This morning I awoke to the first accumulation of snow from our current nor’easter. My early estimation was that there were 3 to 4 inches of snow on the snowboard, and that was pretty close, with 3.8 inches measured for my 6:00 A.M. CoCoRaHS observations. Once reports from the Vermont ski areas started coming in, the trend was ~6 inches in the northern resorts, and 8 to 9 inches at the southern resorts. E and the boys eventually got the word that school was cancelled for the day, which meant it was time to decide where to ski. E was initially leaning toward Bolton for the shorter drive in the snow, but we found out that Claire, Luke, Jack, and Madeleine were going to be at Stowe, and that shifted the balance.
After the initial overnight snowfall, precipitation slowed down for the first half of the morning, and then resumed with greater intensity around mid morning. It was starting to coat the roads again as we made our way to Stowe, but the driving conditions were still decent. Based on the day’s ski plans, we parked over by the Mansfield Base Lodge for the first time this season. The scene had that retro flair, complete with a train of classic, bluesy rock playing on the audio system.
Stowe had indicated about 5 inches of new snow in their morning report, so I decided that we’d focus on some moderate angle terrain for a bit and see where that led us. We’d had such success with areas like the Chapel Glades and various surrounding trees, that it seemed like a good place to start. From the summit of the Fourrunner Quad we made our way down some of my favorite mellow routes in the Toll Road and some of the Upper Sunrise Glades. We explored a new route and found that there has been a LOT of off season work done in those areas. We followed that up with a trip through the Chapel Glades, where E was having a lot of fun on here Teles. E’s favorite part of the run was probably when we dropped into Lower Tyro and found very few tracks, just vast areas of fresh powder at a nice pitch for powder skiing. As an added bonus, the sky was just unloading snow on us at that point with some of the heaviest snowfall of the day. We followed that up with a run from the Mountain Triple, where we traversed even farther before dropping into the Chapel Glades and found that there had been a lot less traffic.
Dylan was ready for lunch at the bottom of the next run, so we hit the Mansfield Base Lodge, and we were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of food that they had available. Once you get used to the plethora of great options at the Great Room Grill, other dining spots might seem limited, but there was a good selection at the ‘ol Mansfield Base Lodge. I got the soup of the day, which was corn chowder, in a bread bowl, and E and I were able to share it. Claire called while we were eating, and by the time we were finishing up, she and her crew had arrived.
We decided to show everyone what we’d been skiing in the morning, and varied it by pushing even farther into the Upper Sunrise Glades toward a line we’d seen from below. It was quite steep at the top, which got some of the boys like Ty excited, but meant a bit slower going for Madeleine. In subsequent runs we hit some of the Hayride Woods that we’d wanted to try and finished off the day visiting Duck Walk and the half pipe. We actually had to start picking up the pitch of untracked terrain as the day wore on, because the powder was getting deep enough that the gentler terrain wasn’t quite cutting it. It’s a good sign that the subsurface is getting covered. It’s been quite fun exploring the far southern side of the resort after so many days earlier this season in the northern areas.
Overall it was a sensational powder day, since temperatures were comfortable and there was little if any wind away from the highest elevations. There were numerous times today where we enjoyed the silence that comes from heavy snow in the air. It looks like this snowfall could continue for quite a good period this week, and Stowe actually had a sign at the bottom of the Fourrunner Quad indicating not just a “powder day”, but a “powder week”. That’s a good way to run a week. The Mt. Mansfield Stake hit 70 inches today, which is the highest it’s been this season. It’s still a little bit below average, but the mountain is skiing really well and should be in really great shape if the snow keeps up this week.