By Keith Liggett
For some, it’s been a winter of great skiing. For some, it can’t be over soon enough. The conditions across North America have been variable to say the least.
The other night a couple of us were talking about this winter. There have been epic days of 40, even 50 and a couple of 90 cm days. We woke to some of the best days of the past 10 winters. At the same time, the eastern resorts suffered through one of the warmest winters in recent memory and a paucity of snow struck many of our favourite areas in the States.
I love spring skiing. Skiing with a shell, a light toque and a beer on the deck of the Griz or the Corner Pocket at the end of the day. There’s no reason to be on the hill early. A 10 or 11 a.m. start is perfect. The snow softens and corns up on the east and south facing pitches. As the day progresses, as the snow becomes too soft, you move to more north facing slopes. Easter Bowl remains great all day.
The months of March and April are huge snow months. Up high there is little consolidation in the snow pack. It simply keeps building and building. The day of a storm will be great. A couple days after, the off piste remains marginal and then it’s all good all over again. Drop in Bear Chutes, drop in Knot Chutes, drop in anywhere.
This is the time of year I pull out my touring skis and think about making a couple of long treks. Find a hut no one has thought of and make a reservation. The ski in will be warm with our turtleneck sleeves pushed up. On the deck of the hut (always south facing) the end of the day turns into tales of old ski trips, Haute Route trips, early season climbs ending in disaster with fast moving weather, or becoming classics with an unexpected weather window. The meat of the day lies in lap after lap on fine corn sow. No breaking trail. Simply gliding over the surface up and down.
And it’s all good.
If you are hanging your skis up, take a few minutes to prep for next year.
Put a piece of tape in front of the toe on one ski, write down the DIN setting for your bindings and then back the springs off all the way for the summer.
Wax your skis with a thick coat of red and don’t scrape them to prevent oxidation over the summer. Leave them in a corner sitting on their tails, not hanging from their tips in a ski rack for the summer.
For your boots, sprinkle some baby powder or foot powder into your boots and buckle them loosely with the tongue in place for the summer.
Last, check the pressure in your mountain bike tires, oil your chain and get ‘er ready to rip. The South Country is in great shape right now.
This morning when I walked out my door in the pre-dawn light, I heard robins singing in from the trees across the street. This is spring.