Tag Archives: Image

Mt. Washington, NH 16MAY2017

An imae of Rob skiing Hillman's Highway on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire
Hillman’s Highway was the choice today for our trip to Mt. Washington

As the spring semester winds down, many of our graduating biochemistry majors here at UVM have been getting out to enjoy the remaining snow in the mountains of both New Hampshire and Vermont.  I’ve been hearing some fun reports, so when Rob invited me to join one of their Mt Washington adventures, I was definitely interested.  His plan was for the Tuesday of senior week, weather permitting of course.  My schedule looked good, so I was hopeful for the chance to commune with some of the seniors in the great outdoors before they’d begin departing after graduation.

“We could see that there had been some sloughing there due to the new snow, but the lower areas we could see looked quite settled and stable, and there had already been plenty of skier traffic in the gully.”

Mother Nature threw some rather interesting weather into the mix ahead of the planned trip, with Mt Washington picking up almost 3 feet of new snow at summit elevations over the past couple of days, and over a foot down at Hermit Lake.  That was a lot of new snow, and the avalanche report suggest that northerly winds would be loading the more southerly-facing gullies and cross-loading the east-facing ones.  Temperatures were expected to rise significantly today, which we knew would result in plenty of settling depending on elevation.  There seemed to be enough potential to find at least some level of safe skiing, so we decided that we’d check with the staff on scene in the Hermit Lake area, and the trip was on.

An image of water pouring from a gutter at the Hermit Lake Caretaker's Cabin near Mt. Washington in New Hampshire
Meltwater pours from a gutter at the Hermit Lake Caretaker’s Cabin as rising temperatures melt off the recent snow.

Only Rob and Emily ended up being able to make the trip, but I met them at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center, and after getting our gear together, we were on our way.  I’ve hiked up to the Tuckerman Ravine area many times, but with the new snow I decided to try a gear setup that I’ve never used before.  Instead of brining two pairs of boots (hiking boots and ski boots), I wanted to just wear my mid-weight Telemark boots for everything, hiking and skiing.  It turns out that the setup worked great; my Garmont Gara boots have got rubber Vibram soles so they were plenty comfortable and pliable on the ascent through a lot of dry, rocky terrain.  Ascending from Pinkham Notch at ~2,000’, we saw our first signs of snow at 2,650’, and at around 3,400’ the snow cover was continuous enough that I was able to start skinning there and made it right up to Hermit Lake.  The new foot or so of snow had certainly helped with the potential for skinning – coverage would have been somewhat less continuous on that last part of the ascent without it.

We assessed the snow/ski terrain situation from there, and while most of Hillman’s was visible with clouds just skimming the upper reaches, Tuckerman Ravine was generally socked in.  After consulting with the staff at Hermit Lake, and using what we could see, we decided that Hillman’s Highway was the way to go.  Most skiers we encountered seemed to be making the same decision.  We could see that there had been some sloughing there due to the new snow, but the lower areas we could see looked quite settled and stable, and there had already been plenty of skier traffic in the gully.

An image of Hillman's Highway on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire viewed from the Hermit Lake area
Hillman’s Highway from the Hermit Lake area

Emily and I skinned up the first part of gully, but around halfway it was just getting too steep and we had to switch to hiking.  Thankfully there was a nice boot ladder already in place on climber’s right.  I stopped around mid-gully where I figured I’d still get plenty of descent, and set myself in a good position with my camera.  Emily and Rob headed up to where the gully splits into a Y, and went a little farther up the climber’s right option before settling down in a sheltered area of rocks.  Above that point the snow hadn’t been skied and was a little questionable, and in that regard they were on the same page as other folks skiing in the area.

An image of Emily paused during a ski run on Hillman's Higway on Mt. Washington in New HampshireThe best skiing was in areas where there had been some skier traffic that got down to the older corn snow surface, and the toughest turns were in the mush that had settled down near the bottom of the gully.  The Sherburne Ski Trail had actually opened back up a bit with the new snow, and we were able to ski about a third of it before we had to cut back to the hiking trail.  After that the descent was quick, and we were back at the cars saying our goodbyes.

