Sunday, February 28, 2010

Skiing mates

I went out today around 9.30 am planning to tear up the groomers, but I ran into some Aussie friends, so I just cruised around with my mates for a couple of hours. Actually my knees are thankful for an easy day.

Best run of the day was See Me on the way home. It was quite warm today - almost like spring skiing on the lower mountain - so the snow was just soft enough to easily hold an edge which means with limited effort you can go really fast!

Here's today's track. 13,712 vertical ft (season total 1,232,533 ft) in 2:52.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clinic 10

I had the 10th and final session of my local's clinics today. It's been a great way to improve my skiing and with skiing every day in between each session I've been able to consolidate what I've learnt each week. I still have a couple of bad habits to unlearn, but at least I'm conscious of them now.

The snow was just gorgeous today, especially the bumps which were deliciously soft.

Here's today's track. 14,2178 vertical ft (season total 1,218,821 ft) in 4:36.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Awesome Friday

The 5 am report said six inches and I figured that most of that fell late yesterday so I wasn't expecting much other than a little more soft on top of yesterday's four inches. Nevertheless I was out early and at the gondola at 8:15 where the line was pleasingly short.

Turns out that six inches was on the low side. There were definitely places where it was more like ten, and today it was light and fluffy.

First tracks down lower BC liftline was followed by an awesome run of first tracks straight beneath the Four Points chair. Then seeing a long line at Storm Peak I headed further down to the Pony Express.

I haven't spent a lot of time over there this season, but I thought that there might finally be enough snow to make it worthwhile. Was I right or what! And there was barely anyone over there so I got four great runs of freshies before riding Storm Peak up to ski the Bar-UE liftline where the snow was even deeper.

In the trees between Rainbow and Sunset it was deeper still, but the best runs of the day were 3:30 and 2:30 trees (apart from losing a pole somewhere in the deep between Daybreak and High Noon, fortunately on my last run).

Even Valley View and Lower Valley View on the way home were good today.

Here's today's track. 19,136 vertical ft (season total 1,204,643 ft) in 2:53 (including 14 minutes in the gondola line).

We had more snow on New Years Eve, but with much more of a base now it's much better for skiing the trees so this was probably the best day of the season so far. Having said that, I did hit a submerged log over on Pioneer Ridge. Fortunately it was right at the top of a run, I wasn't going very fast, so no damage, just a minor fall.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fabulous four

The report at 5 am said four inches at the top and two inches at mid-mountain, but by 8 am it was at least four inches in the valley and still snowing so I was at the gondola at 8:20 am and hoping for more.

Alas, it wasn't to be; four inches was about right. Nevertheless the skiing was excellent. After first tracks on the lower half of BC Liftline, and freshies down a groomed Cyclone, I hit the trees on the Priest Creek face starting with Shadows, then Sundown Liftline, 3:30 and 2:30 trees. A small rest for the legs on 2 O'Clock was followed by Closet where I found a fresh line even at 10:30 am, before hitting Vertigo on the bottom of the mountain on the way home.

Here's today's track. 16,496 vertical ft (season total 1,185,507 ft) in 2:29 (including 15 minutes in the gondola line).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two thirds

Today was day 91 of 137 so this season is two-thirds over.

Best runs today were high speed down Vagabond first up followed by Buddy's Run. The snow on both was a perfect as you could want a groomer to be.

Here's today's track. 16,240 vertical ft (season total 1,169,011 ft) in 1:51. I've raised the bar on the vertical rate to 8,778 vertical ft per hour.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Perfect packed powder

It was a little cold today, but the sun was out and the snow that had fallen over the past few days has been groomed to provide perfect packed powder. Definitely a day for skiing the groomers. Best run of the day was a high speed, non-stop Buddy's Run.

Here's today's track. 14,744 vertical ft (season total 1,152,771 ft) in 1:52.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gourmet skiing

Marie decided to take a gourmet snow shoeing tour today so I met her and the group for lunch at Ragnars.

Here's today track. 16,762 vertical ft (season total 1,138,027 ft) in 4:00 (2:31 plus an hour and a half eating a very nice lunch). The best run of the day was the middle of Storm Peak face followed by a rarely groomed Hurricane, although as usual Closet was great as well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another five

The 5 am report said 5 inches. Despite the fact that most of fell early in the evening, with nearly ten inches in the previous four days, five inches was plenty to make it really soft.

I was skiing with a friend today who is a little intimidated by trees, so it was mostly bumps. Priest Creek Liftline was good enough to do twice, a run through Shadows picking the more open spaces was good, a Two O'Clock was sweet as well. Vertigo on the way home was even better, but best run of the day was freshies on Sunnyside around 8:55 am.

