Riding the Pow in Steamboat on Horseback and Skis

Skiing Colorado

Gnar dudes whooping in the trees and reliving the pioneering life, leading your horse through snowdrifts. Yehah, welcome to Steamboat

The yip yips rang out from the trees below the Morning Side chairlift like cowboys rounding up the fresh powder. Saturday morning in Steamboat after a night of snow was crawling with gnar local dudes, the weekend powder warriors, with whom we were 'pressing glass' (as in getting squashed at the front of the queue/line) first thing for the earliest 'gondie' up at 08.00...

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First tracks gives those with the privileged ski pass, one hour to lay first tracks within three chairlifts. Going up the first chair we were told by the snowboarders on the lift with us that it was 'no problem' to ski the untracked trees either side and the pristine snow below. But I knew we were in trouble when it involved ducking under a rope. Gav was immediately shouted at by a group on the chair but is not sure if they were saying to enjoy the 'blower' as in blower powder or whether he'd be 'blown' as in get his lift pass confiscated. Needless to say we were just enjoying the 'blower' as in making amazing first tracks when our subterfuge was 'blown' and we were approached by a ski patroller. We pleaded ignorance, being British and given bum information and so, forturnately, kept our passes.

The next time we were up the same lift the rope was just being lowered so, yehah, we skied it again legitimately (along with a dozen others). We then did 'the hike' which involved a 10 minute boot pack to reach several drop in options, so good that we lapped it four times.

T Bar Steamboat
 

By 12 noon half of Denver seemed to be on the hill, moguls were re-forming and we were darned hungry so we returned to the resort via the T-Bar (above) for probably the best Thai pork noodle soup ever (even than in Thailand).

The storm that hit Steamboat, this weekend, was perfect timing for us and meant the resort delivered true to its reputation for champagne powder® (and please note the trademark for 'champagne powder' which does really belong to Steamboat Ski Resort) also know as 'blower powder' (which isn't trademarked, as far as we know) topping up the off piste and famous sidecountry skiing in the scenic glades.

Yesterday, before the storm hit, we headed out 40 minutes from the Steamboat resort to Del's Triangle 3 Ranch. Here's where we did powder but on horseback with the legendary, Ray 'I've been called a cowboy all my life but I've never owned a cow' Heid. This dude is as gnar in his elk skin coat with beaver collar leading his mount through three foot snow drifts during our ride and chasing his stetson blown off by the biting winds over the deep snow as telemarking on what must be the gnarest ski set up still in use with cowboy boots strapped onto skis.

At 81 years old he is typical of the older generation of ski dudes living to a ripping as well as ripe old age. Last year deciding to ski for 80 days to mark his birthday he completed the last 15 with his arm in a sling following a fall. 

So this is how the West was won.