It was ski program day at Stowe today, and since Johannes and Helena are done with their programs at Bolton, Stephen and the kids tagged along with our group. I had to drop off Ty at the Stowe Shaw’s to be picked up for a birthday party, but I eventually caught up with Claire, Stephen, and all the kids just as they were heading up the gondola for their first Mansfield run.
Off piste conditions were fantastic, since the upslope pattern was delivering well and Stowe had seen a foot and a half of snow since the Monday event. I added some of the totals into my update at Americanwx.com, and it showed quite the north to south trend with Jay Peak cashing in nicely:
In one of our traverses we stumbled onto a gully in the Lower Goat woods that everyone skied – it had some really steep walls and reminded me of one of those Jackson Hole gullies. To see the full text and pictures, head to the Stowe trip report from today.
The upslope snow has been rolling in, and although we haven’t had a ton of snow from this event yet, snow surfaces are getting a nice freshening. This morning down at the house we were on our way toward picking up a quick additional inch of snow to put us at 2.8 inches for this end of the week event, and 9 inches for the week. Bolton was reporting 13 inches over that span, with the snow continuing to fall. Today we were back up at the mountain again for an afternoon session with Stephen and his kids, and for the first half of the afternoon it was snowing at a good clip. Everyone joined in for a run on Spell Binder, and using the knowledge about the aspects with best snow that the boys and I had learned yesterday, there were some really awesome bottomless turns available on the skier’s left. Even with just a few inches of additional snow, the skiing took quite a jump up in quality. We found the same snow setup on Tattle Tale, and all three boys had fun ripping up the powder in their own way. We gave Johannes first tracks on one line, and he decided that a figure 11 was the way to go, while Ty and Dylan accented his line with some curves. We’re starting to nickname Johannes “11”. For the full text and all the pictures, click through to the Bolton Valley trip report from today.
Dylan and I headed off to Stowe today to make some more turns in the snow from our recent storm. By this morning we’d picked up 25 inches of snow at the house, and some of the Vermont resorts had received more than 3 feet. It was a sunny, blue sky day, and the first thing that grabbed our attention when we got to the mountain was the view of the powdery lower slopes of Spruce Peak. While they were adorned with plenty of tracks, we could see that lots of fresh lines were left, so we had to check that out for our first run. We eventually worked our way over to the Mt. Mansfield side of the resort as well, and we really worked ourselves hard in all the powder. The snow was synoptic in density, and there was a little wind crust in exposed spots, but it was still oh so good. Dylan did a nice job managing the tricky conditions, even though he doesn’t yet have any fat skis. To read about all the details and see the images from the day, check out the full trip report from March 8th at Stowe.
We spent the morning around at the house playing in the snow and taking care of snow removal, and then we headed up to Bolton Valley at some point after 1:00 P.M. to check out the new powder and get in some storm day turns. Bolton’s Vista Quad was on wind hold, but Timberline was running well and we spent the afternoon there. I did several depth checks in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range and got measurement of 26 to 31 inches for the depth of the new snow. There were some gusty winds at times, but Timberline is fairly protected and wind wasn’t bad except on the ridgelines. The new powder was just medium-density snow at ~10% H2O, and I guess the only thing that might made it better would be if it had been topped off with a bit of our Champlain Powder™ fulff, but let’s just say that it was quite a day to be out there. It was certainly not one to be missed, but in case you did, you can check out all the details and the powdery images in the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.
We were around in Stowe for a bit today but in the afternoon we made our way over to Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond to check out their 50th anniversary celebration. They had 1961 throwback ticket pricing, so tickets were just 25¢ per person. Everyone in the family went with their Telemark skis, and the boys had fun working on their turns. Cochran’s is 9 miles down the Winooski Valley from our location, and the base elevation is fairly low. At only 500 feet, it’s at the same elevation as our house. Being down in the lower elevations, I’m not sure where temperatures were at in the high country today, but at Cochran’s and in the other lower elevation valleys they were in the 40s F. We only skied on piste, but the snow was a good soft consistency, certainly somewhat spring-like, and it offered great carving. To read the rest of the text and see all the pictures, go to the Cochran’s Ski Area report from today.
