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The Skinny on Skinning

March 28th, 2018

Backcountry skinning with Steamboat Powdercats

Have you ever sat in the gondola and looked out the window to see someone ascending Mount Werner on skis and wondered ‘what is that person doing – why hike when you can ride?’ Either they want to earn their turns and get heck of a work out, or they don’t want to pay a full price lift ticket. Whatever the motivation ‘skinning’ is on the rise and Condos in Steamboat decided delve into the details of this growing pastime.

We sat down with Kent Vertrees, the self-proclaimed master of chaos for Steamboat Powdercats, a local operation that added guided backcountry skinning trips to their repertoire this season.

Condos in Steamboat: What is skinning?

Kent Vertrees: It is hiking uphill wearing all terrain gear with skins attached to the base of the ski which enables it to grip the snow. At the top, peel off the skins and ski (or board) back down.

CIS: Why is it becoming so popular?

KV: It’s a natural progression as a skier or snowboarder to move out of bounds and try new things. Skinning in the backcountry gives expert skiers a challenge. Plus advances in technology are making it easier; lighter skis, better skins, more accessibility, avalanche beacons and general safety  information.

CIS: What equipment do you need?

KV: Basically you need to dress for hiking in the backcountry, which means layers, (Gortex is great to keep moisture out), hat, and sunglasses; a backpack with safety equipment such as a beacon, avalanche probe and shovel; a water bladder to keep hydrated. Extra clothing is good so you can change when you get sweaty. You’ll need skis, skins and poles, or a split board. All terrain gear includes a specific all terrain boot and skis that enable the walk mode.

CIS: Any tips on technique?

KV: Keep your head up – don’t look down at the skis. Poles out front, and glide skis don’t lift the whole ski. Maximize energy and minimize your effort, one step at a time. Look for the lowest pitch aspect. You don’t want to crisscross the snow where you plan to ski down.

CIS: Can anyone do it?

KV: You have to be a good level of fitness. If you want to try it in the backcountry then you should go with a guide who can teach you how to put skins on, work the bindings and how to do kick turns. Guides are also familiar with the terrain and know where it is safe to go and where it isn’t.

CIS: What do you do once you get to the top?

KV: Catch your breath, take off skis, lock bindings down, change clothes, hydrate, eat and descend.

CIS: How do snow conditions affect technique and overall experience?

KV: On a sunny warm spring day skis and skins can get clumped up with snow. In deeper conditions it is more difficult to set the track, which is another benefit of having a guide. On days when it’s stormy, consider your gear as you can get really wet and thermal regulation is key. On deeper and lighter days, the smiles get bigger.

For detailed information on equipment needed and guide services with Steamboat Powdercats, check out www.steamboatpowdercats.com 

* If you want to skin up at the Steamboat Ski Area, you need to purchase an uphill use pass and sign a waiver before taking it to the Visitor Center at the base area. For more information download the form here: Download

Skiing up at the Steamboat Ski Area

Hang out with an Olympian in Steamboat Springs.

February 23rd, 2018

The Olympic flame flies at Howelsen Hill.

Did you know Steamboat Springs has produced more Olympians than any other town in America? Luckily for us all, many of them continue to call Steamboat home and are often on hand to share a tip or two on the slopes. Next time you are in the ‘Boat seek them out – here’s where to find them.

  1. Howelsen Hill – home of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and ongoing training ground for current and future Olympians. On most Sundays expect to find head Nordic coach, Todd Wilson at the base of the jump hill tempting you give ski jumping a try. It’s not as daunting as it sounds – everyone starts on the bump jump. It’s fun, free and strangely addictive.
  2. Steamboat Ski Area – ski down Heavenly Daze with Billy Kidd on any given day. Look for the notice at top of the gondola to see if he is skiing that day and meet him at 1 p.m. by the start of Why Not. On Sundays at 1 p.m. improve your mogul skiing on Nelson’s Run with expert tips from Nelson Carmichael. Both activities as free to lift ticket holders. Ladies can sign up for the three-day women’s clinic, which has been offered at Steamboat for 25 years. Ann Battelle and Deb Armstrong lead the line up of instructors. Spaces are still available for March 6-8.
  3. Tread of Pioneers Museum – check out the ongoing Ski Town USA exhibit at the museum on the corner of 8th and Oak Streets. Find out how skiing and boarding has evolved over the last century and check out Olympic memorabilia.

