Billy Grimes skis in the Morningside area Tuesday morning at Steamboat Ski Area.

Larry Pierce

Billy Grimes skis in the Morningside area Tuesday morning at Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat Ski Area surpasses 300 inches

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— After days of sub-zero temperatures, broken water pipes and cars that wouldn’t start, skiers felt a reprieve and celebrated the 300-inch milestone Tuesday at Steamboat Ski Area.

As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the latest winter storm system had brought 44 inches of snow to the summit and 37 inches to mid-mountain at the ski area since Saturday, according to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

The 1 p.m. Tuesday snow report noted that 13 inches had fallen in the past 24 hours at mid-mountain and 13 inches had fallen at the summit. An 88-inch base was reported at mid-mountain and a 113-inch base at the summit.

“It’s just a slice of heaven,” Steamboat second-home owner Dale Schueffner said as he rode the Morningside chairlift. “This is what Steamboat is all about.”

Schueffner was skiing with Terry Benesh, on vacation from Lakewood.

“I’m a little surprised by the crowds,” Benesh said. “I’m sure there aren’t any businesses in town that are open.”

Boulder skiers John Rudolph and Ben Britton anticipated the storm and made their way to Steamboat Springs. They made the Christmas Tree Bowl one of their first runs Tuesday morning.

“Knee- to waist-deep,” Brit­ton said. “Epic powder.”

Becky Beirne, of Tacoma, Wash., and Douglas Gowland of New York, were celebrating the powder conditions along with a renewed friendship.

“We went out 40 years ago, and she dismissed me,” Gowland said. “Forty years later, we reconnected, and we decided to meet in the middle,” in Steamboat.

It was three seasons ago that the snowfall record was broken at the ski area, with 489 inches. During that 2007-08 season, 363 inches had fallen by Feb. 8. With a 301-inch total at mid-mountain Tuesday, more than 5 feet of snow would be necessary to catch up to the record pace.

Patrollers urge caution

The ski area is reminding people to exercise caution in the deep snow conditions.

“The old adage, ‘There are no friends on a powder day,’ couldn’t be further from the truth,” said John Kohnke, Steamboat Ski Patrol director. “When skiing and riding in deep snow or near trees, steer clear of tree wells and stay with a partner.”

The Colorado Avalanche In­for­mation Center’s backcountry avalanche rating for the Steam­boat zone is high (Level 4) on north, northeast, east, southeast and south aspects above treeline. Elsewhere, the danger is considerable (Level 3).

Frigid weather was expected to return to Steamboat today. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction called for an overnight low of minus 14 degrees Tuesday through this morning. The high today is expected to be 10 degrees, followed by gradual warming the rest of the week. There is a slight chance of snow Thursday.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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