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When to STOP Skiing?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
Bear with me while I air a pet peeve.

Why is it that everyone gets so excited about Opening Day? (I'll admit, of course, that I'm just as bad about this as anyone. )

We get all jazzed for the lifts to finally open. Hordes of us go out on a cold, dark, November (or October or December) day, ski some basic runs that have manmade snow with hundreds or thousands of our brethren, scratch around on the ice and stand in liftlines. The off-piste sits brown and rocky and uninviting. The sun goes down practically before the lifts close in the afternoon.

MEANWHILE, at the other end of the season, Western resorts tear their hair out trying get skiers to come visit in April. The skies are blue, the sun is warm, the days are long, there's usually tons (and tons) of snow, you can ski in lightweight clothing, and it's just delightful. But no one comes.

Other than offering a relatively good shot at powder, spring skiing is better and more fun by practically every yardstick you might name. But no one comes.

Why is that?

post #2 of 54
Personally, here in New England, spring skiing or any skiing where the snow is soft and heavy is difficult at best for me since I dislocated my knee(not skiing) a few years ago. I fear re-injuring it again. I am the sole money earner in my household and I can not afford to miss work due to an injury. I feel that skiing in the soft and heavy conditions, for me, is asking for trouble so I don't do it.

On the other hand, I love skiing hard pack, light fluffy powder and corn snow and would ski it year round if it were available.
post #3 of 54
Alot of people don't like the ice in the morning, slush in the afternoon conditions. By the way... uncrowded is good right?
post #4 of 54
Right on Bob, I've been saying the same thing for years. Just another ramification of the human condition.

post #5 of 54
Bridgeman, I hear you! But don't worry, you can tell people how good it is 'till you're blue in the face, they will not ski the spring snow. They do not even believe it's there. They feel sorry for you. I even tell single guys that the women will be hot and scantily clad. They laugh it off, but it's true! The lack of crowds is nice, but if a few more would show up, lifts might stay open. Always closing with plenty of hero snow, soft friendly bumps... You can't give this secret away, oh well! Fun in the sun for the regular guys and gals.
post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Bridgeman
... By the way... uncrowded is good right?
Sure, as long as the lifts are open.

But what happens at many resorts (mine included) is that very, very few skiers will go on destination ski trips after the end of March. Consequently, the resorts would be keeping the lifts open with no one to sell tickets to. The only people using the lifts are those pesky season pass holders who paid all their money previous fall. No percentage in keeping the area open if you're the area owner.

So, even though there's snow to spare and fabulous skiing all over the hill, the lifts go silent.



Maybe that's why everyone gets so excited by the time Opening Day rolls around again. :
post #7 of 54
Yeah Bob, It's the same at my local day trip areas. The pass holders also know how to pack a lunch, seldom rent gear, take lessons etc. Cash box hardly opens. It has to be frost bite cold for people around here to ski. Then its crowded, gets icy fast, always the worst skiing when its cold where I ski, unless it's snowing hard.
post #8 of 54
Eastern resorts stay open until there is no more snow.

I was skiing at Sugarloaf the third week in April a few years ago. Of course last year barely had any Spring skiing.

I don't really love Spring skiing because of the slush and how much force it puts on my bad knee.

Now that I am into bumps I may change my mind.
post #9 of 54
for me I have 2 options , one expensive mid-season trip, or 2 trips, one in early dec and one in late march...I always end up passing on the mid season trip. I love bith eary and late season skiing and I hate mid-season prices, so it works out well
post #10 of 54
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Scalce

I don't really love Spring skiing because of the slush and how much force it puts on my bad knee...

Yours is a pretty common complaint about spring skiing. The slush factor.

The terrain at a lot of the big western resorts has so much variability in terms of elevation and direction of exposure that you can often ski most of a day on snow that's just turning soft rather than snow that's already been cooked. Local knowledge helps a great deal, of course, but great skiing may be available all day if you know where to look for it.

Many people write off spring skiing for exactly the reason you cite, but I'm just trying to get the word out that it ain't necessarily the case.

post #11 of 54
If you fly me to Jackson Hole I will try it out.

We don't have the elevation here in New England.
post #12 of 54
I live for opening day and more times than not its as you describerd pretty marginal. Besides the love of skiing getting first turns reaffirms that you can stil turn them.Opening day represents additional enthusiasm to try out the new boots, new skis, new parka, new whatever that you really didn't need but had to have anyway. I anticipate all year my spring trip to Colorado. I have to give Vail and some of the other areas a lot of credit the way they provide tourists incentive to ski in April with the steep discounts in tickets and lodging. Six days for $99 is fantastic.

