Why I Love Spring Skiing

The day I sat down to write this article back in January, it was 30 below zero with the wind chill. So yeah, hell really did freeze over.  It was so cold I was wearing two pairs of socks around the house. The first pair was a feeble attempt to keep my feet warm, and no, it didn’t work.  After losing feeling in my frosted piggies, I tried lighting the second pair on fire . . . while still wearing them.  All that did was roast the hair on my feet and sent me running outside to extinguish the flames in a snowbank, while the smell of singed hair and burnt wool lingered in the house for weeks. As this obvious poop show was going down, I yelled multiple times to no one in particular, “Is it frickin’ spring yet?” while looking up condo prices in Phoenix on Zillow. I never did get an answer, nor did I find a condo in my price range, but it sure got me thinking about why I dig spring skiing.

Free the Noggin
I’ve been donning a brain bucket for many years, and I really do appreciate the added sense of safety and warmth it provides and encourage others to wear one. But once the temps hit the mid-40s, I do not enjoy the trickles of sweat that somehow seep into my eyes. Pro tip: salt and contact lenses do not mix well. Now, I don’t have the hairline to go commando, but there is something liberating about ripping turns while wearing a trucker hat and sunglasses. Plus, it looks cool. Well, as cool as a dude in his early 50s can look.

Cotton is King
There’s an old alpinist saying that calls cotton the “death cloth,” mainly because it does not provide much in the way of warmth and is completely worthless once wet. But, come March, who gives a rip? With the temps well above freezing and the warm sun hitting your face, spring is the time to break out the Champion sweatshirts and Nirvana t-shirts. Pay no mind to the snarky comments you are sure to get from the folks still rocking their $1,000 Patagonia shells. Deep down they are jealous.

Beers on the Lodge Deck
Seems like every year I witness several hardcore skiers or riders sipping barley pop on the deck in the middle of January, and I have nothing but respect for them. But not this cowboy. No my friends, beers on the lodge deck should be reserved for March and April, when the sun is glaring down and everyone is all grins. If you choose to forgo the hat and sunglasses, it is perfectly acceptable to just wear your goggles to shield your eyes. Does that look kinda weird? Yep, but after a pitcher of PBR, you really won’t give a crap how you look.

Parking Lot BBQs
Flatlanders probably think summer is the start of barbecue season, but for us mountain folks, it begins in March. Once spring hits, ski hill parking lots often look more like football tailgate parties than ski resorts, and nothing will make your stomach rumble after a great day on the hill like the smell of burgers and bratwurst sizzling over a hot bed of briquettes. If you are super cool with the guy manning the grill, you might just score a free lunch. If that doesn’t work, I know for a fact that trading a Nirvana t-shirt will get you a bacon cheeseburger and a beverage. //

Brad Northrup is a former ski racer, coach, and ski industry professional. It’s fair to wonder if he even skis before spring.

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