Holiday Powder Gifts
It’s two days before Christmas and it’s a powder day in the ‘boat! Merry Christmas all you skiers and riders! With 6 inches of new snow at mid-mountain and 10 inches at the summit, early Wednesday morning was full of millions of teeny-tiny, light and fluffy packages (or should I say snowflakes) all piled up together to make one awesomely huge gift: champagne powder® in Steamboat! Happy holidays!
They say the “early bird gets the warm” and in Steamboat, it’s more appropriately, the “early skier gets the powder.” I was honestly surprised to see such a soft, gentle and light layer of powder this morning after the winter squall that charged through Steamboat Tuesday evening. Just as Santa was taking off in the fire truck to distantly wave to girls and boys on the mountain side of town, the winds started to pick up and a thunderstorm (yes, a winter thunderstorm) charged through Steamboat with impressive force and speed. Evidence of that force and speed presented itself as a thin, west-facing vertical line on all of the aspen trees near the summit this morning, but surprisingly, the powder was a soft and calm layer spread evenly over the slopes.
All of the new powder fell after the slopes closed yesterday, which either helped the groomers pack the base a little more or fell softly on top of freshly groomed slopes. At the top of Burgess Creek Lift, there are two short slopes (Velvet or Skyline) to access either lower Rainbow or Moonlight, and one had clearly been groomed more recently than the other one. I chose more powder turns on Velvet, and even though it was a short run, I definitely had plenty of giggles and smiles in that velvety smooth and fresh powder.
Moonlight was my favorite run of the day as I tracked out some of the very first turns on the slope. With the frigid temperatures, the snow so delicately and magically kissed my skis for only a moment before becoming snowflake dust in the chilly winter air.
As more terrain is starting to open, it’s allowing skiers and riders to find their own space and turns, which is obviously very important when it comes to social distancing. Currently Steamboat is running 11 out of 18 chairlifts (including the Gondola) to access 76 open trails. While new terrain is always exciting, it is a good reminder that early season conditions do still exist, and when you see the yellow “Caution” signs on a slope, it’s because you need to slow down and pay attention to any potential obstacles that could be hidden under the snow. Upper Flintlock had some great powder, but it wasn’t bottomless and I did still ski with caution (as directed by the yellow signs), knowing that trail had just opened and there may be hidden obstacles. Ski Patrol assesses all terrain and determines what is safely skiable, so let’s take their lead and follow all of their signs and directions, because after all, it’s to keep us all safe.
With a 2 degree temperature at the summit (13 at mid-mountain and the base), the trees are all wearing their finest winter coats and creating quite a beautiful winter wonderland in Steamboat. As sunny skies return to Steamboat over the next few days, those frosty trees will be complete with shimmer and shine, making for quite the winter eye candy. We can expect more snow possibly Saturday night into Sunday, and more early next week (perhaps Tuesday and Wednesday). Check out Joel Graz’s Steamboat Daily Snow for the latest weather reports and forecasts.
Ski and ride with care (and with your masks), and have a great day on the mountain!
Erin Campbell, Alpine Skier & Snowboarder