ok heres the skinny on the 'boat
If you're comming into the base area make sure you get there before the 9:30-10:30 rush, unless you want to split up your party by using the singles line. Once you're up to the top never never never ever! (did I emphisis that enough) go back to the base area until the end of the day. If you really want to ski some of the lower trails use the Thunderhead Express. It goes the same place and has half the lines!
When you arrive at the top of the gondola you then have a choice, you can ski the Storm Peak Express or ski down into the Sundown/Sunshine basin. Sunshine has some great tree skiing and some awesome blue groomers. If you work the mountain right to left skiing Tomohawk, Quickdraw, Flintlock instead of left to right as most people do you should still get to the trees before it gets tracked out, plus by the time the crowd catches up you're working off the Sundown express which is faster then the sunshine quad which is PAINFULLY slow(but its in the sun so its warm!).
Alternately you can take the Storm Peak express up to the top of Storm Peak and ski into the Morningside area or Pioneer Ridge which is a bit more advanced and technical skiing. Morningside also allows you to get to the top of Mt. Werner so you can access the Chutes and other backcountry terrain without having to hike to it. Its also about the only true steeps that Steamboat has.
The two lifts not to overlook are the four points triple and the Bar U E double, both take you to stratigic points on the mountain and rarely get long lines as most people use the high speed quads (and if your ride the Bar U-E you get the added bonus that you get a chance to answer the trivia of the day!).
The lifts to avoid like the plague is the elkhead quad. While not bad during the day at the end of the day its not uncommon to have a 45 minute wait. NEVER ski sunshine peak after the express quads stop running to the top for the night (usually around 3:30-3:45)! You will regret it!!! Well, they do play trivial pursuit at the Elkhead quad so theres something to do, but its really no fun.
Instead end your day skiing Storm Peak and use the Burgess Creek lift to take you back above the top of the gondola (be sure to get to the lift before it closes or you're stuck taking BC ski way down, its a L-O-N-G flat green run, avoid at all costs) By using the BC lift you can ski down to the top of the gondola and ski Valley View, See Me or Voodo down instead of a simple green. Be CAREFUL as these runs have been sun exposed during the afternoon and they are ICY once the air gets cool enough to freeze! Heavenly Daze is also a nice run down but can be even more icy due to the icreased trafic it sees during the day(locals call it Heavenly Glaze)
Sorry for the long post, I've been skiing steamboat since I was 5 and am finally going back this year after a 3 year hiatus!!!! It is my favorite mountain to ski because its got something for almost everyone!
[ October 04, 2002, 07:32 AM: Message edited by: laseranimal ]