Category Archives: Stowe

Stowe, VT 11FEB2018

An image of the Meadows Quad Chair from the Spruce Camp Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Looking out from the Spruce Camp Base Lodge toward the Meadows Chair at the start of a great midwinter afternoon of skiing at Stowe

February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.  The quality of the skiing both on and off piste has naturally taken a huge jump, and unlike the great snow we had back around the holidays, this snow didn’t come with subzero arctic temperatures.  Everyone seemed quite excited to get out for our first BJAMS ski program of the season where the mountain was really delivering in quality and quantity of terrain.

We had most of our usual group today, along with Johannes, since he and Stephen were at the mountain to watch some of the Bolton Valley Freeride Team take part in the 2018 Stowe Freeride Challenge.  Ty was also with us, since he wasn’t needed for any other coaching responsibilities today.

“February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.”

I wanted to make the most of the great conditions and get our crew into some fun terrain, so I set my sights on getting them over to Lookout.  Coming over from Spruce Peak, we took the Gondola to Cliff Trail, and I’ve got to say, Cliff Trail had some of the best conditions I’ve seen there in a long time.  You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.  Lookout was closed from the top, so I brought the group around via Hayride and we wound up skiing through much of Tres Amigos Glades.  There are still some icy sections in there on the heavily used lines, but there were a lot of great soft lines present as well if you just ventured out to the sides a bit.  I hadn’t been in Tres Amigos for quite a while, and I’d forgotten how steep and fun it is in there.

As we neared the end of the day we’d whittled down the group to just Wiley, Ty, Dylan, and I, and we finished things off back at Spruce Peak with some runs off the Sensation QuadGreen Acres yielded what was definitely the most consistently great snow of the day, with deep bottomless powder that had us stunned with the fact that it was still untouched after the whole weekend.

“You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.”

Temperatures were great today, running in the range of probably 25 to 32 F, so comfort wasn’t at all an issue there.  What was an issue though was the low clouds that were thick on the upper half of the mountain, making visibility really tough in open areas.  There was also some light mixed precipitation in the afternoon that compounded visibility issues by leaving droplets on people’s googles and causing fogging.  We had to ski with goggles up at times because the visibility was so tough, but fortunately temperatures were warm enough to make that feasible.  The snow surfaces stayed nice at just about all elevations though, since the mixed precipitation we were picking up was fairly light.

Base depths are great right now, with five feet of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, so as long as we can keep refresher storms coming we should be in great shape heading into the rest of February.

Stowe, VT 04FEB2018

An image of Dylan making a Telemark turn at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan out for some Telemark turns and bit of new snow today at our BJAMS ski program

Snow from our incoming winter storm began in the area this morning, and maintained a steady light intensity through our arrival at Stowe a bit before noontime.  After the family had some lunch at the Great Room Grill, everyone gathered up for the afternoon’s sessions.  With the past couple of week’s program sessions having rather stale snow, there was a bit of a buzz in the air with the incoming storm, even if new snow accumulations were still on the minimal side at that point.

An image of snow falling in the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A view of the snowfall today in the Spruce Peak Village

Molly was continuing with her snowboarding, so Ty snowboarded as well, while Dylan and I went with Telemark skis.  E feels that Molly is progressing really well with her turns, and just needs time on snow, so that’s exactly what we gave her.  We did several runs off the Meadows Chair, which provided Molly with great terrain for her boarding, and it was an excellent area for Dylan’s Telemark practice as well.  I drilled him using a technique that he actually invented, which involves skiing all turns in both directions in the same Telemark stance.  In this case I made him work on his weaker stance, which is left foot in the back.

An image of the Meadows Chairlift and some of the trails on Mt. Mansfield in the background at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the view of the Meadows Chair and some Mansfield trails in the background

We had a good hot chocolate break back in the Great Room Grill before finishing off with a couple of bigger runs off of Sunny Spruce.  The snow continued to fall lightly, but ended up adding a couple inches to freshen up surfaces before we left.  We only took the occasional quick jaunt into the off piste, but it skied quite nicely with about 6 inches of powder, even down near the base elevations.  The snow’s been chugging right along this evening at a slightly invigorated pace, so tomorrow should be another excellent day for turns.

Stowe, VT 28JAN2018

An image of the Spruce Peak base area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The Spruce Peak base area was popular today with some great midwinter weather.

