By Rachel Walker
One Sunday morning in March, around 10 a.m., I was perched atop Winter Park’s Vasquez bowl preparing to drop in to a pillow of powder preserved in the shade of a chute. It had snowed about six inches the night before. Above, the sun bore down. The crystalline sky offered clear views of the surrounding peaks. I dropped in and knocked off six swooping, weightless turns into the bowl. Then I skied through the trees, back to Winter Park. Did I mention there were no crowds?
Welcome to spring skiing, one of the best, possibly most underrated, aspects of our sport. There are many reasons to love spring skiing in Colorado. Here are ten.
- Good Vibes. As a good friend of mine says, “You can’t charge the slush.” Spring skiing is all about enjoying the scene, being present, and not racing for first tracks.
- Great snow. There’s that magic window between when the top layer of the snow starts to thaw and when the melt sinks more than four inches into the surface. That window is when spring corn emerges and there is only one option for skiers and snowboarders. Harvest the corn.
- Beer tastes better in the sun, after a day of skiing, outside. Whether you’re tailgating in the parking lot or about to dance on the sundeck in your ski boots, few things in life taste better than a beer after a day of spring skiing.
- Get a tan. My doctor will frown at this one, and I DO wear loads of sunscreen year round. But even with the most consistently applied SPF, your face will get tan (or, if you’re like my ginger husband, rosy), which will breathe new life into your face, which has been shuttered behind a thick neck warmer and goggles all winter long.
- You’re with your tribe. I have some friends who put storage wax on their skis come spring and tune up their bikes because they don’t know that ski season is nowhere near over. Then I head to the mountains and connect with my people.
- You’re not cold. Good gear keeps me warm all winter, but I love the effortless temperature management come spring.
- Powder is an even more special surprise. Those six turns down Vasquez? Pure bliss. Especially because they were unexpected. Finding powder in spring (unless, of course, we’re getting that perennial epic blizzard in April) is like a gift from the snow gods.
- Kids love it. The best time to introduce kids to skiing is in the spring because it’s warm, comfortable, and a soft landing.
- Beginners love it. What sounds more appealing: trying to learn how to slide downhill with your feet immobilized in strange objects in zero degree temperature or in forty-five degree temperature?
- Awesome photo ops. Big mountains. Blue sky. Happy people.