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first time to steamboat - insight appreciated!

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone

two buddies and myself are headed out to co next week from the midwest. Hitting winter park on thursday and steamboat friday and saturday.

I've been to winter park but this is our first time to steamboat. I didn't see a locals guide so thought I would try to get some insight here. Not looking for anyone's secret places just some help on what to ski. We cant wait and are watching the forecast, as of now, for snow!

Two of us are solid intermediates (maybe a touch better?) I guess I would say. We like steep groomers and easier tree skiing. I try to avoid moguls but will ski groomed blacks at breck, copper, keystone... we both enjoy skiing powder but can struggle a bit in chopped up powder. This is something im trying to improve on. the other guy is a low level intermediate. I

Not sure if it matters but were staying in storm meadows condo. From there where would be our best chances of avoiding crowds/lift lines and skiing long groomers and widely to moderately spaced tree runs.

Any other insight that would help us have the best two day experience possible would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 23
post #3 of 23
Thanks for the heads up. As a new ambassador I am still working on the steamboat page. I will be happy to help out and promise to get more info tomorrow am. Look for a private message. Depending on how I am feeling (a bit injured right now) I would be happy to show you around the mountain next week if u like. It's skiing superbly right now! I will even show you a couple secret stashes ūüėÉ
post #4 of 23



You are in for a treat at the boat this year.  They've been getting dumped on, and a week ago had a deeper base than Mt. Baker, which is pretty unheard of.


Steamboat is kind of a couple of different mountains/exposures/places to hang - it's a deceptively big mountain with lots of different terrain and exposure and fun.  The single diamond blacks are pretty spread out, and they're pretty good at always grooming some of them and also leaving lots of powder untouched.  I've found their grooming report - if you go to one of the offices at the base, and not what's posted online - to always be pretty reliable.  Their instructors rely on it, so it has to be.


  • the trails off of Sunshine, a/k/a Wally World, particularly to skiers left are typically where lots of families and folks looking for long lazy groomers hang out.¬† Good place for warm up laps.¬† Can get pretty windy there as well.¬† It's called Wally World for a reason.
  • the trails off Priest Creek/Sundown (Priest Creek is the older fixed grip lift that is usually closed, and used for staff and supplies typically): stuff to skiers left tends to be high blue and low black runs, with some¬†moderate steeps to play with.¬† The stuff to skier's right is where lots of good tree skiing can be found - shadows, closet, etc.¬†I don't do much¬†tree skiing, so someone else will have to chime in as there are lots of hidden, unmarked tree areas in that whole jumble below.¬†¬† The lifts also pass the Mardi¬†Gras tree, which is typically adorned with lots of folks undies.
  • the stuff on the backside (Morningside) can have quite different conditions from the front, and usually there is lots of ungroomed stuff back there with which to play.¬† It's also not usually crowded, and it's actually really beautiful and silent back there.¬† Underappreciated, but also depends on conditions due to exposure.
  • There are some really nice, although short steeps off of Thunderhead Express, which typically see some grooming at night.¬† Lots of intermediate and greens around as well.
  • Storm Peak offers lots of different options.¬† Usually one half of the front (Storm Peak South or North) is groomed at night, while the other half is allowed to bump up heavily.¬† It's easy to see from Four Points hut, below, which side is bumped and which is evened out.¬† One really sweet lazy groomer off the top is Buddy's Run, which meanders down halfway to bottom of BarUE, which is I think only opened on weekends/holidays, and from there lots of different options and directions one can go.¬† From here, if you keep to skier's right, hard over, you can hit the Pony Express.¬† The backside (Morningside) can be accessed from here as well, with some nice steeps dropping into the bowl above Morningside.¬† These aren't often groomed.
  • Pony Express, which is the newest addition to the mountain, has¬†lots of tight trails, and steeps, that can be lots of fun, but often it doesn't quite get as good snow coverage as the rest of the place.¬† It wasn't there when I first started skiing there.¬† The Pony can be good or bad, depending on the snow, but usually means not too many crowds w/ which to deal and some good tight trails to play with.
  • Lower mountain, off Christie lifts - I never ski this area, mainly because I always stay on Burgess Creek road, where I can walk to the bottom of Thunderhead in the morning.¬† Never a lift line there, and typically where locals who can get someone to drop them off, start from - avoids the lines at the Gondola in the morning.
  • Forgot the chutes and bowls off of Morningside, on the front of the mountain.¬† Despite the reputation, I believe these offer some of the steepest chutes in Colorado, and are definitely double blacks that occasionally end in fatality.¬† To get to some of these, requires a bit of a hike up the ridge, but it's not too difficult.


