With an apparent mid-winter break upon us, the sunshine is bright, the snow is smooth and the temperatures are mild.  It’s a perfect time to get out and enjoy some bluebird skies and spring-like conditions in beautiful, sunny Steamboat!

This morning, I woke up to a quiet morning fog blanketing the chilly, frosty Yampa Valley.  Our house usually sits above the fog, presenting spectacular and meditative views on mornings like these.  As I drove down into the valley, the morning fog began to surround me and the clear mountain views began to fade.  With rays of sunshine peaking through the calm, light fog, it felt magical, mystical, surreal.  By the time I arrived at the base of the mountain, the morning valley fog had dissolved.  Bluebird skies, soft groomers and brilliant rays of sunshine were ready to wake me up!

I enjoy many aspects of being able to load the gondola early and catch some of the very first runs of the day, but one thing I love the most is how you can move around the mountain, from lower to upper, from Storm Peak to Sunshine Peak, and catch the sun rising over and over again.  If the morning sun’s rays didn’t wake you up the first time they kissed your cheeks, they have ample opportunity to try again and again.  It feels spiritual and meditative being able to float in and out of areas on the mountain that are still asleep, still untouched by the morning sun, and then into areas that are very much awake and shining bright.

With the warm sun’s rays, mountain conditions are quite “springy” if you will, very much resembling typical mid-March conditions.  Since it’s only mid-February, get out and enjoy this weather because it’s only a matter of time before colder weather and snowy skies will return to the valley.  Early morning groomed runs, the ones untouched by the sun, were a little bit firm, but will quickly soften up as the sunshine wakes them up.  I found plenty of fun, grippy corduroy, and some areas that were a little bumpy and firm, so make sure to stay on your toes (and heels) until the snow warms up and smooths the slopes out a little bit.  Sunnyside, being one of the first slopes to be dressed in early morning sun, was smooth, velvety and very forgiving.  And surprisingly, See Me had the best, most pristine and grippy corduroy on the mountain.  Even with the colder temps towards the base area, See Me was perfection.

The conditions are prime for trying out something new.  Whether it be a snowboard, skis, snow bike or telemark skis, mix it up and demo some new equipment while the slopes are smooth.  “The Yurt” at the top of Thunderhead allows you to switch out demo skis throughout the day, choosing from the most up-to-date skis on the market.  Other rental locations around the base area provide options for ski, snowboard and snow bike rentals.

Sunny skies are in the forecast through Thursday, so get out there and enjoy some spring skiing before winter returns to Steamboat.  For locals, these warm, mid-winter breaks are certainly welcome for a short stint, but the deep champagne powder® days are always highly anticipated.  Let the warm, bright sunshine kiss your face and wake you up too!

Happy Wednesday!

Erin Campbell, Snowboarder

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