Mid-March might be a little early to be talking about the arrival of spring in the rockies, but with warm temps and sunny skies it’s hard not to. When I left my house this morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and even though it was could, you could sense that it’s gonna be a warm one today. Clear nights usually lead to crusty snow in the morning, so if you are looking for the best time to be on the mountain, I would head up around 10-11. The snow will be softer and the sun will be shining on most of the mountain.

Since the time change on Sunday, it will take a bit longer for the sun to hit most parts of the Mt Werner. Don’t let that deter you from riding the north facing runs though. Runs like Buddy’s Run and Vagabond stay mostly shielded from the harshest sunlight so they will be a bit better in the mornings. I took vagabond down to Thunderhead for my first run and it was in pretty good shape. The top section was really nice and carvey, but lower Vagabond was a bit icy. This should improve as the sun swings around the valley.

After my warmup lap down low, I headed up Storm Peak Lift to check out the upper mountain. The weather at the top of the mountain is pretty much perfect today. It was warmer than down low in the valley and you can see for miles in every direction. On my way up I was eyeing Storm Peak face, but after seeing a few skiers come down it looked like it needed a little time. So instead I went over to Buddy’s Run and was rewarded with nice soft snow and great views of town and the northern mountains.

After another quick ride up Storm Peak, I booked it down upper Buddy’s Run, but this time I cut across to Cyclone half way down. It’s always hard to tell how good a groomer is from the lift, but Cyclone looked pretty nice as I passed it on the way up so I figured it was worth a shot. Even though it was almost entirely in shadow, it was the best run I had this morning. The snow was great for carving and if there was an icy patch, I couldn’t find it.

If you are reading this, after noon, then it’s probably around 40 degrees out in the valley and most of the mountain will be a lot softer than it was at 8:30. While this opens up your options of where to find soft snow, you might start to notice that the south facing stuff is starting to feel more like mashed potatoes than that nice springy corn snow. My picks for the afternoon are Hurricane if you want some slushy bumps and Rolex or Buddy’s for some soft groomers. No matter where you go, it will be hard to have a bad time on a day like this.

Dan Tullos

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