The Joy of Spring Skiing

IMG00138-20100210-1422 You know, around these parts we have this crazy rodent named Phil who comes out of his hole in February and the prognosticators of Gobbler’s Knob in Punxatawney,Pa. decide with Phil that winter is often on its way out. Then you get a few nice days in March, coupled by the time change and people get looney. They forget about skiing and get their golf clubs out and hack around in the cold and the mud, or they fish in the streams that still have ice on them and tell themselves that it is spring. The hackers look for their plugged balls and often times try to warm themselves with coffee because it is not quite the warm spring day they anticipated. Why do this when you can still ski? So many people give up when there is plenty of snow on the mountain and the warm late winter days soften the snow into very skiable corn snow which can be enjoyed into April and often times later in the season out west.

Most skiers suffer through the brutal winds and icy conditions of winter and when the big payoff comes with spring skiing, their thoughts turn to activities that can be done for the rest of the year. Why rush it? The ski areas try to keep the attraction by reducing rates, having spring carnivals where people dress in costume and have pond skims on skis, and other festivities that celebrate the end of the ski season. From New England to the West, these carnivals keep the season alive but lots of folks don’t attend unless they are diehards like me and my friends. I remember as a kid, going to Holiday Valley in Western New York for a spring skiing weekend where lift tickets were discounted if you wore pajamas and robes. Of course all of us kids couldn’t wait to wear the stuff and we were welcomed by a pancake breakfast at the top of the mountain as part of the festivities with fresh, local maple syrup as the main attraction of the breakfast. I remember green beer flowing on St. Patrick’s Day at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid a few years back where the weather was in the 60’s, the snow was perfect and the on-mountain fun was outrageous. Years ago when Coors Light was in an experimental stage and the brewery was looking for some feedback on a new light beer, the silver cans were first given to all the spring skiers on the deck at Mid-Vail. I remember filling out the survey on what I thought of the light beer in the silver can. Amazing how a product that started as a spring skiing give a way, became a staple of American lifestyle. Guys wearing t-shirts and shorts, girls wearing bikini tops and windpants, crazy hats, bands rocking on the decks, all around good times mark the spring skiing period which should not be missed at this time of year.

Personally, I like all the festivities but what I most enjoy about spring skiing is the opportunity to ski some pretty cool stuff with soft corn conditions out west. As you can see from the picture above, we like to climb to some interesting runs in places like Kirkwood in Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain in California. If you are willing to get a little sweat on,sling your skis over your shoulders, and climb in sunny conditions, you can hang your skis out over some chutes, ravines, and other challenging places with excellent soft conditions that make it easier to ski at spring time rather than the hard, icy conditions the rest of the year. You still have to pay attention and make sure that you make that first turn, but this is what you pay your money for if you make your way to the west for spring skiing. After a number of runs and a number of climbs, that beer at the end of the day sure tastes good and we all entertain each other with stories of the great runs experienced that day. As we get older, the stories get better, the runs become steeper, but like the fisherman who tells of the big one that got away, it all feels good to partake and to tell the tale.

As my friends at home here are getting their bikes ready, I will be heading west soon for some great end of the season adventures with the Eric Durfee posse whom I have posted about previously. These diehards( with yours truly) gather in the spring to end the season together with some great skiing and even greater comraderie. It has become a tradition and I will be posting some live action from the group in the coming weeks. This blog, as you know, talks about the adventures of a 58 year old kid and I am happy to report that the adventures will continue “live” with the end of the season spring skiing. Thanks for reading and stay tuned. When I return, the new season of posts begin with more spring and summer based memories and adventures. Just like Jimmie Durante………….”I got a million of them…..ha,cha,cha,cha,chaaaaaaaa.”

10 thoughts on “The Joy of Spring Skiing

  1. J.R. says:

    Thanks for the post Pat. You must have been reading my mind because I passed a ton of road bikers today and I kept thinking about all of the warmer days we have had this spring / winter where I didn’t see any.

    What is corn snow?

  2. Pete hilton says:

    Good job “Jimmie” enjoy Tahoe and we’ll be waiting for you on the bike when you get back and the spring “classics” begin.

  3. Michael Brown says:

    Good one! Just turned 65 and slopes do seem a little steeper!… But they won’t stop me either !

  4. Art Bonn says:

    I love this post Pat. The next 3 to 4 weeks will offer some great fun in the sun with spring skiing here at Vail. I rode up the Avanti chairlift last spring with a girl snowboarder wearing a string bikini, don’t tell Sharon.

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