by Debra Rose
The scramble to get a jumpstart on the spring is akin to Montauk is slowly waking up from a deep sleep. ‘Tocals’ (tourist-locals with second homes here) steadily stream into town on weekends. The restaurants and shops that we know and love dip their toes in the water of being open for business. The parking lots at the beaches have an uptick of surfers resurfacing from a winter away from east coast waves.
This is also when the water is it’s coldest, and while the ocean needs time to warm up, why not enjoy one of the best aspects of skiing and snowboarding; springtime on the mountain.
This winter was epic for snow conditions out west and in Europe, and the steady influx of storms means perhaps even a longer spring season. So pack your bags and go find your mountain while the ocean raises its core temperature in the meantime.
Off-season skiing means off-seasons prices, (lack of) crowds and a unique chance for sunset après-ski rather than in total darkness. While the surf culture doesn’t allow for a set après hour since the waves are always changing, you have the best of both worlds of enjoying a sunset after a long day of skiing. A few of our favorites:
Aspen, Colorado: Don’t shun this town because of its glamorous reputation, if you are reading this you likely frequent Montauk and the Hamptons which are not far off from the perception of Aspen. You will find hidden gems like low-key restaurants, friendly locals and world-class terrain. Another bonus is the ‘scene’ Aspen is known for is virtually absent in the spring, and you will have the mountain(s) to yourself. Hike the bowl at Highlands, take your beginners to Buttermilk, blaze around Ajax and try to conquer Snowmass in one session. If there is a buzz around Aspen, you will find it in the shops and in the center of town, leaving the mountains feeling blissfully quiet.
Beaver Creek, Colorado: Some love Vail for its vast runs and manufactured village, and some prefer the smaller more manageable mountain at Beaver Creek. While Beaver Creek does not have a trendy town with restaurants, shops and happy hour spots, you could spend the day having a varied experience of all levels of skiing. We loved the Ritz Carlton as a home base, forgoing the need for a town when a few restaurants, spa and giant fireplace were at the base of the mountain within the hotel. Vail offers variety and endless catwalks with magical scenery, it is nearly impossible to see it all on one trip. Worth experiencing, but you may find yourself missing Beaver Creek and the fresh cookies baked on the mountain every day at 3pm.
Megève, France: The beauty of skiing in France is the après-ski scene will always be accompanied by fresh baked baguettes, fabulous French wine and Champagne, and The Avenuer playing steadily in the background nearly everywhere you go. Described as ‘St. Barth in the snow,’ you will quickly adapt to the French way of life, on and off the skis. In France there is a great appreciation for the sport, pleasure, and the social nature of the activity. Lift ticks in Europe are also impressively affordable compared to American resorts, and spring is the perfect time to take advantage of the lower occupancy hotels and flights.
Kitzbühel, Austria: Austria is to skiing as Hawaii is to surfing, and there is no shortage of enthusiasm and energy around the sport and it’s athletes. There is the world-renowned Hahnenkamm ski run, and the more local mountain, The Horn, where you will find endless restaurants and bars serving traditional Austrian food and beer. The town closes early, and you may be tempted to stay on the mountain taking advantage of the beauty and snow as long as possible each day. A two-hour drive from Munich, Germany, it is a bit of a trek to get there. But once you are there you will not be in a rush to leave.
Like every outdoor athlete knows, conditions are unpredictable at best, even with our slew of technology used to track waves and snowfall. Since we know this is a great year for skiing and snowboarding, hop on a plane, pack a few more days into your ski season, and know your reward of sun, sea and sand will be waiting for you upon your return. No après necessary.