At Home on the Mountain
Five inches of new snow, temperatures barely below freezing, intermittent southerly wind, and a mountain packed with jolly powder day hubbub. If I can urge you to do anything today, take a moment from your racing around to smell the humid wind, understand the patchwork sky, feel the essence of a warm day in winter … then tear it up. Although the new snow is a little heavier than Champagne, (more of a cremant: fewer bubbles with a creamier flavor) the floating is fast and satisfying. There are plenty of fresh turns out there, so go get some for yourself!
My morning consisted of creative routs to get the most untracked snow that I could find. Instead of the traditional Rudi’s Run, I took a slight right halfway down and hit a well-neglected Norther. Choosing groomed powder over the bumps for which Norther is known, I sped on down to Four Points lift. A little secret: Four Points opens at 8:45, 15 minutes before Storm Peak. Instead of waiting in the lift line, why not take an uncrowded run from halfway and still be among the first to the top? I hit Nelson’s and Tornado and although it was a warm-up run, the snow was too good to take it slow. By the time I got back to Ego, Storm Peak’s first chair was loading.
I choose a little more creative avoidance and took a ride up Burgess Creek to ski Valley View. Valley View is often empty, very steep and very fast. Yesterday, I had a pretty hard crash from skiing too fast on mixed conditions, so I tried to take the run cautiously, giving me a better chance to enjoy the rare lower mountain powder run. Also, slowing down a bit, I actually noticed that for which the run is named, the perfect view of the Yampa Valley it provides.
One of the brightest parts of my day this morning was my gondola ride up. Because I hit the morning rush at 8:30, our car was filled up with a diverse group of happy strangers all stoked to ski. A few visitors from Denver, a semi-local couple from Brazil and a dread-locked ski bum meant I had a really jolly eight-minute ride to the top. In a ski town, children are raised not with an inclination toward “stranger danger,” but with a social precociousness from chairlift conversations and freelance concierge opportunities. Just another way skiing instills confidence in children.
On the note of confident young skiers, I dropped by Bashor Bowl on my way down the mountain to check out the Steamboat Cup, a 10 and younger freestyle race at the little course on Bashor. You could feel the race day jitters on the traverse from Bashor lift to the course, and each of the many coaches prepared their teams for the warm-up runs with quick style reminders. Freestyle is a bumps and jumps course that usually consists of a well-formed mogul run interrupted by two jumps from which skiers do aerials. It’s a fast and impressive competition, and these young racers are just starting to engage in it.
Now I’m off to do more skiing with friends and family. Have a safe, fun and friendly day on the slopes!
Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier
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