Ski Steamboat and Save – 10 Tips on How

December 26th, 2017

Booking a ski trip means two things: great adventure with a great big price tag, right? Not necessarily. Book early or get clever and consider other ways to save money.

Rent a property and split the cost with family and friends. Condos in Steamboat have a wide range of accommodations to suit a range of group sizes and budgets.

  1. Save money on food and pack a lunch. Dining on the mountain is very expensive and if you are not staying in a ski in/ ski out location it can get pretty pricey eating on the hill every day.  
  2. Buy multi-day lift tickets in advance. Daily lift prices are reduced the more you buy. Plus, did you know that kids under 12 years old ski free at Steamboat with a paying adult?
  3. Don’t rent a car and use resort shuttles. The City of Steamboat operates a free bus service between town and the mountain so you don’t need a car. It makes eating out taste all the more sweeter when no one has to drive home.
  4. Look for happy hour specials on drinks and food. Eat out at lunch-time and cook at the condo for dinner. Check out the free local newspaper Steamboat Today for daily specials and events.
  5. Don’t buy ski or snowboard equipment, which just keeps getting better every year. Rent gear once you arrive in town or pre-order and have it delivered.
  6. Spend a day in downtown Steamboat on Howelsen Hill, the oldest continuously running ski area west of the Mississippi, where you can Alpine ski, snowboard, cross country ski and fat bike. It’s compact which makes it perfect for family and groups of mixed ability to stay together. It’s inexpensive and on Wednesday nights you can try ski jumping.
  7. Pick up tips for free every day on the mountain and ski with a Steamboat Ambassador. Tours for intermediate and above level skiers leave from the top of the gondola at 10.30 a.m., just look for them in their yellow jackets.
  8. Travel at off peak times, which means avoiding school vacations and some weekends.
  9. Like us on Facebook and keep an eye out for last minute deals through the season.

WHY ARE PEOPLE IN STEAMBOAT SO THANKFUL?

November 15th, 2017

When we sit around the table next week to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have a lot to savor. It’s not just the gravy smeared turkey with it’s colorful timings, but the everyday blessings we toast as we raise our glasses. We wanted to share some of the reasons we are thankful for living in Steamboat and hope you can enjoy them too on your next visit. 

Terrain – lots of it to explore in hiking shoes, ski boots, cross country gear. On boards, sleds, snowmobiles and horseback. Nature’s playground at its best. 

Horses and our ranching heritage. Miles of rolling farmlands to cycle past, livestock to watch at fair and cowboy traditions to uphold. 

Artwalk on the first Friday of the month. Strolling through downtown to glimpse or study works crafted by local talent. 

No hour-long waits in the car at rush hour. More time for happy hours with friends, dog walks, bike rides,  an early morning skin up the mountain or simple family time. 

Kicking back in the thermal waters of the hot springs to soak tired limbs after a day of skiing, hiking or biking. Watching the stars at night and the reflection of the moon in the water. 

Fireworks and festivals on every holiday. Carnivals and parades to watch from afar or join in if you choose. 

Understanding the challenges of mountain living and a community that is on-hand to help whoever is in need. 

Leaves – watching the seasons change on the branches of aspen trees. The light green of springtime, darker hue of summer and burst of gold in fall before the winter shed. 

Cheers to you and yours, may we all be thankful for blessings big and small. 

Life is Golden in the ‘Boat and Here’s Why

August 29th, 2017

Flashes of gold have started to appear on the foliage around the ‘Boat. It’s hard to leave another glorious summer, but if you’ve ever been to Steamboat in the fall, you’ll know there is plenty to celebrate.

Here are our favorite things to do in the valley before winter shrouds us with snow.

Wild West Air Fest

Nationally renowned aviators take to the skies of Steamboat Springs, performing thrilling aerobatic stunts and formation flying during Labor Day weekend. Take a ride in a plane or helicopter, listen to presentations by retired military pilots and check out the war birds and vintage aircraft on display. Saturday, Sept. 2.

Labor Day Sidewalk Sale

Stock up on outdoor gear and clothing at the end-of-season Sidewalk Sale, when Steamboat’s downtown boutique-owners display an abundance of bargain items outside their stores.

