5 Reasons Why Spring Skiing is the Best Skiing

[Editor’s Note: This Topic of the Week came about as Sam, Luke Koppa, and Jonathan Ellsworth were eating burritos after skiing today. Long and short: Blister editor, Sam Shaheen, thinks that spring skiing is the absolute best type of skiing. So here, Sam lays out his argument. And we encourage you to tell him in the comments why you think he’s wrong, or what reasons you think he left out.]

 

In Praise of Spring Skiing

I wish every month was April. Or May. Really, they are both pretty great. Because April and May are the two best months of skiing in the year. Hands down, no contest.

Sure, powder skiing is fun — when there’s not huge lift lines, or when you’re not freezing cold, or when the pow doesn’t quickly turn into jelly-leg-inducing chop in the afternoon, or when you’re not breaking trail, or when there isn’t tons of traffic. Then it can be fun.

But spring skiing is better. And here are my 5 (indisputable) reasons why:

1) It’s Warm

I feel like this one pretty much explains itself. No one likes being cold. When it’s warm out, you can do fun things like ski in a swimsuit while drinking a cold, refreshing adult beverage. You can also ski corn, which is the best. And you don’t get frostbite. Being warm is just better.

2) Peak Snowpack

The snowpack here in the American west typically peaks in the second week of April. That means fewer rocks and snowier peaks. Not only are snowier peaks fun to look at, they are way more fun to ski. Ski Mountaineering (ie, walking up mountains and skiing down them) comes into full swing with a stable and thick snowpack. Steep, technical lines that have been bare all season get filled in. Pure heaven.

Why Spring Skiing is the best, Blister

Sam Shaheen on the Notchtop Couloir, Rocky Mountain National Park. (Photo taken on 4.26.18)

3) The Better Half of the Time Change

Everyone hates the time change. And if you don’t, you should. Not only do we get on the right side of the satanic time shift come spring, we also start to get longer days. Longer days mean more skiing. All of those evening tours cut short by frigid darkness in December are a thing of the past. Come spring, you can ski until 8 pm, or perhaps you’re already a few beers into your apres by then? I’m not here to judge.

4) There’s No Traffic

Because everyone else is golfing, or mowing their lawn, or going to baseball games — suckers. In the spring, there’s no traffic on the roads or slopes.

5) It’s Just More Fun

Whether it’s the warm weather, other people’s goofy outfits, the widespread social acceptability of drinking at any time of the day, or the soft, slushy snow, everyone seems to be in a better mood, and that’s contagious. Try not to smile when you see a grown man wearing a unicorn onesie rip down a slushy mogul run and nail a perfect spread eagle right under the chairlift. The only thing that’s harder than trying not to smile while watching that? Trying to convince yourself not to do the same exact thing.

Spring skiing is the best.

10 Comments

  1. PDX May 1, 2018 Reply

    On #3 do you mean no more stupid standard time? It currently is daylight savings time and that gives us the ability to ski until 8. Anyways spring is awesome. I love skinning up the volcanoes in the PNW to harvest some corn.

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen May 2, 2018 Reply

      Hey PDX, thanks for pointing this out. Obviously I’ve been more focused on skiing corn than keeping my semantics straight. Sorry Ben Franklin.

  2. DMG360 Dave May 1, 2018 Reply

    Nice thesis and defense! (Even with the DST faux pas – and yes I spelled faux pas right the 1st time – but I did have to check because I’m now afraid of getting corrected on the web ; )

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen May 2, 2018 Reply

      Thanks Dave. And yes, I completely get it, spelling is HARD. Let’s get out and ski some slush!

  3. Blister Member
    David Dubuque May 2, 2018 Reply

    Corn is fun to ski, but does anybody know where to find the “on” switch on a chairlift? I’ve looked everywhere.

    • PDX May 2, 2018 Reply

      Come out to Bachelor. The lifts run through May and the backside has some of the best corn you will ever see without touring.

  4. Blister Member
    jsl May 4, 2018 Reply

    Have to take the stand powder skiing is still top shelf.
    Point 1, being warm. I like the attitude from a comment by an Arctic explorer some years ago, ‘I like the cold but I don’t like being cold’. There is plenty of gear to accomplish this and it also helps keep the traffic down.
    Point 2. No question, especially after a year in the West like this one.
    3. Time change, not a big deal. But safety is. Often, you still need to head out early to avoid the snow moving. Usually they are big slow sloughs but when they happen you don’t want the cutter setting them off.
    4. & 5. Not much traffic in the back country or out the end of a traverse you cut in area. Hard to beat keeping your interest up with a day like yesterday at Snowbird. It may have only been 5″ of new snow reported but the water content is a better measure of drag or how soft it is and it was good on that day. Very few tracks crossed all morning but once the sun came out the untracked snow became glue like. February, March and in the storm clouds April are better.

  5. Art Sulser May 4, 2018 Reply

    I’m old. I live in Colorado, ski on weekdays and ride lifts, mostly at Mary Jane. I love winter. We don’t have that many brutally cold days. When we do, I stay home. Arcteryx shell and bibs with a nanopuffy most of the time and a warm fleece when it is cold. In the winter you get on the lifts at 9:00 AM and ski till you’re tired. In the springtime the window is around 10:30-1:30, maybe. You get on the lifts too early and its frozen slush so rough your fillings fall out. Stay out too late and the runouts gets so grabby you can’t get back to the lifts. I’ve had one good day of real corn snow in the last few years. What do you like best? Powder or mash potatoes? Packed powder bumps all day or a couple of good runs in the slush? Hard pack is fast and sharp skis make it fun too. Though springtime lunch in a T-Shirt is nice.

  6. Blister Member
    steve May 5, 2018 Reply

    just here to praise the corn i have been convinced of the supreme delight of skiing corn since i began skiing. before i was a skier(i came to the game late : nearly 40 when i really got into it), “summer skiing ” made no sense. now ? not ripping and sipping on volcanoes in the PNW primetime makes no sense ! i raise a toast to all those who hang up their skis in march : god bless you for staying home !

  7. mike May 9, 2018 Reply

    I totally agree, spring skiing is the best. Here in the PNW we get to ski late into the spring and early summer.
    We just had 3 great days of skiing at Alpental to close out the season. I am hoping to get down to Bachelor to do some spring skiing before they close, or at least to Hood for a day or two.
    For a really fun day, climb up to Camp Muir on Rainier and then ski down either Nisqually Chute or the Paradise glacier.

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