Spring skiing in the Rockies can often be a mixed bag of snow conditions and weather. Preparing for all kinds of encounters is my best advice this time of year. Take this morning for example. The sun was darting in and out of clouds, and a stiff breeze was blowing up top. But generally speaking, the air was warm, and the sporadic dashes of sunlight had already started to soften things up.

Depending on which runs you decide to ski today, you’ll probably find the surface of the slope varies greatly. The southern-facing trails I chose this morning (runs like West Side) were glazed with last night’s freeze. These runs were hard packed and challenging to sink my edges into. But by mid-day, these are the same runs you’ll find soft and mushy and covered in forgiving corn snow, only to begin the cycle over again come nightfall.

Main drags like Tomahawk and Vagabond were sweetly groomed and immaculately manicured. These trails are the perfect playground to practice placing carved tracks in the snow. As I continued to make laps on these runs, I could feel a slight fatigue creeping into my legs and a hunger in my stomach. It was at that point I realized I hadn’t had any breakfast yet.

If you find yourself in need of a break, I might suggest popping into the Thunderhead building, where you’ll find a complete coffee shop and bakery as well as Thunderhead Red’s bar on the third floor. After grabbing some drinks and food, I recommend stepping out onto the Oasis Sundeck and soaking in some of the best panoramic views in the area. It’s an experience unto itself.

As the day lingers on, things continue to soften and air temperatures approach the 50s, please enjoy springtime in Steamboat. There’s really no going wrong when you’ve got amazing snow coverage and fresh mountain air at every turn.

 

Dave Wittlinger, Alpine skier

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