Star light, star bright, that was the first star I’ve seen in over a week last night. The powder is deep, but today we’re in the midst of what may be a 24-hour lull in Steamboat’s persistent onslaught of snow.
It’s Dec. 18, and we’ve already blown through the 100-inch mark on the snow stake. It’ll be a white, powder-filled Christmas in Steamboat. Guaranteed. Also, weather wizard Joel Gratz verified yesterday’s epic Champagne Powder status in Open Snow’s Christmas week snow report this morning. Using the snow-to-liquid ratio to describe how much snow is produced by one inch of liquid water, he said Steamboat measured 20:1 yesterday. That, my friends, is pure fluff.
“My rule is that 15:1 equates to fun powder. … And, if you are lucky enough to ski powder that has a snow-to-liquid ratio around 20:1, this is truly ‘blower pow’ and just cannot be beat as long as the base under the blower snow is nice and soft”
– Joel Gratz
And more is on the way.
The three inches that fell overnight are a little damper than yesterday’s foot of freshies. A giant wet cloud is sitting on the top of the mountain this morning, making visibility a challenge. Goggle up to get some creamy turns on groomers like Sunset, Storm Peak Face and Sunshine Lift Line. Or better yet, delve into the trees.
Nicely spaced pines between Priest Creek Lift Line and Three O’Clock offered soft snow and lots of protection this morning. We should get at least another foot in there when those trees drop their load. Sideburn, on the Storm Peak side of the mountain, was equally gratifying. We simply have a lot of snow, and there’s hardly anyone out there.
The ropes continue to drop all over the mountain, and a lot of knee-deep pow is left to be discovered. Also, the cloud is lifting and when you get low enough to peer into the distance, a pocket of blue with a woosh of wave-like clouds opening over the Flat Tops Wilderness is absolutely stunning. It could be a bluebird afternoon.
Watch for an onslaught of skiing Olympians on the mountain today. Ribbons were cut this morning on a new exhibit honoring Steamboat’s ski pioneers at Thunderhead Lodge. Once the cheers have been had, it’s hard to imagine this crew won’t be charging the mountain.
On top of the epic skiing, Steamboat is packed with fun things to do in the coming week. Here are a few of my festive faves.
• On Sunday, keep your eyes peeled for Santa arriving on horseback, and don’t miss the fireworks over the ski area after the sun goes down.
• Take the family out for some giggles with the Story Pirates on Sunday, Dec. 20 at Strings Music Festival. It’s a holiday show with sketch comedy and music. Jon Stewart and John Oliver have expressed their adoration for this group, so I can’t possibly imagine it’s not smart and hilarious.
• It’s going to be a big snow week. Your legs will get worked. Have a soak in one of Steamboat’s signature hot springs. (Is there ever really a reason I would not recommend this? Nope. Never.)
• Treat yourself to First Tracks. Better yet, ask Santa for a six-pack. Skiing practically alone, making the first swooshes underneath Sunshine, fresh tracks and silence in the trees — it’s fun to be Queen of the Mountain, and the holiday week’s promise of fresh snow makes the experience especially sweet.
Also, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will be going on this week, with birders schussing around the mountain in search of feathered friends. Better than a partridge in a pear tree, put me down for one fat ptarmigan in an aspen this morning.
There are infinite reasons to celebrate this holiday season if you’re lucky enough to be safe and sound, tucked away in a cozy ski town like Steamboat. The Winter Solstice is upon us and soon the days will get longer. Count your blessings and get out and have a ton of fun in the snow!
Jennie Lay, Telemark skier