We are celebrating in Steamboat! Not only did it snow another 2 inches in the past 24 hours, but the 100th Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is also full swing. To celebrate, I decided to take it back to the days before sophisticated snowmaking and grooming equipment manicured the slopes to perfection. In our time of high tech fabrics and helmet cams, its refreshing to take your turns back to the simpler days where skiers schussed down runs on wooden skis with metal and leather bindings. To recreate this experience, head over to the Pony Express Lift (bonus: you don't have to give up the high speed lift for this experience). The Pony area is mostly ungroomed, natural terrain goodness that makes me think of the roots of skiing.
Fools Gold to the Pony Express Liftline held soft, fresh snow on my first run. I warmed up by carving easy turns around the small moguls that formed on the ungroomed slope. The fresh snow was very forgiving and made for "hero turns" in the bumps. Another run down Royal Flush held vast expanses of more fresh, untracked powder. Speeding up my turns on this run, I pushed my skis aggressively around the natural terrain and poked in and out of the aspen trees on skier's right. Skiing Middle Rib next reminded me of how the new advances in equipment and grooming have made skiing more accessible and fun. While I'm skiing over large natural terrain features, I think about skiers hucking off these rocks in leather telemark boots and wooden skis (reminding myself that this was after they hiked to the top of the hill). This weekend we celebrate the pioneers of the golden age of skiing that blazed the way for the adrenaline-filled sport that it has become today!
Sleep in on a powder day? Head to the Pony for stashes of untracked powder late in the day after a storm. Most skiers miss Pony because it is below the bottom of the Storm Peak Express Lift. Don't make this mistake next time it snows. Bypass the urge to head to the top of Storm Peak and head down to the Pony. You will be rewarded with Steamboat's natural terrain virtually all to yourself!