It’s an exciting day at Steamboat Ski Resort, and there are more reasons than one to celebrate, perhaps with a nice little champagne toast. Today, the new high-speed quad Elkhead Express chairlift is open for the season, and it’s fast! I’m talking less than 3 minutes to the top. To add more excitement to your day, the Sunshine Peak area also opened up for the season. Twenty-seven new trails opened up today, along with four lifts including Sundown, Sunshine, South Peak and the new Elkhead Express, which brings the resort to more than 50 percent open with more than 1,500 skiable acres from top to bottom. The conditions were great this morning with a few inches of Champagne Powder® sitting oh so lightly atop some very nicely groomed runs. And to add even more excitement to your day, snow is in the forecast! Happy Wednesday everyone!
Let’s start with the biggest news of the day: the opening of Elkhead Express. This summer, my 3 year-old son would get so excited to watch the helicopters working on Elkhead that he instilled a childlike excitement in me. We’ve all been anxiously awaiting the new Elkhead Express, reading about how it will reduce the ride time by more than half, and today is your day to get out and experience the new chairlift for yourself! Around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, the resort celebrated the opening of Steamboat’s newest Doppelmayr high-speed quad with a special first chair featuring Billy Kidd, resort employees instrumental in getting the chairlift up and running and, of course, some Korbel California Champagne — cheers! Gone are the days of getting stuck either waiting in line at Elkhead or perhaps on the lift itself; with a ride time of less than 3 minutes from bottom to top, you’ll hardly even have time to chat with your buddies about the sweet turns you just had!
Equally exciting for Steamboat today is the opening of the Sunshine Peak area for the season. As of today, Sundown, Sunshine, South Peak and Elkhead Express chairlifts are open, along with 27 new trails in the area. At this point, all trails below Duster are open. There are still some closures in the area, so it is extremely important that you pay attention and respect trail closures. We have had abundant December snow, and while the mountain is in good shape, it is still early season and you do still need to ski and ride with caution.
After watching the opening of Elkhead Express, I caught one of the first chairs up Sundown and, subsequently, some of the very first tracks for the season down Tomahawk. Today was a day where the early bird catches the worm, so to speak. Underneath a few inches of light, fluffy Champagne Powder® sat some pristine groomers — nice work snowcat drivers and nice work Mother Nature! Tomahawk has changed shape this season with some really fun little rollers, but do remember on a day like today, low-light lenses would be best to help your depth perception on rolling terrain.
Baby Powder gave me some mellow and completely untracked powder turns, and the best part was that I didn’t see another soul around. One thing about Steamboat is that you can find those moments where you’re all by yourself amid beautiful scenery and, even better, beautiful powder.
After a ride up Sunshine, I had to take a personal favorite: High Noon to Westside. Hugging the left side of High Noon was perfect and enabled me to dip in and out of some nice little powder stashes to the side of the run (not in the trees). I also stuck to the skier’s left of Westside and found some more untracked, soft, yet grippy turns. There is abundant terrain out there to explore, and it sounds like abundant snow coming our way in the next few days. It was snowing this morning in Steamboat and should continue to snow throughout the day. I’d imagine tomorrow will be another exciting day on the mountain, but leave a little room for even more excitement because Saturday is predicted to be perhaps the best powder day of the season. Make sure to check out the Champagne Powder® Snow Cam that sits at the top of Sunshine Peak, but even more important, make sure to get your powder skis and boards ready because Steamboat has some snow on the way!
Erin Campbell, snowboarder