Today was back to ski program at Stowe, and with the recent snows we decided to make it an early day and get in some turns in the morning before our actual sessions started. After charging the boys up with a good breakfast, we headed off to Stowe under cloudy skies and temperatures running a pretty consistent 35 F in the lower mountain valleys. The temperatures slightly above freezing created a cascade of wet snow slowly slipping off trees, roofs, and most other objects as we traveled through those areas. As we ascended to the resort base elevations, the temperatures finally cooled down to around the freezing mark, and we were greeted with light snow falling.
“…now is the time
to go if you’ve been
waiting to ride the
After my reconnaissance run on Angel Food on the 14th, I was planning to bring my group out there today. I figured it would be fun to give E a chance to ski the area since she’d never been out that far, and it would provide Ty and Dylan with a preview so that they could be helpful with guiding when we brought the other boys out there. Descending from the top of the gondola on Upper Gondolier, it was immediately obvious just how good the snow surfaces were. The combination of the past two storms has really done a great job of resurfacing the on piste areas. Conditions out on Angel Food were quite good – we skied the standard route and mostly tracked snow, but it hardly mattered because the snow was so soft. E hasn’t skied Stowe on alpine skis with the boys in quite a while, and she was very impressed with the pace at which they seemed to fly through the challenging terrain. She’s definitely worried that the boys are starting to surpass her in aspects of their skiing – at least on alpines. One of the interesting things we noticed while out on Angel Food today was the number of people using the route to skin up the mountain. I guess it’s a convenient way to go so that one stays out of bounds for an ascent. We made one more gondola run on Perry Merrill so that E could check out the potential for some of her intermediate students, and I noted that with conditions being so good, it could be a real confidence builder. Ty and Dylan kept up their fast pace of ascent, even racing on the last pitch of Perry Merrill with E’s approval, but I assured her that we did not do things like that during our regular session time.
Our next stop was lunch at the Great Room Grill – I tried the salmon burger for the first time and it was quite good. It comes with an interesting side of coleslaw that has some unique raisins in it. We wanted a good meal because we were expecting to push hard all afternoon with the great snow that was out there. We’d already learned that Ken wasn’t going to be able attend our afternoon session, and in the end we found out that Jack was also out, so it was jump me, Ty, Dylan, and Luke.
Our first stop of the afternoon was the standard Angel Food run, and it was a huge success with Luke. After difficulty in the Bench Woods, he was very impressed with how much better Angle Food was. We continued on next with his selection of the Nosedive Glades from the Cliff Trail side, and then another selection he’d mentioned – Hackett’s Highway. We sampled some great woods in various places off the Fourrunner Quad – the off piste is skiing really well right now and you can essentially jump into any line you want. Back at the Gondola we had a long run through some of the Gondolier trees and the finished off the day back at Spruce with some trees and most of the terrain above Meadows. Even that terrain right down near the base was skiing stupendously.
We had dinner in Stowe on the way home, trying out Charlie B’s Pub and Restaurant. It’s associated with the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, and has a nice cozy atmosphere. While we were there, we also got to watch footage from the Stowe Derby that had taken place today. It’s fun to watch people try to negotiate those curves on the Toll Road on Nordic skis – that takes some serious skill.
As an overall comment on the day, I’ve got to say that the skiing is simply fantastic right now in both a qualitative and quantitative sense. The snow from the current storm was denser than fluff, and even though it hasn’t been a huge storm, it’s contributed quite a resurfacing when combined with the midweek storm. For me, today’s skiing at Stowe had a bit of a Whistler Blackcomb feel to it; the peaks were shrouded in clouds, snow was falling, and the snow underfoot was semi-dense with plenty of meat to it that covered up the subsurface. I’d say the part where the experience differed was that you could head all the way down into the village elevations and you wouldn’t get into that sticky snow that can so often be an issue as you get down toward Whistler Village. While dense, there wasn’t any stickiness from top to bottom – at least down to the 1,500’ elevation. Part of the Whistler Blackcomb issue of course is that they’re covering 5,000’+ of vertical, but today’s snow was like a good slice of 2,000’+ from somewhere up in the higher elevations. In terms of quantity, the stake is at 65”, so right around that average mark, and average for this time of year is pretty sweet. These last two storms have clearly pushed things to another tier of coverage off piste; we were skiing and seeing lines that we’ve yet to this season, and the skiing in many areas has taken on an entirely new dimension. Anyway, now is the time to go if you’ve been waiting to ride the Northern Greens.