An image of the summit snowfields of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire
A view of the summit snowfields of Mt. Washington from Hillman’s Highway after almost 3 feet of snow in the past few days

The new snow is going to get even better with a couple of freeze-thaw cycles, and it’s certainly bolstered the snowpack somewhat in the higher elevations.  Although they were in and out of the clouds, the summit snowfields looked really nice, so there should eventually be some excellent skiing up there with easy access as soon as the road opens back up.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 29APR2017

An image of the Spillway trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Northern Vermont at the end of April
Spillway at Bolton Valley still has a decent amount of snow for getting in some late-season turns.

I was in Montreal yesterday, generally doing more eating that exercising, so I definitely wanted to fit a ski tour into the day today if possible.  The weather was good much of the day, with some sun, but plenty of clouds to keep it cool as well, and I made my way up to the mountain in the midafternoon timeframe.

My initial views from the Bolton Valley Village area didn’t reveal much snow, but one I got moving up the mountainside I could see that there were some good areas of snow around.  The Butterscotch Terrain Park has probably the most snow on the lower mountain, but I found Bear Run actually has some decent areas with snow as well.  The biggest surprise on the upper mountain was actually Spillway, which had initially looked like it only had a strip of snow left along the skier’s right.  Once I got above mid mountain I could see that there was substantial coverage on a lot of the trail.

I hiked up Spillway to where the continuous snow ran out, which was just a bit below the 3,000’ mark, and started my descent from there.  Spillway held some of the best areas of corn I found today.  There were some sun-cupped areas and a few spots where the snow remained coalesced like ice, but in general the turns were nice in the corn snow.  I was actually able to continue all the way down to mid-mountain on snow, and then even a bit farther on Beech Seal before I had to throw the skis back on my pack and hike down.

Based on my initial sights, I was thinking this was likely the last weekend for reasonably plentiful skiing at Bolton Valley, but based on what I saw, I think there might be some snow around next weekend depending on how the temperatures run this week.

Whiteface, NY 23APR2017

An image of Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid New York
Majestic Whiteface in the Adirondacks

Prior to today, it had been over 20 years since I’d last skied Whiteface.  It was January 30th, 1994 when Dave and I headed across the lake for a day, and I’ve still got my pictures from that trip (film, not digital of course) but I believe the text of my report was in some of the SkiVT-L archives that were lost.  As of a few days ago, I never would have thought I’d end up skiing Whiteface today, but E proposed a trip to Lake Placid for the weekend, and although I couldn’t interest anyone else in the family in skiing, I brought my skis along with the hope that I could fit in some turns.

An image of some appetizers at Smoke Signals restaurant in Lake Placid, New YorkWe stayed at the Courtyard Lake Placid, which has a really neat pool/hot tub complex that appealed to the boys, but our visit to Smoke Signals for dinner was definitely a highlight in town.  I selected it because of all the rave reviews online and, their amazing barbeque did not disappoint.  Everything we had was outstanding, but as the reviews often indicated, their brisket is especially amazing.

This morning I headed out early to Whiteface while the boys were still asleep, and as I arrived at the base of majestic Whiteface in the early morning light, I was definitely reminded of my last visit.  It’s surprising how long it took me to get back to such a famous Olympic mountain with huge vertical that’s really just across Lake Champlain.  Granted, we were away from the Northeast for several years during that period, but a much bigger factor was simply that we live at the foot of the Northern Green Mountains, and from a strictly skiing perspective there’s just not enough incentive for use to head over to the Adirondacks.  Relative to the snow we get in the Northern Greens, it just seems that Whiteface suffers in both quantity of snowfall and quality of the ski surfaces.  I have to say, my perception was only reinforced further today when I approached the mountain and my main thought was, “Where’s all the snow?”

An image of the slopes of Whiteface Mountain in New York in late April
Based on what I saw at Whiteface today, the mountain was definitely having a hard time holding onto snow even after what was reportedly a record season for snowfall.

The resort has only been closed for a week, but it was extremely slim pickings with respect to skiable snow on the lower slopes of the mountain.  Even up high, while I could see that there were some better lines of manmade snow on the trails, it looked like there was very little natural snow remaining.  I was astonished, after what the Whiteface website says was a season with a record-breaking 281 inches of snow, that there was so little of it left.  Meanwhile, the natural snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is still six feet deep.  It’s sometimes hard to figure out why Whiteface doesn’t get, and I guess in this case even retain, more snow.  It’s an impressive peak, rising up to nearly 5,000’, and it’s certainly downwind of the Great Lakes so that they can serve as an extra supply of moisture.  It’s even closer to the Great Lakes than the Green Mountains, so one would think that it would make out even better.  Somehow though, the resort has an annual average snowfall of only about 180 inches according to Tony Crocker’s website.  With some of the resorts in the Northern Greens reporting annual snowfall averages of nearly twice that amount, the disparity is quite dramatic.

