Spring is in the air…well kind of.
March is upon us, and although in many regions this means that back yards will soon be turning green, Montanans are still seeing white. But for us, we know that means that it’s time for some of the best skiing in the Rockies.
While many spring breakers flock to warmer climates, ski conditions in Big Sky, Montana are at their prime. A typical day in March or April features bluebird skies, warmer temps, and soft snow. A lot of it…with a cushioned base from a winter’s worth of accumulation (91-inches and counting).
Here’s the lowdown on spring skiing, Big Sky style:
From the top of Lone Peak, spring looks a lot different than it does in most parts of the country. For one, it’s snowfields and snow-covered peaks for as far as the eye can see.
Spring snowstorms are likely to keep coming, and in the Rockies more snow will fall on average during these one to two months than in any other time of the year. Between storms, days are often sunny and longer than they are in mid-winter (thanks to daylight savings), creating wetter and often carvier snow conditions from the heat build up in the snow packs.
And spring ski days tend to be warmer, with temperatures averaging 43°F.
By March, the snowpack freezes at night and often softens up during the day, creating a batch of wetter snow. Skiers and snowboarders describe this as corn snow, mashed potatoes, cream cheese, and sand snow, depending on the exact makeup. Skis and snowboards grip, bend, and carve wonderfully atop of these types of snow, creating a rare flow of movement from turn to turn. And on a sun-filled afternoon, it can be pretty dreamy!
When skiing this type of spring snow, it’s important to remember that timing is everything. The best time to ski is from about 10 a.m., once it has softened up a bit in the sun, until closing. In the late afternoon, as the sun sinks, the process starts again in reverse and the slush turns back to “corn” before freezing.
Spring Skiing Tips
· Consider the strong sunshine and the sun’s reflection on the snow on these long, sunny days. Make sure to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.
· Layering is key for spring skiing! With good base layers and an outer layer, one can add or remove a mid-layer depending on the time of day (think about the snow corn freeze/melt cycle). And because of snow conditions, it’s a good idea to have a waterproof outer layer along with light, breathable waterproof gloves.
· Adjust your stance for the wetter spring snow. What this means is make sure to keep even weight on each foot in order to ski more solidly, especially when you go through the wetter spots.
· Make sure to get the appropriate wax for the spring snow to help you cruise.
Enjoy the spring skiing!