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Steamboat Conditions

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
We managed to snag lodging at Steamboat while my kids are on Spring Break and I was wondering about the conditions there. We will be out there the last week of March, 3/27-4/1. Also, any ideas of what runs to take the kids (11 & 12) on. This is their first year of skiing and they are level ~3 range. They stay pretty much on the green runs here in Ohio with occasional ventures onto the blue runs.

I will also be looking for family things to do without breaking the budget. My better half doesn't ski (tried it twice and it didn't work out well) I haven't been to Steamboat since 85, so I imagine it's changed a lot.

I found info on the snowcat skiing. It is pretty expensive, so is it worth it, or would it be better to do FirstTracks at the area on a powder day. I would love to ski the deep stuff again if I had a chance. It's been a long while.
post #2 of 19
While at Vail last weekend, where snow was not great, we heard the comment that it was worse at Steamboat.

Maybe someone else has direct knowledge?

Plenty of great stuff for the family to do in Steamboat. The hot springs/pool and ice rink are fun even if the snow is bad. In the summer the cattle drives are fun and there is awesome dry fly fishing, but you might get a little cold standing in waders this time of year.

From a website:

Steamboat Springs offers a variety of seasonal recreational opportunities. Winter activities include downhill and cross-country skiing, night-time ski jumping and snow tubing, snowmobile tours, ice climbing, sleigh rides, dog sledding, showshoeing, ice fishing, bi-plane and glider rides, and mineral hot baths.
Steamboat Health and Recreation, located three miles away in downtown Steamboat Springs, offers a hot-springs facility, lap pool, water slide, exercise room, massage therapy, fitness classes, and daily memberships.

Howelson Hill Recreation Area, also downtown, offers alpine skiing along with 20- to 90-meter jumps, an ice rink, snow rafting, and during summer, an alpine slide. The facility is located on the south side of the Yampa River, alongside which a paved hiking and biking trail extends from Old Town to the mountain village.

Summer activities include golf at four area courses, hiking, rock climbing, tennis, four-wheel drive tours, photography tours, hot-air balloon rides, fishing, miniature golf, horseback riding, kayaking, biking, river rafting, llama treks, gondola rides, guided nature walks, mineral hot baths, and cattle drives.
post #3 of 19
Some friends did the cat trip a few years ago and had fun. Spend the dough. It will be memorable. I have never been on a bad cat trip.
post #4 of 19
Just a quick note-
I was up in Steamboat a couple of weeks ago giving a PSIA-RM L3 exam. The conditions weren't bad, but they certainly were not stellar, either. A lot of rocks, and quite a few bare spots on the southern exposures, and very slushy at the bottom.

So- unless they have had significant snowfall since the 5th, count on it being crusty/hard in the mornings, nice for a couple /few hrs mid day, and very soft wet in the late afternoons. My recommendation is to stay high on the mtn until it's time to come down. Since you rate your kids as Level 3 skiers (by your description, they might actually be L4-5), you may want to consider downloading the Gondola at the end of the day, instead of skiing down. The conditions get sticky, crowded, and they will likely be tired. This is not a good combination for youngsters.

Good Luck!
post #5 of 19
You can check their website...I think Steamboat recieved 2 or 3 inches over the past few days. I skied there all last week with Friday being my last day...the coverage up top was still pretty good considering it has been 2+ weeks since they have seen significant snowfall. However, from mid mountain to the base everything is very crusty/hard in the morning and becomes slushy in the late afternoon. Anywhere where the sun hits directly is also very crusty due to freeze/thaw spring conditions that have been going on over the past few weeks and the lack of snow. Do not even attempt to ski pioneer ridge unless they get a foot or so of snow. Everything over there is very hard and lots of bare spots. There are also quite a few rocks/bare spots starting to show up on the lower mountain.

We had a great time despite spring condtions but don't expect perfect snow unless it dumps b/w now and then.

As far as the snow cat operations...I have never done this but I would be hesitant to do so if they don't get a nice dump. I would think the snow would be quite heavy due to direct sun and lack of fresh snow over the past several weeks.

