Early rising is always worth it. I am not an early bird by nature, but it has been hammered into me by my naturally early rising family. But once I stopped fighting it, I realized what a great time of day it is to be together, to watch the pinking of the sky while we talk about our dreams, to give ourselves more time and more space and, for me, lots more coffee to start the day. I am learning, thanks to my Straight Talk gig, that the same idea applies to early morning skiing, regardless of conditions.
No matter the weather report, skiing that first hour on the hill virtually alone is a very peaceful way to start the day. I was somewhat skeptical about what condition the mountain would be in on an overcast morning after a weekend of sunny skies, but as usual, the mountain erased my skepticism. I got on the hill in time to join the First Tracks skiers over on the Sundown/Sunshine half of the ski hill — not a feat I always manage to pull off. I think it was me, a handful of patrollers and the First Tracks regulars. These folks know what’s going on. Most people think First Tracks is something to reserve for a powder day, and that is certainly a great time to take advantage of getting on the mountain before the masses to hit up your favorite stash untouched. But it’s also just a great time of day to be out on the hill.
For anyone not familiar with the program, First Tracks is an add-on to a regular ski ticket that gets you early boarding on the gondola (8-8:15 am) and then gives you exclusive access to some of the best skiing on the hill: the O’Clocks, High Noon, Westside, Rolex, Sunshine Liftline, not to mention Twilight Trees (heaven on a powder morning). There is a First Tracks add-on to a season pass, which regularly sells out. For those of you not lucky enough to have that, you can still purchase First Tracks day passes for $39.
Whether you are a local who just wants to get a few early runs in before heading to work, or you’re a die-hard visitor antsy to max out your ski hours on the hill, First Tracks is worth the extra. The groomers are fresh, the runs are wide open, the lift lines are nonexistent, and the views are endless and inspiring.
There are clouds descending on the valley and a winter storm warning in effect for the next couple of days. Tomorrow’s First Tracks could be dust on groomers, creamy wind-blown bumps, or a full-on powder morning. There’s no telling what our February weather may bring. Only one thing is certain: A few hours and a few runs first thing in the morning can’t be beat.
Happy Monday skiers and riders!
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier
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