I have to admit that I am a creature of habit when making turns at the ski area. After stepping off the gondola, I usually head straight to Sundown Express for a good part of the morning and then point my skis toward Storm or Pony from there. Today, I decided to change it up and ski only lower mountain laps all morning, which proved to be a great call with fast snow and empty runs.
There are a number of reasons that make lower mountain a great spot to play. Of the total 3,668 vertical feet to be skied at Steamboat Ski Area, Thunderhead to the base counts for 2,180 feet of that number. Some of the best and steepest groomers on the hill are in the lower-mountain zone and are often empty like they were today. Once you are done with your long lower-mountain run, Thunderhead lift also happens to be one of the shortest ride times on the mountain, so you can get plenty of vertical into a small window of time.
I hit all the groomed runs that lower mountain had to offer today — each run had similar conditions with snow that was fast and firm, yet still carvable. I pretty much had the place to myself and made wide turns that took up the entire run just because I could. The lower mountain groomers just flow so well and allow you to get plenty of turns in on each run. While I expected some firm snow this morning, setting an edge into the groomers was no problem on all aspects and elevations.
While lower mountain has some outstanding groomers to carve on, there are plenty of trees and hidden stashes to enjoy as well. The trees below Thunderhead are fun, and are best enjoyed on a year that we have had a good amount of snow, such as this season. Although last night’s storm didn’t bring much to write about today, there was a bit of snow hidden in the trees, and I ventured in to check it out. The powder definitely has wind blown qualities to it, but is still a blast to ski. The trees that hold the best snow today are the north and northeast aspects, and the thicker the trees the better.
Pick of the mountain today is Heavenly Daze: A Steamboat classic that was skiing great, especially with hardly anyone else around. One of the few lower-mountain runs that gets nice early with sun on it.
Looks like we are headed for a few beautiful, spring-like days in the coming week, and it should be perfect weather to get up to the mountain and make some turns.
Have a great day on the mountain!
Kevin Olsen, Alpine skier