Spring weather means fewer parkas and more t-shirts at Killington. Photo by Chandler Burgess/Killington Resort
Thanks to recent snowstorms, the ski season isn’t over yet. We highlight all the good reasons to try spring skiing.
VERMONT — Good news: Winter isn’t leaving anytime soon. After the massive snowfall on Valentine’s Day and in mid-March, Vermont still has a good bit more of the ski season to go. And even when winter’s grip on New England relaxes, there’s no reason to dust off your golf clubs or mountain bike.
Some of the best skiing of the season is now.
“Spring skiing brings out a different culture of the season,” says Dave Meeker, communications manager at Mount Snow Resort. “I know people that actually wait until the spring to ski because they love the sun. It means bigger events coupled with longer days. It’s that much more fun.”
Maintained by low temperatures overnight, the base of accumulated snow from earlier in the season (and from Winter Storm Vulcan this month) stays stable. During the daytime, you can look forward to some of the most comfortable conditions imaginable – no neck gators, handwarmers or heavy shells needed, just long days in the sun with mild temperatures and plenty of snow.
While this ski season has had its ups and downs, big snowfall in February and March boosted the base depth and ensured a much longer season into April and created some great skiing in both months.
Aside from terrific ski conditions and abundant sunshine, you also can also look forward to a calendar packed with competitions, parties, festivals and an array of special deals and promotions to help you make this spring both busy and affordable.
Beating the “Backyard Effect”
In industry-speak, the “backyard effect” is when people falsely assume that a lack of now in their yard means a lack of snow at the mountain. For ski resorts still packing multiple feet of snow, the trick to preventing people from giving up on skiing this winter is to get the word out.
“We source a lot of guests from outside our local area and we want them to know that it’s still winter here,” he says, speaking after Winter Storm Vulcan. “We just got destroyed with snow – destroyed in the best possible context. It was coming down an inch an hour. There’s no rain in the forecast so we can expect a really long spring.”
“It’s never for lack of snow that we close the mountain at the end of the season,” says Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations at Okemo Mountain Resort, citing people’s desire to move on to summertime activities. “I always joke and say that I wish we could take the kind of demand we see in October and November and move it to March and April.”
As a response, this year, Okemo released its new Spring Skiesta card. For $99 starting March 17, the card grants the user a ticket every day for the remainder of the season – over a month of skiing for just $10 more than the cost of a single-day adult ticket. Plus, the cost of the card can be applied toward the purchase of a 2014/2015 season’s pass if the season’s pass is purchased before the early-buy April 30 deadline.
Okemo isn’t alone. Around the state, resorts are rolling out similar discounts for the remainder of the season. So if you’re looking for deals on single or multiple day tickets and lodging, the only dilemma will be deciding where to go.
Further north on Route 100, Killington Resort expects to stay open well into April, aiming for the title of longest season of any resort on the East coast. This year, the mountain is keeping its doors open into the spring with the Nor’Beaster Spring Season Pass. Starting March 15, the spring pass is valid for the rest of the season and costs $199. Current Killington Express Card Holders and Midweek Season Pass Holders and Pico Season Pass Holders can upgrade for $179. Spring pass holders also enjoy a 20 percent discount on select lodging at Killington Resort managed properties.
At Bromley, in Peru, Vt., skiers who sign up for the Spring Loaded Card, receive a card valid for four days of skiing and riding any day for the rest of the season. Considering the price of a single-day adult ticket, the card offers four days of skiing for about $25 per day. The card can be reloaded with an additional four days, which can be used until next December, allowing for an early season teaser of the 2014-2015 winter.
Aside from ticket deals and spring passes, skiers and riders who plan ahead and buy next season’s passes early can also get in on the action.
Meanwhile, in Southern Vermont, both Stratton and Mount Snow have unveiled opportunities that reward skiers for buying in advance. At Stratton, early buyers can tag on the rest of this season for $100 when they buy next year’s season’s pass. At Mount Snow, buyers can save $150 off the full price of the ticket – just by buying early.
At Bolton Valley Resort, passes for ages 7-17 start at $99. When a family of four buys their passes for next year, they can save $360 when they purchase passes before April 1.
The 2014-2015 season pass includes senior passes as well as a night skiing. In addition, those who purchase their passes before the April 1 deadline will ski and ride for free every day of the remainder of the 2013-2014 season.
In northern Vermont at Jay Peak, the resort offers two discounts on skiing, swimming and lodging vacations during the spring. Midweek vacations, anytime between February 23 through March 27, can save 25 percent on packages including daily lift tickets, passes to the Pump House Indoor Waterpark and lodging. Packages are available from $300 per night for a family of four in the Stateside Hotel, Timberline Condos and Cottages, or Golf & Mountain Cottages. Ski-only vacations and Waterpark-only vacations are also available. In April, guests can save 15 percent on late-season April lodging packages.
At Sugarbush, spring passes include skiing and riding from March 17 through the end of the season for $199. Select 2014-2015 season pass purchasers will also receive free skiing and riding through the end of this season. For those about to turn thirty and for the Spring Pass campaign only, For20s Pass purchasers can use their age as of May 7, 2014, rather than the traditional Nov. 1 cutoff. Check your birthday and the details of this offer, if you’re going to turn 30 between now and next November, you can’t afford to pass this up – it’ll save hundreds.
Competitors partake in the annual Vermont tradition of pond skimming. Costumes are encouraged. Photo by Craig Burnham/Killington Resort
In addition to the special deals, resorts feature a full calendar of classic springtime events like brewers festivals, Saint Patty’s Day parties, costume-clad pond skimming and live music to keep you out and enjoying the sunshine.
Stratton Resort rounds out its season with the new Be. series of events, which includes the annual Spring Fling and Pond Skim before the projected closing date of April 13. Mount Snow’s spring lineup includes the Gladiator competition and Bolton Valley keeps the energy levels high day and night, with lifts on Friday and Saturday nights turning until 10 pm.
Killington designed their Nor’Beaster pass alongside a six-week long lineup of events, including the classic Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge, a season’s passholder appreciation day, banked slalom races and Vermont specialty food tastings. The spring wraps up with the May Day Slalom race on May 1 and the Triathlon on May 3.
“It’s an on-snow, off-snow party all spring long,” Michael Joseph at Killington says. “It’s more than just sunshine and soft snow, it’s about the spring experience here.”
It’s like that all over Vermont. Come see for yourself.