On piste services.  Four Points is a good place to grab lunch.  It's small, but quick and easy.  Ragnars', at the saddle, actually has good food, pricey... but unlike most mountains the more costly food there is usually quite good.  the rest of the places are typical mountain food/drinks.


The coop in town has a decent selection of organic food stuffs.  The smokehouse in town is typically pretty good, albeit loud.  the old steakhouse, can't remember the name, the one with the old barrels turned into booths is fairly good.  really nice folks, and decent food.


Probably the best instructor I've ever met in my life teaches at Steamboat.  He rides and skis, and is an amazing instructor on both.


The tugboat is the sweet old bar at the bottom of the gondola.  the base area got torn up a couple of years ago by Intrawest, when they bought the mountain, and due to the recession the place was left with a big hole in the ground for a couple of years.  I don't know what's become of it now.


If you smoke, the typical habit had been for the lifties in the gondola station at the base to warn people when the sheriff was up top waiting to catch people - they were very good at this. Now that smoking is legal in CO, not sure what the policy is now.


Have lots of fun.  It's a grand place, and the one big plus of steamboat is the town.  real people live there... and it's not Disneyland.


And if you like powder, be prepared for some of the best powder skiing on the planet.  Get there early if there is a dump, as dumps bring out the whole town searching for the goods - one reason I like starting at Thunderhead is on pow days you don't get the backups you'll get on the gondola in the morning.





post #5 of 23

Originally Posted by tetsuma View Post


  • Forgot the chutes and bowls off of Morningside, on the front of the mountain.¬† Despite the reputation, I believe these offer some of the steepest chutes in Colorado, and are definitely double blacks that occasionally end in fatality.¬† To get to some of these, requires a bit of a hike up the ridge, but it's not too difficult.



To be clear, you get to the chutes, Christmas Tree bowl, etc. by skiing into Morninside, riding the lift, then dropping down the frontside from the top of the lift. It is a little oddball.


It is far from the steepest stuff in Colorado, but it is much steeper than the rest of the mountain and is definitely legitimately steep.


I did not have the same fond experience on Buddy's run. To me it seems like an overcrowded funnel as it sees basically everybody coming out of Morningside and a lot of people coming off of storm peak.

post #6 of 23

THANKS anach. this is accurate.


I will PM MD. with some up to date info.   Some of this info is accurate but it seems like tetsuma may have visited the boat many years ago as a bunch of this info is now out of date.  Don't freak over the chutes....  no one had died there as far as I know and access to the ridge is easy although a pain.  


There's a ton of fun moderate terrain here and with Beetle kill mitigation there are even more newer areas that offer some great shots; many are on the mid to lower section of the mountain now.  The area called Sunshine/Sundown is the best choice to start with offering easy groomers and low angle trees.  The area off of Thunderhead is another good area and you can work various areas over into the Ridge down into some easy trees off of Buddy's across the access road and into the meadow just before Flying Z. Morningside is pretty flat and mellow, its a tourist favorite that allows mellow tree skiing and its good when fresh and early but it funnels to a 2 seater death chair (painfully slow). You can hike out to the tower and drop in for some steeper terrain there. Its open and can be Deep. Personally, I prefer the trees off of sunshine for long and fun trees.  They tend to hold very well. Frankly. I'll take untracked trees any day....  Fun is fun; it doesn't have to be steep in my book.  


