Local Life and Lore in Steamboat Springs
Talk like a local, not a tourist, with these key terms, phrases and places.
Pressing glass: Generally, the sliding glass doors to the gondola loading station stand open to welcome skiers. But on powder days, locals show up well before opening time to press glass: standing eagerly against the still-closed panes, first in line.
Three-wire winter: Ranch fences traditionally feature three wires running horizontally from post to post, and they serve as benchmarks for measuring snow depth: When snow covers the top wire, it’s been an especially hard winter.
Pint pass: Show your season ski pass, and you could drink for cheap: Some bars at the resort’s base area give locals a special “pint pass” pass entitling them to happy hour prices all day.
Powder clause: Many businesses offer employees a powder clause: If more than 6 (sometimes 8) inches of snow fall overnight, they have the boss’s blessing to ski early-morning powder and arrive late to work.
Mud season: Spring (when melting snow moistens the ground) and fall (when early snows make trails mucky) are known as mud season, when tourism dips and the in-between weather makes outdoor sports impractical. Some businesses offer locals’ specials, others close their doors for a break, and many residents travel to warmer climes.
PEOPLE AND PLACES
Buddy Werner: Born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Wallace “Buddy” Werner dazzled the world with his alpine skiing and proved that Americans could rival European racers. Werner perished in an avalanche in 1964; afterward, Storm Mountain was renamed Mount Werner in his honor. Skiers tap the summit’s bronze statue of Buddy for good luck.
Fart Pond: Most of Steamboat’s namesake springs aren’t odiferous, but the spring-filled pond in West Lincoln Park is one exception. Its strong sulfur scent earned it the nickname “fart pond,” but the stink doesn’t stop fly-fishermen from practicing their casting in its calm waters.
Billy Kidd: Originally from Vermont, Kidd claimed world cup championships and became the first American to win an Olympic medal for alpine skiing in 1964. Since then, he’s served as Steamboat’s iconic Director of Skiing. Wearing his signature Stetson cowboy hat, Kidd appears in countless resort ads, and on select days he leads free mountain tours and ski clinics.
The Canyon: Fish Creek Falls Canyon (or simply “The Canyon” to diehard skiers) is located beyond the resort boundaries and contains the area’s most extreme slopes: Cliffs, steeps and chokingly deep snow await. But finding a route can be boggling; it’s best to make a first-time trip with someone who knows the terrain.