Today, E set up a special Sunday morning session of snowboarding instruction for Molly based on the progress she’d made last week.  It was one of those situations where Molly was progressing quickly and wasn’t quite going to have a group that would be a perfect fit for her abilities.  Dylan was under the weather, but E giving the early session mean that she, Ty, and I headed off early today to Stowe.

An image of a breakfast burrito from the Great Room Grill at Stowe Mountain Resort in VermontIt was sort of strange starting things off in the morning on a ski program Sunday, but while E went off to her session with Molly, Ty and I made good use of our early visit to the mountain by checking out some of the breakfast offerings at the Great Room Grill.  Ty got their huge breakfast sandwich, and I got their hearty breakfast burrito, which was so filling that I could have easily skipped lunch and been fine all afternoon.  We of course headed out for some turns as well, and were lucky enough to run into Jack, so we spent the morning doing some runs with him.  He’s on the Rice Memorial High School ski team now, so we go to catch up on lots of his season’s adventures thus far.

“The terrain off Sunny Spruce was soft top-to–bottom.”

In terms of conditions, as expected, they were much like what we’d experienced last Sunday, and similar to what I’d found at Bolton Valley yesterday.  Temperatures were well up into the 30s in the lower elevations, so surfaces ranged from spring-like softened snow on sunny aspects, to full on winter snow on the more northerly aspects.  The terrain off Sunny Spruce was soft top-to–bottom, and we had a lot of fun on the skier’s left of Gondolier, where the sun had worked the snow into a beautifully soft consistency.

An image of some lights in the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Spruce Peak Village

After lunch, which were able to keep on the small side thanks to that breakfast, we met up with our group and hit essentially the same terrain that we’d found to be optimal on the morning.  Colder air did start moving in as the afternoon wore on, so the snow began to firm up a bit, but the places that had really softened stayed excellent right through the end of the day.  There is off piste skiing to be had, as we saw in images from Scott Braaten yesterday, but we still need a storm to get it where it should be, so we’re waiting on that to happen.  There’s clearly some terrain that still has issues with respect to conditions, because the mountain doesn’t have 100% of its trails open.  Chin Clip was an example we saw today – for some reason it’s not open, because it was clearly roped off.  It sounds like we’ll finally start to break out of the recent lull in snowfall this week, so we’ll see if we can get any snow down to give the surface conditions a boost.

Stowe, VT 21JAN2018

An image of Dylan, Jay, and Ty on the Sunny Spruce Quad at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
The boys out at Stowe today for our first BJAMS ski day of the season

Our first BJAMS ski program day of the season at Stowe was scheduled for two Sundays ago, but we canceled it due to dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills.  That wasn’t an issue today though – with base elevation temperatures in the 30s F, it was quite comfortable out there.  On piste coverage and conditions were actually quite decent, whether it was the softened snow on the lower slopes of Spruce Peak, or the midwinter snow higher up on Mansfield.  Although natural base depths are fine, and there are definitely people skiing off piste, the snow is sort of thick and punchy out there, so the groomed runs are just a much friendlier place to be.

“Although natural base depths are fine, and there are definitely people skiing off piste, the snow is sort of thick and punchy out there, so the groomed runs are just a much friendlier place to be.”

An image of Dylans ski helmet with the Backcountry.com goat and the Turtle Fur turtleWe arrived at Spruce Peak early enough that I was able to take a couple of runs with Ty and Dylan off the Sunny Spruce Quad.  We found nicely softened snow with those temperatures in the 30s F, and it was really only those usual high-traffic areas out of the sun that we found to be slick.  We had a mixed group of snowboarders (Cole and Robbie) and skiers (Dylan and Wiley, with Norris also tagging along) today, but since we were on piste for the most part there weren’t any traversing issues for the snowboarders.  We did a couple of runs off Sunny Spruce, carving up the soft snow, and then headed over to Mansfield for some longer runs.  Being fairly old snow, and a Sunday afternoon, the best turns were definitely the sides of the trails where ample traffic had built up substantial loose, soft snow.  We did a few runs on Gondolier and Nosedive, and you could just go and go and go and rarely have to leave those edges with good snow if you didn’t want to.  I think one would have to grade the overall conditions as subpar because of the quality of the off piste snow, but on piste conditions are fairly typical for when we haven’t seen a substantial snowstorm in a while.  We had a nice break at the Octagon toward the end of the afternoon before heading back to Spruce Peak to catch up with everyone else.

