Warmer weather, the snow melting, for a winter enthusiast such as myself, it can be a hard pill to swallow. It’s not over till it’s over though, so don’t let those green backyards fool you. There are still tons of resorts open and spring is actually an amazing time to ski or ride. Here are a few of the reasons I always look forward to getting some March and April turns in.
- It’s Warm – I figured I’d state the obvious to start, but nothing beats throwing on a base layer and a shell and hitting the slopes. This is also a great time to get your winter hating friends to give skiing or snowboarding a shot, things just tend to be lest frustrating when it’s above freezing. Even those who don’t mind the cold can appreciate having their gloves off for more than a few minutes without worrying about frostbite. Trade your balaclava for some sunscreen and enjoy the sun.
- Hero Snow – That’s right, pretty much anything you do is going to look much better than it should because the snow is so soft. Beginners can slide turns without catching edges, better skiers/riders can have some fun throwing snow around, and park rats can try whatever they want with less fear of a hard landing or crash. Sure, the afternoons can get a little sloppy, but with colder temps overnight, mornings will often greet you with a firmer yet still forgiving ride.
- Light Lift Lines – Despite what I think, some people just don’t think skiing when the warmer temperatures arrive. That’s their loss! In the mean time you and I can enjoy even more laps due to the lack of long lines. Go on a weekday and you might even be able to ride right to the chair.
- Snow Bars – These should be made all year, but who can blame a bartender for not wanting to sit outside and pour drinks in 20 degree weather. As the warm weather comes, bars made out of snow tend to pop up near the base of lifts to give you that mid-day boost. While I definitely don’t condone drunken disasters and people putting themselves and others at risk, I can get behind a casual beer at lunch.
- Outdoor Grilling – Speaking of lunch, why go inside to cafeteria that smells of sweat and wet clothing when it’s warm enough to swing by the grill, get a brat and hangout outside? It also makes it easy to grab something quick if maximizing your runs is more your style.
- More Music – As you’re hanging out at the base, you might notice that March and April usually means a party. Resorts will often have music playing outside or even live performances in the afternoon. This makes for a great end to a long day of blue skies and soft turns. It also can make for some great people watching.
- Costumes – Whether it’s Mardi Gras beads, helmet decorations, or even the occasional bear suite, spring is when all the costumes and oddities come out. Perhaps it’s because warmth is of little concern, or maybe it’s simply because Halloween was 6 months ago. Either way, it’s fun to do and fun to watch, so why not?
- Retro Days – If you’re looking around and suddenly noticing that your old Day-Glo pullover seems to be in style, don’t be fooled. Your ancient gear isn’t back in style, you’re just witnessing a retro day! Watch as guys in straight skis and rear entry boots fly by and enjoy this rare blast from the past. Keep in mind, it’s likely your boots from the 80’s will crack as soon as you put them on, and you’re your old bindings probably won’t release, but at least your old onesie won’t kill you. Everyone may look ridiculous now, but it’s likely those skinny pants we’re all sporting will 30 years from now too.
- Slush cups – Nothing says crazy better than bombing a hill at mach speed to skim over a 100 ft pond at the bottom of the run. Regardless, every year, tons of resorts will have their take on a Slush Cup. Speed and balance are key, and seeing someone make it across is great, but it’s the failed attempts that are even better. Mixed with reason 7 and 8, these events become even more enjoyable. If you’ve never witnessed one its worth absolutely worth attending, however viewer beware, you may see bikinis on both women AND men. Also, don’t expect all garments to make it out of the pool after a good spill.
- The Atmosphere – Perhaps it’s all of these things combined, but the atmosphere is just different. The mood is light and people are smiling and laughing. No one is taking themselves as seriously, and the guy you just cut off is more likely look the other way than to scream obscenities at you. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have to stop on a sheet of ice to keep from hitting you, or maybe it’s just that there’s not much to be upset about on a warm day with soft snow.
Spring skiing is Mother Nature’s reward after you put up with whatever conditions she threw at you this year. No more days below zero or 20 mph winds, or days your fingers might fall off. The seasons not over, it’s just reached a different point; a point at which everyone should take advantage for some really fun conditions. So while your neighbors are getting their lawn mowers out, keep your skis out. It’s still winter in my mind until the last chair comes around.