Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 highlights

Well 2007 is nearly over. According to the official judge (my wife Marie) it's been a good year. Here's the summary and highlights:

*I keep track of my flights at Flight Memory which has a neat feature to generate a map of all my flights for the year (below). Unfortunately it doesn't indicate how often I've flown a route, for example that I flew BNE-CBR about twenty times.

Cold, cold, cold

I went out today hoping to find some leftovers from yesterday's 12 inches of powder which I missed through sheer laziness.*

I had a few good runs, especially on the lower mountain, but generally the snow was quite wind blown and heavy and it was way too cold to stay out more than an hour and a half. So that's it for skiing in 2007.

* Yesterday wasn't a total waste since I watched Blade Runner, The Final Cut on DVD. The picture and sound on this remastered version are simply awesome.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Expectations exceeded

Today by the time I reached the top of the mountain I almost came straight back down again. It was cold (10F /-12C) and grey and the snow wasn't good enough to justify fighting the holiday crowds.

I'm glad I didn't though because it was quite a bit warmer at mid-mountain and I found some nice powder stashes. The trees to skiers' left of Sunnyside were especially good; good enough for a repeat performance. I also found some soft stuff off to the sides of Oops, Concentration and Ted's Ridge on the lower mountain.

All in all a day that promised little but delivered quite a bit. A day where you go out not expecting much and having a great time is almost as good as a day when you expect a lot and find it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

The late, great John Denver wrote those lyrics back in 1967* but until now for a big part of the year in Steamboat the only way to come and go has been on a Dash-8 turboprop, a service I've previously criticised.

Finally we're moving to an all jet service year round come the end of this ski season! As a member of the Yampa Valley Airport Commission I've known about this for a few weeks (and I hate keeping secrets) but I'm still excited at the formal announcement.

* Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past forty years and haven't heard this wonderful song, here's a version performed by John Denver and Peter, Paul and Mary who made it a hit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Day 10

It was a toasty 2F /-17C at 9am this morning so Marie decided it was too cold today to go snowshoeing as we originally planned, leaving me free to ski.

There was still plenty of leftovers from the foot or so that fell on Monday night especially in the trees where it was waist deep in places especially Twilight, Lights Out to skiers' left and the lower end of the Sundown liftline.

I skied the first hour by myself and then met up with a family I met last night at Christmas dinner, Roy and Ann from Oxford (England) and their son Luke who shares a birthday with my wife and turned 13 today.

After a slow start to the season we're now getting a constant powder pounding with more snow forecast over the next few days.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

The downside to Friday's awesome conditions was that I was way too sore to ski the past two days despite it continuing to snow all through the weekend.

So today I took it a little easier, not wanting to be unable to lift a cup of Christmas cheer tomorrow. I did ski some trees - Shadows and 3:30 - where there was still plenty of powder, although it was quite heavy going in places. I also managed some bumps, the best being on Vertigo, my favourite lower mountain run which I hadn't skied yet this season but which was every bit as good as I remembered it. For some reason it gets surprisingly few people, perhaps because you can only access it from Heavenly Daze.

I probably won't get back on the slopes until Thursday. Tomorrow we'll be busy opening gifts and then preparing our contribution to Christmas dinner with our friends Vesna and John. Then on Wednesday it's Marie's birthday so we're going snowshoeing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lucky eight

As I've mentioned previously, in Chinese culture the number eight is considered lucky. Well today was my eighth day for the season and it was lucky for me. It's been snowing hard in Steamboat for the past 24 hours so it was another epic powder day.

I was out early anticipating a crowd at the gondola and I was right so I jumped on the new Christie Express instead and across to the Thunderhead Express which worked like a dream.

It was deep powder everywhere but nowhere better than the trees of Twilight and Shadows. Even late in the morning there were still plenty of deep stashes. For example, I found some waist deep powder around 11:45 am to skier's left of One O'clock.

I skied the first hour and half by myself and then connected with an Aussie friend Nicole around 10:15 (that's how long it takes to get her five year old and three year old daughters ready and into the ski class!) She's a former competitive skier with an old knee injury that's now more of a psychological impediment than a physical one, so I made a point of pushing her. It seemed to work, but I'll know she's forgiven me when she asks to ski with me again.

