Ski program started up today at Stowe, and it was our first time back since our training day on December 15th. With all the snowfall over the past three weeks, and about a foot and a half in the past seven days, we were expecting great conditions. I found a couple inches of new snow on the snowboard at the house this morning, and light snow was continuing, so that was going to add an extra freshening to the surfaces. With temperatures in the 20s F, the mountain was set up for an excellent day for the kids. As we approached the mountain we got a special view as among the clouds we saw the slopes of Spruce Peak lit up with sunshine.
Dylan initially forgot his ski jacket, so after dropping E off to take care of her coordinator duties, we popped back to the house to get it. On the drive we could see that there were all sorts of folks coming and going throughout the Stowe area, and it had the feel of a busy ski weekend. Our timing on the return was good though, as I grabbed a parking spot right near the drop off area. I think there’s something about arriving closer to that 1:00 P.M. period where you can catch those earliest skiers leaving, because another car was leaving from a great spot just a few spots down. From the parking lot I could see lots of fresh tracks in the area above Meadows, a classic sign of good snow at the resort.
“…the fact that the snowpack depth
at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is at
50 inches, and the way the Chin
Clip Streambed is skiing well, can
attest to the sufficient base depths.”
I had our usual group of boys today, and it was great to be back together for the season. Also helping out as a second coach was Ken, another BJAMS benefactor – it turns out that he enjoys bumps and trees and powder and all that, so we knew he’d fit right in with our young advanced group. We let the boys take turns choosing the runs, and Luke was fine taking ownership of the first warm up run off Sunny Spruce. For the rest of the Spruce Side, Jack took Whirlaway, and Ty took Green Acres and Spruce Line. There are still areas on the Green Acres headwall that should be avoided due to coverage, but down below in the glades and on Spruce Line there are no issues. Few people seemed to want to negotiate that headwall, so we essentially had all the terrain below to ourselves and there was plenty of fantastic untracked snow for us to ski. Over on Mansfield, Ty somehow got another one in the form of the Chin Clip Streambed, and then Dylan finished things off with some Nosedive Glades, or as the boys like to call it, “the middle of nowhere”. We started working on steep turns with the boys as we dropped into Green Acres, and I let them know that they could vary their turns anywhere from a continuous carve to a full blown jump turn. On the jump turn theme, we also worked on airs as we navigated the various icefalls in the Chin Clip Streambed. We talked about how one can take the airs straight if they feel that there is enough room to bleed that speed, or vary their landing angle with jump turns to the point where they have cut down the speed to where it’s reasonable. In line with the jump turns, pole work and timing were also a focus since we had a chance to get into plenty of mogul terrain – Dylan still needs to get his timing down on steeper terrain, but he was working on poles on lower angle terrain to get there. We had a really good group for après ski at the Spruce Camp Bar, and it was a really busy après session there because it actually wasn’t easy to find tables to get everyone together.
Conditions on the slopes are very good overall; the fact that the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is at 50 inches (roughly a foot above average), and the way the Chin Clip Streambed is skiing well, can attest to the sufficient base depths. There are still a few spots on most steep trails we visited that could use a bit more cover, whether due to the fact that they need a slightly deeper base, or traffic has worn them down. A notable spot would be the Green Acres Headwall, where some of those nasty, jagged rocks are almost covered, but not quite there. Also, those tough to cover spots such as the south-facing terrain on the steep, lower spots of Spruce Line could use more snow. Another foot or two of base would take care of those issues, but the mountain must be close to 100% open from what we saw. Likewise we found some slick spots, typically in areas where snow was made, but the surfaces were almost exclusively packed powder and powder – we cut over to the area above Meadows whenever we could on our runs on Spruce Peak and there were still plenty of lines with powder in them for the boys to enjoy. It looks like temperatures are going to be a bit warmer over the next week, but we seem to be staying in the storm track so the snowpack in the mountains should continue to build.