The Myth of Spring
A recent week enjoyed skiing Thredbo with my wife and 3 young sons was a stark reminder of what the unpredictable season of Spring shall bring. With over 30cm reportedly falling since 1 September, it fosters great memories of late September dumps in ’92 and ’05, when some loving grandmomma ‘southerlies straight out of the Antarctic gifted us lucky ones with boot deep powder. Yes. Genuine, fluffy light powder. In spring.
The resort media teams talk up conditions with rhetoric nebulous reference to “great” and “epic” conditions, recycling photos from peak season that look as good as anywhere in the snow world. The fact is, Spring is the greatest season of surprise and variable conditions for us snow lovers. A run from top to bottom at any Aussie report is a bit like a mini Whistler with snow conditions varying from dry up top to heavy… and wet… at the bottom.
Up top, where temperatures generally stay below or close to zero, the base remains firm, with a mix of corn snow and fresh silky wind blown snow on the surface making the terrain an absolute delight to carve up. Whoop whoop! If you’re prepared to hike a little, there’s plenty of fresh snow to be enjoyed. Look, its not fluffy light powder, but seek out more south to south-east facing aspects where its not so exposed to the winter sun, still dry and blissful to set fresh tracks in.
Mid slopes the groomers are often hard and fast early on (be ready to use those edges!), but softening as the day warms for easier carving. Down towards base, soft heavier snow prevails from mid morning… to what some dread as slush. Slush I hear you powder hounds wince?! Yes, slush, and believe it or not SLUSHIES ARE FUN!
Yes heavier and wet snow might dent your ego and can be a challenge to ski (moreso than ‘boarding) but with a touch of dutch courage, remember that momentum is your friend!
Moderate speed and a relaxed stance to absorb the varying surface will see your skis carve through heavier snow like a red hot knife through butter, which is an absolute joy to feel. Turn on the bumps to add to the fun. On hard pack, the edges may chatter and bite, but in softer snow carving is so much more forgiving and great for kids and intermediates to improve.
Mid afternoon spring apres in the sun is hard to beat too. Whether it’s a burger or pizza and drinks on the Hotel terrace or a one way trip to the River Inn for a session listening to some great live music (and, ahem… conducive to extended apres…), its warm enough down in the valley to don your favourite tshirt and a beautiful scenic place to relax after an energetic day on the mountain.
For families, Spring is also the season of giving, with kids ski free and discounted lift passes making the trip more affordable. With the warmer weather and longer days, kids vulnerable to cold will more likely love it too. (Disclaimer – to first timer friends heading down at my suggestion, be prepared though for all seasons!)
While its generally warmer and the snow is more variable, there’s plenty of fun to be had in spring until season end. Besides that, if you long for a getaway from the city, it won’t be half as crowded as peak season! So do yourself a favour and get on down [sic – up] to the mountains, be prepared, and enjoy the myth of Spring!