Yampa Valley Crane Festival

Celebrate the incredible migration of the greater sandhill cranes through the Yampa Valley by attending guided crane viewings, live raptor presentations, in-depth workshops, nature walks and a community picnic at the Carpenter Ranch. Speakers include George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation, and Ted Floyd, editor of Birding magazine. Thursday – Sunday, Aug. 31 – Sept 3. www.coloradocranes.net

Run Rabbit Run

With steep terrain, elevation changes and frequently cruel weather, the 50- and 100-mile Run Rabbit Run ultra marathons are not for the faint of heart. Those who choose to partake in these well-marked and extremely challenging races will be rewarded with up-close-and personal views of the Yampa Valley’s autumn colors and – for the winners – the highest purse of any trail ultra marathon in the world. Limited to 350 entrants for the 100-mile race and 200 entrants for the 50-mile race. Friday-Saturday, Sept. 8-9. www.runrabbitrunsteamboat.com

Annual Mustache Ride

Hundreds of mustachioed (and faux-mustachioed) bikers donning wild costumes pedal from pub to pub in the Mustache Ride. All proceeds from this exceptional pub-crawl go toward the Routt County Humane Society. Saturday, Oct. 7. www.ssmustacheride.com

Scenic Drives and Rides – Scenery and Photo Stops

Routt County’s scenery explodes in spectacular reds and golds during autumn – take to the roads around Steamboat Springs by car or bike to witness the panoramas in all of their majesty. Follow the flow of the Yampa River with a ride on River Road and travel onto The Flat Tops Wilderness Area Scenic Byway from Yampa over Dunkley Pass and Ripple Creek Pass. Drive up Rabbit Ears Pass to Muddy Pass, which despite the name offers breathtaking photo opportunities. Head north of Steamboat to pass historic ranchlands and their fields of gold along Elk River Road and Seedhouse Road, stopping for homemade treats at the Clark Store. Ride further north, where Hahn’s Peak and Steamboat Lake offer essential viewing of the autumn landscape.

Play a Round

There are deals to be had on the links as the air temp. begins to drop. Play nine or 18 holes at the city owned Haymaker Golf Course. The Keith Foster links-style course is celebrating its’ 20th anniversary this year. Kids under 12 years, play for free with a paying adult. Kids 12 years and over, pay their age. Rental clubs are free for juniors. www.haymakergolf.com  

Downtown Halloween Stroll

Just before the snow falls, join a throng of ghosts, ghouls and goblins at Steamboat’s beloved downtown Halloween celebration. Downtown Lincoln Avenue is closed to traffic and businesses open their doors to an army of trick-or-treaters. Dress up for the event, or opt for a bite at one of the Lincoln Avenue eateries and vote on the best getups as they pass by. Tuesday, Oct. 31, 5-7 p.m.

 

 

 

River Smart – Tips from a Local Pro

June 12th, 2017

Floating down the Yampa River in a raft beneath a blue Colorado sky sounds idyllic. It is, if you realize that the river is wild and you need to be prepared. Condos in Steamboat sat down with local expert Kent Vertrees, who teaches river and canyon orientation classes at Colorado Mountain College. The advocate for water rights and activist with Friends of the Yampa gave us some tips on preparing for a day on the river.

 

What clothing do you recommend for a river rafting day trip?

Your on-river clothing is based on the severity of the river rapids, the time of year you’ll be floating and what the daily weather is doing. Avoid wearing cotton-clothing when/if at all possible.  Cotton clothing will hold in water and keep you cold where synthetic material or a wool blend will whisk water away from your skin, keeping you warm even when wet from head to toe.  Layer up clothing like you would when skiing or snowboarding with a waterproof or resistant splash jacket shell to keep the wind and water off you. Appropriate footwear is very important.  Sandals that fix to your feet like the brands Chaco or Keen’s are a good choice.  No flip-flops as they will fall off immediately if you swim out of the raft.  Also prepare for the sunshine with long sleeve shirts, a large, wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with straps. A personal flotation device or life jacket, and helmet should be worn. Take a dry bag to keep valuables from getting wet. Pack plenty water and snacks.

 

Can you give any advice to novice river users on safety? 