We were up at Stowe today for our usual Sunday session, and since it’s the tail end of vacation week, many people were absent. Our group had just Ty, Jack, and Dylan, but we also had Mike Cannon as one of the group’s coaches, and with his immense knowledge of Spruce and Mansfield he brought us to plenty of great shots. Not too surprisingly, we found conditions to be much like Bolton’s, with untouched areas typically yielding between 12 to 18 inches of powder thanks to our recent storm. We skied glade after glade with Mike, and the steepest and highest traffic areas are certainly down to the firm base leftover from those couple of warm days a bit over a week ago. However, outside of those spots it was easy to find areas with either untracked or soft chowder. To read the full text and see all the pictures, check out the full Stowe report from today.
After earning turns and skiing with Stephen and Johannes in the early morning, I headed back to the house for a bit after that session, picked up E and the boys, and we caught up with Stephen and Johannes later in the morning to hit the powder for the rest of the day. We had some light snow and sunshowers in the later morning and early afternoon from yet another small weather system that was pushing through, and then more sunshine as the afternoon wore on. We got into plenty of that famous Vermont fluff, and all the boys seemed to have a good time. Click through to see all the picture and read the full report from today at Bolton.
While the ski conditions in Northern Vermont had been decent, and certainly consistent through January with some nice powder days, the snowpack depth still wasn’t all that great. In fact, as February approached, the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake had been below average for a good portion of the season, and consistent with that trend, the snow depths and coverage on the trails seemed to be lagging behind as well. The potential snowpack increases associated with large synoptic storms and cold air in the La Niña weather pattern weren’t quite being realized in the far north. Snowfall numbers had been decent (as of January 31st we’d picked up 104.9 inches of snow at the house and were running at 113.7% of normal), but the liquid associated with a lot of that snow was paltry. We were living off the upslope magic of the Greens, with mostly the fluffy Champlain Powder™ to survive on. While it was loads of fun to ski, the fluff wasn’t preceded by dense snow, the snowpack depth was stagnating, and it just wasn’t possible to finish off the coverage on the steepest and most windswept areas at the local resorts. A real hit of moisture from a big synoptic storm was needed, yet systems of that caliber had simply continued to focus on Southern New England, leaving Northern New England on the fringe. Finally though, it looked the weather pattern was going to shift… a big synoptic storm was crossing the country and seemed poised to really kick the Northern Vermont ski season into high gear with an inch or two of liquid equivalent in the form of snow.
The colossal storm was setting up to hit us during the midweek period, and because it was affecting so many people across the country, it was getting plenty of national media coverage. The storm was coming through as a one-two punch, with an initial surge on Tuesday, and then a larger batch of moisture for yesterday into today.
By Tuesday evening we’d picked up 2.5 inches of 6.0% H2O snow at the house from the first round of the storm, and we awaited the heavy stuff associated with the main course that was scheduled to come into the area on Wednesday. By 6:00 A.M. yesterday morning when I sent in my CoCoRaHS report, the second punch of snow was already coming down with some fervor. I’d found a couple new inches on the snowboard, and it continued to snow at close to an inch an hour. To see all the pictures and read the rest of the story, head to the full trip report from Bolton Valley today.
E and Claire canceled Sunday Stowe program on the 23rd due to the cold, but today we were back at it. After a fairly dry week, we’d received some nice new accumulation up at Bolton to freshen up the slopes yesterday. Down in the valley at the house, we wound up with 1.4 inches from that event, and there was more on the way for today. In my update from this morning, I summarized yesterday’s storm that had just gone through, discussed the next shortwave that was about to cross the area, and mentioned talk about a larger midweek system that might actually deliver something more substantial to Northern New England for a change.
We got up to the mountain around midday, and there was already some nice snow in the air. Our group started off with Ty, Dylan, and Luke, and while Claire worked on organizational issues like Ethan forgetting to bring his skis and Sam having his skis taken by accident by someone with an identical pair, I took the boys for a run. With plenty of untracked powder in the lesser used areas off piste, it was a great day to jump into the trees and get Luke more experience in there. The boys gobbled up the fresh snow in the Upper Meadows trees, and Luke not only got some good tree skiing experience, but some practice extricating himself through a brushy exit. Jack joined us next, and I brought all four boys through the Meadows East Glades. The main lines were tracked or packed, but boy there was still plenty of fresh powder all outside the formal glades. Even at that point before the subsequent pair of bigger synoptic storms, Stowe’s snow depths were getting to the stage where many of the natural tree areas open up just like the glades because the brush has been buried under the snowpack.
