Stowe, VT 27OCT2013

An image of Erica skiing in powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont after some October snow
Back out for more October powder today

Dylan and E didn’t get to head out to the slopes yesterday, but after what Ty and I experienced, it seemed like it was worth heading back to Stowe for more.  We were hoping that the quality of the snow would hold up, but rising temperatures were a concern – by late morning at our house, lengthy periods of sunshine had already pushed the temperature into the upper 40s F.  If Stowe was encountering similar conditions, the freezing line, and the availability of reasonably dry snow, was going to rise way up in elevation.

“…E was really putting  
out some great turns on  
her Teles. I was wishing
I could make Telemark
turns like hers today!”

Fortunately, Old Man Winter was still playing around just to the north.  The sun that we were encountering in Waterbury quickly faded behind clouds and increasing precipitation as we headed north through Waterbury Center, and by the time we were passing through Moscow, the temperature had dropped to 40 F and we were under moderate rainfall.  Warmer temperatures overnight had definitely melted out some of the lower elevation snows; whereas yesterday we found the first signs of snow around 900’, today they were up around 1,300’ near the Toll House slopes.  Snow had melted back a bit at the Midway Lot as well, and we had to walk a couple hundred feet up toward Perry Merrill before we could put on our skins.  Temperatures were still quite cool there at 1,600’, in fact, at 37 F it was a degree cooler than what Ty and I had encountered when we’d arrived yesterday.  The precipitation had also changed over to light snow.

In order to let both boys go with their alpine skis as Ty had done yesterday, we gave them the Alpine Trekkers, and E and I used Telemark skis.  We followed the same ascent route along Perry Merrill and Gondolier that Ty and I took yesterday.  Once we got up around 2,500’, there was an excellent skin track along the climbers left of Gondolier, and it helped us make some good time.  Dylan seemed to enjoy his ascent, getting his first chance to try out the Trekkers, and his first chance to try out his new Measurement Ski Pole.  He was keeping up a great pace, and even as I was following along behind Ty at what seemed like a decent ascent speed, I was often surprised to look back and see Dylan right there nipping at my heels.

Although snow had definitely melted back somewhat in the lowest elevations, once we got up to around 2,000’, the snow depths actually seemed like they’d gained about an inch over what we’d found yesterday.  We decided to stop our ascent at ~3,200’ on Perry Merrill based on what we saw for conditions above that and Dylan’s energy level, but we were well up into the dry snow by that point.  Here are the typical snow depths that we found in the ascent, this time with three of us teaming up to contribute to the numbers:

1,600’: 0-2”
2,000’: 4-7”
2,500’: 7-9”
3,000’: 9-11”
3,200’: 11”+

As we took a break high on the mountain and got ready for the descent, we experienced notably different weather conditions than what Ty and I had dealt with yesterday.  Gone was the pounding snowfall, we just had some clouds, and there were plenty of pockets of sunshine around.  It was still below freezing up at that level however, so everyone made sure to quickly put on their extra layers before they chilled down after the hike.  E got a call from Claire, who’d suspected that it was our car she’d seen at the base, and a conditions report was passed along.

An image of Ty skiing powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe in October
Back in the powder again

Once again, Perry Merrill looked good for the descent, so we took the route that Ty and I had used yesterday, especially since we had some good knowledge of the conditions.  Ty really liked the conditions high up on the hill, while I think things were a step down from yesterday.  The snow sort of transitioned from somewhat wind-affect, upside-down powder, to thicker, spring-like snow.  I think that one less day of settling/weather affects, and the fresh snow that was falling, really helped to enhance things yesterday.  We definitely got some good turns though, and there were plenty of fresh lines left to ski.  I definitely had a more challenging descent that yesterday, switching from fat alpine skis to skinny Telemark skis, but E was really putting out some great turns on her Teles.  I was wishing I could make Telemark turns like hers today!  In later discussion, she was thinking that it might be all the extra support she’s getting from her new boots, and if that’s the case, they are definitely doing their job.

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont after an October snowstorm
The powder seemed a bit more settled and dense today, but Mansfield was still offering up great turns.

An image of Ty finishing an October ski descent  on Mt. Mansfield in Vermont by hiking to the bottomWe decided to stop our ski descent at the 2,000’ mark, because the snow was just getting a little too thin for E and the boys to be continuing on their non-rock skis.  It was a quick walk down back to the car into what was becoming a beautiful afternoon, and it was nothing like the maelstrom of wet snow that Ty and I had to deal with yesterday.  Everyone felt like they’d gotten in a good workout, so a trip to The Whip was in order to finish off the evening.  This October weekend has really marked a great start to the ski season, and we’re hoping there are more like it to come.

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