Here's today's track. 12,594 vertical ft (season total 1,121,265 ft) in 2:26.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another clinic

Today was the ninth of my ten local's clinics. I thought I'd reached the point where I'd got everything I was going you out of this process, but today I learnt something very useful. Not a major point, but something that helped me ski the bumps a lot better.

Jamie our coach decided to do some more video late today. Seeing yourself ski is a fantastic way of improving your skiing - otherwise you just don't know what it is you're doing wrong. I made two perfect turns and then, favouring my weaker and tiring right leg, caught an edge on me left (inside) ski and fell over. But at least it was one of those dramatic falls like we've been seeing at the Olympics this week where I slid down the hill a considerable distance. Of course I was going only about 20 miles an hour instead of a hundred, and I fell in several inches of fresh soft powder, but other than that it was exactly the same. At least it looked good on film!

Here's today's track. 12,222 vertical ft (season total 1,106, 511 ft) in 4:01 (a pretty slow pace but there's lots of standing around talking and analysing in a clinic).

Friday, February 19, 2010

It all adds up

The 5 am report said four inches in the past 24 hours and most of that fell during the day yesterday, but when you get a few inches on successive days it adds up into something nice, which was definitely the case today.

I wasn't pressing glass this morning, but I was out early enough that even after a run down upper Vagabond and the bumps of Surprise I was about number ten in the line at the Storm Peak Express. Fortunately everyone in front of me either went the other way or was a snowboarder who had to stop at the top to lock into their board (that's the skiing god's way of getting even with them for the comfortable boots) so I was able to get first tracks down Shadows. It wasn't super deep but it was soft and really got the heart pumping.

After that it was the trees between the Sundown and Priest Creek Liftlines which was sweet, followed by Two O'Clock where I totally pounded the soft bumps to skier's right just like an Olympic mogul skier (in my dreams at least) and then back into the trees to skier's right of Sundown Liftline. I then did some Wally World tress combined with some much improved switch skiing on the groomers followed by the trees between Westside and Broadway which were deep and soft at the top but a bit scrubby toward the bottom.

It was so deserted today I didn't see a single other skier on any of my tree runs.

Here's today's track. 14,454 vertical ft (season total 1,094,289 ft) in 2:13.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Almost powder

The report today said three inches at 5 am, so I went out around 9 am thinking that three inches on the fresh groomers would be nice. I started out that way on Cyclone and a freshly groomed Tornado, and they were very nice, but then the desire to ski Closet came over me.

What a pleasant surprise. It wasn't particularly deep, but it was soft and even around 9.30 am it was still largely untracked. Seeing how good that was I followed up with the 3.30 trees and the 2.30 trees which were also excellent, as well as some Wally World trees, but undoubtedly the best run of the day was the trees to skier's right of Rolex which elicited more than a few sounds of delight!

Here's today's track. 16,838 vertical ft (season total 1,079,835 ft) in 2:26.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today was very much like yesterday. Again the early run down Buddy's was nice. The main difference today was that I threw in Kuus' Cruise which seemed to have about 2 inches of fresh snow on top (the report said 0.5 inches so I'm guessing this was wind blown accumulation) and was the best run of the day.

Here's today's track. 15,762 vertical ft (season total 1,062,997 ft) in 1:57.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Silver lining

When I ski as badly as I did yesterday, I'm always motivated by the fact that tomorrow will be better. Well tomorrow is today and it was indeed much, much better.

I was at the gondola at 8:40 am so I could ski the groomers while they were fresh. There was no line, although I did wait seven minutes for the Storm Peak Express to open at 9 am. It was worth it to be first down a perfectly groomed Buddy's Run.

Here's today's track. 16,540 vertical ft (season total 1,047,235 ft) in 1:59 - 8,339 vertical ft per hour which is my highest rate so far this season. It helped that I didn't ski a whole lot of bumps today - Storm Peak face and Norther was all.

I think I've earned the pancakes that Marie and I are about to have for Fat Tuesday.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Today my legs were tired from the last two days of powder and I just generally felt flat, so I didn't really ski that hard or that long.

Here's today's track. 9,932 vertical ft (season total 1,030,695 ft) in 1:41.

Pretentious BS

Apparently the world's best restaurant, El Bulli, is closing because it loses money.

If the amount people pay doesn't exceed your costs, your business is by definition a failure. You however may not be a failure; better to try an idea and fail than not to try at all. But if you've got a massive waiting list and you're too stupid to raise your prices, then you are a failure.