A fundue sign at the Skinny Pancake at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont

For Ty’s first day as a chaperone/coach in the program today, he was helping E with some first-timers over on the lower parts of the Meadows area.  When I stopped in to check on them at the end of the day, he was just heading up the Inspiration Chair with a boy who had graduated from the Magic Carpet.  It was actually a great day to be out there with the first-timers, because he wasn’t really missing out on anything special on the steep or off piste terrain.  I think it will be a couple of weeks before we get back into some really good storms, so hopefully he’ll be able to put in some more time at our next session helping out the beginners again.

Stowe, VT 09DEC2017

An image of the Spruce Camp Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Spruce Camp Base Lodge today with the sun disappearing as clouds approach from Winter Storm Benji.

Today was our annual training day for the local ski programs at Stowe, and since Ty has now graduated from BJAMS and is out of the age range for being a student in the program, he’s actually going volunteer as a chaperone.  So, Ty joined E and I for the training today, which added a nice new dimension to the annual session.

“ There was one section where Ty and I decided that our midfats were definitely the tools for the job vs. our groomer skis…”

We certainly had a decent November with respect to snow in the Northern Greens, and while the snowfall slowed down a bit for the first week of December, a big change in the overall weather pattern this past week brought a large trough to the eastern U.S. and the snowfall is ramping back up.  Lake-effect snows from Lake Ontario drifted into the northern parts of Vermont in the midweek timeframe, bringing several inches of fresh snow to the resorts.  The recent snows were very obvious today at the resort, with 6 to 8 inches or more of powder available off piste at elevation, and several inches visible even near the base elevations.  The base depths aren’t quite there to do too much exploring the off piste yet, but it was easy to get into plenty of powder simply by sampling the edges of many trails.

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow in the Meadows area of Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Tracks in powder showing some of the recent snow picked up by the local ski resorts

Those samplings aside, our main focus today was definitely on piste with our instructor Steve that we’ve had a few of these sessions now.  E, Ty, and I had the rare treat of checking out some fresh corduroy as we kicked off the day at Spruce Peak, and the recent snows have been mixed into the snowpack quite nicely to produce some pretty decent groomed surfaces.  We did a lot of fairly “free” skiing with Steve as he focused heavily on safety, and the minimal crowds at Spruce Peak kept the snow in really good shape.  Some terrain off the Gondola is available, so we skied Perry Merrill as a group.  Unfortunately, with only part of Gondolier open, the skier density on Perry Merrill was really too high to keep the snow in good shape.  The good part about the number of skiers on Perry Merrill was that they had already pushed a good amount of snow to the edges of the trail, which combined with the available powder, made for some really soft skiing.  There was one section where Ty and I decided that our midfats were definitely the tools for the job vs. our groomer skis, but overall, the skinnier carving skis were the right call for today’s outing.

That one run on Perry Merrill was enough to show us how good we’d had it over at Spruce Peak, so we headed back there for the rest of our session.  The main training drill that we practiced with Steve was a double pole plant drill that will aid students in getting their weight forward.  Lunch at the Great Room Grill was great as always.  The Taqueria was open, so Ty and I each got a burrito – they had three kinds of meat and we massive.  Two people could easily split a single order if they wanted.

Early morning sun today was pretty quickly obscured by Winter Storm Benji, which was approaching the area from the south.  The more notable accumulations have certainly been off to the south and east of our area, although we have picked up almost an inch of snow from the storm at our house.  The forecast suggests that we’ve got more snow coming this week, and with wintry temperatures in place, the ski conditions should make a nice increase in quality with surfaces softening even more.

Stowe, VT 13MAY2017

An image of skiers skinning up the Nosedive trail in May at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A number of skiers were out enjoying the snow on Nosedive today.

