The past week has seen some excellent cold temperatures for November snowmaking in the Northeastern U.S., and Stowe took full advantage, running close to 200 snow guns at times. I witnessed some of the high elevation guns being fired up when I was out on the mountain last Sunday, but since that point it’s been an all out assault reaching all the way down to the base. The resort did such a thorough job covering the slopes that they were able to go ahead with an early opening for seasons pass holders yesterday. The conditions looked fantastic based on Powderfreak’s pictures from the day, but just as exciting was the fact that the lifts wouldn’t be running today, opening up the chance for earned turns. The forecast called for sun and temperatures in the 50s F, so it looked like we’d have some nice soft snow for carving.
We had house guests over in the morning, and then stopped by the Nordic Barn to pick up some new poles and Telemark boots for Ty, so it was mid afternoon before we got to the mountain. This meant that we were already in the shadow of mighty Mansfield as we began our ascent, but the sun was still shining brightly on the east wall of the valley. There’s still a good deal of natural snow around on Mt. Mansfield, with a half foot of snow at the stake as of this evening, but the snowmaking terrain in the North Slope area was the obvious choice in terms of coverage. The ascent was very easy, since the surface was predominantly dense, manmade snow, which had consolidated with today’s warm temperatures and become spring-like. We saw a couple of people heading up just ahead of us, but we appeared to be the last group ascending for the day.
The boys had a good ascent in terms of their energy levels, and we got to enjoy numerous views of the Spruce Peak area as we made our way up out of the base elevations. It turns out that Stowe even turned on some of their snowmaking firepower on the sunny slopes of Spruce, and we could see large expanses of white that had been laid down in the Easy Street and Slalom Hill areas. We topped out on North Slope in the area of the Lord junction, with dusk dictating that we just had to descend. Beneath the darkening sky, we descended with the trails to ourselves toward the glowing lights of the Stowe Mountain Lodge. We had just enough light to see the terrain, so it made for one of those surreal on-slope experiences. Even at the late hour, the snow remained soft, and it supported great carving thanks to the warm air that’s moving into the region. Dylan was the hero of the descent, actually finding a tail clip from Ty’s skin that had been lost on the way up. It was amazing that he was able to find the small piece of metal it in such low light, but he’s going to be inheriting those skis soon once we get Ty’s new ones mounted, so perhaps it was destiny.
After getting in some skiing last weekend, and now this one, November 2012 is turning out much more typical than the previous couple we’ve seen. Both of those featured above average temperatures, so I only got out for one day in November 2011, and not even a single day on November 2010. I’m definitely enjoying the return to normalcy this year, and although we’ve got a couple of warm days on tap, snow is already back in the forecast for the mountains and valleys on Tuesday.