Claire continued to work out program issues, so I headed to the Sensation Quad with the boys. From fairly light snow at the base of Sensation, we ascended into quite a winter wonderland as more vigorous snow and some winds quickly greeted us on the ascent. The conifers were caked in snow just as if we were in the middle of a larger storm cycle, and Powderfreak had some great shots of the intense snowfall. We kept gawking at the awesome powdery routes below us on Spruce Line, and lamented the fact that it was closed, whether due to coverage or the race that was taking place on Main Street. I vowed that if those race or coverage issues were gone by the following week, we would definitely be hitting that terrain. Even more than the main routes of Spruce Line, I was drooling over the steep shots dropping off the Main Street traverse into the evergreen glades that had been created alongside the trail. I’m not sure if I just forget that this terrain exists every season, or if they keep improving it, but I’m immediately reminded of Red Mountain in British Columbia. I couldn’t find any images of what I’m recalling in my collection, but runs like Cambodia and Short Squaw come to mind. To read the full text and check out all the pictures, click through to the Stowe report from today.
It was a little tough to motivate the boys for skiing last Saturday, since there hadn’t been any significant storms reaching Northern Vermont. At the house we’d picked up just a couple inches of snow in the preceding week, and even up in the high country Bolton was reporting just 5 inches of accumulation for the period. Without the fresh powder to get the boys jazzed up, E and I took a suggestion from Stephen and threw in the option of doing some swimming at the Sports Center after skiing. In actuality we suspected that the skiing would be quite good; temperatures had been rather wintry though the period, and a small clipper-style system was in the process of freshening up the slopes and even bringing snow down to the valley, but the carrot of swimming definitely made it easier to get the boys out there to enjoy the conditions. At times we were getting some bursts of heavier snowfall even down at the house, and directing the boy’s attention outside toward the big flakes helped inject a little more alacrity into their preparation.
I dropped E and the boys off in the village circle, and they did a quick run on Snowflake while I parked the car. Our plan was to meet up with Stephen and Johannes, but they were up on Vista and about to head in for some lunch, so we planned to meet up with them later. E told me that Ty got to ride up Snowflake with a stranger, a woman with a British accent, and after initially being somewhat diffident, he eventually had a good time talking. So that was a little adventure for him. After parking down near the Sports Center in preparation for our later visit, I found E and the boys at the base area and we hopped on Snowflake to ski over to Wilderness. E had said that she found the powder a little dense in explorations on their first run, and that the tracks of previous skiers underneath the most recent rounds of snow made things a little uneven, but it turned out that she had just sampled a windswept area or something, because a quick foray off Sprig O’ Pine revealed some very light, deep, and beautifully undisturbed powder. The big terrain park was closed while they were working on it, but I was able to traverse into some of the trees below and catch the bottom of the “Bonus Woods” as Quinn calls them. Even though recent snow accumulations had been minimal, the numerous rounds of dry powder from before were staying really well preserved with the consistently cool temperatures. I took a quick depth reading with my pole and found that the snowpack was essentially in the same state it had been for a while, finding the “base” was really just a function of how far down you wanted to push into the density gradient of powder.
Making our way over to Wilderness we did a couple of laps featuring Bolton Outlaw and surrounding areas, and there was plenty of powder off piste. I did a check on the upper part of the Wilderness Lift and found 24 inches of depth as Kurt Ries passed over our heads on the lift and inquired about what my measurement pole was reading. I’d forgotten that the mountain was only running Wilderness Fridays through Sundays, so that made the untracked powder just that much easier to find. It was an exciting day for E, as she was feeling much more confident on her Telemark skis, and thus was really stepping up the terrain challenge with things like Bolton Outlaw and Wilderness Woods. She was working the versatility of the skis very well and throwing in alpine turns if needed, but from experience I know it’s especially fun to get to that stage where Tele turns are dialed in enough that off piste skiing becomes comfortably enjoyable. E was encouraged by the fact that we saw several other Telemark skiers in the Wilderness Woods at various stages of learning – the lower mellow pitches there are great for learning, especially since the glade crew cleaned things up in the off season. Lower down we skied various combinations of Lower Turnpike and the bobsled racetracks off in the trees, enjoying my favorite high-banked corner near the bottom. E said it was reminding her of playing Mario Kart. To check out the rest of the text and see all the pictures from the day, head to the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.