Any time we go a few weeks without snow, it’s easy to start thinking about spring and the warm weather that comes with it. The sun and temps in the 40s last weekend sure got me dreaming of sitting on a beach somewhere. While blue skies and shorts might sound better than a cold, cloudy day, there is plenty to look forward to over the next week and for the rest of the season. With a snowy pattern on the horizon, it’s a good time of year to try new things and get excited about the storms returning to the Yampa Valley.

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Morning light on the Gore range.

Even with the warm temps last week, there is still plenty of soft snow on the mountain right now. The key is knowing where to find it. I started looking this morning by heading straight down High Noon to Two O’Clock. Both were groomed and looked to be in great shape. While I didn’t notice too much ice as  I carved my way across the face, there was a big difference in snow quality as I dipped onto the north facing part of the runs. These parts of the mountain don’t get much sun on bluebird days, so they melt and freeze less than the southern-facing slopes.

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Just me and ski patrol on High Noon.

I put this to the test on my next run by heading straight out to the most southerly facing run in Sundown, West Side. I was right, but it wasn’t crusty like I thought it would be. The squall that pushed through town yesterday afternoon dropped just enough snow on the mountain to give our grooming crew something to work with. Since the snow was warm and wet, it bonded well with the snow on the ground and covered any icy spots created by the sunny weekend.

With a new found confidence in the snow quality, I chose to give the lower mountain a shot on my way out and ended up having the best run of the morning. When the conditions are right and the crowds are all still in bed, Vagabond can be one of the best runs in Steamboat. With the whole run to myself I took advantage of the space and made my own super G course all the way down. The snow was firm but just soft enough to really set an edge and enjoy wide open turns and the wind in your face.

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Even with the lull in storms, there is still plenty to enjoy up on Mt Werner. So while some might want to take this time to catch up on chores or do their taxes, I’ll be out there carving up groomers and enjoying this phenomenal winter we’ve been having.

 

Dan Tullos, snowboarder

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