The best weather in this weekend’s forecast appeared to be this morning, so I took advantage of the window and headed off to Mt. Mansfield for some skiing.  The temperatures been fairly cool this week, so the snow cover on Nosedive hasn’t actually changed a lot relative to what can happen during some warm weeks.  Coverage is still essentially continuous, but there’s a point in the middle that will create a gap soon.  The snow was a bit softer this time compared to my last outing on Sunday, so that made for some really smooth turns.  There are some areas with moguls, and plenty with smooth, skier-groomed snow to give you quite a variety of terrain.  While I had actually hoped to ski Cliff Trail as a change of pace, it’s disconnected from Nosedive now so I stuck with the continuous coverage of Nosedive.

An image of spring foliage making its way up the mountainsides in May near Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Spring making its way up the mountainsides near Mt. Mansfield

It looks like we’ve got some warmer weather coming this week, so we’ll have to see where the snowpack at Stowe will stand by next weekend.

Stowe, VT 07MAY2017

An image of the Nosedive trail in May at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
There’s still plenty of snow on Nosedive as of today.

I was hoping to head out for a ski tour when the weather cleared up yesterday afternoon, but it happened just a bit too late to fit any skiing in among the rest of the things I had to do in the evening.  Today however, we got a more substantial break in the weather around late morning, so I decided to take advantage of that window and head off to Stowe.

An image of green grass and early spring foliage in the mountains of Northern Vermont around Stowe
Spring is slowly making its way into the mountain valleys throughout Northern Vermont

The forecast called for scattered rain showers today, but we know how Mother Nature works when it comes to Mt. Mansfield, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to find her scattering a lot more of the showers in that direction.  Indeed as I drove the final 10 minutes to the mountain, the rain steadily picked up from sprinkles to a steady light to moderate rain by the time I was at the Mansfield Base preparing my gear.

I ascended via the North Slope route, figuring there’s less time left to explore that area vs. the long-lasting Nosedive option.  I found the snow sun cupped in a lot of spots, but coverage was almost completely continuous until I got up into the areas where Toll Road crossed my route.  Unfortunately, they’re plowed the road for vehicles, so that put some substantial gaps in the coverage.  I had hoped to descend via something similar to my descent route, but eventually resolved to head to Nosedive because the plowing had just cut things up too much.

“The overall ascent was quite enjoyable with the variety of weather dancing around Mansfield and the surrounding peaks; there was blue sky, an occasional sprinkle or rain shower, breezes, low clouds skimming the summits, and everything in between.”

The overall ascent was quite enjoyable with the variety of weather dancing around Mansfield and the surrounding peaks; there was blue sky, an occasional sprinkle or rain shower, breezes, low clouds skimming the summits, and everything in between.  It was one of those days where you really wanted to have your gear for the various conditions, and I made use of just about everything I’d brought.  One minute the hood of my shell was up, the next I needed a light hat, then suddenly it was time for my sunglasses.

A view of the Green Mountain in spring from Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Some of today’s weather views

The snow was decent, although I actually would have like it a bit softer.  It only gets so soft without consistent the warmth of the sun though.  I did notice it softened up a bit more on the lower half of the mountain, simply due to the slightly warmer temperatures.  Nosedive does provide some of the best snow on the mountain in terms of skiing though – there have been enough people skiing it that it has a level of “human grooming” to keep the sun cups at bay.

Stowe, VT 15APR2017

An image of Jay skiing moguls on the Centerline trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Spring and bump skiing were in full force today on Mt. Mansfield.

The forecast for this morning was sunny, and mountain highs were predicted to be in the 40s and 50s F, so the whole family headed off to Stowe for a few runs before lunch.  Lift operations at thre resort are down to just the Fourrunner Quad and the Mountain Triple Chair, but with roughly 90 inches of snow still at the stake, base depths are in good shape and almost all the terrain on Mansfield is available.

We’ve certainly had some good cycling of the snow over the past few days with night freezes and daytime thaws, so the surfaces were generally corn, but there were still some sticky surfaces out there in some spots.  We got some steep turns on Nosedive, hit the bumps of Centerline, and even jumped into some of the terrain parks.  We got to watch one crew of what must have been a couple dozen guys running the parks together and performing lots of tricks.

An image of Dylan on the snow doing some ski photography at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan firing away behind the Canon 30D.

As usual for this time of year, folks were out in force with their spring tail-gaiting setups in the Mansfield Parking Lot, and the smells of various food being barbequed was definitely enticing when we headed back to the car.  For our lunch we headed to Doc Ponds on the way home to use a gift certificate we had, and the food was great.  Most of their offerings are done with some sort of unique flair.  I really enjoyed my falafel, which was incredibly filling and I’d recommend it if you’re a falafel fan.

