My favorite days of winter are those characterized by solid snowfall, colder temperatures and abundant sunshine.  In the past week, Steamboat has received 16.5 inches of new snow followed by cold temperatures, keeping that snow in great condition.  We’ve also been enjoying those deep blue Colorado skies full of brilliant and amazing February sunshine.  These are my favorite days of winter.

I awoke this morning to mostly clear skies that seemed to be moving towards a bluebird day.  Even as I got my boots on, I was dressed in the sun’s rays, so I chose my bright light goggle lenses and opted to ski without my turtle fur.  And even as I got on the sun-dressed gondola, I was certain the morning clouds were moving east (as they usually do) and about to give way to a bluebird day.

I was wrong.  The clouds seemed to move in from the east this morning (a rare occasion) to cover most of the mountain and part of the valley floor below.  Sunshine Peak was not true to its name early this morning as a heavy fog hung around the summit.  As the fog and clouds moved in and out, giving occasional glimpses of the hidden sun, it created a mystical and almost surreal feeling on the mountain.

Without the morning sunlight, I had a harder time seeing with the wrong goggle lenses and was quite chilly without my turtle fur.  A good lesson for myself and for all skiers and riders is to be prepared for whatever weather may present itself.  Natural beauty is abundant in Steamboat, but to me, part of that beauty is created by the dynamic skies that are always a changin’.  Even though it wasn’t the bluebird morning I was hoping for, it was still full of beauty nonetheless, in its own, unique way.

As colder temperatures have continued to prevail the past week, so have the great snow conditions.  With tough visibility today, I mostly stuck to groomed runs, enjoying the abundant soft and smooth corduroy.  Rolex was incredible, and it may have been my favorite run down that slope in the nine ski seasons I’ve enjoyed in Steamboat.  The snow was this perfect texture of being light and grippy, soft and smooth.

Today was a good morning to ski lower mountain to take advantage of better visibility.  While the summit was socked in, lower mountain was catching better glimpses of the hiding sun, creating decent visibility and slightly warmer temperatures.  The snow felt just a teeny bit more firm on lower mountain, but that’s only because the snow on top was so incredibly soft and smooth.  Vagabond and Heavenly Daze were both in great shape, and made for some fun, fast and easy early morning turns.

Something I typically do not do on skis (or a snowboard) is ski bump runs.  My husband was a freestyle skier in college and for the SSWSC, so I generally choose to watch him (not follow him).  However, this morning, I was feeling up for the challenge and decided to ski Norther.  Of course my husband’s favorite run is White Out, but Norther is a more mellow bump run for those wanting to give it a try.  I have to admit, I had fun and surprised myself at my capability to ski bumps (although there is still a lot of room for improvement).  It’s always fun to challenge yourself on the mountain by skiing a slope that intimidates you or by trying snowboarding when you’re a skier or by skiing a bump run when you always stick to the groomers.

I was also lucky enough to ski on Monday with my Dad and my 4 year old son.  Enjoying runs like Tomahawk, Flintlock, High Noon, Sunshine Lift Line, Broadway and Why Not under those deep blue Colorado skies made for a day to remember on the mountain.  To top it off, my son and I found a really cool tree fort while skiing Baby Powder (to the skier’s left side of Tomahawk) that is so much fun to ski through with kids.  Look for some massive pines grouped together and an entrance to the east.

Happy Wednesday!

Erin Campbell, alpine skier

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