Stowe, VT 16APR2014

An image of Erica skiing the Duck Walk trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Some late season powder today at Stowe

It’s continued to be a fairly slow April for snowfall, even in the mountains, and through the first half of the month there haven’t been any major spring snowstorms.  The mountains received a few inches in the middle of last week, but at that point the models also started to suggest something a bit more substantial for the middle of this week.  Folks kept an eye on it in the New England Regional Forum at American Weather, and the signal continued to be there – it was a slow moving cold front, with a sharp drop in temperatures and snow falling after the frontal passage.  It still wasn’t guaranteed to be a huge dump of snow, but it did look like it had the chance to produce moderate accumulations in the half foot range, as of the early part of this week.

“I’d say there was
generally 5-6” of
snow up high, and it
was enough for some
great turns where it
had been left alone…”

Rain changed over to snow here at the house yesterday evening, as temperatures fell toward the freezing mark, and we’d accumulated over 4 inches of new snow as of this morning.  It was falling at over an inch per hour at times, and it made one wonder what was going in the mountains.  It was a cold, wintry snow, coming in at 10% H2O through midnight, and falling to 6.4% H2O by this morning with temperatures around 20 F.  I was surprised to see that Stowe wasn’t reporting too much more than we picked up here in their morning snow report, but since E and the boys are off from school this week, it seemed like it was worth heading up to the mountain for at least a few runs.

The roads weren’t too bad in terms of driving, although Route 100 seemed to get the most attention and the driving was very smooth with minimal snow.  Areas like Waterbury Center and the town of Stowe seemed to have received a bit less than we did right along the spine, but by the time we got up to Stowe’s base elevations, the snow seemed to be in the 3-4” range similar to what we’d received at the house.  The morning report from the mountain had indicated single digits F for temperatures on the upper mountain, with teens below.  It was expected to warm up, but it definitely felt like mid winter as we arrived at the Mansfield Base Lodge, grabbed our gear, and headed inside.  It was an absolute switch from the warm spring temperatures we’d experienced on Sunday, and it meant making sure that we’re returned out passes to our cold weather gear after switching some of them over to lighter clothing.  Everyone also had to re-expand their chin straps for their helmets to accommodate balaclavas after they weren’t needed over the weekend.  The lodge was very quiet, with just a few people around, much like you’d expect it to be on a midweek day during the middle of April.

Riding the Fourrunner Quad was cold and windy, and we were definitely happy with our decision to dress for those midwinter temperatures, even if it was expected to warm up later.  With the moderate accumulations of new snow reported atop what was a refrozen base, we immediately headed over toward the Mountain Triple via some of the gentler slopes to assess the conditions.  I’d say there was generally 5-6” of snow up high, and it was enough for some great turns where it had been left alone, but many of the trails had been groomed, and unfortunately this just seemed to pack the new snow down into the hard spring base.  In some areas the grooming came together with the right accumulations of snow to make areas of nice carving, but the untracked snow was far superior, and that’s what we ended up seeking out.  It was those trails that hadn’t been groomed that would up being the biggest hits, and Lower Tyro delivered for us as usual.  E and the boys did some synchronous skiing for the camera in the powder, with nice results.  Turns certainly weren’t bottomless all the time, but you could definitely get plenty of floaty turns by paying attention to where the wind had made those deeper deposits of snow.

An image of Dylan skiing powder snow on the Duck Walk trail in April at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan tosses up some of today’s powder.

We rode the Mountain Triple, and caught some turns on Duck Walk, since we’d seen that it hadn’t been groomed.  After that, there was no doubt that we wanted to seek out terrain that hadn’t seen a groomer; the turns were just so good.  With that in mind, we headed back up the Fourrunner Quad and headed for the Nosedive Glades.  We didn’t think Nosedive Bypass was going to be very good with it steeper pitches, but we did catch the very bottom of Bypass and tested out the snow on some of that steeper terrain.  It was fun to try to connect the areas of deepest snow, and I got into some shots of over a foot.  The Nosedive Glades themselves were a lot of fun – the snow wasn’t bottomless on all turns, but there was plenty of floating.  And, with so few people out on the slopes today, there were a lot of fresh lines to be had.  Right in line with my ski testing from Sunday, I was wishing I had some wider alpine skis after watching the boys scoot around through the powder and get more float out of their equipment.  Nosedive had been groomed, but there were areas in the middle elevations that weren’t scoured and offered up some nice packed powder carving.  We finished the run on the lower part of Lookout, which had not been groomed and offered a lot of powder turns.

It was still on and off snow as we headed home in the late morning period, although areas in the lower valleys that had seen sun had already melted back with respect to the new snow.  It’s been so cold today that I suspect many areas in the mountains will be holding powder tomorrow morning as well.

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