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Big moose, little moose

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Big Moose from 4 Oct 2015 on Pioneer Ridge Came across a family of moose over on Pioneer Ridge this past Thursday blocking the trail. After carefully bushwacking around the apparently content moose, I was able to get some photos of two of the three. After riding to Rainbow Saddle and as I was descending Rustler’s Ridge, I scared up ANOTHER family of three moose resting on the trail. These were far more agitated at being disturbed, and the twitching ears and snorting precluded any picture taking as we again bushwacked around the family. Lots of animals on the trails getting ready for winter, so be careful out there!Small Moose on 4 Oct 2015 taken on Pioneer Ridge

Hiking for spring powder

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Snow starts here - looking toward Thunderhead baseThere are still spring powder turns to be had for those willing to hike. Shown to the right is about the 5 minute hike across bare ground needed to reach the snow on Lower Vagabond at the Steamboat ski area Tuesday afternoon. It is amazing how much this dried out from Sunday after recent snows, when you could start hiking from the lift terminal, but access to that was through a mud pit.

Tornado zipper-line from Sunday 19 April 2015Speaking of Sunday, my tracks down the Storm Peak liftline on Tornado were clearly visible two days later as I hiked up from just above the Vagabond saddle! Skiing on Sunday was better than Tuesday as there was about 8-10” of dense powder from the weekend snows.

Tornado turns from Tuesday 21 April 2015Shown to the right are Tuesday’s turns, where the 8-10” from Sunday consolidated to about 5-6” of even denser snow. I had started out intending to ‘8′ my tracks from Sunday, but the debris from Sunday’s turns made the skiing a bit inconsistent. About half of the way down, I sought the far more consistent untracked powder to skier’s left and finished the run next to my old tracks from Sunday.

Milly on Tornado 21 April 2015Milly, my hiking companion, Lower Tornado inspecting our turns on the lower slopes of Tornado. Note her paw prints bisecting my turns! She was the only one I could find to accompany me Sunday and Tuesday. If the snow allows it, she is always eager to help me start the season and end it!

Lots of soft skiing around

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A surprise 1.5” of snow on my deck this morning accumulated to 2” at mid and 4” up top from this morning’s report, with an additional 2” falling during the day today. I missed forecasting the early morning snowfall as some energy escaped from the parent storm to our west, but otherwise the storm is on track, with the cold front moving over the upper mountain around 3 pm and enhancing snowfall rates. I still expect 4-8” to be reported tomorrow morning, with and additional 2-5” falling during the day and overnight, which will be reported Saturday morning.

The consecutive days of snowfall have kept the mountain in great shape. Though my first run down Rudi’s was a bit scraped by mid-afternoon, Upper Closet and Shadows skied soft, though a bit inconsistent. There are still places where the very dense snow from the Sunday night storm is waiting to grab your ski, but overall the newer and lighter snowfall has been mixed in well by the current skier traffic.

I next headed up Morningside for a short walk up to No Names to ski some steep and less tracked snow. The flat upper section is skiing like a silky dream, though you can still uncover the heavier snow underneath as the pitch steepens. The snow stake up top read 57”, yielding a 51” base up there after subtracting the 6” bias (as I verified two summers ago, the ruler starts at 6” above the ground!), which is still not quite enough to completely cover the sharp rocks at the bottom of the run, so ski carefully!

Caught close to last chair up Storm Peak for a run down alongside Bar-U-E liftline and then over to Typhoon for more soft turns. After skiing down to Thunderhead, I closed out the day with a pleasant run down Ted’s Ridge.

Classic Powder Day finally arrives!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another 13” at 5 am this morning on top of the 4” reported yesterday morning has buried what was left of the Opening Day Ice Crust. In fact there was about 8” of heavy and dense powder by yesterday (Sunday) afternoon with another 10” of very light and dry powder on top of that which fell overnight. Plus, we had some Steamboat Magic this morning with another 3 or 4 inches falling by noon today. Of course, that will be reported tomorrow morning, but it looks like the storm delivered about 20” or 21” of perfect powder to the Steamboat Ski Area.

First run down Norther clued me in to just how good this day was going to be. Though mounds of bumps were visible, they were barely felt as I floated over and between them. An early chair up Four Points lead me to untracked turns down Tornado directly under the Storm Peak liftline, which was as good as you might imagine!

But what really shined was the first run down Closets. Though I was very aware and careful of what lies underneath, the upper 2/3 of the run skied bouncy and effortlessly. The lower third of the run still needed a bit more coverage to completely cover the downed tree hazards, and forced some slower and more deliberate turns.

Hustling back to Storm Peak via Duster and Lower Rainbow lead to another virtually untracked line down Shadows. Since the hazards in the aspen need a bit less snow to cover than in the pine, the lower third skied well. In fact, that run and the next in the same area had me down to Duster before I needed to stop and rest, which is always a sign of great powder skiing.

Still being careful in the trees, great powder shots were found off of West Side, off of Rolex and even Under the Rainbow. Twilight was far more popular with other skiers and boarders, but still had some swaths of untracked as late as noon, especially near the bottom.

And, as I rode Elkhead to return home, I noticed a flood of skiers on Lower Shadows for the first time this season, forcing another ride up Storm Peak to sample the newly opened terrain. Great deep and steep skiing on that pitch; so good in fact that I continued to ski this for another 3 runs. By 2:30 pm, my legs were begging for rest, but not before skiing freshly opened Upper Valley View on the way to the bottom.

More storminess in the forecast for this week, and likely beyond, and just in time for the Christmas visitors.

Opening day conditions were …interesting

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ice crust dismay on Opening Day 2014-2015The freezing rain event that started the afternoon before the Steamboat Ski area opened for the 2014-2015 ski season ruined about 30” of powder that had fallen in the previous 3 days. But plans were made, and our group dutifully showed up at the gondola line at 7:30am, hoping for anything better than the ice-crust left in the valley snowpack.

We headed to White Out, but probed the snow prior to committing, and found an even thicker layer of ice at the top of Norther. Skiers behind us noisily and spectacularly proved that off-piste was unskiable, and we took the cat track around to Rudi’s Run, which was nice for early season conditions, but disappointing for those with powder expectations.

Shown on the left is a closeup of a nice slab of crust excavated from the top of Hurricane. After obtaining photographic documentation, we found Heavenly Daze and especially Vogue as having the softest snow on the hill.

Sun should return tomorrow, and we’ll see what the grooming crews can do to mitigate the damaged snowpack.

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