I’ve written a blog in the past titled “Wednesday Snowflakes,” focusing on the soft, delicate and gentle beauty of snowflakes. Today, I found “Wednesday Winter Storm”¬†to be a more appropriate title, given the massive snowflakes that were furiously falling from the winter skies.

I hope you weren’t fooled by the weather conditions in the valley and at the base area early this morning because it’s a completely different scene at the top of Storm Peak. While driving to the mountain this morning, I noticed a mixed form of precipitation falling from the skies. Walking around the base area this morning, that mixed form of precipitation suddenly converted into these massive snowflakes dumping from the clouds above, beautiful in their own, unique way.

As I rode up the gondola, I honestly couldn’t see a thing as the windows were completely caked in fresh snow. Closer to the base area, the snowflakes seemed a bit heavy and wet, which translates into great base-packing snow. At mid-mountain, the snowflakes were significantly lighter and smaller, making for a smooth run down Rudi’s in a few inches of fresh powder. And at the top of Storm Peak, the snowflakes were much lighter and much smaller, but still furiously falling to the ground. That’s right, it’s dumping in Steamboat!

Given this Wednesday Winter Storm, using low-light lenses for your goggles is a must. Visibility at mid-mountain and at the top of the mountain is tough in places, so I would highly recommend sticking to the sides of the slopes, possibly even dipping in and out of the more mellow trees that are currently open (but make sure to pay attention to signage and roping, denoting closed areas).

Sticking to skier’s left on Buddy’s, I found some soft stashes of fresh powder (and I mean very fresh as this storm came in with a fury a little before the gondola opened). Dipping in and out of the trees not only gave me some fluffy and untracked turns, but the trees also greatly improved my depth perception, giving me the contrast I needed to see clearly in white-out conditions. Trees and low-light lenses are two great tools to improve visibility during a winter storm.

Fresh powder and snowflakes dumping from the skies above are certainly a few of my favorite things when I’m on the mountain. Something else I love about falling snow is that birds convene at the various feeders around the mountain to quietly enjoy a meal together. Keep your eyes peeled for the feeders at the top of Bar U.E. and Thunderhead (just off skier’s right of the bottom of Arc, close to the large trail map posted at the start of Why Not), and take a moment to watch them and enjoy the winter serenity.

Now that the holidays are over and MusicFest has ended, expect fewer skiers and riders on the slopes. I love the more calm part of January, when the snow really seems to settle in as we look forward to just over three more months of ski season. The holidays are always fun and festive, but the January calm that settles in is always nice, as well. Plus, Steamboat keeps the festive spirit alive pretty well if you ask me.

Don’t miss the Balloon Glow on Sunday night at 5 p.m. at the base of the mountain. It’s a fun time and eye-candy you do not want to miss!

Happy Wednesday Winter Storm!

Erin Campbell, Alpine skier

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