1. Go first thing. This doesn’t mean 9, or 9:15 after a leisurely breakfast. This means be in line when the gondola opens at 8:30. There is rarely a crowd in the early morning unless it is a huge powder day. Even during the holiday chaos the gondi lines were smooth sailing before 8:45. If it happens to be a powder morning: Christie Express to Thunderhead. The early mornings are the best skiing these days. Minimal crowds, fresh groom, and plenty of caffeine-driven motivation, if you’re into that sort of thing.
2. First run, go back down to Thunderhead. This is my big secret, and I don’t know why more people don’t do it. This applies to powder days and bluebird groomer days. Ski the Daze, Vagabond or Vertigo if you really want to warm up your legs. Thunderhead zips you back up to the top of the gondi before the masses show up, and you won’t be waiting in the cold for Storm Peak to start turning or shivering your buns off on the cold Four Points lift pads.
3. Then head to the top of Storm for some fast and furious laps on Storm Peak or sunny side. You don’t even have to ski fast to rack up your vertical. As anyone who skis with me can tell you, I am not a speed demon. I make one million little turns, especially on groomer days. The Storm Peak area provides less sun early morning but much of that terrain is north facing which keeps the snow softer. Sundown has great views, plentiful vitamin D and a lot of options, but pay attention to the weather on days prior – warm afternoons have a tendency to firm up the southern aspects of the mountain.
4. T to B, baby. Aim to ski your runs top to bottom. Again, this doesn’t need to mean you just point downhill and hope for the best. But it is midseason, so hopefully your legs are acclimated to being on sliding utensils, and you should push yourself. Be smart; don’t push it too far, but push yourself just a bit. Just one more turn, and another, and another, and another until you arrive at a lift. That’s all it takes.
5. At the end of the morning, make sure you head back up Elkhead or Burgess Creek lift. None of this dilly dallying on roads to get you around to the front of the mountain. Head to the top of Thunderhead for your last 2,096 feet of vertical back down to Gondola Square, where that sumptuous breakfast you skipped now awaits you. My favs: Paramount and T-bar both have killer breakfasts and lovely bloody marys to balance out your caffeinated early morning.
6. Lastly (and also firstly), check out your accomplishment for the morning on the Steamboat app (see yesterday’s blog post for more fun facts on the app). It has to be set to track under “Run Tracking,” the last icon as you scroll to the bottom, before you start skiing, but it will give you a happy little map of your day. It tracks your vertical feet by run, gives you your max speed and total mileage.
Technology gone wild. Ready, set, go.
Or, just kick it with your bloody or your coffee and enjoy the fact that you’ve gotten yours. Happy Wednesday, skiers and riders.
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier