When you go skiing or riding in the middle of winter, the daily itinerary is almost always the same. You get in line for the gondola, ride as many runs as you can before your legs give out. Maybe stop for some lunch, then go back out for the second half of the day. Springtime is a whole different experience here in Steamboat.
Life in a small town tends to slow down a bit when the seasons change. Things become more relaxed and everyone starts to get ready to say farewell to the winter. If you’ve booked a ski vacation for this time of year, then you probably already know how to enjoy these warm spring days. If not, here is the plan.
First of all, unless there is some crazy spring storm, there is no need to press glass for the gondola at the crack of dawn. The runs are all still frozen, and you could use a balanced breakfast and some time to wake up. Enjoy your morning and get up on the mountain a little later so your legs will still be fresh for the afternoon. Your first runs on any spring morning should be whatever was groomed last night. I had some great times lapping Rudi’s Run before I went up to the top. Once you get to the top of Storm Peak, Buddy’s and Cyclone are your best bets for smooth conditions.
Depending on what you had for breakfast, the early afternoon is the perfect time to make your way up to the 4-Points Lodge for some grub. I recommend the turkey pot pie. It’s big enough to share and one of the best dishes on the mountain. If you are more interested in a liquid diet, try the bacon bloody mary or enjoy a beer while taking in the best view in the valley.
Now that you are refueled, it’s time to dive head first into some slushy spring bumps. The best bumps on the mountain right now are on White Out and underneath the Burgess Creek lift. The coverage is great, the runs are steep and they will probably be nice and soft in the afternoon. What more could you ask for?
If your day on the mountain wasn’t enough for you, it doesn’t have to end. Unlike this morning, you should get in the gondola line early tonight so you can get up to Sunset Happy Hour. From up there, you can sip your drink, listen to live music and gaze out over the green valley in the distance. So there you have it. Spring in the Yampa Valley is all about taking it easy and enjoying the last bits of snow. Take your time and savor it while you can because after closing day, winter is 7 months away.
Dan Tullos, snowboarder