The complex winter storm that has been affecting the region finally wound down today, and it’s been a great boon for the Vermont ski areas. The storm began on Thursday morning when it delivered some fairly standard synoptic snowfall, and through Thursday evening we’d picked up 3.7 inches of 9.2% H2O snow at the house, with the mountains picking up about a half foot. Thursday night into yesterday morning we were in the dry slot of the storm, and then yesterday afternoon the second round of snow began… and boy did it come on strong in the evening. While the first half of the event had favored the eastern slopes of the Greens, the second half pounded the western slopes, and that was very evident as I headed home from Burlington on Friday evening. Our bus took Route 2 instead of I-89 because of storm-related travel issues, and at one point yesterday evening at the house we picked up roughly 3 inches of snow in an hour. After last night’s snow, the storm totals wound up at 11.7 inches for our location in the valley, and in the 1.5 foot range up in the mountains, with Jay Peak approaching 2 feet. It was ultimately enough snow to get Stowe’s ski terrain 100% open.
The downside of the new snow was that cold air came with it – it was approximately 10 F this morning at the house, and 3 F up in the Village at Bolton Valley. Fortunately, there wasn’t any wind, but we still brought hand and foot warmers for the boys in case they needed to take the edge off the chill while skiing. E wasn’t all that impressed with the conditions on Sprig O’ Pine after their preliminary run while I parked the car, but I was hoping that was due to effects of the wind and the exposure of that terrain. After a little debate, the boys decided that they were cold enough that they would head into the lodge to fire up some of the hand warmers and put them in their boots and gloves, and then we headed back out into the cold in search of more powder.
Leaving the Mid Mountain Lift, we quickly saw that the Enchanted Forest looked extremely powdery with little traffic up to that point, so we headed in. We found the coverage and powder to be pretty nice, but in general the snow just felt a little “slow” with the cold temperatures. With this in mind, we headed to Glades to get a little more pitch, and that helped move things along a little better. Glades had seen a fair bit of traffic to track up the snow, but we found some good shots of untracked in the jug handle area.
The snow was decent, but none of us really seemed to be grooving, and Ty appeared especially glum and ornery about the day up to that point. It turned out that his hands were still cold despite the hand warmers, so we decided to make another trip inside and have lunch in the process. When we got into the lodge, we were astonished to discover that all the hand warmers the boys were using were stone cold. That was extremely disconcerting, as we’d bough a big box of them at Costco, and were expecting them to work. We fiddled around with them for a bit, and I also headed down to the ski shop and bought a couple packets of a different brand for comparison. The new packets fired up right away and got quite hot. With a little more shaking and processing we were actually able to get our original packets going as well, but they didn’t cook like the new ones, they just seemed to be of the “slow burn” variety and only got up to lukewarm relative to the hot ones. Once we were done with lunch, we hooked the boys up with a combination of the “slow” and “fast burn” varieties of hand warmers, and headed out to see if we could finally get that groove going.
To get some challenge and potentially find Ty some “satisfying” turns, we headed up on the Vista Quad and descended via Vermont 200. That turned out to be a good choice, with generally great coverage, lots of good snow, and only a couple of icy ledges to navigate. Ty definitely got some of the turns he had been seeking, and everyone enjoyed the challenge and powder/chowder we found. Below Mid Mountain we headed back to Glades and hit the jug handle area as we’d done before. Both boys seemed to have fun ripping that up.
To continue with the positive energy, we sought out some untracked snow in the Villager Trees, and found an impressive snowpack for what has been a slow season for snowfall – I stuck my measurement pole in a representative protected area at ~2,600’ and got a depth measurement of 30 inches. While we explored around, the boys amused themselves by taking down some huge icicles from one of the ledges. On the descent, the powder was deep and thoroughly bottomless, and while many fun turns were made, the powder was almost too deep for some of the pitches in there. The turns were so good though that we were able to call it a day after that and finished off with more powder on the sides of Lower Bentley. It had actually gotten sunny and warmed up a bit as well, into the high single digits, and with the hand warmers cranking the boys didn’t have any more issues with the cold. Back at the car we found out that the “fast burn” hand warmers had already burned themselves out after just a couple of hours, while those of the “slow burn” variety were still going. At that point everything seemed to make sense – a combination of the two types would really be optimal. So after a slow start today, things really picked up and we managed some decent powder from what has been the biggest winter storm of the season up to this point.