Skiing in April can go one of two ways – you can have the trip of a lifetime or a slush ridden nightmare, it all comes down to a pinch of luck and a whole lot more preparation. However, there are some great pluses to skiing late in the ski season:
1. The days are longer so you have more time to ski and enjoy the fresh mountain air and enjoy a whole season’s worth of snow as a base to ski on.
2. For those that haven’t tried it yet skiing on ‘spring snow’ off piste is an absolute joy. If conditions are right and there have been several freeze thaw cycles the off-piste snow transforms into what is known as ‘corn snow’. Hit this at the right time of day (usually late morning) and you are in for a real armchair ride. The snow is like velvet and super easy to ski on.
3. The resorts are quieter, which means you have more space on the piste and less time spent waiting in lift queues. It also means that there are many great ski accommodation deals to be had as resorts look to sell their empty beds at low prices.
4. You can enjoy lovely warm lunches outside – nothing is finer than taking a delicious mountain lunch on a sunny day whilst admiring an amazing view.
However, the warmer days of April mean snow is much less likely to stick around so it is important to head for altitude, the higher the better. Some resorts have glaciers on top of high altitude locations – Zermatt, Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens and Les Deux Alpes are all going to have snow right through to May!
Skiing in April – al fresco lunches
Lunch is an important aspect of April skiing, and Zermatt offers some of the world’s best on-piste dining along with 365 days a year skiing! The resorts high altitude, 1,620 – 3,899 metres, and glacier make it a safe bet for fantastic conditions and the slopes offer sunshine whether you are enjoying the run down the Klein Matterhorn or relaxing at the EisBar with a cold beer. A visit to Chez Vrony for a plate of local charcuterie taken on their famous sundeck is a must for anyone visiting in the late season months!
Skiing in April – apres ski party
For anyone looking for a fun end of season ‘party atmosphere’, compete with outdoor bars and the Ibiza-esque atmosphere then the Folie Douce in Val d’Isere is the place to be. The resort fulfils all the criteria for late season skiing – an elevation of 1,850m in the village alone; links to the Grande Motte glacier (3,400m) and a plethora of bars and clubs – Val d’Isere is a mecca for late season revellers. Head to La Frutiere and book a late lunch, you can relax in the sun and watch the performers at the Folie Douce while sitting in luxury before joining in with the party.
Skiing in April – Folie Douce
Verbier is also a great snow sure option for those who want to avoid longer transfers (the resort is less than 2 hours from Geneva.). Verbier’s peak skiing is at 3,300 metres and the prevalence for partying is spurred on by like minded holiday makers and seasonaires. The Farinet is a top après spot (complete with its sundeck) and the Pub Montfort puts on great spring BBQ’s.
Skiing in April – for a family ski holiday
For families looking to enjoy late season skiing, Courchevel 1850 is hard to beat. The resort’s elevation means that it retains its fantastic accessibility from piste to village and there are enough gentle, family friendly runs to keep the whole family happy. Home to some of the Trois Vallee’s finest chalets and hotels, Couchevel 1850’s reputation as ‘world class’ is not unfounded. The efficient lift system links to Reberty, Meribel and Val Thorens making Courchevel a great destination for even the most adventurous skiers. The relatively short transfer time from Chambery Airport makes it an ideal resort for families with small children, or anyone wanting to avoid a long journey to resort.
Skiing in April – for good value ski holidays
Les Arcs is linked to La Plagne under the Paradiski lift pass and is made up of several ‘village’ style bases with altitudes of 1,600m, 1,800m, 2,000m and the excellent ‘Le Village’ at 1950m. The ski area reaches 3,200m in altitude with most of the pistes being well above 2000m providing good high altitude spring skiing conditions. There are quite a few catered chalet apartments in the Les Arcs (and La Plagne) areas and these can quite often be reduced in price for some fantastic end of season ski holiday deals.
Skiing in April – how to get the best from the conditions
April skiing is a different kettle of fish to mid-season – temperatures can fluctuate, the pistes can begin the day in a temperamental manner and lunchtimes must be adjusted accordingly.
There are two different schools of thought when it comes to early morning spring skiing – those that love it and those that do not get out of bed before 10. The warm afternoons followed by cold nights mean that the pistes freeze overnight often resulting in ‘rock solid’ corduroy persisting right through to late morning if the air temperatures are cold. Unless you enjoy icy conditions (read, FAST) and pay good attention to your edges a 9am start to the day may not be for you. The trick is to follow the sun on the slopes. First thing head for the east facing slopes that catch the morning sun full on and then move on to the south facing slopes and then later in the day the west facing. North facing slopes should be avoided if the preceding night was clear. They probably froze overnight and would be unlikely to thaw without any direct sunlight on them.
Enough powder in late April to land this one safely – John Fish April 2014.
April skiing really comes into its own between 11am and 2pm, so it would be advisable to postpone that lunch reservation for as long as possible. Once you do make it to your late lunch it is perfectly acceptable to sit out on the sun deck and take your time enjoying the weather for as long as you like!
The temperature disparity means that layering is a key ingredient to April skiing – you do not want to be stuck in a huge down jacket when the locals are out in t-shirts! It is advisable to take a back pack so that you can remove layers as the day warms up.
April weather also makes for fantastic conditions for anyone wanting to follow in the footsteps of Jenny Jones, James Woods and the rest of Team GB’s ‘slope-style’ athletes and hit the snowpark.
Tignes, Val d’Isere, Zermatt, Les Deux Alpes and Val Thorens all use the spring season to expand the burgeoning aspect of everyone’s favourite mountain sports. It is now par for the course for resorts to have ‘beginner’ lines as well as 50 metre jumps, so if you fancy emulating our Olympic heroes then there will be plenty of boxes/rails/jibs and jumps to suit the timid to the fearless.
Skiing in April – the Alpine Answers end of season ski trip
Some of the Alpine Answers team in Val d’Isere April 24th 2014
Every year we head to Val d’Isere for the end of season office ski trip. This is taken sometime between the 20th and 30th April each winter so it’s fair to say that we know a thing or two about skiing in April. In each of the twenty five years that we have been running the trip we have always been able to ski to the bottom of the resort, and more often than not we get to enjoy a fresh fall of snow and some excellent powder skiing. Skiing in April is a fantastic experience and one that we would be delighted to advise you on – get it right and you can enjoy the very best ski holiday!