Remember those eager turns in November? Flying down manmade ribbons of white, swerving through the giddy masses — pining for powder, endless terrain and no crowds?
That dreamy scenario is thriving up high. The resorts are open wall-to-wall. Many resorts are boasting their best coverage in years: Crested Butte, Monarch. Others are offering plentiful stashes of pow: Breckenridge, Loveland, Mary Jane, Steamboat, Beaver Creek.
And the slopes are as lonely as ever.
We jostle through packed highways and just-as-crowded icy groomers in November and December. We wade through oceans of visitors in January and February. Then, when snow reaches its deepest and crowds evaporate, everyone decides it's time whack weeds and pedal pavement? All that energy wasted to get slopes ready for Thanksgiving turns, and then all but two hills shut down when it gets perfect.
It's time for a paradigm shift in ski-time attitudes when the high-country singletrack is dry in November and buried under 15-plus feet of snow in April. Why not realize that skiing really doesn't start until January but can thrive deep into May or even June?
With snowpacks at the deepest depths in several seasons, the resorts are making it easy by keeping the lifts spinning longer than initially planned and running chairs later in the day.
Breckenridge and Winter Park pushed their closing dates back a week to April 27. Copper Mountain is opening an extra weekend: April 25-27. Aspen Mountain will open for two extra weekends: April 26-27 and May 3-4.
The parties are rolling, too, and things have moved well beyond festooned pond skims. Breckenridge has Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Gin Blossoms on Saturday and Sunday, followed by Yonder Mountain String Band and Blues Traveler April 19 and 20. Vail's got Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and STS9 this weekend with Lez Zeppelin and Steel Pulse on April 19 and 20. Winter Park has Big Head Todd and the Monsters and New Orleans' funk masters Dumpstaphunk on April 19 and 20.
An upslope storm arriving Saturday through Sunday could bring up to 10 inches to Front Range hills, making Monday at Loveland, Arapahoe Basin and Winter Park a powder day, says the best pow forecaster in the business, OpenSnow's Joel Gratz.
There's less than three weeks left. Leave the gardening until May. There will be plenty of biking through October. April is for skiing, especially when it's this good. You will regret not making those sunny — and often powdery — turns come November when you're slipping down the million-gallon man-made ribbon.