It’s ski season – are you stoked?
Steamboat Resort offers terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. If it’s your first time on the mountain, Steamboat has you covered. While the resort is known for its family-friendly environment, Steamboat also offers incredible tree skiing and for those seeking a challenge, there’s even expert-level terrain.
Regardless of what you strap to your feet, here are a few tips from Steamboat locals that will set you up for a great time on the slopes.
Proper equipment is a must for a fun and enjoyable day on the slopes. There are a variety of ski and snowboard rental stores on the mountain and in downtown Steamboat to set you up with rental equipment for your trip.
A properly fitting helmet is strongly recommended, as are goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes. Be careful not to leave a gap between your helmet and goggles; on a sunny day, that’s a likely spot for a sunburn.
Which leads to sunscreen – it can be one of the most important pieces of gear. Put it on early, and reapply often. The snow reflects sun rays towards your face, intensifying the impact on your skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen is a good choice. Toss a small tube in your pocket for reapplication, or reapply at one of the on-mountain comfort stations.
Layers are key, as temperatures can fluctuate between lower, mid and upper mountain, plus depending on the time of day, sunshine and shade can affect temperatures by a few degrees. Choose synthetic, wicking fabrics over cotton, and make sure your outer layers are water resistant or waterproof.
Get me up there – gondola vs. chair lift
Gondola, chair lifts, surface carpets, poma – Steamboat has them all. While the magic carpets are reserved for those in ski and snowboard lessons, any ticket holder is welcome to ride the gondola, chair lifts or poma.
There’s had been a debate among locals over the years as to whether it was quicker to get to mid-mountain via the gondola or Christie Peak Express followed by Thunderhead Express. Clocking in at a swift 8 minutes, the new gondola likely settles that debate. And, while some want to always ride with their group, riding as a single can be one way to get on a lift quicker.
Types of snow
Steamboat Resort is known for its Champagne Powder ®, some of the lightest, fluffiest, snow you’ll ever experience. You may hear a few other terms for snow: corduroy (perfectly groomed overnight by a fleet of snowcats), dust on crust (a thin layer of freshly fallen snow on top of corduroy), concrete (deep, heavy snow), freshies (untracked powder) – the list goes on.
Skiers go downhill, right?
Actually, they can do both. It’s not uncommon to see a number of skiers and snowboarders with split boards “skinning” or “ski touring” up the mountain, particularly on Heavenly Daze under the gondola.
Specialized bindings and adhesive skins placed on the bottom of skis make it possible for skiers to make their way uphill. It’s an incredible cardiovascular workout and a great training option for the winter, but proper training, hydration and appropriate layers are keys to success.
Rules and guidelines have been established to keep all skiers safe, regardless of the direction you choose to ski.
Say hello to Buddy
When you get off either Storm Peak or Bar-UE lifts, head skier’s left towards a bronze bust of Buddy Werner. Buddy was a native of Steamboat and one of its many Olympic skiers. He was killed in an avalanche in Switzerland in 1964 and shortly after that, Storm Mountain was renamed Mt. Werner. As you ski by, give him a tap with your pole for good luck on the way down.
If you happen to take a tumble and lose a pole here and a ski there, you’ve had a “yard sale,” meaning you’ve spread out your belongings for all to see. First, make sure you’re all right. Second, gather your things and depending on where you landed, move to the side of the run to reassemble and adjust your gear. If it’s a good yard sale, don’t be surprised to hear a few cheers if there’s a chairlift overhead.
There’s an app for that
When you download the Steamboat app on your mobile device, you’ll have weather and snow reports, lift and trail statuses, webcams and more at your fingertips. Find the latest resort dining options and event calendars. You can even turn on the GPS tracking feature to see how much vertical feet and distance you cover on the mountain. It also has the capability to contact ski patrol should you need assistance.
“X” marks the spot
Skis stuck in the ground in the shape of an “x” signal to other skiers and riders that someone needs assistance. It also provides a quick reference point to help guide ski patrollers to the injured person. If you come across this type of scenario, it’s best to give them some space.
Should you become injured while at Steamboat Resort, look for a member of Ski Patrol – they’re easily identifiable by their red coats with white crosses on them. You can also reach out to Steamboat Ambassadors (in the yellow coats) to connect with Ski Patrol. Another option is to send someone to the nearest lift tower (above or below you) for a call to be placed to Ski Patrol. Patrollers will assess your condition and transfer you down the mountain if necessary.
Should you need additional care or treatment, UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat’s local community hospital, sits less than a mile from the base of the mountain.
When the snow is piling up, you might hear the saying, “There are no friends (or spouses or children) on a powder day.” It’s all in good fun. With 2,965 acres to explore, there’s plenty of snow and terrain to go around for everyone.
(Just don’t ask locals for their secret powder stash.)