Steamboat Ski Getaways

ski getaways

Few resorts can boast of the name recognition that Steamboat enjoys. The name conjures up images of "Champagne Powder" (a phrase the resort has actually registered), skiing in the aspens, cowboy hats, Billy Kidd, and a strong tradition of sending athletes to the Olympics. The town of Steamboat Springs has produced a record 69 Olympians as of 2006, with more sure to follow. The town itself, although it has now grown to some 10,000 souls, is still a real ranching town, despite a number of upscale additions over the years. While not all of the cowboys in town are real, there are real cowboys.

The skiing and riding is spread over four peaks and a prominent ridge, which form a range or massif. Draped over this varied landscape is nearly 3000 acres of terrain with a vertical rise of 3668 feet. The glades of Pioneer Ridge and Sunshine and Storm Peaks catch and hold much of the 337" of light, dry powder that fall in an average season, and are perhaps Steamboat's signature territory.

The terrain adjacent to the Gondola base and lower mountain condos is devoted to learning. Good beginner terrain extends to the top of the Burgess Creek and Elkhead chairs where you can pick up Why Not, green circle and the longest run at just over three miles. Intermediates will also find many choices throughout this central section of the mountain, but should definitely go higher. Most of the stuff off the Sunshine lift is blue and long; access it via the Sundown Express or Priest Creek chair. Over on Mt. Werner there are a handful of trails that are blue-almost-black, good practice for the mostly black diamond terrain that surrounds the Pony Express. Between Sunshine Peak and Mt. Werner is Storm Peak, with some of the best glades on the mountain.

The most difficult stuff will be found off the summit of Mt. Werner. It's not directly accessible by lift, but well worth the easy hike from the top of the Morningside lift, which can be reached from the summits of Storm and Sunshine Peaks. The Chute 3 Gate is practically at the top of the lift; hike along the ridge to access Christmas Tree Bowl at several points or continue further to North St. Pat's and East Face. Morningside Park itself is a fine collection of blue and black trails that are perfect for shaking out the early morning cobwebs.

For freeriders and boarders the Mavericks Superpipe has 15-foot walls, a 17-foot radius, and is 650 feet long-long enough for perspective to come into play. Adjacent to it is the Sobe Terrain Park.