Turns All Year!
Skiing powder is pretty great, and I live where I do specifically so that I can do it a lot. But even in the midst of a wild storm cycle that has my friends and I lining up for first chair day after day, I find myself daydreaming about sunny days spent deep in the mountains. In the winter I rarely leave central Washington. Within an hour's drive from my house there are two good ski resorts, countless options for ski tours, a lot of snowmobile accessed terrain, and a handful of bigger, more adventurous mountains that are best saved for when the forecast looks like it's going to be solid for a while. Come April or May though, snowed over roads around the Cascades start to melt out, the weather gets nicer each week, and the variable, crusty snow of the late winter and early spring gives way to corn.
Corn, for those who don't know, is firm and easy to climb when it's frozen in the morning, but smooth and creamy to ski once it bakes in the sun for a while. While skiing perfect powder you feel like you're flying, in good corn you feel like you're driving a high end car through beautiful mountains at 150mph. Add to that the sense of accomplishment at having climbed such a mountain, the camaraderie of solid a day in the mountains with friends, the comfortable weather, the lack of everyday stress, and you'll begin to understand what it's all about.
Once it's corn season, I don't miss skiing powder. In Washington you can reliably ski corn from April until July if you're up for some driving and hiking. Terrain is limitless in the spring, and even in mid summer all you have to do is walk up to one of our hundreds of glaciers or snowfields, and get a little lucky with weather and timing. Sure, I've found myself on hard, suncupped slopes a few times, but I've also skied 2000 feet of perfect, smooth corn in August. The only time I've ever really regretted clicking into skis in the summer was on Mount Rainier in September 2006. But it was my first time ever skiing, and I was wearing climbing boots and using telemark bindings. That's a story for another day.
Here's a sampling of the trips that my girlfriend Lyndsey and I have taken over the last handful of months. For the record, my ski season is over. Lyndsey is more of a fiend than I am though, and might just end up skiing every month this year.