I had to stick to the lower mountain today based on my available time, but fortunately I was able to piece together a fairly decent amount of turns using the remains of some of the terrain park snow.  I’d been worried about encountering stiff snow by going early in the morning, but it had actually softened enough to make the turns quite pleasant.  I just wish I’d had a bit more time to go higher and get into some of the more continuous lines of leftover snow.

An image of people in the Lake Placid bobsled track at the Shady II turn
The Shady II turn

This afternoon we visited both the Olympic Jumping Complex and the bobsled tracks at the Olympic Sports Complex.  The jumps were impressively huge and offered some amazing views of the area, but I think we were most blown away by the size of the bobsled tracks.  The track structure at the Shady II corner with the Lake Placid logo must be 20 feet high, putting bobsleds at an impressive height as they barrel through it at speed.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 08APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
We were treated to another winter storm and more powder today at Bolton Valley.

Just like last Saturday, another storm came through the area over the past couple of days and dropped a round of fresh snow to give us some great April powder.  For the first time in quite a while, the whole family was available to ski, so we headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for some turns.

Down at the house, snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain.  There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIn terms of the snow we found, I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range.  More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations, although I did find up to two feet in spots.  The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry.  It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures – it was well below freezing at all elevations of the resort this morning.  It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session.

An image o Dylan Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, and this Saturday was even more extreme.  For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it.  It was hard to pull ourselves away.  While we were finishing up back at the main base area and getting ready to hit the Village Deli to grab some lunch, we were able to watch some of the snowmobilers in the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb.  The Village parking lots were full of snowmobile trailers, so the resort got a great additional influx of visitors.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 01APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today we got out in the powder at Bolton Valley thanks to Winter Storm Theseus.

The latest weather system to come into the area has been named Winter Storm Theseus.  Snow associated with the storm started up on Friday and left nearly a foot of at some of the local ski resorts, so Dylan and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for what we hoped would be some great powder skiing, and we weren’t disappointed.

An image of skiers on the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley ski resort on Vermont
Everyone who as at the mountain today got treated to one of those low-key late-season powder days.

Temperatures edged above freezing down in the valley, but the freezing line really stayed below 1,500’ this morning from what we saw, so that kept surfaces wintry at all elevations of the resort.  The snow was certainly less dense the higher you went, but it wasn’t until probably below 1,800’ that the quality of the powder skiing started to fall off a bit – it was just getting a bit too dense for optimal turns.  Really though, that’s just last few hundred feet of vertical at Timberline, and everything at the main mountain was well above that.  It snowed all morning to keep the wintry appeal going and keep things fresh.  The flakes were small so additional accumulations weren’t too hefty, but it was definitely coming down at times – we had to pull out the lens hoods for some photography sessions because of the intensity of the snow.

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan having fun after catching the rope drop for Upper Tattle Tale

We started off on the morning on the main mountain with a trip up the Vista Quad, but we knew that by the time we’d worked our way down the trails we’d be able to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad.  We had a good time down there, catching the rope drop on Upper Tattle Tale, just after we’d skied the lower half from the crossover.  We did some exploring and found the entrance to House Line, a shot I’ve been looking to ski for a while.     Dylan decided to go Telemark again today, and he was definitely ripping up that powder.  We eventually made our way back to the main base and finished off the ski day on Wilderness, then grabbed some food at the main cafeteria and the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.

An image of the central circle in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
In the Bolton Valley Village today

Bolton’s got their 48-hour total at 9 inches for the higher elevations, and I’d say 9 to 10 was where we found things topping out with the addition of this morning’s snow.  Anyway, it was a great way to start off this month’s skiing, and of course another perk of the day was the fact that we’re in April, and visitation at the resorts really starts to fall off.  There were certainly visitors, but there were still a number of trails with just a few tracks on them when we were leaving around midday, so folks who were out really got treated to one of those kind of powder days. 

Dylan was anxious to do some photography with one of the DSLRs today, so I had the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, and he had the Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM  lens.  Toward the end of the morning, we swapped lenses to mix things up a bit.  Dylan got some great images, so enjoy the gallery!

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!