Stowe, VT 02APR2017

An image of Ty skiing some powder in terrain above the Nosedive trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
High elevations were still holding onto some dry powder at Stowe today, but lower elevations were affected by warming temperatures.

Today was our final BJAMS ski program session of the season, and it took place right on the heels of Winter Storm Theseus, which dropped anywhere from 10 to 18 inches of snow up and down the spine of the Green Mountains.  The powder was in pretty nice shape when Dylan and I visited Bolton Valley yesterday, but temperatures were expected to warm up today, and that had us worried about the state of the snow – without some freeze-thaw cycles to turn it to corn, it could just become mushy or sticky.

Initial reports from Spruce Peak as we began our ski program in the afternoon suggested that indeed the snow was getting quite sticky in the sun, so we took our group over to Mt. Mansfield to get to higher elevations and find north-facing terrain that would see the best protection from the warming temperatures.  From our experience on trails like Nosedive and even Cliff Trail, we found that snow quality was quite nice on roughly the top half of the mountain, but the bottom half was certainly sticky enough to be a nuisance.  It was one of those days where you wish Stowe had some upper mountain lifts.

With the sticky snow, the group was happy to take an extended break for some s’mores and a visit to the Great Room Grill before we went out for a few more runs on Spruce Peak to close out the day.  A highlight of those last runs was hitting the ruts of the race course on Competition Hill.  They had been well traveled, so the snow was plenty fast and lots of fun.  Ty and I raced for the gold on our final run, and I won, but it was because he let me choose the track and I opted for the faster one on the left.  While that’s it for official ski program days this season, there’s still lots of snow left in the mountains, so we’ll see what the rest of April brings us for skiing.

Stowe Sidecountry & Bruce Trail, VT 26MAR2017

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Today’s BJAMS ski program featured a great run on the Bruce Trail.

It’s March, the season for deep snowpack and long days in Northern Vermont.  That also means that it’s prime time to make use of that ample snowpack and enjoy some of our legendary sidecountry and backcountry ski routes.  For last week’s BJAMS ski session we focused on The Chin and put together a nice tour featuring Profanity Chute and the Hell Brook Trail.  Today it was time to switch action to The Nose for a combination of Old Nosedive and the Bruce Trail.  We’ve had a great run of storms and wintry weather during this second half of March, and it’s definitely time to make hay.

An image of Joe and Gianni out on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in VermontA number of students were unable to attend ski program today, so there were some small groups, and any of them that were interested in a trip down the Bruce joined up with us.  From the top of the Fourrunner Quad, those that wanted to ascend joined me for a trip up Old Nosedive, which I find is a nice way to get in a bit of hiking and extra turns before diving into the Bruce.  The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour.  It was quite wintry up top, but even in the lowest elevations the snow was dense enough to hold up well for fresh turns, just like Dylan and I had experienced yesterday at Bolton Valley.  There was still ample untracked powder available off the sides of the Bruce, and as usual once we were down into the open hardwood areas there were lots of great lines to explore in the trees.

“The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour.”

This morning, Dylan said that we should go with Telemark skis for today’s session if our focus was going to be the Bruce Trail, and while I’d planned to go alpine, I agreed and ended up going Tele.  It was totally the right choice, especially since the coverage and snow conditions were so optimal.  I was happy because I felt really dialed in and my transitions felt incredibly quick, and Dylan was also really psyched because he skied so well today.  He says that he always wants to run the Bruce on Telemark gear now.  Of course he got to experience it on a great day.  I’d put today in the top 25% of conditions for the Bruce – there was so much soft snow and powder around, and even those most difficult to cover, south-facing shots were virtually blemish free.

A map showing the GPS track overlayed onto Google Earth from a ski tour on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of today’s tour down the Bruce trail overlayed onto Google Earth

We capped off the run with a trip to the Notchbrook General Store for snacks, and a ride on the Mountain Road Shuttle back to the Spruce Peak Village.  Greg said that the last time he skied the Bruce Trail was about 35 years ago, so it was really neat that he got the chance to do it again after such a long hiatus.  We had time for a few more runs on Spruce once we got back, and found that the quality of the snow was still really nice.  This was just the way a March ski day should be!