Yet we are supposed to get all excited about places like this, to lust after going there. Personally there's a thousand other things I'd rather do with the time and energy it would take to pursue this or many other over-subscribed events and locations. They may not provide the same bragging rights, but the choice between living your life for your own enjoyment vs. impressing other people seems a no brainer to me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Champagne

I had a late night last night, so despite setting the alarm for 6.30 am, I didn't get to the gondola until 9.15 where the line was surprisingly short for a holiday weekend. The snow report said three inches; I don't know what was going on, but it was a whole lot more than that, and with colder temperatures overnight it was true Champagne Powder to go perfectly with the bottle of French champagne Marie and I will open tonight to celebrate our 25th Valentine's Day together.

I started out with a run on Vertigo on the lower mountain which was nice, but the real powder fun came when I hit the trees; Shadows (best run of the day), 3:30 trees, 2:30 trees and Sundown Liftline.

By that point my legs were tiring and I skied a few runs in Wally World with some friends from DC, before hitting a very sweet Closet on the way home.

Here's today's track. 19,282 vertical ft (season total 1,020,736 ft) in 4:18.

To top off a perfect day, Steamboat's own Johnny Spillane won silver today in the Nordic Combined.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One million vertical feet

Today I cracked one million vertical ft for the 2009-10 ski season in 80 consecutive days of skiing.

I set out once before to ski one million vertical ft in a season (back at the beginning of the 2006-07 season) but due to work and travel until now I couldn't do better than 60 days and 730,000 vertical ft way back in 2005-06.

What a day for such a milestone. The 5 am report said seven inches, but as always it was much deeper in places. It wasn't super light Champagne Powder (too warm overnight for that) but in some ways that was good given the lack of a solid base underneath.

We started out with freshies on BC Liftline to Four Points Chair, followed by slightly wind blown but hugely fun freshies on Hurricane. Up Storm Peak Express and then Shadows, Kuus' Cruise / Twilight and then Two O'Clock. At that stage my friend had to leave in order not to miss her flight out and I hit Closet. Without having to worry about leaving her behind (the saying that there are no friends on powder days is false, it's actually when you find out who your true friends are) I was able to hit it really hard. It was sweet, but the best run of the day (and maximum heart rate of 168) was Vertigo on the way home which I had all to myself.

Here's today's track. 12,584 vertical ft (season total 1,001,481 ft) in 3:00 (including 25 minutes in the gondola line, but it was absolutely worth if for fresh tracks today).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sweet powder

It's finally snowing in the Boat. The 5 am report said three inches but it was at least six by the time I reached the top of the gondola at 9:45 am and it has continued snowing at a steady pace since then.

The powder made the bumps soft and friendly so I did multiple runs today down Surprise, Norther and BC Liftline. Shadows around 10 am was good, and the Pony Express for the first time in nearly a month was OK, but the best run of the day was undoubtedly the trees between Twister and Hurricane which was largely untracked even at 11 am, especially on the lower half.

Here's today's complete track. 15,054 vertical ft (season total 988,897 ft) in 2:41.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A little more snow

The report at 5 am said two inches of new snow and today was one of those days when it was spot on, although an inch or so more fell during the morning. It's not much, but on top of the inch or two yesterday it was just enough to soften things up. Plus there's always some deeper wind blown drifts to be found if you know where to look. Today they were on The Ridge but the best run of the day was the trees between Twister and Hurricane.

Here's today's track. 14,084 vertical ft (season total 973, 834 ft) in 3:08. It's forecast to keep snowing on and off through the weekend, so as long as these light falls keeping adding up, things should stay nice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

11 weeks

Today was day 77 of the season - that's 11 straight weeks of skiing.

It was trying to snow today but not succeeding, which has been the case so many times this season. Usually in Steamboat it's either sunny or dumping, but not this year. The damn Federal Government in DC is stealing all our snow. They must have introduced a snow tax with a 90% rate or something to pay for all the crazy spending.

Here's today's track. 16,268 vertical ft (season total 959,759 ft) in 2:19. Best run of the day was Closet once again.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Hard and fast

It was a gorgeous day today; a little cold, but the low temperatures have kept the snow in great condition, and there's barely anybody here, so it was a day for skiing hard and fast, and then practising skiing switch once the legs were tired.

Here's today's track. 17,714 vertical ft (season total 943,491 ft) in 2:12 - that's a ripping 8,052 vertical ft per hour.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Day 75

Today was my 75th consecutive day on the mountain.

There was an inch or two of new snow this morning but not enough to really make a difference. It was also a lot colder at the top than I expected.

I've been feeling a bit flat the last few days so I set out to take it easy. Despite the fact that I ended up skiing the trees of Closet and Twilight it seems that's what I did because my heart rate didn't get above 125 (my resting rate is about 50 and I have to ski really hard to get it to 145 or 85% of maximum, so that's not quite as slack as it first appears). I was skiing with an Aussie friend who hasn't done a heap of tree skiing so the pace was slow with lots of stops to make sure I didn't lose her.

