Girdwood’s Guide to Spring Skiing

Originally published in the Glacier City Gazette on March 28, 2018

By Lindsey Helmbrecht

Powder Hound Beer and Bluebird are essentially synonymous during spring at Girdwood. It’s the time of year where we shed a layer and start on our goggle tan. This change means longer ski days, sweating while touring, and Slush Cup! Before we are fully engulfed in Alaska Spring, I’d like to point out a few things to look forward to.


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Beginners Luck
Lucky for us we get to shed a layer or two and transfer over to a lighter jacket, lighter gloves or even a long sleeve tee! The warmer temps are not only good for the new skier or boarder, but they are good for the little ones learning to ski. The warmer temps help the new skier or rider to last longer on the mountain. We all like to say “you aren’t learning if you aren’t falling,” so another thing to look forward to is softer snow which equals softer falls.

Freeze-Thaw Cycle
Higher temps and the suns angle is the perfect recipe for the spring skiing freeze-thaw cycle. The freeze-thaw cycle actually affects how you ski on the mountain. It creates corn. Corn is the Holy Grail of spring skiing. This type of snow is really forgiving and easy to ski. Overnight the snow refreezes and throughout the day the sun bakes that frozen snow to the oh-so-delightful corn that we all love, but be careful. Too much sun turns that snow into slush. Once that happens just keep gliding over the mountain to where the sun moves and chase that corn!

Common Spring Skiing Mistake
It’s not all corn skiing and goggle tans in the spring. Do you ever feel like your skis are suction cups on the slushy spring snow? That’s a common mistake we notice during our spring tuning rush. A number of people using a cold wax on their skis during spring cause a terrible suction sensation instead of delightful glide. It’s an easy fix. Glide on into Powder Hound and check out our warm wax options or drop off your sticks for a quick wax.

Backcountry Notes
Even though it’s spring, we’re in Alaska. There are still plenty of storm days to be had, so always pack a warmer jacket. It’s always better to be over prepared than underprepared on the mountain. For all those who frequent the backcountry- you know that spring is the best time for big line skiing. The difference in gear between spring and winter can be dramatic. If it’s during a storm cycle, with heavy snow or blower pow, the gear is essentially the same for winter.

Après All Day
You may hear “No friends on a powder day” a lot in Alaska winter, but don’t forget spring vibes mean high temps and even higher fun!

Hop on over to Girdwood Brewing Company and bask under the sun on their amazing patio, enjoying a Frito Pie from The Blue Ristra in one hand and your favorite brew in the other.

That’s how you celebrate a day of spring skiing in Girdwood