One thing that really determines what you will like here is your ability and comfort with bump skiing and bumps in the trees.  

Edited by Finndog - 2/13/14 at 5:50am
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
wow thanks for all your help everyone. I'll plan in following up with finndog.

thanks again!
post #8 of 23

Man, Steamboat’s a good time. If you like blower powder and long, perfectly spaced tree runs, you’ll not be disappointed.

post #9 of 23
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post



Morningside is pretty flat and mellow, its a tourist favorite that allows mellow tree skiing and its good when fresh and early but it funnels to a 2 seater death chair (painfully slow).


In my limited experience, I didn't find the Morningside experience to be so bad. It is definitely mellow- you have about 150 feet of intermediate advanced-ish stuff before meadow skipping, and in deep snow it is following other's tracks through the meadow.


What it was great for was getting my wife some deep-snow confidence.


I didn't find the chair (which is a triple, BTW) terribly slow- it seemed like a pretty short fixed grip. I guess if people are used to riding solely high-speed lifts it would feel that way.


When I skied Steamboat, Morningside had gotten about 6" more laid down than the rest of the mountain, yet had less crowds (ski onto the lift) and was better snow than I found anywhere else on the mountain by the time noon rolled around.  There were 3-5 minute lines at Storm Peak and Sundown. It is not gnar even by Steamboat standards, but pretty good for an intermediate looking for a low-consequence introduction to off-piste. The biggest downside for morningside park for us was getting funneled into Buddy's run to go anywhere else, which saw enough traffic on our powder days to become teeth chattering speedbumps the whole way down (I'm not talking about moguls, I mean 1' tall bumps every 1 foot).


I am skeptical of deaths related to the chutes. If you fall, you slide the flat treeless area at the bottom. You can smack a tree, but you can do that anywhere.  I am sure somebody has died in the chutes/Christmas Tree area, but from tree wells or impacts rather than anything approaching "you fall, you die" terrain. Reason being that most of these lines are quite short and roll into a flat meadow rather than continuing down for 1000 vertical feet.  In my eyes, the reality of the Chutes area is that it is a great opportunity to sample some truly steep terrain while still in a low-consequence environment- 200-300 feet of steep, then you are out.  The other piece that seems to shore this up is it seems the chutes see more tourists than locals- the ski ability I saw coming down the chutes was pretty erm, unrefined. Youtube seems to support this.


From my limited understanding, I think locals spend more time hot-lapping the lift-served trees, and if they do hit up the chutes/Christmas tree area, the hike a bit further up into St. Pats.  But I don't really know.

post #10 of 23

^ A, not sure why you continue to comment so much on a place you don’t care for and have skied a whopping 2 days? ^

Free will, but come on man…

post #11 of 23

I rarely go into Mside but ok 3 triple fixed death chair. for the few turns at the top its not worth it to me. on a powder day, it gets hit early and hard.  Its still fun when its good and as mentioned a short hike to the tower is good but Its one lift out......  and its slow.....  


the quality and depth of the snow largely depends on the aspect of the storm. For overall best powder and lift speed "lapability" Pony is the best IMHO (and where I ski most)  or lap off of sundown chair hitting the Oclock trees across the face to closets shadows (my other favorite).  A new hot lap is tee-pee trees aka Narnia trees off of Vag.  But Pony gets good snow!  For easy trees but a ton of fun is still the trees in sunshine off High noon, flintlock and sundial. the short cut throughs are a blast on a powder day.  


heres a picture taken off the side of sundial.





regarding buddy's, on a powder day all groomers are going to get piled. No way around that. hit it early when fresh or on a hero snow day and its a great run.  it does get a ton of traffic so it does funnel and get crazy near the bottom.  a good option is to work the Bar-u-E chair from the run out of flying z and buddys to the top of Storm peak giving you lots of options.   it too is slow but worthwhile for what you can work from it.  From there you can ski triangle trees, storm peak, lots of good trees and even traverse out onto the ridge and cut back to the chair. 


