Spring has sprung in the Vail Valley, and the skiing is incredible. Our friends at On The Snow report that Vail’s total snowfall for the 2018/2019 season is at 245 inches and counting. More than five feet of snow has fallen in March alone, with 96 inches reported at the Vail base and summit, to the delight of skiers and riders.
Spring conditions in Vail vary from those on the mountain during the heart of winter. The weather, snow, and energy are all different. Mid-winter skiing is still about fun; it’s also the time of year to roll out early, hit those first tracks, and log as many vertical feet as possible.
Spring skiing, meanwhile, has a special vibe. Spring is about bluebird skies, warmer daytime temperatures, forgiving snow conditions and general frivolity on the mountain. Add in the spectacular skiing conditions in Vail brought on by all of that snow piling up, and you have a recipe for an outstanding vacation.
With just a few adjustments to your preparation and skiing game plan, you can get the most out of this particular time of year. The key to success on the slopes during the spring season is to understand how the conditions are changing, take the best advantage of those conditions, and staying warm, dry, and safe on the mountain.
One of the most changeable factors in spring skiing is the temperature, leading to significant fluctuations in the structure of the snow. As the season changes the sun moves higher in the sky and the days lengthen, bringing more sunlight to the snow. Temperatures drop overnight leading to freezing, and then warm up during the day, melting the snow and creating slushy conditions.
Bottom line? This freeze-melt cycle creates corn snow, large grains of snow that freeze together overnight, and then loosen when warmed by the sun. “Corn” refers to the snow that is soft and forgiving, but not yet slushy and hard to navigate.
Hitting the slopes early in the morning during spring conditions can make for a rough ride, as those large chunks of snow that were so easy to navigate during the midday have now frozen into something akin to a coral reef. It’s hard to maneuver on this snow, and not the ideal surface for a fun run. This is the time of year to sleep in, have breakfast, and wait for the mountain to warm up.
When you are on the mountain, look for slopes with an eastern exposure that are warming up in the morning sun. Those runs will soften up first. To take the best advantage of the spring snow, think about following the sun—start on the east- or south-facing slopes, move to the west-facing and finally to north-facing slopes.
Look for free compass apps for smartphones to help with directions. Websites with weather reports and forecasts can also be a big help during changeable conditions, and local resources such as the Colorado Avalanche Information Center provide avalanche hazardous weather information.
Now more than ever it’s essential that skis and boards are tuned and waxed. Soft, warm snow is wet snow, and skis won’t glide as well on this surface. Renting equipment from Bridge Street Ski Haus ensures that your gear is in top shape each day, while the store’s location adjacent to Gondola One gives easy access to the mountain.
The transition from the freezing temperatures during winter to spring’s warmer weather means changeable conditions on the slopes. With the abundant snowpack and the vigilance of the ski patrol, the chances of encountering rocks are small. At the same time, it pays to be aware of your surroundings.
Along the same lines, respect the resort’s boundary markers and signs indicating that a run is closed. This is a circumstance when it makes sense to “Color inside the lines.”
Sunny days and warmer temperatures make it easy to relax and enjoy the moment. Remember, however, that high altitude is unforgiving all year round. Drink plenty of water to say hydrated, and wear a high-SPF sunscreen on all that exposed skin. Be sure to think about other details, including wearing lip balm with sunscreen to prevent sore, sunburned lips.
Eyewear, either high-UV protection sunglasses or goggles, is invaluable in both winter and spring. Good UV protection means better vision on the snow, and can help prevent eye strain. Goggles and glasses also protect against sunburn, as it is possible to sunburn the cornea.
Skiing in shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits makes for great selfies, but when the wind picks up, or the clouds roll in, you will appreciate having an extra layer. Light layers are ideal for springtime skiing; it’s easy to peel off or add more as the weather changes—and it will change.
Spring skiing season in Vail is for frolicking, and the whole community gets in on the fun. Free concerts, parties and après events will fill the calendar through closing day. Check our blog post for the latest details on Vail spring events, and be sure to check local calendars for late additions to the schedule.
Sure, you came here to hit the slopes, but this is spring skiing. The experience is part of the fun, and it’s time to savor the season as it wraps up, and enjoy all that Vail has to offer. Make time to enjoy lunch outside on a warm sunny afternoon. Take a walk around Vail Village. Find a free concert, pull up a chair and tap your toes while you soak up the sun. Visit the hotel pool or spa après ski, relax and take it all in.
Know that as the season winds down, the staff at Bridge Street Ski Haus will continue to bring outstanding ski rental service in Vail. The store’s location adjacent to Gondola One means the ultimate in convenience, with access to the slopes just steps from the shop.
Visit us online to reserve ski rentals in advance; we’ll be here until the mountain closes for the season.
Share this blog post