The last couple of years, I have returned from skiing in April and I am mowing my lawn the next day , thinking about the boot top powder I skied 24 hrs. earlier. I also like to play golf in the fall when most people quit playing. I bought a pair of K2XP's a couple of years ago to ski on in spring . It makes skiing mashed potatoes almost enjoyable.It's all good!
post #13 of 54
I can appreciate the anxiety about heavy slush on a week knee but my experience has been that the snow isn't always like that and if you improve your technique theres little need to push the snow. In general the best skiing conditions are usually in the Spring, particularly when rain has washed away the soft mush or cold nights have kept the snow firm and dry. I've skiied last day of the season many times when the sking was excellent, the weather gorgeous and there were maybe 12 people on the entire mountain. On several of those occasions the coverage was 100% and the snow just the right consistency of firmness and edge grip. Most of the time the snow stays firm up till about one o'clock or so. Even then it is mostly heavy traffic fronm the heel pushers that cause slush to build. Here in the Northeast theres usually someplace open till about May 1st and sometimes skiing at that time can suck but its always a lot of fun. Some of the snowfields and gullies on Mt Washington can provide incredible skiing experiences well into June (not last season though). Barring bad snow years, only crowds can ruin that expewrience so don't let the word out
post #14 of 54
Bob, people here are talking about bad conditions being the reason for staying away, but my experience has been that most are just sick of winter by the end of the season and are more interested in getting out their mountain bikes and tennis raquets.
post #15 of 54
I am more worried about tourqing my knee from it getting unexpectantly suctioned which you cannot always avoid regardless of technique. I don't push snow as I leave that to the snowboarders.

I'm healthy now so it's not an issue this year.

What Northeast area have you skied at that had 100% coverage the last day?
post #16 of 54
Spring skiing isn't my favorite because I hate the 2 - 2.5 hour drive to only get at best 2 hours of good skiing before it turns all slushy and heavy (we do it - don't get me wrong - we're just more selective about it). Now on the flip side, while opening day typically blows because it's so abnoxiously crowded for 3 runs, we're itching to get out there because it's been too long. So while every year I vow not to go to Killington on opening day, I'm sure we won't be able to resist.
post #17 of 54
My home mountain in southern VT closes mid-April. Seems that the one Black Bear in the region tends to wake up from his yearly slumber around then. Mind you there's hike-to skiing and snow camping for weeks afterwards, but the lifts aren't running. Might as well go to Tucks by that time anyway.
post #18 of 54
When to STOP Skiing?
When you are dead/incapacitated/passed out or otherwise physically incapable of skiing
post #19 of 54
Originally Posted by Summit
When you are dead/incapacitated/passed out or otherwise physically incapable of skiing
Ya summit that about sums it up for me as well.

And Bob you are right. Frankly I don't feel ski areas market spring skiing conditions very well. But you also have to realize that the last few days of March onward most of the locals feel that it is their time to have the mtn to themselves. Quite a few get laid off from whatever employment that they had during the season when the tourist numbers decline. But their pass is still valid. So they ski that empty mtn hard, which they worked so hard for all season long, when their ski pass was restricted on certain dates.

Since I've been there I tend not to spread the word about said time. There needs to be balance at ski mtns. The locals deserve their time to enjoy what they've been working so hard for as well. IMHO
post #20 of 54
Yeah, this has always puzzled me either.
For me, skiing in March-April is MOST fun. Days are longer, crowds are smaller, clothes are lighter, 100% open trails, smallest chances for bases damage. Slush? Here in West it is mostly corn or powder.
post #21 of 54
Spring is the finest time. In my eastern world, there are times that the slush is just too deep and the carving boards sink way too far. My solution is to get a pair of wider demos. There's really no need for me to own a pair given the truly limited number of times I've encountered those extremely heavy conditions.

My widest boards last year were 64mm. Almost everyone has got WAY more floatation than me. I can offer only one reason why folks that weigh 80 to 100 lbs less than I do think that the snow can get heavy and unskiable: they skid/rotate and are defensive.

As far as the hills being empty, what I see in southern Ontario is the racing season come to a close by March Break and the adults are happy to have their weekends back.

March Break ski trips make it very difficult for some to go back to their home hills, especially when they realize that one run at the March Break trip is worth over a dozen on their own hill..... all of which means there's more room for me!
post #22 of 54
early season is like a drawn-out christmas eve for me, with a present being opened here and there, the excitement is at a pitch, etc; but the payoff, for me anyway, hits in march, when i know there's a very good chance my best skiing is still ahead of me, with quality april and may turns (on empty hills )virtually assured. those days are sweet as creamed corn, for lack of a better phrase.

of course, having mammoth nearby helps a little.
post #23 of 54
People flock to the early season snow simply because they are itching to ski. If you are starving you'll eat just about anything.

Spring skiing, while infinitely better than the early season junk, isn't as popular because the warm weather drives people to other pursuits. We've had a whole winter on the hill already. If you've just finished a banquet you're more likely to pass on the dessert, right?

