We’ve had an impressive run of October snow over the past week in Vermont’s Green Mountains. It started off with the big synoptic storm last weekend that dropped a foot or so of dense snow in the in the higher elevations. After the system passed, we sat in the leftover cyclonic flow centered off toward the Canadian Maritimes for a few days, and that brought additional rounds of accumulating upslope snow. And most recently, we had another large storm that started up yesterday. It hit hard overnight and continued into today, delivering another 6 to 8 inches of hefty snow. For local ski areas that have been keeping track of the accumulations, here’s what I’ve seen reported for totals this past week:
The snow that’s fallen is by no means just fluff – it’s really hefty stuff with a lot of water in it. Thus there hasn’t been a lot of settling, and the snow has really put down quite a base. Indeed, the ski resorts know what a substantial contribution this snow can represent to the start of their base building – Killington opened up for lift-served skiing starting on Tuesday, and even Stowe has started making snow, which they would never do in October if they didn’t think they’d be able to hold onto a good amount of it heading into November.
“…I was really psyched with how the turns felt – they were actually some of the easiest first turns of the season that I can recall in a long time, so I guess my legs are ready.”
I wasn’t able to get out for the last big storm on Sunday, but I had a bit of time this morning and had a chance to head up to Bolton Valley to check out what had transpired in the higher elevations and catch a few turns. The bulk of the snow fell last night while it was dark, so I really only knew what was going on at our place down at 500’ in the Winooski Valley. It was snowing for much of the evening, although it only accumulated to 0.2” due to the marginal temperatures in the 34 to 35 F range. When I checked on the weather this morning, it appeared as though the snow level had crept upward a bit because our precipitation at the house was a mix of mostly rain with just a bit of snow. That had me a little concerned about just how high the snow level had climbed, but so much liquid had fallen by that point (0.79” in our gauge) that there had to be a lot of snow up high.
I assembled my ski gear for a tour, paying special attention to not miss any of those items that one can often forget on that first outing of the season, and headed up to Bolton. On the way up the Bolton Valley Access Road I saw the first signs of what I think was vestigial snow from last night’s lower snow levels at around 1,000’. Snow quickly began to appear more frequently above that point, and it was around 1,400’ when the precipitation changed over to all snow. Up in the Village lots at 2,000’ it was dumping big, fat flakes up to 2” in diameter. It was hard to get a handle on how much snow fell from this most recent event since it was on top of previous rounds of snow, but depending on when the last plowing happened, I was finding 4” new in the 2,000’ elevation lot. The mountain was reporting 6-8”, which didn’t surprise me at all for the higher elevations.
“It was a great ascent, temperatures were right around the freezing mark, there was no wind, and those huge flakes just kept pouring down.”
I headed up the usual Lower Turnpike ascent route, and was happy to find that there was a skin track in place from a couple of earlier skiers. It was a great ascent, temperatures were right around the freezing mark, there was no wind, and those huge flakes just kept pouring down. I only had enough time to make it up to the intersection with the Wilderness Lift Line at ~2,500’, but I’d pressed a quick pace and got a decent workout nonetheless. When I began my descent I was really psyched with how the turns felt – they were actually some of the easiest first turns of the season that I can recall in a long time, so I guess my legs are ready. And, as I noted earlier, this snow is most certainly not fluff – it’s dense with lots of liquid in it. There was no concern about hitting the ground on turns, and there’s actually hardly any brush even showing on the trails. The skiing was great; they certainly weren’t the highest “quality” October turns I’ve had with respect to snow consistency, but the snow certainly wasn’t sopping wet. I was happy to be on my115 mm fats to keep myself from getting bogged down in that dense stuff though. I’d recommend going fairly fat for anyone that is heading up for some turns in this snow. The snow though dense, actually delivered some nice powder turns.
During my tour I checked total snow depth frequently, and I’d say it was something in the range of 8-12” at 2,000’, and a solid 15” at 2,500’. I’m not sure how much more it increased above that point, but 15” at 2,500’ is obviously great for October. All I can say is “wow” with regard to the coverage on those trails though. It’s been an impressive series of storms up high, and I can’t wait until we can get into some more winter storm cycles, which at this point appears like it will be a week or two away in November. Whatever the case, it would be nice to get at least a bit of a break from storms to take care of the lawn and everything else around the house that needs to be prepped for winter.