Late Season Secrets

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Being in on a secret makes you feel smart. Acting on inside info means you are smart. Let others wind down their ski season in the spring: Smart skiers know that the best is yet to come.

Best Spring Powder:
Alta, Utah
Why: Alta spring powder? That's redundant. Last season hit 697 inches—including 165 in March (that's 5.32 inches per day). And the real beauty of any Salt Lake resort is accessibility: about an hour from baggage claim to the lifts.
How: Follow the forecasts, and sniff out lastminute airfare deals: You can wake up on the East Coast and be snorkeling untracked off Devil's Castle by lunch. Bring (or plan to rent) fat skis.
Local tip: Wasatch Powderbird Guides (powderbird.com) delivers the goods days after a storm. Sometimes you'll have to settle for perfect corn (sigh), but spring rates (after March 20) are hot ($595—$665 per day). And call to see if there's a cheap seat due to a noshow or a cancellation.
Other options: There's nearby Snowbird, where the lifts were open on July 4 last year. And keep an eye on the Northwest, where spring dumps often push season totals past the 600-inch mark on the volcanoes—Baker, Bachelor, Hood—and are often followed by something rarely seen during the winter: blue skies.
Don't miss: Last run of the day on High Rustler. Pause to admire the sunset, lay down some sweet arcs, then study them from the lodge over an après beer.

Best Spring Festivals:
Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.
Why: The TELUS World Ski and Board Festival is the biggest on-snow party on the globe. The annual bacchanalia jam 10 days (April 14-23) with skier — and boardercross competitions, film and art events, more than 50 concerts and, of course, Whistler's rockin' nightlife.
How: Stay close to the action at the refurbished Sundial Boutique Hotel in Whistler Village. Their Spring Ski package gets you four nights in a onebedroom suite and two three-day lift tickets for $1,760 (800-661-2321; sundialhotel.com).
Local Tip: Head to Down Under (formerly Maxx Fish) to groove with the cool crowd. Located in Whistler Village, under the Amsterdam Café.
Other Options: Copper Mountain, Colo.'s Sunsation Festival, April 1—2, 8—9 and 15—16, caters to the twin-tipped set with hip-hop-heavy concerts and the requisite Eenie- Weenie Bikini Contest (coppercolorado.com). At Squaw Valley, Calif., spring is sprung with Spring Jam 8 (April 15—16), and with on-mountain events such as the stripped-down Undie 500 (squaw.com).
Don't miss: The Pro Photographer Showdown on April 19. Five action sports shooters each assemble a nine-minute show of their best images. Judges pick a winner.

Best Spring Culture:
Killington, VT
Why: Nobody things up more excuses for a spring fling that Killington: Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge (April 1-2) and Sunshine Daydream (April 15), for instance. And nobody is the East has better late snow. Why? Good planning. Starting around Halloween, Killington lays down 20 feet or more of snow on Superstar, just so you can bash corn bumps in the spring sun.
How: Ray-Bans and sunscreen are a good idea. Screaming cold beer, too. Pick a sunny day and break out your ultrasoft skis. Check the temperature. If necessary, wait till the sun softens things up.
Local Tip: Arrive early on a sunny day and score a Killington Road parking space within feet of the Superstar Quad. Meet many new friends.
Don't Miss: The Spring U.S. Freestyle Championships, March 23-26, on Bear Mountain. Post-Olympics, watch the U.S. freestylers fly high.
Other Options: You can't camp overnight at the beach at Arapahoe Basin, Colo., any more, but it's still pretty damn fun during the day. At Whistler, the action on Horstmann Glacier heats up as the days grow long.[NEXT]Best Midwinter Conditions:
Big Sky, Mont.
Why: At Big Sky, spring tends to arrive sometime iearly summer. This lets winter work the room for just about all of ski season. Calendar pages are flipped, but the conditions beneath your skis almost always feel like January. Dirt patches? Rocks to avoid? Mud? Don't make Big Sky skiers laugh. "We always run out of skiers before we run out of snow, a resort worker says.
How: Book five nights in any Big Sky resort property, and two adults ski for free, April 1—16. Prices start at $440 per person (800-548-4486, bigskyresort.com).
Local tip: Overdress. The summit tops out at 11,150 feet, and high temperatures in March can stubbornly stay below 20 degrees. And with Big Sky boasting one of North America's longest vertical drops—4,350 feet-—you don't want to ski to the bottom to pick up an extra layer. Other options Jay Peak, Vt., boasts the East Coast's only tram, reports the region's biggest snow and regularly hosts conditions that defy global warming. Sunshine Village, Alberta, remains open until May 22—for good reason.
Don't miss: Ambush Glades off the Ramcharger high-speed quad. Even the local hardcores can't resist skiing the Lone Peak Tram, so head to the other side of the mountain.