For those of you who are looking to get into river rafting but don’t have much experience, Colorado Mountain College offers a River Orientation class multiple times a year that provides the basics in how to successfully pull together a river trip. Beyond local courses and classes, finding the right crew of trusted river friends is essential.  Having a river mentor, someone who will take you in their boat on their trips to teach you safe and proper techniques, someone who will ease you into things and not throw you into rapids that are beyond your skill is critical to the success of every future boatman and boatwoman.  

 

Do you have any tips on local river etiquette? 

There are some general rules of river etiquette that all of us must consider in order to have a safe, enjoyable, unobtrusive and sustainable experience.  First off plan and prepare accordingly, double check your packing list and make sure everyone on your trip is up-to-date with where you are going and what to bring.  Don’t take over the put in or take-outs.  If you can, unload your raft and all your gear and then move it out of the river access area so others can come in and do the same thing.  Pick up other peoples messes and leave no trace of your own.  Give fly fisherman plenty of room.  Don’t intermix your group into another groups raft trip, especially above rapids.  Most importantly, here in Colorado all of us on rivers need to respect private property rights.  There may be many miles along your river trip where you are floating through, and over private property and you just cannot pull over anywhere you want. This goes back to planning and preparing correctly so do your homework before getting on the river, bring a guide book or map of the river and making sure you are not impacting private property rights.  

 

Afternoon storms can roll in during the summer, what should someone do if they are out of the river? 

One component of pulling off a successful river trip is making sure you know what’s happening with the weather.  In your pre-trip planning you should check on the forecast and bring adequate gear to match what the forecast is saying.  Always pack extra splash tops, bottoms and layers incase someone on your trip forgets a critical gear item.  During your float, pay attention to what’s going on in the sky and realize that storms in Colorado can quickly turn your beautiful scenic float into a maelstrom of weather.  Hail, strong wind, lightening, rain and dramatic temperature swings need to be accounted for. This is where your planning and preparation help you through under any weather related situations.  Hypothermia can happen even during mid summer days so extra gear for all your crew is key. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Luck of Springtime in the ‘Boat

March 17th, 2017

The Irish are not the only ones who get to feel lucky. Spending a springtime vacation in Steamboat Springs will make you feel blessed, and here 10 reasons why.

  1. Skiing or boarding on the fresh groomers in the morning and soft snow in the afternoon sun. (Although an impending storm is going to add a fresh layer of powder to the mix next week).
  1. Rockin’ out at to a free concert at the base area with Bud Light Rocks the ‘Boat series.
  1. Slopeside’s Ice Bar – après ski just got cooler.
  1. Soaking in thermal waters at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs – one of 19 mineral springs on the Historic Hot Springs Tour through Colorado.
  1. Cross-country skiing in a t-shirt and refueling with a picnic on Rabbit Ears Pass. (Pick up a to go from Backcountry Provisions but be warned, you might need a nap, it’s so good).
  1. Gear sales have started in town and on the mountain so there’s plenty of bargains to snag.
  1. Snowshoeing and hiking at Fish Creek Falls where the ice is beginning to melt. When it does, you can’t hear yourself think for the roar.
  1. Sipping suds at the four local breweries dotted around town.
  1. Road biking past miles of rolling ranch lands.
  1. Taking an early morning hot air balloon ride as the valley below awakens.

 

 

 

 

 

Step To It

January 23rd, 2017

Who knew that something used as a method of survival 6,000 years ago would evolve into a recreational pastime? Snowshoeing’s long and storied past has been eclipsed by technology making it a winter-sport favorite for many.

In December Condos in Steamboat guest Lesley Philip left her native Scotland, and came to Steamboat Springs to spend Christmas with the family. She didn’t ski or snowboard and according to her, she “has never felt part of the winter scene.” All that changed after a day spent tramping around the Steamboat Ski Area on snowshoes.

“It was absolutely wonderful and for the first time, I could join in with the rest of the family and share time on the mountain,” she says. For the remainder of her trip, Lesley spent multiple days clipped into snowshoes crunching over snowy terrain all over Steamboat.

Steamboat Ski Area has created several snowshoe loops that follow well-marked cat tracks and gentle terrain to Four Points and Rendezvous lodges. For those who’d prefer not to navigate the routes alone, there are multiple guided options available. Free tours are offered daily at 1 p.m., leaving from the information center at the base of the mountain. An on-foot lift ticket is requirement. Make a day of it and book a gourmet lunch at Hazie’s Restaurant, which is served prior to the tour. Make a night of it instead, and take the Moonlight Tour with dinner at Hazie’s afterwards.

