Here in Steamboat, we have welcomed in the month of March with sunny, spring-like weather… at least for now. While sunny skies are dominating early this week, moisture is expected to return to the valley for what looks like a snowy weekend ahead. As we approach the spring equinox, we often receive quite the mix of winter and spring weather, sometimes even in the same day.

Steamboat sunrise on this second day of March. Good morning!

This time of year, if we haven’t received recent snowfall, the groomers can often hold a firmness to them until the sun fully dresses the slopes. On those days, I find the best runs around 10:30 to 11 A.M. once the sun has warmed the slopes and softened the snow. If temperatures are quite warm in the afternoon, by around 1:30 P.M. or so the snow will become stickier in a sense and slow down your glide. If you only have a few hours to ski, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. on these sunny, warm days is the best time to get out and take some turns.

Flintlock corduroy kissed early by the sunshine.

However, if we have received recent snowfall, and the temperatures are a bit warmer, the corduroy can have this smooth, velvety texture that skiers dream about. That kind of corduroy is soft and forgiving, and really allows you to carve some smooth turns without risking losing your edge. I was hoping for that scenario today, but without recent snowfall, the corduroy packed a firmer punch early this morning, but should soften up as the day progresses.

Lower High Noon and views to the north with Hahn’s Peak in the distance (the highest, most triangular-shaped peak).

Pockets of softer, deeper corduroy did exist in some areas, and certain slopes seemed to have more loose snow than others, which helps your skis and boards gain traction. On those runs like Flintlock, Quickdraw, lower High Noon and Heavenly Daze, carving some trustworthy turns was really fun.

Sunshine Peak corduroy with views of the Flattops to the south/southwest beyond.

The slopes that were just waking up and still covered in morning shadows had a firmness to them that made carving turns a bit more difficult. With changing conditions from slope to slope, it’s always important to ski and ride under control and expect different kinds of snow-pack underneath your skis and boards as you move around the mountain.

Upper High Noon.

On sunny, gorgeous days like today, enjoying some of the outdoor venues that Steamboat Resort offers is always a treat. Thunderhead, Four Points and Rendezvous Lodges all have great outdoor settings, but something that is a bit different and always fun is the Taco Beast on-mountain snowcat that serves up tacos and Mexican-style sodas and beer at different locations around the mountain. Click on the link for more information regarding operating hours, but I will tell you that the Taco Beast is currently stationed at the base of Sunshine Express.  ¡Salud!

The Taco Beast currently stationed at the base of Sunshine Express.

Enjoy the sunshine for now and enjoy the snow that is coming in a few days! Happy Wednesday!

Erin Campbell, Alpine Skier & Snowboarder

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