Hope you guys get dumped on b/c we did not see any snow last week

The best snow on the mountain last week was east face/no names and The Ridge which is skiers left of the chutes
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I have been looking at the website and reading up on as much about the area as I can. My biggest concern for the kids is that they are not yet comfortable on blue runs yet. The problem as I see it is all the green runs are on the bottom half of the mountain, where the spring conditions are. If I can keep them up high bringing them down on the gondola at the end of the day makes sense. I remember it being a zoo skiing out from the top at the end of the day even 20 years ago.

bigbadwulf11 - I agree with you, no point in the cat tours unless there is a big dump. Too expensive if the snow isn't there.

vail snopro - It's possible they are level 4, but they are still wedging. Occasionally I see a parallel finish, but not often. I am worried about the affect the visuals may have on them compared to OH. I expect it will be a little intimidating. A 1/2 day lesson is pencilled into the plan. I think that would be good thing.

Any suggestions on how I can keep the kids high on the mountain on the green runs. Hopefully I can get them to ski Buddy's and High Noon while we are out there.
post #7 of 19

For you kids I would suggest skiing off of the Sunshine lift. There is nothing but blues off this lift. Most of these blues are very flat. In fact many of them would be considered greens at other ski resorts.

There were several beginners in our group last week and they really liked this terrain. It is up high enough so that it does not get nearly as slush/icy in the mornings as the lower part of the mountain.

I also agree with others....unless the mountain gets lots of new snow b/w now and then downloading for your kids via the gondula would be a good idea. The bottom is often a mushy mess late in the day and will be that much more diffucult on tired legs.

Have a great trip and hopefully you guys will get snow
post #8 of 19
At ages 11 - 12 your kids are prime candidates to benefit from the ski school. Maybe even in a private lesson, just the two of them if they match up well in motor skill and ability. Getting this in early in the week might result in you all enjoying yourself together. Its surprising what the pros can accomplish in a short period of time with the young ones, and they can also keep an eye out for any equipment issues that might exist. A half-day private might get them comfortably on the blues. If you go with an expensive lesson be sure to insist on a PSIA certified instructor with an interest in kids. Not all instructors are equal, and groups of kids sometimes don't get the best. Ask around and take names.
post #9 of 19
Steamboat is a great place for families. My kids enjoyed dog sledding but the facility is several miles west of town so I don't know how much snow they will have. Also enjoyed snowmobiling near rabbit ears pass but may be a little pricey. Try the Strawberry Hot Springs during the day--clothing optional at night. I guarantee this is something they will never see in Ohio!! Try Johnny Be Goods for good burgers and milkshakes--not too expensive. I second the vote for skiing off of the Sunshine lift. Almost everything to your right as you get off of that lift should actually be rated as beginner EXCEPT the top of the Tomahawk area can get real crowded and icy and even bumped up, so just be cautious in this area. After the first 300 yards, the terrain is perfect for building confidence. Also, at that time of the year do nor forget your sunscreen. Oh, the best way to get to the Sunshine lift area is to take the Gondaola to the top (actually only 2/3rd of the way to the top) and then take a green cat track trail down to the Storm peak lift. Take Storm Peak to the top and at the top of Storm Peak lift, go to your right and ski across high noon to Sunshine lift line. Just don't make a hard right or you'll land on Storm Peak Face--a black run. Sunshine lift is an older 3-person lift that seams to take forever to get to the top. Also, at the bottom of Sunshine liftline ski down to Southpeak lift. At the top of South Peak go immediately to your right and ski down Fawn. Fawn is a very uncrowded relatively short run. As a matter of fact it is often deserted. Your kids can really practice there and gradually move up in difficulty. I'm jealous. I love Steamboat. Even if conditions aren't great you should have a ball.
post #10 of 19
I would echo what others have said about those blues on the upper mountain being pretty flat. They also usually keep the beginner chair open down low no matter what, late in the season I would guess that they truck snow in from further up the mountain to do this.

Also, even if the snow is kind of crappy or non-existent down low it is usually ok farther up on the mountain. We were there on closing weekend last year and the snow up top was still pretty good even if it was bare down low. Unfortunately you have to take the gondola to get to it, and on the next to the last day they had to close the gondola due to high winds with 10 inches of fresh up top. Very frustrating. But there are always other cool things to do with the family in Steamboat, so I'm sure you'll have a great time.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the suggestions. I'm starting to work out a plan. I think I will ski by myself the first day, scope things out and get familier with the mountain again. Day 2 get the kids skiing and get them a 1/2 day lesson. Then play it by ear. Obviously, the plan needs to be flexible based on snow conditions. A good lesson with a good instructer might be a real confidence boost for the kids. I have season rentals for the kids locally and I discovered I can take them with us, so equipment shouldn't be too much of a problem. The kids have been on these skis all year.

