Spring at Squaw: Why All the Hate?

Above photo: Just me and Squaw. It’s glorious.

I noticed that snowboarders tend to turn their noses up at riding in the spring. Boarding in the spring, in general, comes with a lot of hangups and preconceived notions of the snow being slushy (or icy), warm weather, and gripes about most of the mountain being closed.

While it’s true that many of the lifts are closed during the spring season, everything else is such a blast, so… what’s up with all the hate?

As I’ve improved my snowboarding skills and learned the uncanny parallels of riding down the mountain and through life, learning to let go of negativity is crucial if you want to grow.

Had I decided that spring riding would be as bad as the naysayers said it would, I would’ve never improved as much as I did in the last few months.

The second time in Squaw in late May 2018. The weather was perfecto.

My first few trips to Squaw were the best and worst

My Epic Pass only works at Vail Resorts in Lake Tahoe, so I had never stepped foot at Squaw until all the other resorts finally closed.

I was able to get a lift ticket for $89 with my Epic Pass. Regular tickets are $129.

The first time I went, the conditions weren’t sunny and warm as I had expected. It was actually cold, rainy, and it snowed!

Here’s a pic of the lovely white blanket that covered the gorgeous mountainside.

Squaw Valley, late April 2018: Look at all that snow!

Usually, I’m not one to complain about snowfall while I’m on the mountain, but the dark clouds made visibility really low, so it was pretty much impossible to see any shadows in the snow, which increased the danger factor by a lot. At times, I felt like I was riding blindfolded.

This is my least favorite kind of weather, but even though I still managed to get down the mountain, I was a little freaked out.

It’s incredible how this decrease in confidence caused me to slip and fall unnecessarily. I kept thinking, “Why am I falling?! Get it together!”

April 2018: This was the first time at Squaw, from the top of a run that was lined with mostly blacks. I nervous and slipped on ice. I slid almost halfway down a black after I slipped on ice.

My second trip to Squaw

Skip to the second time I went to Squaw with my bestest bud Amy.

Amy’s friend had the Squaw Valley pass, so he was nice enough to get us tickets for $69 each. But the best part was his condo right in the heart of the Village, steps away from the gondola. It was the best. (Thanks, Ken!)

It was perfect, glorious, sunshine all the way. We ditched our jackets and enjoyed the warm 50-degree weather.

The view from our condo in the Village the second time at Squaw. It’s hard to believe there’s still snow on the other mountain.

Amy was anxious and nervous about getting on skis for the first time in many years, so I assured her that spring time is the best time to learn and comes with some massive perks.

This is why I love it and why you should too.

1. No lines

This is by far, the best reason to go boarding in the spring. No lines, no crowds, no waiting.

2. Warm weather

This is what the mountain looked like on my April visit to Squaw when it dumped.

Snow on my feet and sunshine in the sky, there’s nothing else that makes me happier. Winter boarding is ideal of course, but I definitely don’t miss the afternoon clouds rolling in, the high winds, and shivering on the ski lifts.

Spring time on the mountain means bringing lots of sunscreen because the sun is very hot. I saw people skiing with sunhats and caps.

The melting snow gave way to little streams on the mountain. I saw a small gopher running around. At least I thought it was a gopher.

3. The snow is slushy but it’s also soft

Slush is awesome when it’s red and comes from your local 7-11, but why is it so terrible on the mountain?

Spring snow can be slushy and sticky, but for the most part, I rode down really soft snow that was melted just right from the sun. Because it was so soft, I rode down the mountain fearlessly and fast. I also attribute this burst of courage from getting some major vitamin D!

4. The whole mountain is your oyster

Take a look at the top image on this post. EMPTY!

When it’s peak season, your head is on a constant swivel. Gotta watch out for the experts who ride down at massive speeds — I refer to them as ghost racers. Then there’s the ski school of little ones, the crowds of Asian fobs, and the semi-beginner who just fell right in front of you.

I told Amy that now was the best time to learn because you can go at your own pace and you don’t have to worry about anyone being in front of or behind you.

I took advantage of this, and on two separate runs, I tried to go down a double black on a very narrow path. It was so narrow my board barely fit on the path that led to what looked like a very exciting run. Moving slowly across the narrow pathway without slipping into a downward trajectory wasn’t easy.

I didn’t quite make it across, but I got halfway until I got stuck in some snow. I gave up and just slid down the mountain, heel side… it was crazy steep. But my point is, I tried and got out there just to see if I could improve a little.

5. I’m with my peeps

Only the hardcore snow junkies come to the mountain during the spring. These are the guys who crave some action no matter what the weather conditions are, and god dangit, they’re my kind of people!

There’s a special camaraderie for us crazies, and there’s definitely something to be said about being with your own kind, even if they are pot-smoking 60-something-year-old hippies with leathery skin.

I’m with my peeps, and seriously, I need to start recording my chairlift conversations with some of these folks — they’re so awesome.

So, what did I learn this spring?

I learned to appreciate riding in spring conditions and enjoy the shit out of it. I chose not to put it in a box labeled “no good.”

I refuse to put things in boxes and label them unless of course, it’s filled with office supplies.

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