By Kerry Phillips
Utah Ski Corner
A very unusual ski season is wrapping up with a month of more unusual weather. The blasts of monster dumps, timed well with snow-making means the season goes and with enough snow to enjoy the ride and plenty of sun to forego the heavy coats and hand warmers. There are a few things that make spring skiing a different kind of fun than can be found the rest of the season.
As temperatures in Utah’s mountains range from 20s to the 50s in a given day in March and April, one difference to watch for is the thaw and freeze that can happen on a daily basis in spring. The terrain is often packed in the morning, feeling firm to downright solid under foot. By mid-day, the surface tends to become more granular, which can cause a jerking effect under skis and boards if they aren’t properly tuned and waxed. A bit of speed and good wax will create a smoother ride over patches of “sticky” snow. Waxing is required more often in warm weather as the conditions strip it off faster. Starting in the afternoon, spring skiing conditions can become a bit slushy near the bottom of runs, but the bumps will just begin hitting their perfect softness. Some riders like a bit of slush, as it is can make it easier to stop than on icy slopes. The trick for consistency is to avoid areas divided by sun and shade and to steer toward the white, drier snow.
Layers are crucial for spring skiing. The mornings can start out as cold as any wintery day, but by the middle of the day it is common to be breaking a good sweat, even while cruising easy on the groomers. A back pack is a great place to store the shed layers as the hills warm up, without having to drop them off while it is still cold, after it already gets sweaty, or without taking a break from the fun. And, even before the sun goes down, the afternoons can get a little brisk in the spring. Ski pants with air vents are definitely a fan favorite this time of year.
A good pair of sunglasses might be all that’s needed on a sunny day, but most skiers still prefer to wear goggles to prevent the wind from drying or even burning their eyes. Check out this month’s Tip of the Ski t the bottom of the newsletter for tips on choosing the best lenses for sunny days.
And, of course… don’t forget the sunscreen!