Explore the nooks and crannies in hillsides and forests all around Steamboat by snowshoeing on designated hiking trails. Popular local favorites include; the Quarry Trail on Emerald Mountain, favored for the unsurpassed views of Mount Werner and the entire Yampa Valley; Uranium Mine Trail which overlooks Fish Creek Falls; and Walton Peak Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass for incredible panoramas of the south valley. Learn about local wildlife on naturalist lead snowshoe tours offered weekly by Yampatika. (www.yampatika.org)

Spend a day at any of the Nordic centers, where trails for snowshoe use are clearly marked. Haymaker Nordic Center and Catamount Ranch and Club both allow dogs during weekdays. Both offer equipment rental and full-service dining. Steamboat Touring Center is the most centrally located of the three and also offers equipment rental and a cafe.

Know Before You Go

  • Dress in layers, as you would to go skiing. Avoid cotton, as there is no way for the moisture to escape, which can make you feel cold.
  • Wear snow boots, or hiking boots and use gators to keep the snow out.
  • Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Take snacks to keep energy levels up, especially young children.
  • Take poles to maintain good balance on steeper terrain.
  • Stretch legs and hips prior to snowshoeing as it is a workout and you’ll be thankful you warmed up first.
  • Pack a camera – the scenery will be beautiful, wherever your shoes take you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPOOKED IN STEAMBOAT

November 1st, 2016

dragonLast night in downtown Steamboat Springs there was a slew of mysterious behavior. The mad hatter danced down Lincoln Avenue followed by a family of sea gods. A crowd of Vikings strolled the sidewalks passing a monkey with a banana before stopping to greet the three pink ladies. A dragon towered over a crowd of people breathing fire as members of the emergency services looked on, while tossing candy to passing children.

It was Halloween, the most cherished community event of the year. Last night did not disappoint. For two hours Lincoln Avenue was closed to all traffic, except those on foot. Storeowners generously dished out volumes of candy, slices of pizza, pots of ice cream and toothbrushes – yes toothbrushes! There was a scream contest, live musicians and fire jugglers. Families, kids, couples, singles, empty nesters and canine friends strolled the street together absorbing the quintessential Steamboat vibe.

The snow held off despite the chill in the air – much to the amazement of long time locals, who expect the first big dump of year on that very night. The snow never came, but all the usual tradition remained with most adults feeling thankful they are not waking up to teach school in the morning. Thank you Steamboat for another spooktacularly fun night.

Home from Home

September 27th, 2016

l1020893Things are about to get crazier than normal this winter for Dan and Kim Filler, and they couldn’t be happier about it. For nearly two decades the Fillers have owned and operated Condos in Steamboat, specializing in vacation rentals. Winter season means two things to them: looking after clients, and running back and forth to Howelsen Ice Arena to support their hockey mad son Jake.

This year they have even more reason to be at the rink cheering at a hockey game. The Fillers opted to become a host family for the first-ever junior hockey team to be permanently stationed in Steamboat Springs – The Steamboat Wranglers.

In August Quinny Baker switched coastal California for the Rocky Mountains and moved into the Fillers. It will be his home away from home for the next eight months. The senior in High School is part of a new team that will train players hoping to make college teams.

Up to 25 players hope to be billeted in Steamboat and play for the newest team in the western division. Players have strict guidelines to adhere to, including evening curfews which hold serious consequences if broken.

jakequinny-aug-28-2016The Fillers became aware of the new team at Howelsen Ice Arena and volunteered their support. Kim entered the contest to name the team and her quintessential Steamboat term – The Wranglers – won. She will drop the first puck when the team plays their first game, this Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 7pm.

“We are looking forward to meeting and accommodating as many of the traveling families as possible,” Kim says. Eleven-year-old Jake is years away from playing at the same level, but he has set his sights on hockey. Having a big brother figure at home to show him the ropes is a good thing. He was equally thrilled to earn a spot as one of two stick boys.

“Our business is to take care of people coming to Steamboat, but this time we are taking it to the next level. I wanted to pay it forward, knowing one day it could be our son doing the same as Quinny.”

Quinny Baker and his teammates can be sure of one thing this winter, they might be far from home but they’ll be plenty of people cheering them on at Howelsen Ice Arena, especially the Fillers.

 


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