yes, its still very popular to do the hike up to the East face and such. for me, it takes too much time when there a lot of other areas to hit.  There is some very good stuff up there. I usually ski alone so I need to be somewhat careful on my choices.  Yes, people die in tree wells up here.  Actually Mside has a lot of tree well danger due in part to being so flat after the headwall. 

post #12 of 23
Originally Posted by COBillsFan View Post

^ A, not sure why you continue to comment so much on a place you don’t care for and have skied a whopping 2 days? ^

Free will, but come on man…


Because I like talking about skiing and for whatever reason, there have been a ton of threads about Steamboat skiing lately.


I am providing perspective as what my experience was being a first-time skier to the mountain with an intermediate skier in tow, and what she liked. She liked Morningside and we spent a lot of time there. On our particular weekend, snow was both deepest and crowds were less than the other stuff we found.


It seems most people asking these questions recently are coming to Steamboat for the first time and are in groups of intermediate-ish skiers, so I post.  I don't think I pretended like I am the almight master of the mountain, so I don't really see the big deal.


I don't terribly care for Steamboat personally, but there isn't anything inherently wrong with it and IMO is one of the best mountains in Colorado for intermediate skiers. I'd much rather recommend Steamboat to folks over Breck, Keystone, Vail.  Especially for intermediate skiers wanting to get a taste of powder and trees.  The biggest issue I have with Steamboat is that it is a major resort, and my preferences for crowds and such mean that I have a hard time justifying the value in skiing a major resort. But that is my own preference and a lot of people do not share it, so instead I talk about what I know regarding where they want to ski. If you are going to a big resort as an intermediate skier, you will probably have a good time at Steamboat, and you could do one hell of a lot worse.

post #13 of 23

The reason why people are talking about Steamboat is because of all our snow; despite the fact that Steamboats reports are clearly and often substantially less than what is actually gracing our flat, boring mountain. ;)  It totally sucks skiing deep powder


Yes, its a fantastic intermediate to advanced skier mountain that offers something for everyone. Experts too can have a blast here and I don't care what level you are, our powder is fun.   I am not going to debate the vertical issue but again, I will say that most people just don't really know the mountain. Its all good with me though.  Its not Jackson for sure!  But then again, we don't have that Jackson attitude either.


FWIW- Wolf is a place I would love to ski and I hear it's fantastic. 

post #14 of 23

BTW- I spoke with mdchambe today, nice guy and I hope to be able to ski with him and friends next week.  

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks finndog! What a luxury for those heading to new areas to have ambassadors such as finndog!

We'll touch base next week.

Thanks again!
post #16 of 23



Sounds like you're about the same level as I am.  We like to start over at Sunshine lift area (right side of map) and then work our way across.  Pretty easy blues on Tomahawk/Quick draw.   Then, as Finndog said, you can move to One O'clock and Two O'clock (favorite of mine).   Three O'clock is black but groomed occasionally.   Kuus' Cruise will have bumps but the top part is enough to challenge you and when it gets a little steeper you can cut over to Three O'clock.  I found that a good way to get experience without killing myself.


One of Rolex/Westside is usually groomed but neither is real long so again, a good spot to get experience.  Storm Peak (run) is usually partially groomed and a fun steep run.  Underneath that  I like Hurricane as another bump tester that's not too long.


Finndog's  recommendation of the Pony Express area is one that I'm going to explore next month.  I've done Longhorn/Chaps and they are fun runs.  Not very crowded. 


Morningside park is a great way to get a little tree experience even for your low intermediate friend.  The top is steep but short and the tree skiing is fairly flat and not intimidating.   It can get a little crowded here when there's fresh snow but we've found that going over when everyone's going to lunch works out.


At the end of the day Valley View/Lower Valley View is a good way to end.  See Me is also fun.


