Chad Fleischer has lived in Colorado ski towns all his life. The former U.S. Ski Team downhill racer and two-time Olympian grew up in Vail and has spent the past two decades in Steamboat Springs. When he says he’s never seen the volume of snowfall Steamboat has experienced the past few weeks, you can be sure it has been an unusually epic storm cycle.
“It’s the most snow I’ve ever seen anywhere,” Fleischer said Tuesday.
“It’s just insane. My house is buried. I’m parked in the street because I have no room left in my driveway. I have a truck coming next week to get snow trucked out,” he added. “You can’t even use a snow blower to throw it anywhere. The banks are like 10 feet high, like 2-3 feet higher than my car. It’s absolutely incredible.”
It’s been a great snow season across the state for skiers. Every resort in Colorado is at or above normal for snowfall, and 13 ski areas are at 25% above normal or better. Steamboat leads them all, though, and snowfall there over the past month has been beyond stunning.
In January, Steamboat received 196 inches — more than 16 feet — at the summit. The snow stake at mid-mountain received over 10 feet, 125 inches to be precise. For the season, its snowfall is 54% above normal, and with two months remaining in the ski season, it already exceeds every full-season snowfall total since the winter of 2018-19.
“Every single day it’s just like the epic powder you dream of having,” Fleischer said. “For the past two years, everyone remembered their one or two days (of epic conditions). This year, every single day has been like that for at least six weeks straight.”
Steamboat Powdercats, a backcountry snowcat service not affiliated with the Steamboat Resort, operates 10 miles north of Steamboat Springs in the Buffalo Pass area. Snowfall there for the season has been 52% above normal, and the settled base is more than eight feet.
“It’s been incredibly deep,” Powdercats manager and part-owner Kent Vertrees said Tuesday. “It hasn’t been our typical champagne powder, the really, really light dry snow that we’re famous for. It’s just been so much. We got five feet in the past seven days on Buff Pass. It’s bonkers.”
Sometimes it can even be too deep.
“It isn’t the easiest skiing, but it is amazing,” Vertrees said. “It’s been the deepest days of our guests’ lives at times. When you get into flatter terrain and you have that much snow, you do have to ski into peoples’ tracks sometimes to carry speed and then jump out. We were calling it trench management. On run-outs to the cat road or the traverses to get in and out of terrain, you had to wait for the guides to kick in the traverses or another person to ski in front of you so you could come in behind them and make your way down. Just a crazy experience in snow.”
Elsewhere, Wolf Creek received more than 11 feet in January and Purgatory picked up more than eight feet. Vail, Powderhorn and Winter Park were in the seven-foot range (88, 86 and 84 inches, respectively). For Winter Park, it was the snowiest January since 2014.
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