Here's today's track. 14,042 vertical ft (season total 925,777 ft) in 2:25.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

It could be a lot worse

I've been complaining about the lack of snow recently, but I realised last night it could be a whole lot worse. I was reading a history of Steamboat and discovered that the 1976-77 ski season had a grand total of 46 inches of snow!

Since we've had about three times that amount already, I'm going to be a whole lot more thankful for the snow we do have. On that note, here's today's track. 11,326 vertical ft (season total 911,735 ft) in 2:13. The best run of the day was definitely Kuus' - a little bumped up but still soft.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Race clinic

Today in my local's clinic we went to the race course. It was a lot of fun and a good training discipline. We then spent the afternoon in the trees - Closet (twice) and Twilight. With a few inches of new snow it was great and it's still snowing, so fingers and toes crossed for a proper powder day tomorrow.

Here's today's track. 15,962 vertical ft (season total 900,409 ft) in 5:06.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Stick a fork in him...

...he's done. Michael is heading back to Australia on Sunday and unless it's a powder day tomorrow, today is his last day. He skied fairly hard this week with me and then stayed out a couple of afternoons whilst I was working and trashed his legs. So we took it easy today, mostly cruising. Although we did a run through Closet which was still quite nice. Here's Michael in Closet.

Here's today's track. 15,226 vertical ft (884,447 season total ft) in 3:04.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Today Michael and I set out to ride every open lift (that means everything except Priest Creek and the Christie triple which both operate very rarely). It also excludes the magic carpets on the beginner hill since we have to preserve what little dignity we have left!

The route was as follows. Gondola via upper Vagabond and Surprise (just to throw some bumps into the mix) to Pony Express, via Longhorn (horrible today) to Bar UE Chair, via Cowboy Coffee to Morningside, via The Ridge, Buddy's and Tornado Lane to Four Points Chair, via Tornado (very nice) to Storm Peak Express, via Closet (sweet), Sunset and Moonlight to Sundown Express, via Flintlock to Sunshine Express, via Tomahawk to South Peak Chair, via Westside (also horrible today) to Elkhead Chair, via lower Rainbow to Burgess Creek Chair.

We had to bail at that point because my sinuses were giving me hell and my head was about to explode. We figured out that picking up the remaining chairs on the lower mountain (Thunderhead Express, Christie Express, Bashor and Preview) would take at least another 45 minutes making this a four hour challenge unless I can think of a more efficient route before I try again next week.

Here's the track. 14,541 vertical ft (season total 869,221 ft) in 3:02.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Storm Peak

Today's skiing consisted of a ride up the gondola, upper Vagabond to the bumps of Surprise which I skied much better today than yesterday, and then six loops on the Storm Peak Express - a high speed run down Buddy's (maximum speed of 43 mph or 70 km/h - I've discovered that this is pretty much the limit on my soft, fat skis) followed by Storm Peak Face to Tornado, Storm Peak Face to Rainbow, upper Buddy's to Tornado, Storm Peak Face to Hurricane and then Storm Peak Face to Sunset and then to upper Vagabond on the way home.

Here's today's track. 15,160 vertical ft (season total 854,860 ft) in 2:03.

I also discovered today that there's a novel called Storm Peak set in Steamboat Springs. It's written by John Flanagan who is an Australian and also a New York Times bestselling author. I'll let you know once I've read it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lord of The Bumps

An epic skiing fantasy in three parts (the fantasy being that I can ski bumps well).

Part 1: The Fellowship of the Bumps

Michael and I started out on Surprise thinking that these bumps would be nice and soft after yesterday's new snow. Not really. And they haven't been groomed for a while so they're getting pretty big. We skied them only OK.

Part 2: The Two (Hundred) Bumps

Next up was Steamboat's quintessential bump run, Whiteout. We expected the bumps to be big and ugly and we weren't disappointed. But we probably skied these better that the bumps on Surprise.

Part 3: Return of the Bump King

Just when things were looking grim, Twister came to our rescue. The bumps here still had plenty of soft on top and were a dream to ski compared to what had come before. So nice that we did the top half a second time before heading over to Shadows for a tree run.

Here's today's track. 13,194 vertical ft (season total 839,520 ft) in 2:30.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Half way

Today is day 68. With 137 days in the 2009-10 ski season, half way through tomorrow will be the mid-point of the season.

It's been a thin season with only three full on powder days so far, but there's still 69 days to go. And there's been quite a few days like today where the report said only three or four inches but it seemed like more and made for some great skiing. Today Michael and I had some awesome tree runs on Closet, Shadows and Kuus' Cruise.

Here's today's track. 13,196 vertical ft (season total 826,326 ft) in 2:22.