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Category: Spring Skiing

Top Spring Ski Events in the East & West

Don’t you love spring skiing? Warm temperatures meet a winter’s worth of snow depths. Ski conditions soften and so do bulky dress codes at the best ski resorts. From music to moguls to general mayhem – these spring fests are super fu:

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:
Spring Back to Vail April 14-16 brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village. Après ski at Vail just got big and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! Look for parties on the mountain too – like Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest, April 16 at Golden Peak. Enjoy a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators.

Whistler Blackcomb World Ski & Snowboard Festival April 7-16 is a top ski event, bringing together skiing, film, art, professional ski and snowboard competitions, plus top concerts and après ski parties that go crazy late! If you’ve watched Bravo’s Après Ski and Timber Creek Lodge- you know Whistler’s party scene is out of this world.

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village starts late March with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties – culminating April 8 with the 21st Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March 18.

Steamboat’s Springalicious 37th annual cardboard classic is April 15 – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival April 8 marks its 11th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

Aspen Highlands Closing Day is an elevated spring ski party – the spring ski celebration above 10,000’ in the Rockies gets wild, with ridiculous retro outfits, serious drinking, even Champagne spraying! Did we mention you’re at 10,000 feet?! High times in Colorado.

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

New England skiers know the best skiing is typically in spring. Put away the facemasks and hand warmers for much welcome warmer sunnier ski days. The hard snow softens, those man made base depths turn to cream corn by mid morning and the BBQ fires up mid afternoon for sun and fun by the slopes. Spring is also a time for pond skimming, zany costumes and competitions on the ski slopes, even tailgating in muddy parking lots. No one said Eastern skiers were sane? But they are hard core! Here are some Eastern spring ski rites of passage and grand season finales full of fun and games, music and grills.

Cannon Mountain Bodefest on March 25 with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew.

Killington Bear Mountain Challenge N’orBeast is April 8 as Bump skiers go all out on Outer Limits moguls. Cheers and beers (sponsor Dos Equis) flow at the base of this spring ski party.

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 29 April 6-9 is like Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival April 1-2 was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base.

Loon has 80’s Day April 1- no foolin! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is April 8.

Wildcat has their Annual Cat Scratch Fever event April 7-8 as skiers compete to be the Cat’s Meow before the judges. If you’ve seen Wildcat’s Kitty Litter Box Derby in February, don’t miss this wild spring event at the Cat with live après ski entertainment in the Wildcat Pub .

Sugarbush Gelandesprung & Mt. Ellen End of Season Celebration is April 1, this traditional ski jump event is a classic – to watch – even wilder to get sprung.

Sugarbush‘s Pond Skimming at Lincoln Peak April 8 is also a big splash, followed by the legendary Steins’ Challenge on April 22 which is spring mogul mania – bring Z rubber knees to Sugarbush.

Okemo’s Slush Cup and Splash for Cash April 8 is a wet and wild good time with a pretty good pay day for the winner. Okemos 80 Retro Jam is set for April 15 – rock your most rad 80s attire – totally awesome dude as Okemo wraps their season!

Jay Peak has Pond Skimming and their Annual Tailgate Party April 15, so bring your bikini and your bbq.

Easter Sunday at East Coast ski resorts brings sunrise services at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Killington, Stowe and Jay Peak….. Most ski resorts have Easter Egg Hunts on the ski slopes for kids, and costume parades, even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Look for a few snow bunnies on the beginner slopes too! Easter weekend is the season finale Sunday for most New England ski resorts.

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.luxuryskitrips.com

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Where to ski this summer?

1aspen-highlands-bowlWhile most of us skiers have launched boats, turned to paddleboarding, kayaks and bikes, even golf clubs, there are those bold ski souls who #neversummer and want to ski all the time, every season. Here are the latest ski conditions aroudn teh glove from our friends at SAM, Ski Area management:

Two resorts are open in North America : Timberline, Ore., and Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., Canada. The open terrain on Whistler’s glacier is primarily for training, but it does have a small open-to-the-public park. Timberline is currently spinning three lifts to access a park and a pipe. Mammoth Mountain in California wrapped up its season on July 4.

off-piste-tracksFor summer skiing in Europe,  several glacier-skiing resorts are operating with respectable snowpack. Austria has three resorts open, including year-round Hintertux, which has the deepest snow in the alps with a base of just over 92 inches and is reporting “old snow” as the surface. U.S. national team members have been training there recently. Dachstein and Kitzteinhorn glaciers are also open with similar conditions.

France’s three glacier ski areas are reporting the best July snow conditions in years, with base depths measuring about six feet—roughly four times what they were last year at this time. Les 2 Alpes and Tignes plan to be open through most of August. Val d’Isere was the first area to open, but will likely be the first to close with reports calling for July 10 to be the final day.

2marmolada-glacier-ski-offPasso Stelvio in Italy is reporting “gripping” snow accessed by all six of its lifts. Cervinia in Italy re-opened at the end of June after a steady dose of fresh snow. It’s reporting a base depth of more than six feet on 12 miles of trails. It’s possible to enjoy cross-boarder skiing from Cervinia to Zermatt in Switzerland, Zermatt as only ski area open in Switzerland isis reporting excellent July conditions.

Norway’s three glacier ski areas have no shortage of snow, with base depths measuring as much as 23 feet. Despite having plenty of white stuff to enjoy, Stryn plans to close July 19, but Folgefonn and Galdhoppigen should stay open into August.

tracksFresh snow in Australia after a slow start to the season fell on the Ausie mountains end of June, allowing every resort to open for the season, with more snow at Thredbo in July. The forecast is calling for cool temps and at least a chance of snow at higher elevations every day through the weekend, so look for more terrain to open as snowmaking continues.

