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Getaway Guide To Spring Skiing And Carnivals

February 23, 2017 7:00 AM

(credit: Camelback)

Reporting Jay Lloyd

The blooms are bewildered. Is it winter or Spring? A Pennsylvania ski area owner once told me, When the Flower Show opens in Philly, I lose skiers.” And he added with a scowl, “I hate flowers.” My only feeling after years of watching fickle fluctuations of slope and trail temps is that we’re not done with winter, but spring will test us before finally turning white to green and stilling the lifts. But for the coming weeks look for Spring skiing and riding, sliding in shorts, getting some rays and a blizzard of Carnival hi-jinx on the slopes. Here’s what you’ll experience, what you should know, and where to find the fun at favorite Pennsylvania mountains.
(credit: Dave Figenshu)

(credit: Dave Figenshu)

SPRING SKIING PREP

The only bad news is that Spring skiing usually signals that the end of season is on the horizon. The warm days begin in late February and can last in Pennsylvania through March, sometimes the first week in April. You’ll have to dress a bit differently. Layers work best with a lighter parka. Mornings will start off cold and quickly warm, the sun will beat down and reflect up from the snow. You’ll need sun block. If you visit resorts that still use the old wicket lift ticket system, avoid fixing tickets to a parka that will soon be shed. wear waterproof pants or a shell. A wipeout in melting snow will get very wet. Rent a locker or find a cubby and stake it out for peeling layers of clothing.

(credit: Jack Frost)

(credit: Jack Frost)

SNOW CONDITIONS

As the day progresses, the snow will become heavier and wetter. But it can often be changeable as shaded areas will retain winter quality till later in the day. You can easily go from winter to spring conditions and back again in a single run. As the sun moves from east to west, skiers and riders can find the best conditions by starting out early on any eastern facing slopes and move with the sun to the west facing trails. Glades will hold winter conditions longer.

PRICING

Ski and snowboarding resorts are already offering bargain breaks on lift tickets and packages that include lodging. Check your favorite mountain websites often. Balance the Spring discounts against any others that you might be able to score – military, veterans, seniors, students and first responders. There are also days at many mountains earmarked for women’s discounts and other days yield price breaks for men.

CARNIVALS AND HI-JINX

(credit: Camelback)

(credit: Camelback)

Some of our nearby snow sport resorts continue a decades old tradition of toasting a passing season with carnival antics, music, drink and plain old silliness. Of course, the most hilarious to watch as young reckless sliders line up for a challenge is “Pond Skimming”. On skis or boards, they get up speed on a slope and launch themselves across a water filled, bone chilling pond. The idea is to use the slats like a surfboard to skim across and reach the other side before they sink. Guess what? Many try. Few succeed. Then there’s the cardboard box derby. Get creative. Craft boxes into artistically devised sleds that can look like ships, locomotives, buses or anything else that comes to mind. Then compete for prizes, racing down a designated slope or tubing chute. And, of course the age old “Costume Parade” on the ski trails. So where and when can we find them in the nearby Poconos. Here.

(credit: Jack Frost)

(credit: Jack Frost)

CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN offers up one of the biggest bashes on March 18th. It’s an action infused day of pond skimming and cardboard box races for glory and prizes. A major tailgate party, even a prize yielding cook-off.

JACK FROST MOUNTAIN  March 19th will dawn on the annual Spring Fling. Jack Frost was one of the first Pennsylvania downhill destinations to tap into the pond skimming craze. They’re doing it again. Spectators can even watch from the comfort of the E-2000 bar and lounge.

SHAWNEE MOUNTAIN  Shawnee regulars don’t miss that annual Costume Carnival that skis off on March 19th. Just show up in “Full Costume” (a mask doesn’t cut it) and you’ll get a free lift ticket for the day. Be creative enough and you could snag one of the coveted prizes. Hint: It’s the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

BLUE MOUNTAIN  wraps up the season with a wet and wild Pond Skimming epic. There’s be plenty of partying to go along with it. Since we don’t know when the “end of season” will arrive, keep tabs on the Blue web site for a date.

Enjoy!

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