I can hardly believe it myself but the spring skiing season is upon us. Why it still seems like just yesterday I was skiing with the Spring Breakers from Oklahoma wearing hunting gear on the slopes in early March. How time flies. Keystone closes this weekend and Breckenridge and Vail close on April 24, and I have mixed feelings about all of this. On the one hand, I love summertime in Colorado and I am excited for what is sure to be a fun summer. Visions of hiking, trail running, rafting and camping are helping me cope with the upcoming end of the ski season.
On the other hand, I will be sad to say good-bye to the ski season. At least the ski season isn’t completely lost yet, and I will have the next month or so to gain closure. Spring skiing, however, is a completely different animal than winter skiing in a lot of ways.
Spring skiing tends to be a lot more laid back than winter skiing. During the winter it is often so cold that breaks are centered around warming up your gloves under a hand dryer in the bathrooms. During the spring it is often so pleasant outside that lunch breaks are taken outside and become leisurely two hour long affairs complete with naps.
Other positives of spring skiing include the drastic decrease in the amount of tourists at the resorts. I’m not hating on tourist skiers at all, and I actually think it’s us Front Range folks who make I-70 such a miserable winter time experience. Still, there’s something nice about skiing with all locals in the spring. And even among Front Range folks, the amount of weekend warriors decreases greatly in the spring. In April and May, you’re truly skiing with just the die hard locals who don’t want to say good-bye to ski season just yet.
Of course we are still talking about Colorado here, so it’s definitely possible for the freak spring snow storm to come out of nowhere. Case in point, this past weekend my friends and I stayed in Montezuma, Colorado and spent a day skiing at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone. On Sunday, we randomly woke up to at least eight inches of fresh powder at Keystone. The forecast for Sunday had originally called for 50 degrees and we had expected an underwhelming day of skiing. This is why I love Colorado!
Over the past few weeks, my friends and I have been saddened by the decreasing amounts of snow at each resort. The ground is now visible from lifts at Breckenridge. The Keystone Castle Snow Fort is long gone. These just serve as a sad reminder that the ski season is quickly coming to an end. Also, less of the terrain is open and trails are definitely rougher without any fresh powder. Beyond the obvious, there’s also just the loss of the feeling that the winter is endless. It’s like the last day of summer camp – it’s still fun because it’s summer camp but in the back of your mind you can’t help but dwell on the fact that the next day it will all be over.
Vail powder day in January. Those were the days.
Unfortunately, the same spring temperatures that bring us two hour lunch breaks on patios and parties on the beach at Arapahoe Basin also create some interesting skiing conditions. At the beginning of the day, the parking lots and the ski runs are icy. At the end of the day, the parking lots are rivers and the ski runs are a wet, slushy mess. Spring skiing truly requires a love of skiing in all conditions.
Overall, I am coming to terms with the end of ski season. In the interim, I am very happy that I can count on Arapahoe Basin to be open through May.