Spring skiing is what we've all been waiting for: bluebird skies, sunny days, and maybe the occasional late season snow storm. Longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures make for superb après ski parties. Resorts stack their event schedules with plenty of outdoor concerts and shenanigans. Lodging, retail, and lift ticket prices drop. If you've wanted to hit the slopes all season, well, this is probably your last shot. And lucky for you, it's also the best. Here's our short and oh-so-sweet list of tips for great spring skiing.
The high-altitude mountain sun is strong, especially when it reflects off the snow on pristine, bluebird days. Even if you're wanting to get a killer goggle tan, be sure to protect your face with a little SPF. Leathery skin and chapped lips don't go well with après hour, or much else.
Bring your own beverages for an uninterrupted day on the mountain. Warm, sunny days and cold beers were meant for each other, and contrary to contemporary country pop songs, they don't necessarily require dirt roads and daisy dukes. The best (and cheapest!) way to enjoy an afternoon brew is from a mountainous lookout with panoramic views; plan accordingly.
Bring Your Sunnies
Even if the morning brings clouds and storms, always pack your sun glasses. Chances are the weather will clear, and you'll be thrilled you have your shades to wear on and off the slopes. Even with overcast skies, sun glasses are your best friend between 3:00pm and 6:00 pm.
Dress In Layers
Spring mornings warm up quickly; spring afternoons cool down even more quickly. If you're jonesing to ski shirtless, be our guest. But we highly recommend a layer or two for chairlift rides and post-dusk festivities. When the wind picks up or the sun goes down, temperatures plummet. Don't be caught without backup.
Watch For Rocks
For regions that didn't get hundreds of inches of snowfall this season (like the East), coverage seriously dwindles late season. That doesn't mean you can't have fun pre-jumping dirt patches, but watch for roots, rocks, and other hazards that may not have been there mid-season. Catching one can seriously throw you.
Ski The Steeps
In regions like Tahoe and Utah, some of the best skiing can be found just before resorts close, because the steepest sections of the mountains that are slow to collect snow finally get enough to be skied. Other steeps that may have been open for a while lose some of their intimidation after a season's worth of snowfall; this is a great time to ski what you've wanted to ski.
Follow The Music
As for après ski, spring features the best that resort concerts have to offer, from weekend afternoons under the tram to massive concerts that take over entire base areas. If you're looking for somewhere to go or something to do, look no further than the live music scene. That's where you need to be.
Don't Ski Til 10
10:00 am is when the snow starts to soften during freeze-thaw cycles. Snow softens in the spring sun during the day, then freezes at night, and takes some time to thaw again the next day. If you're not in any rush, wait until late morning to hit the slopes. It's just better.
Drink More Water
Drink water because you're sweating, drink water because the sun is hot, drink water because you're pounding beers. Just drink water. Altitude sickness is aggravated by dehydration, as are hangovers. Help yourself out and stay hydrated.
Get Next Year's Gear
Spring skiing means spring sales. Ski shops slash prices by 30-60% in the late season to clear out winter inventory, and this is hands down the best time of year to gear up for next winter. For the best bargains, you can even purchase gently used demo skis. Otherwise, brand new outerwear and gear setups will be marked at their lowest prices of the year.