Grab a bite before going to the hill
Unless it is a powder day, the reward of getting up early for first chair in the spring is not that great. Even though Vail and Beaver Creek are famous for their superb grooming techniques, during these last days of the season the temperature difference between the highs in the afternoon and the lows in the morning is pretty big, which results in melting and refreezing. Depending on when the grooming was done it could be pretty crunchy early in the morning, so get your rest, grab a nice bite and a cup of coffee and head to the mountain around 10am. Most of the lifts are open until 4p.m. in the spring, giving you a lot of time to enjoy yourself and make plenty of turns on the soft spring snow.
Find the soft snow
Easy, cruiseable snow is everybody's favorite but in the spring finding the good stuff could be more challenging. The runs on the south face of the mountain get a lot more sun, so the snow there gets softer earlier in the day and by the late afternoon it can turn into what is known as "mashed potatoes". The Back Bowls are mainly south facing and provide the soft snow conditions; however, as the days get longer and warmer brown patches start to appear and you have to be more careful. North facing runs, on the other hand, might be a bit harder and faster early in the day but the snow on these runs tend to stay in a better condition during the spring weeks as it is shaded for most of the day. Good runs for spring skiing with north sun exposure are Riva and Big Rock Park in Blue Sky .
Going back to the office with a goggle tan might sound like a good idea but in reality it could be painful, dangerous and looking pretty funny. To be in the habit of wearing sunscreen on the mountain year-round is best. In the summer most of us are pretty good about protecting our skin but the bright spring sun on the ski slopes could be just as dangerous. When you are on the snow the sunlight hits your face from two direction—from the direct sun light and from its reflection off the snow. To put it in perspective, scientists have calculated that light reflects off snow 4 times more than off sand. The high altitude is another major factor when it comes to sunburns. The higher you get the less of natural atmosphere protection of UV light you have; the sun light gets about 4% more powerful every 1000 feet. To keep your good looks and enjoy pain-free vacation apply sunscreen and keep on reapplying it through the day. Some of the on-mountain lodges have complimentary sunscreen and a lot of the stores around the mountain bases sell pocket size tubes.
The spring weather in the mountains could be very unpredictable. It could be sunny as you get on the gondola and snowing on top of the mountain. Anything could happen on a single day— sun, snow, sleet, freezing rain, even a thunderstorm. Pack clothes that are easily to layer and will give you options so you are dressed for whatever mother Nature brings. The spring temperatures in Vail and Beaver Creek hardly ever require heavy winter jackets. Instead it is best to wear a light-weight waterproof and windproof shell and have a light down vest that you can put under it if it gets chilly. Pants with zipper vents and jackets with armpit vents come really be handy if you encounter unstable weather conditions on the same day.
Find the après- ski party
It has been a good day of Spring-break skiing if it ends with a good party. At this time of year many bars and restaurants feature live music and spring inspired food specials. In Vail The Red Lion, Bridge Street Bar, Ale House and Vail Chophouse are among the many places that offer live entertainment. Beaver Creek also has a lot of options for après- ski parting Beaver Creek Chophouse, Splendido, and many more just steps away in Avon with Loaded Joe's and Maya being two of the most popular ones.