Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs When it comes to memorable powder days, the cliche “epic” rolls off the tongue pretty easily. And by all accounts, the deep, presidential Monday at Steamboat Ski Area was everything that the “E” word implies.
How good was it? George Washington would have rowed across the Delaware twice to get in line at the gondy.
But if you want to put Monday’s record snowfall in its proper perspective, it’s not past presidents you need to talk to. It’s a handful of old Steamboat powder dogs that can separate the fluff from the untracked.
I turned to three skiers who among them, have 111 years of turnin’ and burnin’ on Mount Werner in their resumes. Curt Weiss and Tom Sharp each have spent 39 years looking up at Mount Werner on snowy mornings to assess the snowfall. Ed MacArthur, who came to stay in 1979, like I did, is working on 33.
“What I realized yesterday was that you weren’t really riding up in the powder,” MacArthur said. “It was so light you were going right through it. I was baffled by how much snow was actually coming up and over my head.”
Did MacArthur just say the snow was over his head? Weiss confirmed that at times he had to come up for air.
“I shouldn’t say this, but it was almost too deep,” Weiss said. “You couldn’t really ski a long downhill because you couldn’t breathe.”
Sharp had a similar experience. The snow was so deep that he couldn’t see where he was going, but he wasn’t complaining one bit.
“I’ve been here 39 years, and there were many days when I couldn’t go skiing on a powder morning, but I don’t ever remember anything like that,” Sharp said. Monday “was the deepest snow I’ve skied, except maybe for one day about 8 years ago.
“You were turning right and left and the powder was going over your head. You have to stop because you can’t see anything. For the snow to be that deep and that light, I don’t remember it in 39 years.”
So where do old powder hounds go on a morning like that?
MacArthur made straight for the lift line under the old Priest Creek double chairlift. Weiss, who didn’t make it to the top of the mountain until 11:30 a.m., picked off pockets of powder under Sunshine Express for a time, then outsmarted most everyone by heading for his lower mountain stashes.
“You can always find something to dive into,” he said without divulging anything. “I found untracked snow on the sides of Heavenly Daze.”
And which one of the three would you figure made it up the mountain Tuesday for a second helping? That would be attorney Sharp, who obviously wrote a powder clause into his own contract.
Reached on his cell phone as he took a seat on the Pony Express lift, Sharp said Tuesday’s skiing was just fine.
“There’s a foot of new powder, but it’s a little anticlimactic,” he said.
I object your honor.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com