Smile! It’s springtime in the Rockies, when snow is deep, temperatures are mild, days last longer and sun shines stronger. Best of all, you can sleep in while the snow softens to a cushy carpet and ski or ride later into the afternoon.
Colorado resorts celebrate spring with an alpine version of the backyard party. Music fills the air, crazy contests abound and Easter Bunny sightings are a sure thing. Here’s a sampling of some of the best events in ski country.
Dressed in wacky costumes, telemarkers climb 600 vertical feet to the crest of the North Face, then free-heel it down the dicey double-black terrain to the base. This 32nd annual Al Johnson Memorial Uphill/Downhill Telemark Ski Race March 20 is
named for a 19th century mailman who delivered mail on skis to remote mining camps in the area. Crested Butte flushes out winter and welcomes spring at the 43rd annual Flauschink, March 30-April 3, 2011.
The king of spring rocks with Shakin’ at the Basin, a Saturday concert series that lasts from May 7-29. The Memorial Weekend Beach Party marks the highlight of traditional spring rituals that include tailgate parties (a reservation for a parking spot is a must), volleyball, music, dancing, cookouts and plenty of exposed skin.
The Annual Festival of Brewpubs and Shakin the Basin Concert takes place on May 29, with sampling from 12-4 and the concert from 1-4 pm. Music is by The New Classics, known for 80s rock hits.
The spring highlight in Aspen is the Core Party on March 18, the ultimate street party in downtown Aspen with the legendary multi-ethnic band Ozomatli performing. Crowd-thrilling competitions include athletes on snowmobiles jumping and flipping in a sled style demo in Snowmass and skiers and riders throwing the latest tricks at the KickAspen Big Air on Little Nell Run in Aspen. It’s a snow spectator paradise.
Splish, splash. The popular spring “sport” of pond skimming evolved from the inevitable necessity of having to slide across ponds of melting snow during spring thaw.
On April 24, at the base of Golden Peak, crazily costumed contestants attempt to ski or board across a pond of freezing water in the World Pond Skimming Championships. It’s all part of the resort’s end-of-season bash Spring Back to Vail.
April snow at this high-altitude resort produces some of the best spring skiing in the state. To celebrate, Breckenridge hosts Spring Massive from April 1 until closing April 18. Highlighting the annual festival April 17 are the Imperial Challenge — an exhausting 6.2-mile bike trek from town to Peak 8 followed by a 2,500-foot ascent in snow to the top of Imperial Bowl at 12,998 feet and then a speedy descent to the Peak 8 base on skis or snowboard — and the 28th annual Bump Buffet the next day with telemarkers tackling the bumps dressed in crazy costumes.
Only homemade vessels built solely from cardboard, glue, string, water-based paint, duct tape and masking tape are allowed in the Cardboard Classic April 9. The 31st annual event pits these fragile crafts against one another racing down the face of Headwall, sometimes without disintegrating before the finish.
It will be wet and wild at the Coca-Cola Spring Splash April 24. Participants who make it down the obstacle race course on Larry Sale trail get to try their skill at pond skimming before reaching the finish line at the base. For 43 years this has been the spectator spring event in the high country.
If You Go
Arapahoe Basin — (888) ARAPAHOE; arapahoebasin.com
Aspen/Snowmass — (800) 525-6200; aspensnowmass.com
Breckenridge — (800) 789-7669; breckenridge.com
Crested Butte — (800) 544-8448; skicb.com
Monarch — (888) 996-7669; skimonarch.com
Silverton — (970) 387-5706; silvertonmountain.com
Steamboat — (800) 922-2722; steamboat.com
Vail — (800) 525-2257; springbacktovail.com
Winter Park — (800) 979-0332; skiwinterpark.com
Colorado native Claudia Carbone is an award-winning ski and travel journalist and the author of the book “Women Ski.” She writes for local, national and international publications.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.