to do to ensure they had the best chance of skiing and riding well during their day of closing in mid-April).
Sugarbush, also in Vermont, has stayed open—get it—the first week of May in each of the past four years (except the pandemic shutdown year).
Sunday River Resort and Sugarloaf Resort in Maine are also growing well into May for the usual closing days. And Jay Peak, Vermont, is king of late-season skiing and horseback riding.
Even smaller, more southerly places like Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire — and Wachusett Mountain Resort in Massachusetts — are keeping things going well until at least the end of March.
Expect variable surfaces: And embrace them. The advantage of spring skiing? With the sun on the trails longer in the day and temperatures often above freezing, you tend to find softer skiing rather than ice on less than perfect days.
This means knowing how to ski on this softer snow. A tip I love is to go out or rent wider skis in soft snow conditions. That’s right, those 90+ skis underfoot that many only use for powder days can also make a softer snow day easier on your legs and better for the quality of your turns all day. Best advice? Enter the resort’s rental shop and chat with the crew. They know their mountain, the conditions and which skis work best that day. With most rentals (go for the demos or the performance tier; it’s worth the extra) you can come in and swap them out if the terms change or they don’t work for you.
One thing to consider as well: softer snow can wear you out faster. If you feel a little tired earlier than usual, consider stopping for the day. Chances are there’s an outdoor bar for the afternoon and even an outdoor concert to attend. Or just sit in the sun and watch others, super fun with a cold local microbrew in hand.
Don’t be afraid to start your day later: it’s fun to grab the first chair, but to be honest, I’m not always dedicated enough. Now that the clocks have changed, you won’t find that flat light and chill that often strikes around 2:30 p.m. This means you can be pretty confident that skiing to the last chair will be an enjoyable experience. Consider moving your departure time to, say, 10am if you wish. You’ll still get a ton of verticality and you might not get tired when the sun is still shining.
Take a lesson: if you are a regular at this column, you are not surprised that I say this. But spring can be a good time for a lesson, even on your last weekend. Why? Because the variety of conditions gives the pro and you a chance to help you work on all sorts of things. Snow in the trees is generally softer, as are most mogul tracks, which means you can learn with less stress. Why not end your season with solid skills for next year?
Smile: Spring skiing is all about the mood. Kiss him. Lean your head into the sun on the lifts and smell the vitamin D. Spend time in an outdoor afternoon and chat with others. Above all, no matter the weather, understand that at a time of year when non-skiers are so tired from winter they could scream, we’re so glad we still have it that we howl and howl.