SkiTrotters Monthly Roundup – 25 March

Every month, we bring you our handpicked latest and greatest ski news from around the world. Subscribe to our newsletter and make sure you don’t miss the monthly roundup!

Stowe now included in the 2017/2018 Epic Pass!

The first announcement came out in February, with Vail Resorts acquiring Stowe Mountain Resort for a purchase price of $50 million. With the latest release of the 2017/2018 passes, it is all more official: Stowe is now Epic! Check out the 2017/2018 Epic Pass options. Try the online pass finder to pick the perfect Epic Pass that best suits your skiing needs.

Wild West terrain reopens at Sunshine Village after 3 years

The Wild West opened to the public for the first time in 2003. It has since then rivaled Delirium Drive as one of the most extreme off-piste experiences in Canada and North America. Thanks to Patrick Thorne at InTheSnow.com for broadcasting the news that with March snowfalls, The Wild West has just reopened for the first time after 3 years. Please refer to the Sunshine Village website for safety requirements, including all needed safety gear. Conditions are monitored on a daily basis and you can call the hotline +1 (403) 762-6511 or follow @ssvsnowsafety on Twitter.

Consider buying real estate on the European slopes!

According to Troy McMullen at Forbes, now is the perfect time for Americans to consider buying real estate in one of the many European ski destinations. The dollar is strong, and lots of interesting development projects are taking place in the Old Continent. Check out some of the locations that Troy McMullen scouted across Switzerland, Austria and France. If we dare adding a personal favorite (though we are not real estate experts by any mean) we would not overlook Alagna and the MonterosaSki resort: this little hidden gem has exploded over the past five years!

Party in style for end of season

Several ski resorts are approaching the end of the ski season: get ready to party in style and forget nostalgia! Read this post by Robert Purcell at GRINDTV to find out about four really epic events. Our personal favorite still is the World Pond Skimming Championships at Vail Resort!

Our favorite spring skiing resorts in North America!

And in case you are not ready to celebrate the end of the ski season yet, we will wrap up this weekly digest with a bit of self promotion! Check out the Ski Trotters post on our favorite Spring Skiing destinations in US and Canada

Best spring skiing in US and Canada

As people started to take out their bathing suits, winter storm Stella reminded all Northeasterns that this skiing season is not over yet! We still have time for some good spring skiing, but what makes for a great spring destination? Christopher Steiner at ZRankings identifies three key elements:

Quantities of north-facing terrains become more and more important as the season goes on”

“Higher elevations, as an extra 1,000 feet of elevation usually means temperatures about 3 degrees Fahrenheit cooler”

“The last ingredient, though not necessary if the previous two are present in abundance, is latitude”

Check out our personal spring skiing favorites in North America! Please remember that all information are updated as of the date of this post: always check with your destination directly for any time sensitive information.

And don’t miss our favorite spring skiing resorts in Europe too!

Best spring skiing in US

Snowbird, UT

Skiing in Snowbird (Photo by Tony Harrington and Visit Salt Lake)

Snowbird (Photo by Tony Harrington and Visit Salt Lake)

Why: year after year, this resort publishes no official closing date
Open Until: until conditions permit (usually end of May)

Thanks to the abundance of north-facing slopes, Snowbird offers winter conditions well into spring. In fact, according to ZRankings both Snowbird and neighboring Alta rank at the top for snow quality throughout the season. The area receives most of the spring snow storms in North America, averaging 60 to 70 inches of April snow and making this a preferred destination for powder hunters. Snowbird usually runs through Memorial Day: comes May, though, several lifts start to shut down and Mammoth or Mt Bachelor become a better alternative in terms of extension and diversity of available terrains.

Mammoth, CA

Why: one of the longest ski seasons and highest percentage of north-facing terrain in the country
Open Until: Mammoth already confirmed the extension of their 2017 season through July 4th

Mammoth is widely regarded as one of the best spring skiing destinations in the country. The resort usually runs through Memorial Day, but it remained open through July 4th for 10 out of the past 30 years. Mammoth has good elevation (8-11,000 ft), one of the highest percentages of north-facing terrain in North America (65%) and impressive backcountry skiing options. The lively resort offers ski and snowboard events during the weekend, music, lots of dining options, hiking and biking terrains for afternoon activities and easy access to the numerous artificial and natural hot springs in the area.

