March and April can often be the best time to go skiing and this year is no exception. For kids and anyone who suffers from the cold, this is a great time to go as temperatures are usually higher particularly from lunchtime onwards. Here are our top tips for late-season skiing:
- Go to a high resort - the best skiing will be found above 2000m and on slopes that do not face directly south. Courchevel 1850, Zermatt and Val d’Isère all fit the bill perfectly and frequently get fresh powder conditions in April. In the US, they call it "corn snow". This is the layer of freeze thaw snow that you want to find just as the sun hits it. When you time it right, the soft top and firm, smooth base make it a lot like powder skiing.
- Have a lie in, start your skiing mid-morning and then enjoy a long late lunch. There is no rush in the morning as the snow will be frozen hard and at the end of the day, it can get slushy. But between 10am and 2pm, the conditions are at their best.
- Follow the sun. Think about which way the slopes face and aim to ski as the sun gets there. So, head for the south/east facing slopes in the morning and the west/north facing slopes in the afternoon. In Val d’Isère, the Tourist Office has produced a clever interactive piste map showing you which slopes to ski as the day progresses - www.valdisere-hotice.com
- Think about how high you ski and check where the freezing level is on the forecast. If it got warm in the day and is going below zero that night, the snow will be icy until the temperature gets back to zero. Likewise if it didn't re-freeze overnight, it will be slushy by 10am.
- Take the lift down at the end of the day. After a long lunch, your muscles get cold and injuries often happen in the heavy snow on the final run back to resort when conditions have deteriorated. There is no shame in taking the bubble home, but if you do want to ski home, do a proper warm up (not a vin chaud!) before tackling the slush and bumps.
- If this all sounds too complicated when your brain is on vacation - then why not get a guide? They are the experts and a good one will always find the best snow whilst you relax and enjoy a bit of ‘hero skiing’.