Today was full of surprises.  Dreamy, fresh, soft surprises.  After the heavy, wet rain-turned-into-snow we received earlier in the week, and reports of high wind yesterday and last night, I had relatively low expectations this morning.  Looking at the mountain from our bedroom window, the heavy, gray cloud cover wasn’t very exciting either.  However, with 3 inches at mid and 6 inches at the summit, there was still reason to be at least at little bit excited about today.  I had no idea the surprises Steamboat Ski Resort had in store for me this lovely and awesome Wednesday morning.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a snowshoe on the opposite side of the Yampa Valley, looking out at the mountain, and breaking trail in heavy, wet snow was quite the workout.  Despite the tough conditions and gray, dull weather, the beauty of our valley and our mountain is unparalleled.  No matter what the day, the weather, the conditions, beauty is abundant in and around Steamboat.  However, after snowshoeing in heavy, wet snow and after my husband had to snowblow the heavy, wet “junk” off our driveway, I had relatively low expectations for the snow that fell on the mountain overnight.  Boy was I wrong, and happy to be wrong.

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The gondola ride was calm, quiet and very peaceful.  The skies overhead had lifted, and my first surprise of the day was pretty decent visibility; in fact, the best visibility I’ve had on a Wednesday morning all season.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the mostly powdery Wednesdays I’ve had this season, but it was a nice little treat to actually see the entire mountain and to look out on the Yampa Valley below.

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Just as I thought I would head to Four Points, I couldn’t resist a groomed Vagabond with 3 inches of soft, light powder sitting on top.  The conditions were simply amazing and quite the surprise.  Perfect, grippy, soft groomers underneath 3 to 6 inches of fresh, Champagne Powder® depending on where you’re skiing, now that is hard to beat!  The runs were smooth, dreamy, creamy, buttery, pristine and best of all, completely empty.  What a surprise!

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Rudis’ Run was in the best shape I’ve seen in 10 years (generally a run I take just to get to Storm since I’m not a huge fan of White Out bumps on a snowboard, much to my freestyle skiing husband’s dismay).  The snowcat drivers did a really nice job grooming that slope wider than usual, so I enjoyed some pretty sweet turns that I’ve never actually enjoyed on that run.  Buddy’s Run to Drop Out was probably my pick of the morning (that and lower Valley View), although every single run I took was in near perfect condition.  Riding down Buddy’s, I was amazed at the continuous, untracked, soft, powdery turns I found, but even better, Drop Out offered the steep, smooth, fresh powder that we all seek out, and best of all, it was completely untouched.  Another sweet little Wednesday morning surprise!

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Middle Rib off of Pony Express was smooth and powdery in parts, but mixed in were some occasional bumps and wind-blown drifts.  The trees off of Pony were pretty fun too; not too terribly deep, definitely not bottomless, still bumpy in areas, but fun with the new snow we received overnight.  As a snowboarder, I typically avoid BC Ski Way at all costs, but because I really wanted to ski Valley View before I called it a morning, I decided to go for it.  You know the conditions are pretty much perfect when BC Ski Way is a fun little powdery run.  Upper Valley View was a bit tracked out by the time I got there, but lower Valley View was the real surprise of the morning.  Like Drop Out, another steep slope with a grippy groomer underneath fluffly, soft and creamy powder; yep, that had me squealing in delight!

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As skiers and snowboarders who live in Steamboat, we can sometimes be a little picky about the conditions.  Today was a morning I may not have chosen to snowboard when I looked out the window and knowing how heavy the snow had been, but boy was I wrong, and today was actually one of my very favorite days of the season so far.  This morning was full of surprises, the mountain was in perfect condition and even better, it’s currently dumping and a lot more snow is in the forecast.

Happy Wednesday!

Erin Campbell, Snowboarder

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