Arapahoe Basin, CO

Spring skiing - Arapahoe Basin Spring Fun (Photo by Dave Camara)

Arapahoe Basin, fun at The Beach (Photo by Dave Camara)

Why: tons of spring powder storms and… The Beach
Open Until: mid June

Arapahoe Basin is blessed with a very unique weather pattern that brings tons of extra snow in the spring. The resort has the highest foot base elevation in North America (10,800 ft), an outstanding 12,500 ft summit elevation and over 55% of north-facing terrains. This is usually the last ski resort to close in Colorado, running through mid June. What makes A-Basin an even more unique spring skiing experience is… well, the experience! Park your car at The Beach (aka the base parking lot) and enjoy daylong parties, hot dogs, BBQ and dancing after hitting the slopes.

Lake Tahoe, CA

Spring Skiing In US - Lake Tahoe High Camp Squaw Valley

High Camp at Squaw Valley (Photo squawalpine.com)

Why: swimming pool and a giant hot tub at 8,200 ft (Squaw Valley High Camp)
Open Until: usually May. For 2017, Lake Tahoe announced some resorts will stay open through June and possibly July 4th

With one of the highest concentration of ski resorts in the country, although at a lower altitude than Mammoth, Lake Tahoe area offers consistently good spring skiing conditions. Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood and Havenly usually run well into May, all offering spring deals on lift tickets. The giant pool and hot tub at Squaw Valley (High Camp) is a must-do for spring skiers in the area: enjoy panoramic deck views and a good drink while soaking in hot water at 8,200 ft.

 Mt Bachelor, OR

Skiing in US Mt Bachelor Trailmap

Mt Bachelor – Trailmap

Why: “Springtacular” conditions and great deals
Open Until: end of May (Memorial Day)

Generally speaking, the active volcano of Mt Bachelor delivers an even better skiing experience in spring than it does in winter. Winter winds often blast at over 60 mph, causing lift closures and freezing conditions. In spring, slopes offer amazing conditions and are usually in full operation through mid-April, with the North-facing front of the Summit often running through Memorial Day. Frequent Fliers of the area should check out the “Springtacular” Season Pass, offering special rates for April and May: the pass pays out in just 3 days, and you can then enjoy some free spring skiing!

Best spring skiing in Canada

Whistler, BC

Whistler Blackcomb: Heli-Skiing (Photo by Erik Graham)

Whistler Blackcomb – Heli-Skiing (Photo by Erik Graham)

Why: spring and summer skiing on the Blackcomb Glacier
Open Until: Blackcomb is currently scheduled to close in the second half of May and reopen for June and July skiing on the glacier

Whistler slopes are in great spring conditions through May, and the skiing season is prolonged well into summer with June and July glacier skiing. Your ski days are complemented by the lively après-ski scenery and a range of outdoor activities like mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking. Whistler also unique heli-skiing opportunities, with an impressive 32,000 acres of big mountain terrain that includes 173 glaciers and 475 runs. Enjoy sunny backcountry explorations and longer spring days to fit in additional rides!

Banff, AB

Banff area - Lake Louise (Photo by Chris Moseley)

Banff – Lake Louise (Photo by Chris Moseley)

Why: good spring skiing options for intermediate skiers
Open Until: May

All three ski resorts around Banff tend to keep most of their rides open into May, with Sunshine Village usually closing last at the end of the month. Sunshine Village is known for excellent snow preservation; the resort experiences spring cool temperatures at a lower elevation than other areas in this list, which also makes it a good spring option for intermediate skiers. Lake Louise offers breathtaking spring panoramas, with the snow melting and revealing the turquoise blue lake. For the perfect après-ski activity, hit the hot springs around Banff and relax the sore muscles.

