Spring has most definitely sprung. The snowpack is shrinking, the grass is starting to green and the aspen trees are budding. We have one foot in winter, in a ski or snowboard boot, and one foot stepping towards summer. In Utah, that means even more options for outdoor activities than usual. You can enjoy a day of skiing in the morning and ride your bike or go climbing in the afternoon. Ahh, variety is certainly the spice of life.
To help you prepare for the bevy of sports available at this time of year, we’ve put together a list of tips to make the most of your time outdoors.
Watch The Weather
Spring weather can run the gamut. It can be a blizzard one second and sunny and hot the next. Planning your days can be a challenge, but getting a general idea of potential weather really helps. Cloudy and snowing in the morning? Go snag some backcountry turns before the sun bakes the snow and turns it too slush. Sunny with high pressure? Shred a few laps on the bike in the morning and let the sun warm up the hardpack. Rainy in the Wasatch Mountains? Head down south to do some desert climbing.
Get Your Gear Ready for Spring
Spring is not easy on your equipment. While we all try and avoid mud, it’s inevitable while the snow is melting. Don’t let that mud from when your skis fell in the parking lot ruin your next ski day or even next season. Getting your skis tuned at Rennstall will ensure that when you go from cold snow to that slush puddle at the bottom of the run, you won’t get tossed and double eject. And when you’re ready to hang ’em up for the season, make sure to protect your skis with summer wax before storing them.
Spring is also a great time to get your bike tuned up to work out any kinks you may have neglected from last year. The Expert bike techs at White Pine Touring will make sure your mountain or road bike is ready to go for a full season of riding.
You will also need to wash your bike regularly, either from that freak rainstorm/snowstorm on the ride home or that one puddle you just couldn’t avoid. The first step to cleaning your bike is purchasing a good degreaser. I like Park Tool’s CB-2 ChainBrite which is bio-degradable and citrus-based to get rid of the nastiest grease build-up. While you’re cleaning, take that time to inspect your bike for any cracks in the frame, overly worn tires, or cable rub and get it fixed by the pros.
Prepping your climbing gear is pretty straight forward; go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. Inspect for cracks in your carabineers, frays in your rope and inspect the overall condition of everything in your rack.
Be Prepared for Success
After a long winter full of clouds and a low sun angle, many of us forget about the power of the sun, especially at altitude. Don’t make the mistake of skipping the sunscreen or you will get fried. Beyond Coastal has an awesome line of sun protection to keep you covered and playing happy in the outdoors and is available at our flagship store on Park Avenue. One of my personal favorites is their sun stick. It’s easy to apply with no mess and it won’t blow up and make a mess in your pack.
Like I said earlier, you will encounter a lot of different types of weather during spring in the mountains. Don’t pack away your puffy jacket just yet. Keep it in the car for when that sun tucks behind a cloud and temperatures plummet. General rule: be prepared for any type of weather.
Where To Go
Where to go all depends on the weather. As late season storms roll into the mountains, the biking in Salt Lake City could be awesome. If it is snowing up high, migrate over to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird is notorious for being one of the last resorts in the nation to close down and is often open on weekends late into the spring.
As the sun angle increases, the local trails in Park City will begin to dry out faster and faster. You may be able to sneak in a ride on the Glenwild trail, but stick to the frontside which dries out first since it is south-facing. Be vigilant about trail conditions, and if it is muddy, don’t ride. Biking on muddy trails creates ruts, which then take up permanent residence when they harden, destroying the trails and ruining the fun for all of us.
Climbing this time of year can be hit or miss. There is some great climbing in the lower Cottonwoods in areas that shed the winter snow early. That being said, many of my favorite spots are still buried in snow come early Spring. Be flexible and go with the weather instead of making a plan and sticking with it no matter what the forecast looks like.
If you hit it right, spring can be an amazing time in the mountains. You can create your own version of a Utah biathlon – skiing in the morning and biking or climbing in the afternoon. Watch the weather, be flexible and have fun!