Stowe, VT 06FEB2011


Last night we got that cool storm with the thundersnow/thundersleet etc.  That event was mostly snow this far north, but we did have some sleet and granular snow in the mix of precipitation for an hour or two before it switched back to all snow.  Even with a lot of granular flakes and a bit of sleet in there, it didn’t really seem to affect the snow quality to any great degree; the snow was already pretty dense by Northern Vermont standards, so any mix just made it a bit denser.  While not the top of the line snow for fluffy powder skiing, we picked up 7.6 inches down at the house comprised of 0.99 inches of liquid, and the Bolton Valley through Jay Peak area picked up about a foot of snow, so it was a good shot of moisture to add to the base.  Data I collected at the house for that event are below:


Date                            New    Density

10:00 P.M. 05FEB    4.5”     15.1% H2O

6:00 A.M. 06FEB      3.1”     10.0% H2O


With the new snow we decided to head to Stowe earlier than usual to get in some extra powder runs, and we were very keen to explore some terrain off the top of the Sensation Quad that we’d really not skied much before.  The trees around Spruce Line, also known as “Green Acres”, had needed just a bit more coverage the last time we’d looked, especially the steep rocky terrain that drops in from Upper Main Street.  Now that a couple of synoptic storms had actually hit the area though, we suspected the terrain would be ready.  The high density of this latest round of snow was going to be especially useful for covering up those jagged rocks.


Once the boys were suited up in their ski gear and we got ready to head to the mountain, they couldn’t resist a few sledding runs in the new snow.  I think there’s something about getting their helmets and everything on that gets them excited to bomb through the powder.  They had a couple of good runs off their jump area in the front of the house, and we were finally able to head off to the mountain


Once we arrived at Spruce Peak and got geared up, we headed right over to Sensation, and when we got off we perched ourselves atop the steep pitches dropping into the Green Acres area.  It was a beautiful sight – a steep open slope with a pitch somewhere in excess of 30 degrees that soon gave way to steep evergreen tree lines; it actually reminded me a lot of areas we’d enjoyed on our ski trip to Red Mountain in British Columbia.  As an added bonus, the slope was blanketed with a fresh covering of powder, and we could choose from any untracked line we wished.  We shied away from a couple of spots that had the very largest rocks still sticking out of the snow, but found an awesome starting point toward the west end of the slope.  Both boys were a little tentative at first at the sight of such a steep open area of snow, but I dropped in to show them how easily they’d be able to handle it.  Ty took to the terrain very quickly and simply dropped in and ripped it up.  He was on his fatter, twin tip skis that we got him to serve as his powder boards, and they seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  The powder was indeed dense like we’d expected, very much like Cascade Concrete/Sierra Cement etc., and combined with the occasional spot of wind crust, one typically sunk down into the powder only a few inches when skiing it.  But Ty really showed how much he was in command when he dropped in and set down some beautiful turns.  Soon after, Dylan knew that he could handle it and dropped in as well with the help of E and I guiding him to the best snow.  We worked our way down into the trees where there was more good snow, and gradually over to Spruce line.  It was really great to see how much fun the boys had in the trees, and I was definitely happy that we had finally gotten a couple of synoptic storms to fill in the steepest terrain and open everything up.


We worked our way down through the lower elevations of the Sensation area, and had lots of off piste fun in areas such as the Sterling trees.  E hadn’t had much of chance to ski with Dylan at Stowe since she was often coaching snowboard groups or on her Telemark skis and too focused on her own skiing, but she said she was extremely impressed with his skiing today.  He really seemed to be eating up the off piste snow and was much more aggressive and quick than she’d often seen.


The first run had been so much fun that we went right back up to repeat it again, and Dylan did even better dropping into the steeps.  E was only there for the very beginning of the run because she had to get to a meeting at the base, but the boys and I had an awesome time finishing off the run similarly to before.


After that we met up with our group for the day, and we took all the boys to the same line we’d be doing and we hit it twice more.  The other guys in the group were also initially intimidated by the steep drop in (except Jack who immediately dove in and disappeared into the trees) but everyone quickly got the feel of the terrain.  Claire and Sue even got into the trees and worked on their tree skiing.  On our second run we cut right after the initial Green Acres trees and worked our way back to the base


Looking ahead in terms of winter weather, it seems that the next storm coming in tonight will be back to a fluffier type of snow; I’ve added in some of the graphics from the Burlington office of the National Weather Service.