Check out our favorite spring resorts in Europe as well.

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Spring Skiing North America Best Resorts

Transceiver 101: backcountry safety

This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you will contribute some pennies to our skiing saving account!

When it comes to safety equipment for backcountry skiing, knowing how to correctly use a Transceiver or Beacon (synonymous) is critical. There are different types of transceivers each with specific instructions, but the basic principles on how they operate are the same for all. Each device can be set in two modes: send and receive.

Transceiver status: SEND

Send will be the standard setting at all times. Before you leave for your ride you need to make sure that:

  1. your battery is charged (70-80% at least for a full day)
  2. the transceiver is turned on and in sending mode
  3. you are wearing the beacon right under your most outer layer (easily accessible)
  4. your transceiver actually working: your guide or a companion will be able to test this by setting his device in receive mode
  5. super important: phones have to be on airplane mode; if you decide to carry a phone, worn it the farthest possible from your chest and the device harness. Go Pros have to be worn on helmets or handheld: wearing the on the chest would also interfere with the transceiver.  

Transceiver status: RECEIVE

Aside from checking if another device is working, you will only need to switch to receive mode when performing a search in case of an avalanche. 

Once in Receive mode, the beacon will provide visual and audible information on distance (meters or feet) and direction (an arrow). All searchers must switch their devices to receive, otherwise you will be surrounded by a bunch of false positives.

How to conduct the search

If you had visual contact with someone who ended up under the avalanche, go straight to where he or she was last seen.

If you did not have visual contact, you need to quickly perform a sweep of the broader terrain known as Core Search. Start moving fast in one direction to understand how the device responds. Does the arrow change direction? Does the distance on the display increase? Once you get a sense of what direction to move to, head straight following the arrow.

Once within 3 meters of your companion’s beacon, your transceiver will switch into Fine Search mode. Remember: the distance also includes the depth your companion is at. You now need to move slower and find the spot with the lowest read. Once you identify the correct spot don’t hesitate: start probing, then dig fast to clear his airways.

In case of multiple victims, turn your companion’s device off so that signals won’t interfere with each others. Some transceivers allow you to mark a specific signal to “Ignore” while in receiving mode: this will permit you or your fellow searchers to proceed to find another companion sooner.

If more than one searcher is available, spreading out and proceeding in parallel will significantly speed up the process. When searching in parallel, each searcher will commit to the closest signal and operate as described above (core search, fine search, mark, probe and dig).

Remember: your guides will walk you through the specifics on how to operate your transceiver and what to do in case of an avalanche. Listen carefully, it could save your life and your buddies.

You can read more in our posts 10 tips in case of an avalanche and safety gear for backcountry skiing.


Backcountry.com is a Utah based company carrying an extensive selection of backcountry safety equipment

You can also check out options on Amazon


Safety equipment for backcountry skiing

This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you will contribute some pennies to our skiing saving account!

The proper safety equipment is essential to fully enjoy your backcountry skiing. Unless you are a super experienced skier (aka guide level) or enjoy venturing off piste often, it will be unlikely for you to buy any of the below. Heli-skiing companies or local guides will provide you with everything, including (mandatory) training on the equipment or advice on where to rent. The most comprehensive safety gear includes all of the below, with beacons, probes and shovels being required.

Beacon (essential)

Probe, shovel (essential)

Radio (recommended)

Air-bag (nice to have)

Learn more about the essential gear as well as our 101 guides on how to use transceivers, probes and shovels.