It's still snowing hard so it looks like more of the same tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


It's a little too early to be carving turkey, but not too early to be carving turns, so that was the main course on today's Steamboat menu.

Only an inch or so of fresh snow overnight but Marie had an early appointment so I was also out early and at the gondola as it opened at 8:30 am. In addition to carving up the groomers all over the mountain I also ventured into the trees on Twilight and Triangle 3, where the snow was a few inches deep if a little heavy, and the bumps of Hurricane.

It's been snowing all day and forecast to continue tonight which means that chances are better than even for a powder day tomorrow. So I'll leave you now so I can get an early night!

Apres ski was drinks at the Ptarmigan Inn with a colleague from Australia who has a condo here in Steamboat.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Cruisy. That's the word to describe a day like today. It was cold and overcast early but by the time I went out at noon the sun was out and it was a very comfortable 25F/-3C. The snow was perfect - packed powder kept soft and dry by cool overnight temperatures - and even though it's less than two weeks to Christmas and the winter jet services into Steamboat have started there were surprisingly few people.

Best run of the day was Rolex. Big bumps but still soft and forgiving which I skied very well. It's no longer my technique holding me back on the bumps so much as a lack of fitness from a very lazy summer. I'm stopping now not because I've lost the line but because I've lost my breath!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Unreal stuff

If Wednesday was the real stuff, today was the unreal stuff. Six inches of new powder by 5 am and still snowing hard when the lifts opened on top of a soft base. Plus they opened the Sundown Express this morning providing access to the whole of Priest Creek.

I was particularly lucky to arrive at the lower half of Three O'clock just as the rope was dropping (that's the second time this season!) That meant waist deep untracked powder over a flat base! The trees of Shadows and Twilight also revealed some deep stashes, especially on the lower half of Twilight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The real stuff

The 5 am report said only five inches of new snow overnight, but what a five inches it was. Champagne Powder. Super light, dry and fluffy just how we like it here in Steamboat. The real stuff.

And since tourist season hasn't really started yet, there wasn't a whole lot of people competing to enjoy it - I arrived at the gondola around 8:15 and was only about 20th in line!

On the more heavily skied runs five inches is "dust on crust" but in the trees where the previous falls had stayed soft it was a full on powder experience. I found some especially nice stashes down Kuus's Cruise and Three O'clock (almost worth the traverse back to Rainbow Saddle) as well as in the trees of Triangle 3 and between Buddy's and Cyclone. My best skiing performance for the day though was the mid-section of Hurricane.

This is as good as it gets. No it isn't. It will soon be even better!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lucky guy

Does it count if you ski a foot of fresh powder and no one's there to see you?

Of course. In fact it counts double!

I got a late start and there's been no significant new snow for three days, so how did I do it? I got lucky. Really lucky. I managed to get off the gondola just as they were dropping the rope on Valley View for the first time this season.

Now it's snowing, so it may be a powder day tomorrow. And my wife and I celebrated our 19th anniversary yesterday.

How lucky can one guy get?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Second day

Your legs always feel it the most on the second day. So today I just took a quick trip to the top of the mountain (Storm Peak Express opened yesterday). So in a way I'm glad the forecast storm didn't come through last night. I don't think my legs are really ready yet for a powder day!

Friday, December 07, 2007

My opening day

Today was day one of my 2007-08 ski season. I'm not too disappointed to have missed the first two weeks of the season whilst we were away in England, since the first week was cancelled due to lack of snow anyway.

In fact my timing was almost perfect - it only really started snowing properly in the last few days and today the snow was soft and dry just the way we like it here! I didn't ski a whole lot, having failed once again to keep my promise to myself to stay fit over summer, but the little I did was enough to remind me just how much I love this sport.

A couple of very good bump runs on my first day also confirmed that my progress last season was not imagined. Right now I could hardly be happier, unless of course it keeps snowing for the next two days, which is exactly what is forecast!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back home

We've just arrived home after my five day trip to England turned into five weeks.

We flew as far as Denver last night and today took the shuttle van to Steamboat. Amazingly there was a family on board from the small town in Australia where I was born and went to high school!