Monday, April 1, 2013

Steamboat Day 4 - Wednesday 3/27

On Wednesday morning there was fog in the valley, and it slowly rolled up the ravine next to where we were staying before dissipating in the morning sun.

Looking uphill from the deck just after sunrise:

This was the day I ventured over to Mount Werner area to try my hand at the black and double black/expert trails, with names like Chute 1 and Christmas Tree Gully. Mount Werner is the high point of the ski area, and requires a 5-minute hike from the highest chair lift. To skier's left are some cliff bands and steep trees.

If you want to lap this area without climbing skins, you pretty much have to ski down, take the Bar-UE chair lift, then either ski down into Morningside and take a lift up, or hike up to Morningside from Storm Peak, carrying your skis on your shoulder. Since I figured I could hike faster than the lift could take me, for my laps I hiked the 10 minutes up to Morningside, then another 5 minutes to the top of Werner. This had the added benefit of exercise at 11,000 feet. The laps were arduous, but not too bad.

This is the view from Alarm Clock trail -- I took one lap in Morningside at first:

Rather than committing myself by passing through the scary-looking gates with two black diamonds and the letters "EX" in the middle, I skied just to the left of the rope on the far right side of The Ridge, or down Deso's, I'm not sure which. I skied into the Chute 1 gate and took a look down. I chickened out, instead heading downhill just to the left of the rope. It was still steep.

The very tiny daily hot air balloon hanging over the valley:

This gives some idea of the slopes:

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but the resort provides maximum slope in degrees for some trails. Of the trails listed, by the time I'd left town, I'd skied these:

Top Bump RunsLengthVerticalPercentSteepest TrailsPercent
Three O’Clock3800150039.50%Chute One66.70%
Storm Peak Lift Line3078131040.50%The Ridge54.20%
Four Points Lift Line2800117041.80%North St. Pat’s50%
Rolex280092933.20%Christmas Tree Bowl46.30%
Concentration Upper170077545.60%Concentration Upper45.60%

Seems like for some of these they measured the backs of boulders, or the steepest 3 feet including the backs of bumps, but whatever. Personally, I think the maximum sustained grade on any of them seemed more like 50-55%, and that wasn't more than a few jump turn's worth. If you can ski Highland Bowl or Kristi's in Aspen, or Runaway or Cannonball at Mary Jane, you can ski the trails listed above.

Those are the Chutes in the background:

So basically I skied the far right of The Ridge, East Face, and No Names, several times. A good day, and I was pretty happy about challenging myself to commit to terrain I could not see. I just didn't want to cliff out (end up with no safe way down over a cliff band) or get down to a choke point between rocks that I didn't think I could ski, and neither happened. Good times.

Distance was 38.67 miles, time 7:32 (moving 5:03), elevation gain/loss 21,296 feet, avg. speed 5.1 mph, and max speed 28.8 mph.


  1. John - Heh, no doubt! I'm glad I sucked it up and tried those trails.

  2. You skinned up that stuff right? Heh.

  3. GZ - That would've been quite a trick. They do make ski crampons.