The better half might try to ski while we are out there. If she does I'm going to suggest getting a 1/2 day ticket with a lesson for her. She was completely wiped out after 3 hours on the beginner hill the other day. She has only skied twice and is still on the beginner hill. If she skis or does any outdoor activity, we need to get her outfitted as she has no ski gear or clothes. I have a spare one piece, but she doesn't like it - she says it fits funny.: Any suggestions in this area would be good. We want to keep the expenses to a minimum.

The first time I went to Steamboat the gondola was being repaired that week. (This was like Feb. 79) I remember skiing down at the end of the day was a long, ardious task. Not fun. Getting up the hill via the Christy and Thunderhead lifts was a pain. Took an hour and a half to get up to the peaks from the base. (No high speed quads back then either) The last time I was there in 85 I was happy to ride the gondola down at the end of the day.

If the snow is really bad, Plan B may be to jump in the car and drive. Problem is, as I remember it, Steamboat is about 2 hours away from everything. A-basin has a great lift ticket deal and the kids can ski the green runs off the lower chair. I'll tell them not to look up at Palli when we pull into the parking lot. (If we go.) Other than that, we will just have to wing it.
post #12 of 19
You should check out the current weather forecast. There is a very active weather pattern that will bring several inches over the weekend with a large event in the long-term forecast for Tuesday. The zonal flow that will be finally bringing some new snow to us in California, should benefit Utah and Colorado for a while. Anyway, it looks like conditions should be improving over the next week in time for your trip.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Cirquerider - I saw the storms coming. Hopefully they will get a good dump of new snow. However, we won't get out there until next Sat., 3/26. (Wish we were leaving this week. The long term forcast calls for 45 degrees with a chance of rain. Seriously, I doubt it would rain, but the warm weather is going will have a big affect on the conditions, especially on the lower half of the mountain. OTOH, I really don't believe weather forecasts beyond 2 days are relevant in the rocky mountain region. If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change.

Anyone in Ohio know where we might find ski wear for the wife? i.e. consignment shops. I'd like to get her outfitted before we leave.
post #14 of 19
It does look like this storm track we are in is favoring the Northern Mountains. WP could get 8-11 today. It seems to be favoring Steamboat a little less but they should still get good snow. You never can discount the Steamboat effect too. They seem to get dumped on when no one expects it.
post #15 of 19
Sunshine lift would be fine. The trail map says blue but they are green. I would think that your kids would love skiing on Tomahawk. Lots of gentle rollers. There are a few short sections at the top that are mildly steep but nothing that a L 3-4 would find too difficult.
post #16 of 19
This time of year you can have valley rain with mountain snow, so you should take rain forcasts with a grain of salt. For example, when we were in SLC at xmas the forecasts said rain, but it was dumping in Little Cottonwood. Finally, if possible, you should always check with someone who lives close and has skied recently.
post #17 of 19
Well, that storm pattern definitely hit us. Well over 10" and still snowing. So long since we've had a true powder day and man was it sweet (definitely in the top 5 for this season). This snow will definitely improve, what have been, sketchy/spring like conditions.
post #18 of 19
Another 15" on Monday, an inch last night, and it's still dumping snow outside. Though I was stuck in the office on Monday, I heard it was epic. SrMike, if this holds, conditions may be some of the best we've had all season by the time you get here.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the info. We got in late Sat evening and I skied Sunday until I was completely wiped out. Monday was 50 degrees and it has been snowing since. 7" yesterday and 9" so far today. It's supposed to stay cold and keep snowing into tomorrow.

I got the kids and wife all day lessons Tuesday, which worked out really well. I got footbeds made at shop downtown (5th & Lincoln) this morning and skied this afternoon. I found a few places in the trees that were knee deep with a lot of runs boottop deep. I was snowing so hard while I was up there that, coupled with very few people skiing, nothing really got tracked out.

Having a great time - winter is here.
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