Snowflakes that fall on my nose and my goggles… these are a few of my favorite things! That’s right, snowflakes are currently falling on the slopes in Steamboat… yee-haw!
I awoke this morning to a beautiful sight. I couldn’t see the mountain, I couldn’t really see much of anything, and it was beautiful! When I arrived at the base, I could hear the muffled sound of the train chugging through the Yampa Valley… that magically muffled sound you hear only when the air is heavy and the snow is falling. Riding up the gondola I couldn’t see much of anything as the windows were plastered with snowflakes, and that too was a beautiful thing. Ahhh, snowflakes!
Today, I decided to head straight to Sundown Express via Huffman’s. I’ve recently been reading up on the history and namesakes of Steamboat mountain, and in doing so, learned that Huffman’s (off of Spur Run) is named after a ski patroller, Garry Huffman, who was tragically killed in a snowmaking construction accident in 1981. As I dipped down Huffman’s, sticking to the right side and floating on the inch or two of fresh snow lightly sitting atop a nicely groomed run, I thought of Garry and appreciated what he did in the past to make our mountain what it is today.
Riding up Sundown felt paradoxical. On one hand, it was so quiet and calm with the snow lightly falling, giving me a sense of peaceful solitude. On the other hand, there was this incredile energy coming from the skies, from the trees, from the air, from the snowflakes… and it was loud, it was exciting! Welcome back winter, we’ve been missing you terribly!
I checked out the grooming report on the Steamboat App and went straight towards One O’Clock via the right side of High Noon. The little bit of fresh, soft snow on top of a well-groomed run was magical. I had also seen that Rolex was groomed and after another peacefully loud and exciting ride up Sundown, I took the left side of High Noon to Rolex. Visibility is a bit tough today with the snow falling (but hey, I’m not complaining, I’m stoked to wear my low light goggle lenses), so sticking to the side of a groomed run, closer to the trees, will provide you with better contrast and visibility. You also still want to stick to the groomed runs, we haven’t had enough snow to make the trees enjoyable just yet, but I have a feeling winter really is back, and more snow is one the way. Having learned about Steamboat’s namesakes, I should mention the time reference theme on Sunshine Peak. High Noon, Sun Dial, One O’Clock, Two O’Clock and Three O’Clock are all named for the hour at which they are hit by the sun. Rolex, with its northern exposure, is a premium run in the area of time themes. In 1985, Loris Werner (the youngest member of the famed Werner family) approached Rolex Watches to use the name and logo. There you go, you’ve learned something new today!
From Sunshine Peak, I traversed over to Storm Peak South to catch some of the first lines of the day. The little bit of snow on top is certainly nice, but do be careful as there still remains a bit of an icy, crunchy layer underneath. I did find that some of the steeper runs today were a little icy in spots, but the more mellow terrain proved to be a bit softer and more forgiving. Sunset and lower Rainbow, both less steep and more mellow runs, were both nicely groomed and soft with the new snow on top. Quite a few of the runs off of Storm Peak are named after weather occurences, such as Twister, Rainbow, Hurricane, Cyclone and Tornado… pretty fitting if you ask me as there can be some crazy weather that rolls in and will hit Storm Peak especially hard, although today, it too was calm and peaceful with the snow lightly falling.
Buddy’s Run was my pick on Storm Peak. Before fulling strapping into my board, I paid homage to the statue of Buddy Werner, gracefully sitting at the top of his run… I could tell he was smiling at the snowflakes gently resting on his head. Buddy Werner, a Steamboat Olympic skier, was killed in an avalanche in Switzerland in 1964. After that, Storm Mountain was renamed Mount Werner in his honor. Sticking to the right side of Buddy’s proved to be the way to go, and I found some nice, soft turns on my ride down, beaming with excitement over the snowflakes continuing to fall.
As I rode up Burgess Creek Lift, the snowflakes grew tremendously in size. Early this morning, it was lightly snowing with small little crystals, but closer to 10:00am, the snowflakes were much larger, much more exciting and much more reminiscent of that epic dumping snow we all wish for and dream of night after night.
It’s no lie, January has been a bad month for snow in Steamboat… in fact, if we don’t accumulate 6 1/2″ today, it will be the worst January on record for decades. But the good news is that it’s currently snowing and according to my WeatherBug app, there is quite a bit of snow in the forecast. Tomorrow is the first day of February, and in my 8+ years living in Steamboat, some of the most epic, most memorable powder days have been in the month of February. So don’t give up on your snow dancing just yet… keep it up, keep the snow gods and goddesses happy, and don’t forget to get outside and enjoy the snowflakes that fall on your nose and your goggles. Happy Saturday and happy snowflakes!
Erin Campbell, snowboarder
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