3skiers-powder-sun2It’s the opposite story in New Zealand, however. After a great start,  warm fronts have melted snow cover and hindered snowmaking efforts, only a few resorts are open. The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Mt. Hutt are the only three resorts open for skiing  on a fraction of their terrain. Coronet Peak is spinning a lift for scenic rides.

The story is similar in Argentina where early snowfall allowed some resorts to open earlier than expected, followed by a drought, according to reports, and only Las Lenas and Catedral are open. Las Lenas has a max base depth of 47 inches on 10 trails, and Catedral is reporting a max depth of 3 inches on six trails served by just six of the resort’s 36 lifts.

1ski-wildcatResorts in Chile got  about 10 feet of snow in early,t more than half of the nation’s ski resorts are open including Valle Nevado and La Parva, each sporting base depths of nearly 60 inches. South Africa’s Tiffendell’s slopes and all but Afriski’s slopes are open for skiing and riding.

It’s still early winter south of the equator, and forecasts are calling for things to cool down over an extended period of time across many of the mountainous areas throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

HB_waterski09To quote John Snow, #winteriscoming so enjoy the summer, or go find snow at these ski resorts! Me, I am enjoying SUP Paddleboarding, water skiing and boating till November. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

Still skiing? The 2% – Skiers!

Its Memorial Day weekend, sign of summer, after one of the most mercurial winters Family Ski Tripson record – El Niño, or as we called it “El Weirdo.”

The East was warm with astonishingly low snow, less than 5 feet of natural snow at Sunday River… meanwhile the West got nuked, 33 feet at Grand Targhee, 38′ at Snowbird in Utah!

blizzard-heatherOverall, skier visits were up 8% in the Rockies. The Pacific Northwest recorded a 142% increase, easily doubling from 2 mill in 2014-15 to 4.8 mill visits in 2015-16 according to NSAA – the National Ski Areas Association.

sunday-river-chondolaThe Northeast, New England particularly, was down 28% this winter (can we call it a winter?!) reflecting one of the four worst ski seasons in the past four decades. Sunday River, who opened on Oct 19, kept skiing til May 2, but only received 60 inches of natural snow, their usual snowfall total is 167 (can you say snow making magic?).

1telluride-skier-hrbOverall skier visits in the US for 2015-16 were 53.9 million, the West soared  and saved the East meltdown. As for the bottom line, Western resort occupancy was up 4.4 percent,revenues up 5.2 percent compared to last season, with Colorado as the leader of the pack, even though the strong US $ deterred Canadians and foreigners.

In layman’s terms, about 7 million people in the US ski,  they account for our 53 million “skier visits” by going about 7 times a season. Some folks, like me, big-sky-ianski 50 days, ski instructors, patrollers and ski bums eclipse 100, but slobs with real jobs ski only 2 to 5 times a winter, so its an alipne average . With the US population at 322,762,018 (2016 US Census specifics) that means skiers are the 2%!

Enough elitist ski math, alpine analysis and El Niño climatology… let’s talk about who is still open for skiing in May 2016?

In the East, the last beast spinning is Killington Resort which reopens Memorial weekend much like last year! Out west the usual late spring ski resorts are still standing: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Aspen’s Ajax  in Colorado,  Mammoth, Mt Bachelor, Timberline & Whistler Blackcomb! Mammoth still has 130’ of base in late May, more snow than heather-aspen-supthe East saw all season. Hintertux Glacier in Austria too!

Me, I’ve stored my skis for next October, sharpened, waxed all set to go come snow…but I’m switching gears to SUP, boating and water skiing. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

Who’s Still Skiing?

cannon-ravineIt makes me sad every ski season,  skiers call it quits in April just as the sun comes out and the best skiing of the year is here. These are the same yahoos that line up in early November to ski a ribbon of manmade snow on one trail in low light and short days. Now we have the longest days of the season, sunshine and as much as 50% of the terrain open on a winter’s worth of snow at some of the top ski resorts in New England and the Best Ski Resorts Out West – the Kings of spring skiing .

Yes, you need to wear sunscreen and watch for bare spots and brown snow, aka: snirt which is snow + dirt.  And yes, the perfect corn corduroy does get squishy in the afternoon, but the ski slopes still have legit base depths, and a fun spring fever attitude. You can rock your jeans and your retro ski attire – ridiculous spring fling outfits from the closet are perfectly appropriate now.

Out west, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Snowbird, Winter Park, Mammoth, Squaw, Mt Bachelor and Timberline are still open for skiing.

In New England, Killington, Sugarbush and Jay Peak are still spinning, Okemo plans to reopen April 24-26.

6sugarloaf-summitSugarloaf  will keep skiing into May. Sunday River re-opens April 25-26 weekend, and finishes the season on May 2 with their free SkiMaynia tradition. Wildcat, the only NH ski resort still open,  skis through April 26, then plans to re-open May 2-3 weekend.

Get out and enjoy the spring skiing while it lasts. You will have plenty of time for biking and HB_waterski09waterskiing later.

Grab your shades, a cooler for tailgating apres ski,  SPF 30, and your Dad’s one-piece fart bag, or whatever screams out from the closet. The more outrageous the better. That lousy limited low-light November skiing is still six months away.

K, go ski! See our Top New England Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing and the Best Out West for late season skiing!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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