Is 40 Degree Weather Good For Skiing? (Sunny Skiing)
Some consider 20-30 °F (-7 to -1°C) degrees to be the best temperature to ski in, but there are plenty of reasons to love skiing in 40°F degree weather (4°C).
Fewer layers, cutting through slushy snow, no numb toes, and a nice suntan are among the benefits of Spring skiing. Additionally, being off-season can mean that accommodation is cheaper and the slopes are less crowded.
Will there be any snow left in Spring? Well, there’ll be a lower chance of getting any fresh powder on your Spring ski trip, but with low nighttime temperatures, the snow has an opportunity to re-freeze resulting in a better snow cover than you might think.
Depending on where you are in the world, it can be 40°F / 4°C degrees at any time in the season, but typically you'll find this warmer weather (above freezing point 32 °F / 0 °C) closer to the start or end of the winter seasons. When the temperature gets this high, the snow will begin to melt - but the speed at which it melts depends on how thick the snow base supporting it is.
What Conditions to Expect in 40 Degrees
Rocks! Snow melting in the heat will expose rocks, making much of the off-piste skiing a no-go during this time of year.
It’s not just off-piste that you’ll have to be looking out for, even on piste, patches of snow, grit, and sometimes rock will appear as the base layer melts. Snow patrol should cordon off these spots, but be vigilant if you want to keep the bases of your skis in good condition.
Bluebird days! Blue skies and warm sun can change the entire atmosphere of the ski hill. Finishing off your day with a drink in hand at the local apres ski bar is fairly exclusive to springtime. Be sure to check out La Folie Douce if you’re skiing in Europe.
Slush! A dividing type of snow for many skiers, notorious for being grabby and hard work, a lot of fun can be had skiing slush. This type of snow is formed as the top layer of snow melts, refreezes, and melts again. This can make for a heavier consistency below the boot.
How to Ski Slush
Spring skiing in slushy snow can feel heavier and ‘sticky’ but by no means is it impossible to ski.
Look up: Anticipate what’s ahead and plan better than in ‘normal’ snow conditions. Higher temperatures can lead to variable snow conditions (a mixture of slushy, light, and icy snow).
Be Dynamic: Use your full range of movement through your legs to form controlled turns. A skier who uses a larger range of motion has more of an opportunity to alter their turn radius (how large a turn is) during the turn. This is particularly important in variable slushy snow when deep ruts in the snow appear more often and suddenly!
If a skier needs to suddenly make a short turn, they can straighten their legs quickly and put more pressure on the skis than if their legs are already pretty straight; this uses more energy, but it’s the right way to ski.
Be centered: You don’t want to be leaned right back and you’ll want to avoid overpressuring the tips of your skis, finding the sweet spot will help you pivot your skis, leading to a much more enjoyable ride.
This advice comes from an experienced ski instructor and race coach, Oliver Chalkley. However, he suggests booking an in-person ski lesson that can focus on the individual's needs.
What to wear?
Whilst you might be tempted to opt for a t-shirt to avoid getting too hot, the snow below you remains cold and sharp. Snow burn from a fall with exposed skin is not enjoyable and can be avoided by wearing sleeved items.
You may also be tempted to lose the helmet when the temperature starts rising. Don’t. Skiing cannot be done safely without a helmet. Maintaining the appropriate levels of safety will allow you to ski more comfortably and make for better overall performance.
Avoid cotton and go for thinner, quicker drying layers. Waterproofs can be a great choice, especially with a chance of rain as the temperature increases.
Sunglasses/goggles! High-quality lenses (look for polarized or high UV rated) go a long way when you’re in the mountains. Always keep a pair handy.
Springtime Ski Festivals
Springtime is host to many ski resort festivals all over Europe and North America. With the promise of great music, dancing, and activities such as pond skimming, you won’t want to miss out!
Snowbombing in Mayrhofen, Austria. One of Europe's largest ski festivals is held in early April. Be sure to sign up to be notified of the pre-sale as this festival sells out every year.
Snowboxx takes place in Avoriaz, France, part of the world’s largest ski area. Offering performances from some of the world’s top DJs, alongside some of the world’s best skiing, Snowboxx is a week-long festival at the end of March.
Rendezvous festival in Jackson Hole, USA, is a two-day music festival in the heart of the Wyoming mountains. Running in early April you’re guaranteed great music, tasty food, and a warm atmosphere.
Many resorts offer a Spring ski pass which usually runs from mid-March to the resort closing day (usually in early May). Not only do these passes offer cheaper day passes, but they also tend to include benefits such as discounted rental, food, and even accommodation. Check out the Spring perks of these North American ski resorts:
Lake Lousie, Canada:
Mt Bachelor, Oregon, USA:
If you’re looking for fresh powder and crisp mountain days, perhaps avoid Spring skiing. However, if a cruisy day on the hill, getting stuck into some slush with a sunny apres-ski drink to finish off the day appeals to you, then you’ll love it!