The short answer is yes, even though the snow may be limited and soft.
But in fact, it doesn’t matter about the snow quality—because this melting spring snow acts exactly like a demanding coach. If you don’t meet the demands, you will hate the results. They include sticky snow that gives you the stop-and-go herky jerkies, which is a sure fire way to yank to your knee ligaments; slow snow that has you hopping or hiking over any terrain without much vertical, and a generally unpleasant experience on the snow.
But if you obey your snow coach—Ahhhh! The snow becomes your friend, easy to ride through without being tossed around.
What does the snow demand, you may be asking. Very simple: get on your edges and carve.
If you’re not skilled at carving, that’s what this snow is for; to teach you. Whether on skis or a board, once you’re carving on your edges, you’ll glide through each turn with little effort and no hindrance from the suction of spring snow. That’s right, it’s suction that causes spring snow problems. As you ride over snow, no matter what time of year, the surface of your gear slightly heats up, melting a slight top layer of snow. The difference in temperature between the friction-hot base and the cold snow creates suction. Spring snow is warmer and much wetter. It pulls on your gear, slowing it down, causing loss of control as you try to make clean turns.
But a sharp edge riding vertically through the snow does NOT create friction! That’s why racers carve, leaving nothing but a thin line to show where an edge has passed. It’s faster, but even more important, it offers the best possible control as you dance down the mountain. Carving a turn, with your inside knee bent over to turn the skis or snowboard onto the edge, automatically makes you a better skier or rider. The lessons learned over these last few days before Snowbird closes on Memorial Day Monday will last in your muscle memory so that you will start out next snow season much more prepared to be an expert. Late spring snow will coach you to do that.
One other hint: to keep your gear sliding easily, buy some cheap rub-on race wax containing fluoro. Rub it on well before your first run. If your gear starts to stick after three or so runs, rub on another coat.
Yes, fluorinated wax is bad for the environment, but surely you can make up for that by finding some way to increase your efforts in other areas of green
The photo image was taken by Snowbird’s ‘Powder Shots,’ which offers much better quality and photographers that most on-mountain shooters usually give. It shows editor Wina Sturgeon at Snowbird, laughing in pleasure at being able to ski fast through tough and wet spring snow, just by turning her skis on edge. Powder Shots is on the second floor of the Snowbird Center, and is on the mountain in summer as well. They even do special photo sessions if you plan on being at the ‘Bird for closing weekend or any other time.
One last thing: if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, or you don’t care about allowing the spring snow to teach you to be more of an expert, there’s still a good reason to be there at the final end of the season. The party (parties!) are guaranteed to be incredible!