Since I didn’t get to join the rest of Steamboat ushering in the opening of Storm Peak on a powder day, I did my best to soak up what was left over from what I’m sure was a phenomenal day yesterday. I heard plenty of stories and wished I was there to revel in what will only be the first of many more powder days to come this season. That being said, today was still a glorious day of leftovers.
My first warm up runs included a ripper down Heavenly Daze followed by a load up Four Points lift and an inaugural smile-fest down my childhood favorite, Rainbow. We are now witnessing the true calm before the next snow sets in. If you haven’t looked at the forecast for the coming week you probably should–it’s full of snowflakes and accumulation predictions!
With the next storm on the horizon, today’s skies granted us with typical December grey gloom. This darkness can make visibility tough, creating what we know in ski terms as flat light. When you are out on the slopes in flat light, it can give you a sort of vertigo feeling, and make you feel like you have no balance whatsoever. In turn, it forces you to be more aware of your touch and feeling on the snow. These kind of conditions make you resort to your other senses, instead of just your eyes, to get you down the mountain.
I take flat light on as a challenge to get in touch with my legs, knees, ankles and feet and really hone in on what they are feeling from the snow. Then they will work their communication north to tell my brain and my eyes what they are receiving from the snow. Almost a backwards process, if you will. If you have trouble with flat light, I urge to you to take your awareness inwards to your body and see what it’s telling you. You will be surprised as to how you overcome the intimidation of the lack of visibility.
A couple more season firsts for me today included greeting the Buddy Werner Statue at the top of Storm Peak, as well as skiing Buddy’s Run top to bottom. Groomers were great today, as all the recent snow, then warm up, has really started to create a solid base. This makes for beautifully smooth corduroy and perfectly carved turns.
Winter is finally here, and we are in the throws of big storms, Holiday hype and end-of-the-year frazzle. Take the time to slow down, be thankful and reach out to someone in need.
Brett Buckles, Alpine skier