Outdoor Adventures: Spring skiing signals season’s swan song
Loving the snow?
Then enjoy true spring skiing with a few added twists as skiers and snowboarders should be able to ride chairlifts through much of April, and likely longer.
Or, take to the woods.
Like skiing at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation after it officially closes March 30. Executive Director Thom Perkins says they’re going to continue grooming and skiers can use the system for free.
“Where we will be grooming is the question,” he said. That information will be posted on the network’s Facebook page.
And lift service in May is a realistic goal across the region.
“Some of our smaller ski areas are planning to close after the final weekend of March,” Ski New Hampshire’s Karl Stone said. “Many of the larger areas will look to stay open into mid- to late-April. With this much snow in place, you may see some ski areas elect to stay open longer than initially planned.”
Those big boys include Loon, Cannon, Waterville Valley, Mount Sunapee and Bretton Woods. Don’t forget Attitash and Wildcat, which likes to be last man standing in New Hampshire.
Stone said there is a possibility of seeing a few lifts turning into May if the weather cooperates.
It’s been a long time since Mount Sunapee was fully open in late-March. Weather permitting, it’s looking at staying open until April 13.
“This year we will definitely run out of skiers and riders before we run out of snow,” marketing director Bruce McCloy said.
Loon’s doesn’t have a closing date, but is looking to remain open through mid-April.
“Early cold weather allowed us to open top-to-bottom on November 8, the earliest Loon has ever done so,” Greg Kwasnik said. “With the exception of a brief January thaw, consistent cold helped us take full advantage of New Hampshire’s most powerful snowmaking system, while 50 inches of natural snow in February and three feet in March delivered some of the best late-season conditions in years.”
Time will tell, but for now spring is the season for reduced lift ticket prices, season pass deals (buy for next season, but use it this season) and wacky events. April Fool’s Day is dirt cheap at Waterville Valley with tickets at one buck, while Attitash and Wildcat serve up $9 lift tickets.
In Vermont, Burke, Magic, Bromley and Bolton Valley are projecting April 6 as last call. Okemo, Stratton and Smugglers’ Notch have April 13 as closing dates, with Mount Snow saying mid-April.
Stowe is holding on until April 20, while Sugarbush and Jay Peak are talking May.
“Jay Peak will be aiming for the ultimate surprise gift for moms with a tentative closing date of Mothers Day, May 11,” Jay Peak’s JJ Tolland said. “Grab some early turns with mom in the morning followed by brunch, and then head out for nine holes in the afternoon when the Jay Peak golf course opens for the season.”
Killington is going for as long as it can, with a slalom slated for Superstar May 1.
Green Mountain State ticket deals include a two-for-one lift ticket at Mad River Glen on April Fool’s Day, provided you act like a fool at the ticket window. Okemo’s Spring Siesta Card is $99 and offers unlimited skiing until closing, and the price can be added to purchasing a season pass for next winter.
Sunday River and Sugarloaf have spring snow seekers heading for Maine.
“We haven’t officially determined what our closing date will be, but it’s safe to assume that it’ll be mid- to late-April as in years past,” communications manager Darcy Morse said. “By then, snow becomes much less of a determinant and we start to see guests’ interest being pulled toward warmer weather activities.”
There is still some wait-and-see attitudes.
“The last day of skiing and snowboarding in Maine has not been scheduled yet,” Ski Maine Executive Director Greg Sweetser said. “We’ll see how the snow lasts through April before we know if our season will extend into May this year.”
Heck, they’re even extending the ski season in Massachusetts at Wachusett to April 13 from April 6. The season started there on Nov. 16.
“That is unprecedented this time of year,” general manager David Crowley said. “The snow just isn’t going anywhere.”
So for those who love it, there’s some time for more road trips to the snow.
(Marty Basch can be reached through onetankaway.com.)