Stowe, VT 28FEB2010

We’d skied at Stowe Thursday in the midst of the big storm cycle, but today was our first chance to see how things had shaken out for the snow surfaces once things had settled down.  The slopes looked gorgeous as we approached the mountain, with lots of sun among some fair weather clouds.  I was initially encouraged by the snow surfaces when we took an early run on Spruce Peak a bit before 1:00 P.M; the sun had warmed up the snow and there had seen enough cycling to produce some corn.  Gone was the wet surface that had persisted in the lower elevations during the storms, and it was really fun slicing smooth arcs into the open terrain of the NASTAR Hill area.

I was hoping that the skiing would be soft like that all around, but that certainly wasn’t the case over on Mt. Mansfield.  Unlike Thursday, where the middle elevations of Mansfield seemed to offer the best skiing in terms of balancing visibility with reasonably dry snow, the middle elevations had some of the most difficult snow today.  The top third to perhaps half of the mountain had fairly nice mid winter snow, but below that there had been enough warming that the surfaces had become hard.  Off piste was also pretty messy around there.  The saving grace in the very lowest elevations was that they had started to corn up a bit, but the middle elevations just stayed hard and high traffic areas on piste were well on their way to the icy disposition they’d had before the big resurfacing.  Our final run of the day down North Slope was a great example of that phenomenon, and I’m not sure I can say that the surface was actually any better than what one would have seen back during the snow drought before the big storms.

It really would have been nice to have some upper mountain lifts to use under those conditions, or if I wasn’t with the kids in our group it probably would have been fun to do some laps up in the Alpine.  When the stake is in the 100” range as it is now, the top of Mansfield does start to turn into one huge snowfield.  With these recent sunny days I’ve been staring at the east side of Mansfield from UVM and seeing how white it is in the alpine areas.  Some more substantial clouds did come in later in the day today, and at about 3:00 P.M. when we were up at the Octagon, it started to flurry a bit.  Nothing seemed to come of that however.  We’re planning to be up at Stowe again next Sunday afternoon, so we’ll see how the conditions are.  There doesn’t appear to be any significant snowfall coming this week though, so with additional traffic and some spring temperature cycling in the lower elevations I’d be surprised if snow surfaces were improved at all.  I’m sure the coverage will be outstanding though.  I bet surfaces will still be nice in the highest elevations, but we might spend a good deal of time over at Spruce if the sun gets things corned up there.

I did get one picture from today as we approached the mountain; it really was a gorgeous day for the most part, even if snow surfaces weren’t great at all elevations, and you can see where some parts of the Mansfield alpine are really loaded with snow:

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