A one chair day
Today there is a cloud resting atop Storm Peak, insulating, precipitating and, perhaps, slightly impairing visibility above 7,000 feet. Mountains help to form and trap clouds as air rises to cross them. The air cools and depressurizes in the higher elevations and reaches dew point, when it condenses. This atmospheric effect, called the orographic effect, causes much of the precipitation that we see in the Rocky Mountains and can lead a good snowstorm to stick around Steamboat for a while.
Although I’m tempted to call today’s weather “pea soup,” most skiers rate foggy days based on how many chairlift poles or, in this morning’s case, chairs are visible. You’ll hear people say, “It’s a one pole day up there, keep your eyes open!” The fog should lift as the sun rises, but until it does, it will keep the hill well insulated and snowy.
There is no shortage of tidy corduroy today, and the flat light encourages one to slow down and concentrate on technique. On Vagabond, I built a good, slow carving practice making perfect candy ribbon turns. There’s a dusting of powder that should keep falling throughout the day.
Steamboat, has no bump machine, no mogul implants that they store in the summertime, so we all must do our part to build the bump runs that we so love. Burgess Creek Lift Line is showing some nice lines, but it still needs some flushing out, and every turn gets us closer. This morning’s lightly falling snow makes BC soft and fast, it’s perfect for adding to the bumps. There are always hidden hazards, so stay in control.
Steamboat has a number of terrain parks for varying degrees of skill, but the largest and most extreme is Mavericks at Bashor Bowl. This park, soon to open, hosts 50-70 foot kickers, advanced rails, and the Mavericks Superpipe. Crews are blowing snow and shaping the features now, and the rails are patiently ready nearby. Once the park opens, even if you’re not into park terrain, ride the Bashor chair to watch some of Steamboat’s best flinging and flipping below the lift.
A few tips for a one-chair day:
• Ski slow. Hazards easily hide in the fog.
• Wear your night goggles.
• Stick together. It’s easy to get separated in low visibility.
• Follow the trees at the edge of a trail or a lift line.
• Stay below the clouds.
Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier
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