Waifish clouds, a melancholy temperature and promise of sunshine at its finest, this mountain morning is fresh and pure.  Fast and full of oxygen, I made my way around today meeting wonderful people across the mountain.

A proud, and sometimes cumbersome, Luddite, I had some technical troubles with cameras this morning that had me buzzing about the base area for the first few minutes of my day.  When I stepped on the gondola, assured that skiing had to be done with or without a camera, I got to ride up with a nice group of earlybirds, as excited and fresh as the morning.  Five people piled on with me: a couple from Boulder, two men from Virginia and a young boy from the singles line with extremely long skis.  The Virginian to my left, a father of four, was a telemark skier who had recently picked it up as a way to stay entertained while skiing with his young children.  We enjoyed talking about the strength and balance benefits of the sport, and I encouraged him to give up poles for a while.

The Boulder couple, who I assume had the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus, where skiing their first of six days at Steamboat for the year.  The wife knew a lot about Steamboat’s ranch history and helped the others understand the role that real ranch families play in town.  As we all looked down at the Yampa Valley from our gondola car, she remarked on the cool preservation programs that help keep industry ranchers here.  She had been to Steamboat Springs in the fall for the Yampa Valley Crane Festival.

After the gondola ride, I made my way to Sundown lift on Spur Run, simply enjoying the silence and the breath of the morning.  That early, it was important to stick to the groomers, but I could see how great the sun-softened snow would soon be.  I smiled at the lifties and took my ride to the top.

Traverse, which connects Sundown lift to the Storm Peak side opens at 9:07.  A ski patroler was there waiting to drop the rope, so I stood alongside him for a few minutes knowing it led to untouched turns on Storm Peak South.  He said they open the run at 9:07 so that we’d get there at about the same time as the people on Storm Peak lift.  While we waited, he and I talked about how exceptional the Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS) program is at bringing opportunities to those in the disabled community. The program, primarily volunteer run, brings winter and summer recreation to hundreds of people each year.  Today, Steamboat hosts the STARS Mountain Challenge, a race benefiting adaptive programs. My ski patrol friend had seen many life-shattering ski accidents in his more than 40 years on the job, but he said the creator of STARS surely made lemonade from lemons.

Storm Peak South was pristine, groomed, empty, gorgeous.

On my way down, I met a couple of hikers where Why Not cuts across Rudi’s Run.  They had hiked from the bottom, he on skis and she in CatTrax.  It seemed that he wanted to go to Four Points Lodge while she wanted to find an easy route to the gondola building, trying to decide between Rudi’s Run, the shorter choice, and Why Not, the easier choice.  I gave them advice and directions and congratulated them on their trek so far.

It’s a lovely ski day out there, I encourage you to meet some great people as you spend the day on the mountain.  Maybe I’ll see you at the Afrolicious show at 3:30 this afternoon.

 

Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier

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