For me I love the spring - sunny days of soft snow, skiing in t-shirts and bbq'ing in the parking lot is reward for the cold, cold January days.
post #24 of 54
In Montana, spring skiing can be some of the most dangerous. The snow here normally doesn't go through many freeze/thaw cycles during the season. This prevents the snow, especially in the lower layers. from building up any density. While this makes for great skiing most of the year once spring comes it makes for a total mess.

Since the snow doesn't have much density when it melts it melts deep down. You can easily find yourself a foot deep in mashed potatos. The flats, which get the most intense sun, become notoriously sticky surprising people coming off steeper terrain. I've seen more people hauled off the mountain on spring days than any other time even though the crowds are minute.

The deep melts also lead to unstable snow. I've seen slabs of snow slide off runs at Bridger leaving nothing but rocks. Out-of-bounds skiing is out of the question. Personally, I quit skiing here when the mountains mush out. The risks aren't worth taking.
post #25 of 54
Never stop skiing...Last year I only went 3 months without at least skiing once.

The season starts for me usually around Nov 1st. I mountain bike all summer but as soon as Loveland opens up I try and get up there to make some turns. The best way to get in shape for skiing and riding is to go skiing and riding.....

The season ends for me around June. Spring skiing is a good time. I ski until A-Basin closes. Usually June the past couple years. I hit a 5 inch powder day on June 5th last year. There was probably only 30-40 people that showed up to the Basin that day.

Sometime in the summer I hit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument for a couple sand turns. You gotta hike to the top of the dunes and use a ton of enviromentally friendly wax to get some token turns but it is still fun and counts as skiing . Before the drought out West my friends went up and skied St. Mary's glacier in the summer.
post #26 of 54
For me.. I absolutely love spring skiing..

When do I stop skiing? I usually stop skiing sometime in late April when the mountains which are a closer drive (Loon, Sunnappe) close for the season (which by the way.. the spring moguls are absolutely awesome then.. you can ski with a t-shirt on or a light fleece, and there is no one on the mountain and the lines are non-existent.. doesn't get better than that). At that time, my only option left is Killington, which is a longer drive.. and also my wife by that time is sick of me being away so often and she has no interest in going up with me, so I tend to stop.

However.. I do break up the summer (for the last couple of years) with a trip to the Blackcomb glacier in mid July for a summer bump camp. That's awesome also since it's a full week of spring type bumps.. but better.

So I guess technically I stop skiing in July, except I take a 2 month break before that. If I could ski year round without breaking the bank or forcing my wife to leave me, I would.
post #27 of 54
I enjoy skiing the most when temps are really low (by west coast standards). I hate slush. I hate corn. I hate warm skiing.

I would not head to the mountains in April - unless its powder day.
post #28 of 54
It's always been a mystery to me to, why people stop skiing when the conditions and weather are the best. I'll never forget the apparell of the ladies on the warm spring days at Stratton. Or taking long rides in the chair lift and getting a sun burn by the I reach the top.

I can't count the number of years my little area closed with full coverage because there were only 3 riders on the slope on the 1st of April. It's gotta be very frustrating for the whole ski industry. But I don't remember anybody lowering their lift tickets a lot to attact riders.

It's funny to read about all the slush and how hard it is to ski in it. I'm more worried about the Oct/November coverage and what the Man made base of 3-4 inches is not covering. Not to mention that the snow they lay down is generally wet and sticky, which will twist a knee as fast as slush.

But I after re-reading the above I have to admit that I"m like the rest of the heard, by the time April rolls around I'm ready to be rolling on my bike. I guess I'm just not dedicated enough. Sorry.
post #29 of 54

From the view of a skier who lives in the south, it is almost impossible to get to the resorts that are still open in the west during the month of April. Most direct flights into areas like aspen/snowmass and steamboat have cancelled their winter ski flights into these resorts by the end of March.

The group I ski with always book a trip around Mardi Gras (late Feb.to mid March). However, I will book another trip closer to Easter, but I seem to run into the problem of getting there with in a whole day. Most late trips in early to mid-april are booked with us staying in Santa Fe and driving to the ski areas (Ski Santa Fe and Taos) in the morning. We can get to Albuquerque in 4 hours from Lafayette which gives us plenty of time to get into Santa Fe that day. For the skiers who live away from the mountains, I believe it is more a matter of getting there.
post #30 of 54
Yeah it's great, but uh, it's stink, wink wink! Hey don't worry, you can't give this secret away! If somehow the mountain made profit last 2 weeks in March by attracting a small crowd, (it won't be enough to cause a lift line and spring snow is not easily damaged by too many tracking it), then they probably extend season 2 more weeks. The more the merrier, it's a party, I invite everyone I know, but no one shows!

I hear you Rio about mashed potatos, the man made snow I ski only gets a little sticky the first time it melts, there is no air in the spring snow here, it's fast and sings when you slice through.

When the wet snow gets a little deep you can see a narrow slick sidewalk form down the center of the run, the majority of skiers doing linked hockey slips down that line. The few that can carve use the other part of the run.
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