Just because the British Winter season has come to an end, it doesn't mean that skiing should take a back step for the next nine months before you're gear gets used again.
On the other side of the world the USA provides a huge attraction when it comes to skiing, and although it's a long way for us Brits to go, the money you could save by going in the Spring might be more than you first anticipated.
The most enlightened alpine skiers in the world have some of the most tanned faces, and that's because they know the best time of year to hit the slopes isn’t in the dead of winter, but rather when most Americans are turning their attention towards baseball, the super bowl and spring break beaches. There are more than a few resorts where spring skiing means good powder, sunny skies and reduced prices.
Last year nearly 70 inches of snow fell at Grand Targhee (Alta, Wyoming) between March 31 and April 7, including 21 inches from one storm on April 2. The late season lift lines were thin, the cost of skiing and lodging relatively low, and the powder was more than waist deep in some places.
These are the types of days ski instructor Mark Hanson dreamed of when he left behind a traditional office job and headed for the Rockies with his wife some two decades ago.
“The days are longer, brighter, warmer, and there’s generally more accumulation than any point in the season,” Hanson said. “The snow is still adding until sometime in April, so chances are very good you’ll have either powder or sunshine and maybe both, and who doesn’t love that?”
Those who decided to embark on a trip from March and through mid-April got considerably more for their money and conditions which almost matched the more `popular` time frames over December and January.
Meanwhile, those who took a day off from the slopes to cruise the shops found enormous discounts, particularly on clearance items such as parkas or other ski apparel and accessories that were bound to get good use for many ski seasons to come.
At higher elevations in spring, it’s common for temperatures to get cold enough overnight to bring fresh snow, and for days to warm up comfortably when the sun comes out. The heaviest outer layers of ski clothes often are no longer required. Sunglasses might replace goggles and sunscreen is often required, particularly with the intensity of the sun at high altitude, combined with the reflection of sun rays off the snow.
An added bonus of skiing during Spring is that the prices of flights and car rentals drop massively, thus enabling you to have a cheaper holiday, and at the same time enjoy the sun and bright conditions which very rarely come along in December and January where the slopes are often packed with tourists and enthusiasts.
Large amounts of snow tend to fall at the back end of the year and at the start of the following one, which is why people understandably think this is the best time to book a trip.
In the states, ski areas respond by fighting amongst themselves to get a few ribbons of man made snow down in time for Thanksgiving, when people start thinking about winter sports, but those same resorts have trouble justifying staying open into April when snow coverage is often superb.
“It doesn’t really match up with the quality of our experience or our product,” Hanson said. “It seems like once March is ending, people get out of winter mode, start riding bikes, playing golf and watching baseball.”
The true ski enthusiasts, however, know that the best days of the season might be still be ahead. Trips are still readily available, and in certain parts of the world snow is still falling so you still have opportunity for a skiing holiday if you've been delaying one since the festive holidays.