Jim Grew adventures of spending an entire winter Powdercat skiing, continued from March 22, 2010
OK, so I told you why I love Steamboat Powdercats – the great guides, very professional, attentive to detail, but what about the terrain? The terrain, to me, is frosting on the proverbial cake because, no matter what the weather elsewhere, no matter how hard the wind is blowing, no matter how warm it is, the terrain that SPC has available through the forest service offers an unparalleled variety mostly below the tree line and facing in all different directions so that there is always good snow to be found. In January, when it was hardly snowing at all, we were still finding untracked, light powder two weeks after the most recent storm because it was fairly cold, On the day last week that the mountain was closed all morning, we skied some completely untracked north facing runs in the trees with close to a foot of powder. You cannot beat that.
So, to close this story, let me tell you about Andy’s Aspens which is my favorite run. There is a movie “Perfect Storm” with Kevin Costner revolving around weather conditions that produced the perfect, lethal, killer hurricane. Similarly, I have had runs down Andy’s where the conditions made for perfect runs. Yup, I know how that sounds. But ‘tis true . . . for me (and quite a few others). Although the slope is not very steep, it is smothered in aspen trees. When a skier approaches, he’s thinking, no way, let’s try that open run to the skier’s left, I’m going to knock myself silly on one of those trees. Pines give, aspens not so much. Wear a helmet.
Yet, once underway, one discovers that the trees are just perfectly spaced so that one feels like a euphoric ski god careening rapidly but in control down the slope with trees flashing by on the left and on the right but hopefully not in the middle. So what, you might ask? What makes the run so extraordinary, when the south-facing slope is at its best, is the snow’s consistency that allows the skier to flow down the slope in perfect rhythm. There is no need to check one’s turns to slow down or to push to speed up. The slope and snow consistency/depth combine to keep the skier at the perfect speed from top to bottom as if there were no trees at all. Point downhill and ski. I cannot begin to describe the exhilaration during and at the end of such a run.
Over on Pepsi Ridge, there are similarly extraordinary but north facing and much steeper runs but ones that offer an unparalled variety all in a single 1000’ drop: jumpable cliffs with pillow-like landings, rollers, small open meadows, wide corridors, tight trees, undulations . . .
Enough. I cannot take it. I must ski.
Winter may be coming to a close, but there are plenty of ways to experience Steamboat Springs and its’ famous champagne powder with vacation packages for every budget. There are still three weeks of great skiing left to enjoy. Carpe Diem!