Spring skiing is the great equalizer. In contrast to storm-skiing in the dead of winter, spring conditions promise soft snow, blue skies, and better pricing for lift tickets, hotels, and even plane tickets. Plus, slopes are far less crowded toward the end of the season.
While chances are that April, May, and even June can still provide a few frothy powder days, you can generally expect corn snow due to warmer temps. Milder weather and bluebird days translate into excellent visibility and serious goggle tans, as well as superb conditions for those long, mid-mountain lunches and dance-in-your-ski boots après soirees.
When picking the best spring skiing destinations, there are a few basic considerations. North facing slopes will hold up better than those baking in the sun all day. Altitude is also key. In general, the higher up the hill, the longer the season. Also, look for areas on glaciated peaks—many of which offer year-round schussing opportunities. Here are some of our favorite spots around the world for squeezing the very most out of your ski season.
1. La Grave La Meije, France
La Grave is a legend among skiers for good reason. The spring skiing is as world class as the dramatic mountain scenery. The tiny, postcard perfect village in France’s southern Alps is deceivingly one of the world’s biggest ski capitals—and a place for expert skiers and riders without the constraints of a traditional resort. La Grave is also one of the most perilous ski areas as there’s no ski patrol (helicopter rescue only), but you can mitigate risk by hiring a mountain guide. Here you’ll be skiing with a climbing harness, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe, but you can rent everything (including skis built for the rugged off-piste) at Objective Meije. The slopes are north facing, so you’ll find powder days after a storm. From La Grave’s ancient village, perched at about 4,500 feet, you’ll take two cable cars and one unexpected POMA lift to the nearly 12,000-foot summit of the Girose Glacier. From here, the possibilities are endless. The couloirs of La Grave La Meije are famous, but many require rappelling and a high level of ski mountaineering expertise. When conditions are right, 7,000 vertical feet in a single run can be the norm. While the téléphériques close for the season in late May (they reopen in June for hiking and mountaineering), there’s excellent backcountry skiing to be had in the Ecrins Massif as well as in nearby Clarée Valley.
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