Blue skies, crisp groomers and views for miles. Now that’s what spring time in the Rockies is all about! After living in Steamboat for a while, you start to notice how every part of the winter has it’s own merits. The early season is full of dreams of waist deep powder days and the anticipation of the fun to come. The mid season is when the big storms come and it’s why we live here. The spring season may seem like an afterthought, but there is nothing quite like waking up to sunshine and cobalt blue skies before heading up to the mountain.

The hallmark of riding in the spring is surely the melt freeze cycle. The sun comes out during the day and softens up the top layer of snow creating a creamy layer to ride on, then the sun sets and all that nice soft snow freezes again. While this cycle is great for afternoon riding, it can make the conditions pretty tough first thing in the morning. Fortunately for us, even with all the recent sun, we haven’t quite moved on from winter conditions up there. Sure, the groomers might have some crusty spots on them, but I was pleasantly surprised at how soft things were this morning.

The best snow is still going to be at the top of the mountain, but I had a lot of great turns on the lower mountain runs today. I was planning on heading down to Storm Peak lift after getting off at the gondola, but after looking down Vagabond I quickly changed my mind. The second the sun hits a run up there it goes from being a little hard to perfect for carving. The whole upper section of Vagabond was wide open and really nice for setting an edge. The last little bit in the shade was still pretty hard, but that should be gone in about an hour.

Once the sun gets high in the sky, the conditions should be pretty much the same everywhere on the mountain. So on days like today, I like to mix it up and try things that I normally avoid. I almost never go through the terrain park, but in the gaps between storms it can be a lot of fun. The big jumps in Bashor Bowl area are a little to extreme for a 30 something like myself, so I usually head to the Rabbit Ears Terrain Park. There are a few smaller jumps and a ton of different types of rails to hone your skills on.

Another great way to mix it up is to try out some new gear. Let’s face it, we can all get stuck in our ways sometimes. Whether that’s means only buying the same brand boots and board or only riding the same runs, most of us are creatures of habit. I find the best solution is to demo new gear. Not only does it make you concentrate on your form as you get used to a different board/skis, but it usually gets me to mix up where I go so I can test the gear on all sorts of terrain. If you are looking to demo some snowboards, check out the Ski and Sport Shop at the base area. If you want to try out some new skis you can either go to the base or you can stop by the Yurt just outside of the gondola building.

Dan Tullos, snowboarder

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