Spring skiing: when we wear fewer layers, swap goggles for sunglasses and don’t put on enough sunscreen. Strong storms in February and early March this year buried central and southern Colorado in many feet of snow, leading some resorts to extend their seasons and setting spring up for epic conditions.
Iconic mountain lodge has it all. (Timberline Lodge/Facebook)
Only one resort in North America spins its lifts in all four seasons. That’s Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard Area, hard on the slopes of Oregon’s Mount Hood and beneficiary of both high elevations and the largesse of the Northern Pacific storms.
Cinco de Mayo atop Snowbird. (Snowbird/Facebook)
This time of year, the snow is melting and bare ground begins to show. But the spring ritual of skiing and riding under a warm sun and on moist, soft snow is a fitting close to any ski and snowboarding season.
Catchin' some rays at Crested Butte (Crested Butte/Facebook)
One of the perks that comes with sticking out the ski and snowboard season to the end is a great sun tan – and lots of party time in the sunshine.
Most mountain resorts make space for sun-worshippers to engage in their favorite apres-ski activities, and SnoCountry took a look around to find some of the best.
Purgatory. Look out, or you might ski right into Purgy's at the base of the southern Colorado resort. Hit up the outdoor bar for craft beers, order an appetizer, and lounge in the deck chairs for some of the best people-watching locales around.
Park City. Mid-Mountain Lodge once served more than 1,000 miners a day. Now, it's the 10th Mountain outdoor grill at the base of the Pioneer and McConkey's Express lifts. Lodge has two-tiered decks and hosts weddings during summer.
Squaw Valley. Take the tramway to High Camp halfway up the mountain. Even if the pools are empty, there's tons of deck chairs and plenty of choices for a nosh – and the views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe will amaze.
Lutsen Mountains. Summit Chalet at the top of Moose Mountain lays out food, drink and spectacular views to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Menu offers wraps, soups, burgers and pizza -- including local fave walleye sandwich.
Loon. Camp III, a log cabin in the former logging area on New Hampshire mountain, sits at the base of North Peak Express Quad. It's famous for its venison stew, bison burgers and daily specials – but if the sun's out, hit the expansive deck with a beverage and sun screen.
Sunday River. Foggy Goggle, at the base of the Maine resort, is reputed to have the longest après ski party in the East. Also venue for Bud Light Music Series, with massive deck and tons apres-ski eats on the menu.
Crested Butte. The new Umbrella Bar atop the Prospect Lift gives novices and intermediates a place to catch some rays – if the weather's right. Retractable windows create open-air atmosphere for munchies and local craft beer – and eye-popping views of southern Colorado Rockies.
Kayak racing at Monarch (Monarch/Facebook)
As the end of another season is in sight, Colorado skiers and snowboarders go a little crazy knowing that they will soon have to find another way to fulfill their mountain jones. Such anxiety translates into a number of wacky spring traditions.
Beyond pond skimming and beer guzzlin', SnoCountry took a look around the high country of the Centennial State and came up with a sampling of the off-beat, unconventional ways to celebrate both the end of the season and the beginning of spring.
Eldora. Denver's neighborhood mountain has made a habit of returning to its roots every spring. The annual Eldora Retro Days kick off April 1-2 with folks digging through their closets for throwback skiing outfits – “onesie” powder suits, neon headbands, ski bibs, outrageous sunglasses. The resort is set to close the next weekend, and retro gear dominates the final week.
Monarch. The southern Colorado mountain combines its vernal celebration with the upcoming river boating season on the Arkansas River with its annual Kayaks on Snow race April 15. Adventurous paddlers navigate berms, banks and bumps before splashing into the traditional icy pond. The next day, April 16, is the last day of the season with a sendoff cookoff and tailgate party in the parking lot.
Loveland. At a mountain that doesn't plan to close until May, the party begins a month early with the "world's highest cornhole competition" April 1. Skiers and riders will form two-person teams and ride up Chair 1 to the Continental Divide. From there, they will toss bean bags into a hole at 12,700 feet – on hopes of setting a Guinness World Record for the activity.
Aspen Highlands. April 9 is closing day and, to finish off the season, the ninth annual Schneetag race goes full bore. Four-man teams build a "craft" that will slide down the main slope and across a small pond at the bottom. At the top, they perform a skit to exemplify the theme of their craft. Winners choose from a list of prizes.
Thanks to a number of spring storms and a deep snow pack on Ajax Mountain, Aspen is spinning the lifts for skiing and snowboarding Memorial Day Weekend.
The spring skiing and riding season rolls on with eight areas turning lifts this weekend.
“Knee injuries are a fact of life in any sport, but over the past 40 years serious knee sprains, usually involving the ACL, have become an inherent risk of modern Alpine skiing, with more than 20,000 sustained each year by skiers in the U. S. alone,” Carl Ettlinger, president of Vermont Safety Research in Underhill, Vt. told SnoCountry.com.
Record heat in the Northeast has put the skids on the 2011-12 ski and snowboard season, with just a handful or resorts hanging on to trails buried in snowmaking over the past few months. But some resorts are wrapping up the season with big events, live music, and smiles well into April.