Good morning from another Tuesday powder day in the Boat! The Yampa Valley is looking mighty fine today with a nice blanket of fresh covering our amazing mountains. It’s a tricky day on the hill with some variable conditions to be found with everything from deep powder turns to some wind-blasted moguls. But no matter where your skis take you today, there is plenty of fun to be had.
If you are a powder hound, you probably keep an eye on the live Steamboat Powder Cam that gives you a real-time idea of what is happening at the top of the mountain. It was snowing pretty hard last night, and I knew the mountain was going to be fun this morning as I watched the snow pile up. The snow added up to 9 inches at the summit in the last 24 hours, and with only a few weeks left in the ski season, there was no skipping out on powder today.
If I had to put today’s conditions into one word, it would have to be “variable.” Although there is plenty of powder to be found, the wind did its part out there, so there is a bit of strategy to finding the best turns. The wind came strong out of the west with this storm, which is very evident on runs that have a western exposure. On those runs, you may find extremely firm wind-affected areas where it is pretty tough to make turns. It may appear to be deep powder, but it isn’t what you think. We found the best way to get through some of these spots was to stay light on the edges. There are plenty of pockets of deep powder mixed into these zones, but riding with some caution is a good way to go about these turns.
After we got a feel for what the wind did to the mountain last night, we knew that we had to get into the thick trees that protected the snow from so much wind. Heading into the tight trees of Closet and Shadows was a good call, and we found some nice deep powder to play in. There was a big difference between the trees of Twilight vs. the trees of Closet — not that far apart in distance, but the thick pines made it another world. The boot-deep snow was soft and consistent through all the heavily treed areas. After we discovered the conditions in that area of the mountain, it was hard to pull away from all the powder hiding in all the twists and turns of the trees.
We finished our morning with an Elkhead lap to ski the east-facing trees off the backside. This area probably had the best conditions overall because it was so shielded from the west winds. Not a really long run, but the quality was great and absolutely worth doing. There is more snow the higher you go on the mountain, but the best snow is lying in the zones that hide from the west wind.
Pick of the mountain today is the Elkhead trees between Velvet and Moonlight: Nice, soft turns through aspen trees that weren’t wind affected equals big powder smiles.
The forecast is saying there is more snow headed our way tonight, so do your snow dance and help Steamboat finish this year strong with plenty of Champagne Powder. But for now, it looks like the sun is trying to make an appearance, and with plenty of fresh turns left, it’s time to grab your powder skis and get up here!
Kevin Olsen, Alpine skier