The thump of a snowboard against the snow, the hurried shouts of directions to a less decisive friend, the awling of the gondola … a powder day begins.  Falling from the sky the snow is small and stings like good acupuncture, but the light and fluffy  flakes that fell all night await in inches on the ground.  People gear up quickly this morning and disperse from the gondola toward their own first powder turns, then another lift up to where it’s really good.

The glass pressers’ line at Storm Peak was eager and celebratory, poles and fists in the air, “woo-hoos” abound.  Snow piled up on waiting helmets. People cheered the first chair, and cheered those skiing the lift line, people cheered at nothing in particular. I let out an unavoidable “woop!” during a deep turn when my nose was filled with powder.  First instinct, stop and clear my face, true instinct, keep turning.  Skiers and riders raced by full of joy and sound.

Exiting the Gondi

With nine inches new and a pretty solid base, I feel confident saying that today is Steamboat’s best day yet.  Everyone knows it, too!  All the friendly locals are out checking up on their stashes and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coaches are garnering in their racers a love for fresh powder.  Most faces are nothing but goggles and a grin.

The freshies are encouraging riders to branch out on the mountain’s wintry features.  Like toes testing tepid water, people weave into the trees, hit jumps only now forming, or fly off cliffs that the prudent would ignore until January.  Daring is good, dangerous is, well, dangerous.

Snow Layers

Every snowstorm becomes another integral layer to the ski mountain’s base.  Our current storm, much needed, will act all winter as a sturdy base.  At the end of each ski season, my family digs down to the grass at the microwave towers so that we can see the layers of every storm.  Holes like this are the basis of avalanche science and feel like temporary geology.  the snow on the logs and rocks in the Burgess Creek basin show the layers of the early season’s storms and melts.

Snowy Solace

Lower mountain today is soft, carvable and rather neglected.  I was accompanied on my quick egress by very few riders, but all were happy riders.  As a reminder, look out for local’s appreciation deals all week and skiing mascots all weekend, and have a very happy powder day!

Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier

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