For dinners we like to go downtown.  Steamboat Smokehouse and Old Towne Pub are favorites.  If you go out for breakfast go to Winona's downtown.


Have fun!

post #17 of 23

The number one thing that comes to mind for me after skiing Steamboat for a couple days last week is SNOW QUALITY.  This is a mountain that gets great snow and manages to keep it days after the storm.  If you can handle trees then you're going to have fun at Steamboat.  Almost every glade on the mountain seems to be in play.  I'm quite used to having to search and search for good snow at most mountains, but at Steamboat it all just seemed too easy (or maybe it was just our great guide ;)).  And we definitely found some steep-ish pitches that were just a short hike to get to.

post #18 of 23
Just booked our 2nd trip to the boat last night...3/12-18.

We are staying downtown this time...I think I'd rather ride a bus to and from the mountain, than to and from dinner at night.

Pony Express- didn't explore that area at all last year. Will make it a point this year.

4 Points hut/Lodge- the new lodge is finished now isn't it? How is it? The hut was very small and crowded when it was storming last year. A bigger place on that side of the mountain was definitely needed.

Ragnars- wife and i really enjoyed a sit down, table service lunch here a few times. I know some people don't like to break for lunch, but we enjoyed it when we did. And if it was storming, the mountain was basically deserted after a late lunch. This is Wally World probably around 2:30pm....

post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
oh boy the pictures in this thread sure have me excited! we cant wait!
post #20 of 23

In case you don't know noodler, he's a true expert skier and I point that out due to so many comments about the boat being boring due to lack of vertical for experts. I had a great day (albiet short due my hip) taking both @Noodler  and @dawgcatching on a little tour of some of my fun spots. One of the first areas we hit was triangle trees into the triangle meadow which has a steepish headwall (~30*) then a totally mellow runout with small evergreens that were only lightly tracked out. A perfect example of how much fun this terrain can be.  An easy traverse over from the Storm peak lift across buddys onto the ridge can take you right up to the Chutes. Frankly, I prefer dropping in just before which is really just about as steep (guessing ~35*) but allows a better runout and can be lapped easier.


Another good example of out "snow totals" was that we got a foot the day they got here when it was reported about 3".  The mountain was still holding a lot of fresh the next day.  



I should be able to do some limited skiing this coming week so please drop me a PM.  As far as restaurants go, I hope to update the steamboat page later today with my favorites.  


breakfast- skip Winonna's (no offense, just over crowded) and for the mountain crowd, hit Freshies on 40 on the Yampa side and for those downtown, hit Creek Side (still busy so go early).  Creekside is our favorite breakfast.  Also, Johnny B Good on lincoln/main/40 is another great diner spot.  


Paddle Wheel Coffee on Lincoln is a new coffee house that is my new favorite. The only cofffee shop I have ever seen pulling shots with a bottom-less portofilter  (expresso heads will understand) 


@WC68  great example of some very easy mellow but fun area! I know just where that is. these pictures were taken very close to that location (I will not divulge :) )   Notice something about these 2 pictures taken on the busiest area of the mountain?  Its empty!  Look at the untracked snow



Edited by Finndog - 2/15/14 at 7:55am
post #21 of 23

Hey @mdchambe @WC68 


Here's the forecast for this coming week






post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yes! Loving that forecast. Just need to be able to get up and over berthoud pass late wed night for our day at winter park on thursday.
post #23 of 23
Was lucky enough to hit a late season storm a few years ago -20+ inches overnight after NASTAR nationals were over. Incredibly light snow for late season. Most of the NASTAR group departed the day before, so mostly just locals around.

Headed for Storm Mtn, first thing, as did many. One run there and then to Pony Exoress where I had one of my most memorable days of skiing ever. Lap after lap of untracked and lightly tracked for hours. Literally skied onto the lift after each run - just a few others around who seemed to be locals. Almost 2 feet of snow to myself and a few new friends. Heaven!
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