This little powder piggy went to town at Steamboat
Grand County, Colorado
Ever since I wrote a report about Steamboat Springs in fourth grade ” complete with cut-and-pasted magazine glossies of cowboys with skis slung over their shoulders riding horses through deep powder ” I’ve wanted to ski there. Over the holidays I finally had my chance.
Taking advantage of one day out of six afforded me with my Rocky Mountain Superpass, I joined my girlfriend and two friends visiting from Texas at “The Boat” on Saturday.
My girlfriend lived in Steamboat for years and was excited to show me around her old turf. She had planned a late morning start for the nearly two-hour drive and I agreed, though casual mornings on ski days are not really in my genes.
As a kid in suburban Pittsburgh, family ski trips meant waking at the crack of dawn (or earlier) and rushing around to pack gear, make food and load into a station wagon stinking of wet wool and lunch meat for the frantic drive to catch that first lift.
The same kids who faked sick or were impossible to get moving on a school day would spring out of bed to go hit the icy slopes we thought were just heaven.
We would ski non-stop, taking advantage of every minute on our lift tickets, and sometimes even sticking around to ski at night under lights. Then we’d roll back into the suburbs late with a car full of sleeping kids and an exhausted dad behind the wheel.
But on Saturday, our group of 30-somethings was a bit more casual and I played like I was cool with it. Until we got there, that is.
After driving the snow-covered roads from Kremmling over Rabbit Ears Pass, we arrived at Steamboat to find the mountain loaded with about six inches of fresh loveliness.
We set our friends up for the day ” one took the day off to explore the town and the other is an intermediate snowboarder we left to ride on his own ” then my girlfriend and I hit the hill.
That first ride up the gondola landed us in a valley of towering steeps still coated in powder and there was hardly anyone there to ski it off. “Thank you, Ullr,” I almost said aloud.
I followed my girlfriend on a few runs along the upper ridge of the resort, skiing some glorious aspen glades, the combination of plummeting temperature and great conditions freezing a perma-grin on my face.
Then I got selfish. Our friend called and wanted to meet up, and my girlfriend was keener on the open slopes than the steeps and trees.
“No friends on a powder day,” they say, so after deciding on an end-of-day meeting place, I took off like a bull out of a chute.
I didn’t know the mountain, and with low visibility and just an hour left to ski, I rushed to something we’d already skied, charging the tree lines off of the Sundown Express lift.
Low turns on the steeps sent powder plumes over my head in spots, and the snow morphed into cold smoke under my ski tips as I ripped down run after run, stopping only to gulp for air.
After five laps my quads were on fire and I was almost happy when the lifties hung the closed signs on my best day of the season so far.
We had a groovy burger dinner in Steamboat then a long, snowy drive back to Fraser that gave me time to take stock ” as much as I felt a little guilty for selfishly taking off on my own, I was a well-fed, happy little powder piggy, and I can’t wait to use up my other Superpass days at my new favorite ski area.
” Charles Agar waits for no man (or woman) on a powder day. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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