Tom Ross

Tom Ross

Tom Ross: November can sneak up on skiers and riders

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Tom here.

— I don't know about you guys, but I needed that in the worst way.

After a six-month hangover left by the winter of 2011-12, we all needed a double shot of winter this fall just to put our minds at ease and get the primate off our backs.

The two-punch combination thrown at the Park Range on Wednesday and Thursday was enough to allow us to stop obsessing over the question: "Do you think it will ever snow again?" and get on with our preparations for a big ski season ahead.

Yes, there will be winter again. It hasn't settled in just yet, but there's nothing like heading up Rabbit Ears Pass on the last weekend in October and being met with a thick coat of the fresh. We clipped into the skate skis and made a few laps on the upper loop on Bruce's Trail, and it felt grand. Thanks to all the volunteers who manicure the track by removing sticks and pine cones every autumn, and a special thanks to the selfless groomers.

The word is out about Bruce's Trail, and along with Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes, there were some collegiate skiers putting in their first kilometers of the season Saturday.

This isn't just any winter that we are looking forward to. Somehow, the snow gods and goddesses arranged for Steamboat to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Winter Carnival and the 50th anniversary of Steamboat Ski Area in the same season.

To say that the 'Boat needs healthy snow this season to celebrate those two big milestones in style is like saying the Fourth of July needs fireworks. Oops.

Of course, back-to-back snowstorms in October don't make a ski season.

The best October snow total in the past 10 years was the 27 inches that fell in October 2006.

So, we'll add the official 14 inches recorded at Thunderhead to the season snow total, but everyone understands that if any of that white stuff sticks around until Scholarship Day on Nov. 21, it will be in the deep shade on north-facing ski trails.

November snow is what really counts, and often it doesn't begin snowing in earnest until Thanksgiving week. The average November snowfall at midmountain is 38.5 inches, and Steamboat actually got off to a decent start last ski season with 38.5 inches in November.

Still, the buzz is out. Steamboat got snow. In this day and age, you can watch the page views and track the tweets as powder-starved peeps in Chi-town and Hot-lanta and Big D check us out.

And Steamboaters aren't greedy. The better the news is around ski country, the better it is for everyone. So, we're glad that Squaw Valley was the big winner in the first big storm of the season with 3 feet of that stuff that falls on the Sierras. Snowbird got 9 inches this week, and they only need 100 inches to cover the rocks in Little Cottonwood. We hope the 'Bird is flying high by Turkey Day.

Jackson Hole has 20 inches at the summit and 15 inches at midmountain, so things are looking up in the Tetons, as well.

The monster winter of 2010-11 started with a sizzling 90-inch November and that turned out to be the biggest month of a very memorable season. So look after your equipment, and don't get caught unprepared.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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