Tom Ross: What falls down, must flow by
25 feet of snow in Steamboat has to melt sometime soon
February 19, 2011
Steamboat Springs — One of the biggest crowds of the ski season is in town this weekend, but not a soul among it is thinking about the inevitable — all of this white stuff has got to melt sooner or later.
The fact is, Newton's little-known seventh law of thermodynamics states: "What falls down, must flow by."
Eventually, all the snow piled up in the mountains surrounding Steamboat is going come slammin' and jammin' through the whitewater structures in the town stretch of the Yampa River. I can guarantee you that some paddlers already are surreptitiously waxing their kayaks in the basement in preparation for the season ahead (they wax kayaks, don't they?).
Eager paddlers planning to tackle Cross Mountain Canyon in March are using Aquaseal to fix the leaks in their neck gaskets this week. Ahem.
It almost sounds sacrilegious to talk about spring runoff as Steamboat bears down on what could be its fourth 400-inch winter in six seasons.
With seven weeks to go in ski season 2010-11, Steamboat already has surpassed 310 inches at mid-mountain, putting the tally ahead of the recorded-history average of 308 annual inches.
Let's see, 400 take away 310 equals 90, which divided by seven equals the 12.8571429 inches of snow that we need to average per week to hit 400 inches this winter.
It's doable, but another weeklong dry spell could make it tough. And the all-time record of 489 inches set in 2007-08?
We've already had a kick-butt ski season and the paddling season, and later, the tubing season, should be as good as they can get.
And there's some big news on the kayaking front.
Risa Shimoda, of USA Freestyle Kayaking, has announced that for the first time, Steamboat's Paddling Life Invitational freestyle competition will be added to the premier freestyle kayaking point series in North America.
The Steamboat event on May 30 will come right after the Pro Rodeo in Buena Vista on May 27 and 28, ensuring the best in the sport will be in the Steamboat neighborhood.
If you like a dash of controversy with your water on the rocks, we've just learned that the Grand County Commissioners have applied for water rights on the Colorado River, both in Hot Sulphur Springs and below Gore Canyon, to ensure adequate flows for all forms of recreation.
The recreational in-channel diversion rights would be attached to whitewater parks in Hot Sulphur and below the canyon near Pumphouse, Nathan Fey, of American Whitewater, reports.
Fey said Grand County is seeking to protect 900 cubic feet per second of flow at Hot Sulphur and 2,500 cubic feet per second below Gore Canyon.
Paddling season is just around a bend in the river.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or e-mail tross@SteamboatToday.com