Best Secret Solitude:
Vail, Colo.
Why: One of spring's best-kept secrets is that maxed-out megaresorts go mini in late spring, as crowded slopes you avoid like taxes in midwinter open up late in the season. During the last week in March, Vail averages three skiers per acre. That drops off to two skiers per acre in early April and only one person sharing your personal space by month's end. To top it off, prices fall and the mountain often closes with some of the best conditions of the season.
How: Get four days' skiing and lodging in a two-bedroom condo for $248 per person during Spring Back to Vail weeks, April 3—16. Want silence and solitude at Vail? Boogie down Blue Ox in April.
Don't miss: Experience the frontside like you can't in January: with room to roam. Appreciate the old-school lines of Riva Ridge and the classic bumps on PPL (Prima, Pronto and Log Chute) without a critiquing audience looking down their noses from above and below.
Other options: Stowe, Vt.'s clientele grab golf clubs, not boards, in late spring, opening up the slopes for smart skiers. Join the locals on the snows of Squaw Valley, Calif., as the San Fran drivers and shakers move on to warmweather pursuits.
Local tip: Shoulder a small backpack and throw in a water bottle and an extra layer to wear on the lifts. With Vail's 5,289 acres, there's a lot of heating up and cooling down.[NEXT]Best Spring Tradition:
Tuckerman Ravine, N.H.
Why: Diehard skiers have been hiking into Tucks since pine tar first hit hickory boards. Now it's a rite of spring passage for the earn-your-turns set, who gather annually to send winter off with gusto—and two runs of super-steep corn turns.
How: Carefully! Tucks can be tame as a kitten or quite menacing, depending on weather and snow/avalanche conditions. Check out tuckerman.org for both. And be ready for a 3-mile hike to the base of the ravine. Dress in layers, wear real hiking boots, and bring a good pack to haul your skis, boots and gear.
Other options: Stowe's Sugar Slalom (April 1—2) always draws a big crowd for all-ages racing and syrup-onsnow. Sugarloaf's Reggae Festival (April 6—9) draws upwards of 10,000.
Local tip: If the weather's nice, consider a push from the lip of the ravine to the summit of Mt. Washington, where you'll find gentler snow- fields and spectacular four-state views rarely matched in the East.
Don't miss: In a deep snow year, you can ski from the floor of the ravine back down to the Visitor's Center on the Sherburne Trail, a CCC creation and one of the nation's oldest ski trails. Beats the heck out of down-hiking.

