Steamboat Powder

The storms have been pounding the Colorado Rockies lately, putting powderhounds on high alert to carve up the freshies before anyone else.


At a half-dozen Colorado resorts, one way to assure that your tracks will be the first on the hill is to get up early – and, in some cases, pay a premium -- and get a ride up the hill before the lifts officially open. Like paying more to cut lines or park close-in, these pay-for-powder “first tracks” programs have become popular among skiers and riders who seek to get some bragging rights on the rest of the crowd still waiting in line.


Here’s a sampling of these offerings in Colorado:


Breckenridge. Guests who pay to stay Thursday night at one of Breckenridge’s five participating properties – and have a valid day or season pass – get on the mountain an hour before the opening every Friday morning throughout the season.


Aspen/Snowmass. Offered daily and for free, advanced-level skiers and riders meet at 8 a.m. with a ski instructor guide at the base of the Aspen Mountain gondola, or every Wednesday and Friday after checking in at the Snowmass Ticket Pavilion. Advance registration and a valid lift ticket are required at both mountains.


Steamboat. For $35 a day or $175 for six days, skiers and ‘boarders hop on the gondola between 8 and 8:15 a.m. At the top, they can choose terrain served by a half-dozen lifts, including the famed powder stash in Priest Creek area. Intermediate and advanced skiers only.


Telluride. Membership in the Telluride Ski & Golf Club includes the First Light Skiing program, which gets members on the lifts before anyone else. After some serious powder runs, they eat breakfast in a private, on-mountain location.


Beaver Creek. The plush resort’s Golden Ticket First Tracks program offers pre-opening skiing and riding and a hot chocolate finale at Beano’s Cabin.


Photo: Steamboat powder (Facebook, Steamboat Resort/Larry Pierce)