Steamboat snow leads state

Storm makes for memorable powder day

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Steamboat skiers and snowboarders who don't already keep a powder diary might want to start now. Monday produced the kind of skiing people will be telling their grandchildren about 50 years from now.

The Steamboat Ski Area received 2 feet of snow at mid-mountain and 3 feet at the summit during the 48 hours preceding 4 p.m. Monday. The snow came steadily during that time, providing 14 inches of fluff at Storm Peak on Sunday morning and 16 inches Monday. The result: Skiers and riders enjoyed an epic powder day on top of a memorable powder day.

Dan Gilchrist, who has skied big mountains on three continents, said he was reminded that his home mountain is unrivaled in terms of the quality of the snow that falls.

"It was one of the best openings in years," Gilchrist said.

"We skied Closets and Shad--ows (gladed tree runs in the Priest Creek area) until they opened Drop-out and Vortex. We made several laps there."

Steamboat opened Wednes--day with limited skiing but was able to open from the top by Friday. The storm that moved in Saturday night transformed Mount Werner.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond didn't overlook the competitive advantage all of that snow produced.

"While ski season in Colorado is off to a great start, once again, Steamboat is proud to lead the pack in mid-mountain snow depths among the major destination resorts," Diamond said.

Steamboat's 41-inch base at mid-mountain put it ahead of Aspen Mountain, 24; Breckenridge, 33; Copper Mountain, 35; Telluride, 22.7; and Vail, 26. No other skier area in Colorado reported more than 2.5 inches of new snow at mid-mountain Monday morning. Steamboat reported 14 inches with the flakes still flying. Five inches fell during the day. The base at the summit was 56 inches.

When Steamboat opens this morning, seven lifts will be in operation, including Storm Peak Express. There will be 1,000 acres of available terrain, roughly one-third of the total. Advanced runs available to skiers today include Hurricane, Storm Peak, Cyclone, Nelson's Run, Sundown Lift Line, Three O'Clock, Tornado and White Out. Priest Creek tree runs such as Closets, Shadows and Twilight, as well as open trails such as Three O'Clock and One O'clock are closed at Duster. Skiers may traverse back to the other side of the mountain.

Intermediate trails open today include Lightning, High Noon, Buddy's Run and Vagabond. Lower mountain beginner runs total 18.

Ski Corp. spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said backcountry access gates on the ski area remain closed and urged people to enjoy the in-bounds snow until mountain crews can establish the gates.

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