Best Corn Snow:
Kirkwood, Calif.
Why: Kirkwood serves up the sweetest corn this side of a Jolly Green Giant can. The recipe: Mix 500 annual inches with nearly 300days a year of sun. Veteran skiers know that the only buzz to rival a powder rush is the ego blast from ripping long, uninterrupted lines of corn snow.
How: Harvesting spring corn is all about timing. Start with a few let-'emrip runs down Eagle Bowl, then follow the sun over to Palisades and Lightning. Grab a deck lunch at The Wall and enjoy the views. Reheat your legs on Lost Cabin and Monte Wolfe before putting a bow around the day on Saddle Chute.
Don't miss: In the afternoon, hit The Wall, a steep, big-vert heartpounder that is, frankly, a handful in midwinter hard-snow conditions. But in the spring, the corn sets up perfectly, your edges hold like Super Glue and you can arc down the fall line, top to bottom, just like in the good ol' days.
Other options: Colorado's Durango Mountain Resort is a natural terrain park. In the spring, it's a natural terrain park covered with ego snow. In California, Mammoth Mountain's feel-good spring snow is as grippy and inviting as a third date. Idaho's most famous crop after potatoes? Sun Valley Corn.
Local tip: Don't ski in a T-shirt. You'll be skiing fast and feeling bulletproof. Expect a few full-body slides. Long sleeves prevent snow rash.

Best Spring Deal:
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Colo.
Why: The Ritz is the essence of luxury in the mountains, and room rates melt away every April. (That $650 room in January goes for $275 in late spring.) Beautiful on the inside and out, the hotel counts service and amenities as its mission.
How: The hotel's Late Winter Ski Package features a room and two three-day lift tickets from $315 per night (four-night minimum stay required).
Local tip: Check out the martini menu on the slopeside deck of the Beaver Creek Chophouse.
Don't miss: Dinner at Zach's Cabin, located on Bachelor Gulch and accessed by snowcatpulled sleigh (reservations required, 970-845-6575).
Other options: In Deer Valley, Utah, the Bronze package at the Stein Eriksen Lodge gets you a room, lift ticket and spa visit for $259 per person, per night (steinlodge.com). At Aspen's Hotel Jerome, the Ski Deal package includes a room, lifts and shuttle service for $320 per room, per night (hoteljerome.com).

rn this side of a Jolly Green Giant can. The recipe: Mix 500 annual inches with nearly 300days a year of sun. Veteran skiers know that the only buzz to rival a powder rush is the ego blast from ripping long, uninterrupted lines of corn snow.
How: Harvesting spring corn is all about timing. Start with a few let-'emrip runs down Eagle Bowl, then follow the sun over to Palisades and Lightning. Grab a deck lunch at The Wall and enjoy the views. Reheat your legs on Lost Cabin and Monte Wolfe before putting a bow around the day on Saddle Chute.
Don't miss: In the afternoon, hit The Wall, a steep, big-vert heartpounder that is, frankly, a handful in midwinter hard-snow conditions. But in the spring, the corn sets up perfectly, your edges hold like Super Glue and you can arc down the fall line, top to bottom, just like in the good ol' days.
Other options: Colorado's Durango Mountain Resort is a natural terrain park. In the spring, it's a natural terrain park covered with ego snow. In California, Mammoth Mountain's feel-good spring snow is as grippy and inviting as a third date. Idaho's most famous crop after potatoes? Sun Valley Corn.
Local tip: Don't ski in a T-shirt. You'll be skiing fast and feeling bulletproof. Expect a few full-body slides. Long sleeves prevent snow rash.

Best Spring Deal:
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Colo.
Why: The Ritz is the essence of luxury in the mountains, and room rates melt away every April. (That $650 room in January goes for $275 in late spring.) Beautiful on the inside and out, the hotel counts service and amenities as its mission.
How: The hotel's Late Winter Ski Package features a room and two three-day lift tickets from $315 per night (four-night minimum stay required).
Local tip: Check out the martini menu on the slopeside deck of the Beaver Creek Chophouse.
Don't miss: Dinner at Zach's Cabin, located on Bachelor Gulch and accessed by snowcatpulled sleigh (reservations required, 970-845-6575).
Other options: In Deer Valley, Utah, the Bronze package at the Stein Eriksen Lodge gets you a room, lift ticket and spa visit for $259 per person, per night (steinlodge.com). At Aspen's Hotel Jerome, the Ski Deal package includes a room, lifts and shuttle service for $320 per room, per night (hoteljerome.com).

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