2011: A Depressing Year for Snow
Every winter break, my parents and I go on a skiing trip to Squaw Valley. However, the fall and winter of 2011 brought absolutely no snow to the Tahoe area. Currently, the ski resorts around Lake Tahoe only have less than half of their slopes open to the public. But who really wants to ski on man-made snow? I know that I don’t. So instead of heading out to the land of zero snow, my dad booked flights for us to fly out to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Located in the Rocky Mountain Range, Steamboat is a fun little town home to many Olympic skiers such as Billy Kidd who won silver for the U.S.A in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Austria for the slalom. Kidd is also the Director for Skiing at the Steamboat Ski Resort and at 1:00 p.m. everyday you are able to meet him and ski or snowboard a run with him.
Steamboat Springs was originally inhabited by the Yampatikas Utes, Native Americans who lived in the Colorado and Utah areas. In the beginning of the 19th century, trappers moved into the area and ranchers soon followed, and the ranching community is still alive today. However, in 1879, the Utes were forcibly removed by the U.S. Army to a reservation in Utah.
Natural hot springs located up in the hills surrounding the town, and early settlers believed that the hot springs were a steamboat in the river. Soon enough, the settlers realized that the steamboat actually did not exist and the steam was really coming from the hot springs. Hence, the settlers named the town Steamboat Springs.
Skiing initially was the only method of travelling through the Rockies during the harsh, snowy winters. Subsequently, skiing grew to be a popular winter pastime in this area and ignited the development of other towns and communities all over the Rockies.
Unfortunately, 2011 was a bad year for snow, skiing, snowboarding, and any other snow sport available. As a matter of fact, the only spot in Colorado that has snow is Steamboat. Other resorts such as Veil, Keystone, and Breckenridge do not have any snow that is worth skiing. Honestly, there is only about 22-23 inches of snow at the Steamboat Ski Resort, and everyone else in Colorado and other states as well has less. While sitting on the gondola or ski lifts, I talked to various locals and each one of them told me that this is the worst snow Steamboat has ever experienced. Typically, skiers and snowboarders are standing in waist high powder, but this year they are skidding across ice.
Truthfully, skiing the snow on the Steamboat mountain was not that different from skiing any California slopes. That is, not including the fact that since there was so little snow it was inevitable that you would ski over rocks, plants, and / or bushes. There were tons of straight ice patches, and once you were on an ice patch it felt like you were going to spin out of control and fall down a steep mountain face. If you have driven a car too fast around a sharp corner on a rainy day, then you may be able to understand how it felt to ski over these icy patches. Except you are not in a car that will protect you – you have two poles and your feet are attached to two pieces of magnified plastic and fiber glass. Scared is the correct word for how I felt going down these runs and generally, I am fearless on the mountain, ready to try any double black diamonds.
Now please understand that Steamboat is known for having the best snow with the best powder. Sadly, this year did not do this resort justice (from what I have heard, because this trip was my first time to the area). In fact, many families move to Steamboat for their kids to pursue their dreams of being elite skiers or snowboarders. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has produced many Winter Olympians.
My parents and I stayed in Steamboat from January 1st to 5th at the Trappers Crossing Resort Condominiums. The resort offered a shuttle to and from the mountain as well as another shuttle that would take you anywhere within the town. The room we stayed in had a dining and T.V room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms as well as a washer and dryer.
Staying at Trappers Crossing allowed us to make our meals at the condo we rented or provided a shuttle to take us wherever we wanted to eat. Usually we ate lunch on the slopes and went out to eat dinner. There were many great restaurants in downtown Steamboat and around the ski slopes. On our first day in Steamboat we went to a restaurant called the Truffle Pig. We had a great view of the entire mountain, the food was delicious, and affordable. The food and restaurants around and on the slopes were great prices and were cheaper compared to resorts like Squaw Valley in California. On a different night we went to Mambo Italiano, which features family Italian recipes as well as a fun and lively atmosphere. Later in the week, we went to the Sweetwater Grill, an all-American cuisine restaurant that has a great view of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area where we watched locals night ski.
Downtown Steamboat has great historical-looking buildings made out of red bricks that have been weathered over many years of blistering cold winters. It also reminds me a lot of Truckee, which is a town we pass through on the drive up to Tahoe. There were quite a few Steamboat logo t-shirt shops with tourist-type knickknacks. You would not find any department stores such as Nordstrom or Macy’s, but rather a few boutiques with high end fashion. In addition to the boutiques and the tourist stores, there were many art stores featuring local artists. Regrettably, I was shopping in the downtown area later at night, so all the galleries were closed and I did not have the opportunity to see the artwork.
I hope that in the years to come I will be able to return to Steamboat and experience real Colorado snow and powder. I enjoyed the home-like atmosphere as well as the restaurants and the shopping experience. Even though the mountain was lacking snow I still had a great time being with my family. Skiing over rocks or pieces of shrubs did not stop me.
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