Early season can be drastically different from year to year in the Rockies. Some years its bone dry and we spend our days carving on man made groomers getting our legs in shape. Other years (like this one), mother nature flips the switch and it goes from fall to winter in a matter of days. While I missed the storms over the weekend, the latest wave of snow has been a great way to start out the season. The 10″ of snow in the last few days combined with the 16″ from the weekend storm has created some amazing early season conditions and allowed ski patrol to open a lot of the mountain. Even though this morning was a bit of a lull between the big dumps, the 3″ that fell last night were more than enough to refill a lot of the tracks. From the groomers, to the bumps, to the trees, the mountain was tons of fun this morning.

I started out the day with a quick lap up 4-Points before Storm Peak Lift opened and was treated to a soft and fast groomer going down Rainbow all the way to the Rainbow Saddle. Below that you can either head straight down Rainbow or over to White Out and BC lift line. We chose White out and had a great time in the early season moguls. There are a few bushes poking through, but if you stay towards the center the coverage is great.

Having a blast in the bumps

With our legs warmed up, we hopped on Storm Peak lift and headed to the top. From here you can either go left to buddy’s run and Flying Z or right into upper Closet, Shadows and the O’Clocks. With deep powder on our minds we chose right and dropped into Closet to find some freshly refilled powder glades. You can still feel some of the tracks from yesterday underneath, but since it didn’t get very windy it’s still pretty soft. If you go farther to skier’s left you will find more untouched tracks, but you will have to traverse farther on Duster to get back. There is a lot of great snow straight down the fall line in Closet, so I wouldn’t bother heading too far out until later in the day.

Fresh pow in Closet

After a few runs through Closet, we figured it was a good idea to traverse out to the area underneath the ridge. Even though the run is shorter, this area was well worth the trip. The undulating terrain and fresh snow creates a lot of fun little jumps and drops to play around on. The bonus is that you can either cut back to Buddy’s for some groomed turns or keep going for more powder turns on Flying Z.

Steep turns below the Ridge

The coverage on the lower mountain is looking great for this time of year, but I would stick to the groomed runs. We gave upper Valley View a shot and while there were some nice pockets of soft snow near the top, the lower half was a bit bumpy. The best runs down low are Heavenly Daze and Vogue. There is virtually no ice and the snow is nice and gripy. The snow from the next wave of the storm has started to fall already, so this afternoon should just get better and better. Tomorrow morning looks to be a big one, so make sure to stretch and get some rest tonight. You are gonna need it!


Dan Tullos, snowboarder

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