Beacon or Transceiver

This is the single most important piece of security equipment to carry with you anytime you are out riding in powder. It’s a transceiver device that sends and receives a radio signal at a specific frequency. This will allow your ski buddies to find you under the snow in case of an avalanche and vice versa. So you really need to know how to you use it properly! Read our Transceiver 101 guide

Probe and Shovel

Once you master the art of using the beacon you have to be prepared to park the technology and pull out your analog devices. The probe is a long stick that will allow you to understand exactly where someone is buried before you actually pull out the shovel and start digging. Read our 101 guide to probing and digging 


Making sure that you are properly equipped is just the beginning. During your safety training you will learn more on how to behave in case of an avalanche. If interested, you can also read our related post on 10 tips on how to survive an avalanche

You can find more an extensive offering of avalanche safety equipment on Backcountry.com

In case of an avalanche – 10 tips

Being ready and knowing how to survive an avalanche is a must to enjoy your wildest mountain adventures. No one wants to face an avalanche, but as they say… Better safe than sorry!

During our Heli-skiing and backcountry adventures we went through several rounds of avalanche training and we now want to share those learnings with you. Below you can find our 10 tips on how to survive an avalanche as well as the recommended equipment to have with you when venturing off piste.

“In case of an avalanche” checklist

  1. Shout: When you notice the terrain starts moving and you or some of your companions are in it, don’t think – shout. Let people know immediately what’s happening, you will have greater chances of skiing out of it. Your first instinct will guide you, start skiing and head to the sides of the snow front.
  2. Drop: If you can’t ski out of it, remove your poles immediately and if you can remove your skis as well.
  3. Swim: If you fall, start swimming (literally) and when you feel the avalanche is slowing down swim faster, heading to the surface.
  4. Prepare to stop: Right before the avalanche stops, bring one arm in front of your face and tuck your mouth under your elbow to protect it from the snow and help create some breathing space. Stick your other arm straight up, you might really be close to the surface and a glove sticking out might be all it takes for a companion to locate you.
  5. Count: If you witness an avalanche or manage to ski out of it and are in a group, the first thing once it stops is to do a headcount. Before heading out for the day, you need to memorize  the number of people that are with you including the guides.
  6. Signal: Whoever in the group has a Radio should get on it and communicate location, name of the guide/group, count of missing people and ask for instructions.
  7. Exercise caution: Look around to verify if conditions are safe to start a search or if you should rather wait for search and rescue teams to intervene and help.
  8. Visual check: If it’s safe and there are people missing, it’s time to start the search. Visually search if you see any signs of your missing companions (don’t step on the beacon if you see an arm sticking out of the snow!).
  9. Receive: Make sure your search companions all switch their transceivers from send to receive (and check them all!).
  10. Search: Start searching! For more information on how to use the transceiver, you can read our Transceiver 101 guide.

We recommend to also read our post on safety equipment for backcountry skiing. Learn more about the recommended gear as well as our 101 guides on beacons, probes and shovels.

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10 survival in case of an avalanche post

Probing and Digging 101: backcountry safety

This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you will contribute some pennies to our skiing saving account!

Probing 101

As mentioned in our post on safety equipment for backcountry skiing, knowing how to probe is critical to correctly identify where someone may be buried in case of an avalanche.
There are 2 different approaches to probing, depending if your companion is wearing a transceiver or not:

    1. If your companion is wearing a transceiver, stand right on top of the spot where you got the lowest distance reading and stick the probe around you making concentric circles, first very small right around your boots and then larger until you get a positive strike. When you do, leave the probe in the snow. It will serve as a marker on where to dig no matter what happens next. For more information also read our Transceiver 101 guide
    2. If your companion is not wearing a transceiver, you will need to spot probe: focus around the fall line of where he was last seen, around his equipment on the snow surface, above and below rocks and trees or deposition areas such as depressions, the toe of the avalanche. If you have enough man power, proceed to cover the field with an organized search line starting from the bottom and moving your way up.

Digging 101

Backcountry shovels usually can be mounted both in the traditional shape we use to dig our driveway before going to work in the morning or also as hoes. This second mounting is the best one to use after you get a positive strike with the probe. It allows you to dig much faster by moving the snow behind you while kneeling or standing. If you have anyone around, he can also kneel or stand right behind you and get rid of the snow you are digging in a sort of chain effect.


Backcountry.com is a Utah based company carrying an extensive selection of backcountry safety equipment

You can also easily purchase backcountry probes and shovels on Amazon:




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