The rapid approach of spring in a mountain town is a strange dichotomy. On one hand, people are ready for warmth and a return to their favourite lakes and trails after a long Canadian winter. On the other, vehement skiers and snowboarders keep basking in the lingering winter conditions such as we’ve seen in British Columbia this year. But the best thing about spring? The opportunity to multi-sport. Ski, climb, run, hike, bike… even swim if you’re feeling brave enough. With daylight stretching longer with each passing week, there’s no better time to fire up all ends of the gear closet, here are some of favorite spring activities you can double (or triple up) in a day.
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding
While mid-winter overhead-deep powder skiing is what we live for during the winter, spring has its own appeal. Powder days still grace the Coast Mountains as late as early May, even later if you are willing to hike further than everyone else. And if the powder is scarce, skiing on spring corn snow is great fun, too.
Spring is also the season for ski mountaineering, when snow pack is often at its deepest at higher elevations. With warmer overnight temperatures, camping on snow for multi-day trips or traverses is a lot more pleasant during the spring season. When travelling into glaciated terrain, be sure to have your crevasse rescue gear (and training) in check. Spring temperature fluctuations can destabilize snow bridges, so make sure you are prepared for a crevasse rescue scenario.
Squamish and the Canadian Rockies are two of the most popular rock climbing destinations in Canada. It’s not surprising then, at the first signs of spring, vehement local climbers can be spotted dangling from ropes on their favourite routes cleaning moss and dirt off the rock with nut tools and wire brushes. Tackling longer and more advanced climbing routes can require months of conditioning, a big reason why rock climbers like to get out of the gym and onto the rock as early as possible. Spring rain can interfere with these plans, but a day or two of sunshine is sometimes all that a rock face needs to dry out.
The prime climbing season is June through to August, but if weather cooperates climbers can be out on the rock as early as February and as late as October.
Not sure if the trail is clear above 800m elevation? Strap your snowshoes to your pack and head on up! There’s no better way to get a head start on your summer hiking fitness than hill climbing in the spring. If you want to stick to hiking in your boots, look for lower elevation trails near the valley bottom. With massive amounts of snow runoff, spring is also the season to witness local waterfalls with their highest flow of the year.
Whistler may still have snow blanketing most of its valley, but Squamish and Pemberton’s bike trails already have tire tracks. Again, stick to lower elevation trails to avoid the dreaded hike-a-bike snow trudge. Remember to dress warm!
For the brave. If you just have to get out to scratch that paddleboarding itch, there’s plenty of waterways and lakes current losing their winter coating. Consider investing in a wetsuit and don’t head out without a personal flotation device (PFD).
Mixing up the Spring Mountain Multi-sport
While a stretch of sunny days might seem like the golden opportunity, try not to pick more than two, maximum three sports in a day. Any more than that and you’ll spend your whole time commuting and loading/unloading gear.
May the months of multi-sport be with you.