Tag Archives: Spruce Peak

Stowe, VT 14MAR2018

An image of Dylan skiing deep powder after Winter Storm Skylar at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
As Dylan demonstrates, there was a lot of white room action today at Stowe as Dave joined the family to ski the bounty of Winter Story Skylar

With so much potential snowfall on the horizon, Dave sent us a text on Sunday inquiring about the best days to come up for some skiing in Northern Vermont this week.  The forecast was still a bit up in the air at that point, but by Monday he was set to go, and just needed to decide on when to come up.  He ultimately decided to make his drive on Tuesday evening, once Winter Storm Skylar was pulling away from Southern New England.  He battled his way up from Boston, having a slow go of it during the first hour, but quickly found himself cruising along as the only one on the road.

“Depth checks around the mountain revealed roughly 20 inches of powder at a minimum, with many areas at 30+ inches.”

We didn’t know until this morning that E and the boys would have a snow day, but once we knew, the plan was secured for all of us to head to Stowe together.  That meant that we’d want to get on the road pretty early, since when it comes to Stowe and its fast lifts and ravenous powder hounds, one definitely needs to be an early bird to get the worm.  That meant we’d have to get the boys up and motivated.   Dave hasn’t been up in a while, so when he saw Ty in bed this morning, the exchange went as follows:

Dave:  “Do you remember me?”
Ty:  “Yes.”
Dave: “Good… get up.”
That’s classic Dave, and we LOLed about that exchange all day.

We were indeed able to get the boys motivated for an early start, and got to the mountain with no travel problems.  We had a quick breakfast at the Mansfield Base Lodge, and headed right up to the Fourrunner Quad.  Within a half hour of lift opening, the trails, and even the glades off the quad had been devoured.  The skiing was of course still fantastic, but if you wanted untracked lines of any length, you were already having to head for those more obscure spots.  We all had a tremendous time in the Tres Amigos Glades, highlighted by the boys dropping whatever ledges and cliffs they could find with powder below.  And indeed it was that kind of day where you could launch just about anything you wanted.  Dave really found his groove when we hit the Nosedive Glades, and had a blast.

We moved over to the Gondola so the five of us could ride the lift together as a group, and had a great couple of runs on Waterfall, Perry Merrill, and surrounding environs.  Whether we were on piste or off, the conditions were simply ridiculous.  On piste it was bottomless chowder and packed powder, and off piste it was waist deep powder.  Ty and I took the crew to an area we’ve nicknamed “Stella”, because we discovered it during our Winter Storm Stella outing and delivered such great lines of steep and deep powder.

An image of Dave skiing waist deep powder at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dave definitely catching the powder day he’s been seeking today

We had a nice lunch at the Great Room Grill, and since we were over at Spruce Peak we decided to take Dave on some runs there.  What a great decision that was!    Spruce Peak served up tons of untracked powder in all our favorite locales off Sunny Spruce and Sensation.  Let’s just say, the skiing was so good that we spent the rest of the day there.  Dylan said he really had fun skiing with today’s “crew”.

An image of the depth of the powder in the Ridge Glades area at Stowe Mountain ResortIn terms of overall snow, I believe the resort was reporting a storm total of 18 inches, but it snowed throughout the day and there was already much more powder than that available from previous storms.  Depth checks around the mountain revealed roughly 20 inches of powder at a minimum, with many areas at 30+ inches.  We’ve still got snow falling here at the house this evening, so the resorts should be reporting additional accumulations by tomorrow morning.  It’s interesting to note that we’re once again at the “S” winter storm of the alphabet with Winter Storm Skylar, just as we were last year around this time with Winter Storm Stella.

Stowe, VT 11MAR2018

An image of Wiley skiing powder in the Hazelton Zone at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Wiley rips down a line in the Hazelton Zone today at Stowe as we finally had the conditions to get our BJAMS ski group out into some exciting off piste terrain.

We’ve really been waiting all season to get some quality midwinter base depths and top notch surface snow conditions to line up for our BJAMS Sunday ski program at StoweWe had a decent stretch back in the first half of February, but it didn’t quite hit the level of quality that we got today.  Conditions are stellar because we recently picked up more than a foot of snow from Winter Storm Quinn, and then overnight the mountain upslope snow event brought close to another foot to the resort.

An image of Robbie snowboarding at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Robbie blasts through a line during our day’s adventures at Stowe

We actually had most of our regular ski group today, and with the conditions on hand I decided that we should head for some of that exciting terrain that we just haven’t been able to visit yet this season.  We kicked things off with a run on Ravine, although Bob’s foot was acting up so he had to bow out at that point.  The conditions on Ravine are great, and base depths are more than sufficient, although you can tell the base isn’t quite up at normal levels for this time of year based on the look of some of the bigger obstacles.

“Conditions are stellar because we recently picked up more than a foot of snow from Winter Storm Quinn, and then overnight the mountain upslope snow event brought close to another foot to the resort.”

An image of Dylan covered in snow at Stowe Mountain Resort in VermontWe had a fantastic run starting on the Kitchen Wall, with some very powdery lines in the trees below, and we just kept diving into every section of woods that presented itself until we finally would up in the Hazelton Zone.  We had to be a little cautious in there with only 50 inches or so at the stake, but there’s definitely enough base.  The traverses are in place and looking good.  That run was quite a doozy, so everyone requested a break at the Midway Lodge after that for food and drink.  On our final run of the day, Wiley and Robbie switched to each other’s snowboard and skis, and we took a run through the terrain park.  Wiley had plenty of falls, but really hung in there for taking his first even snowboard run right off the Fourrunner Quad.

An image of Ty skiing powder in the Kitchen Wall area of Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Ty out in fields of powder below the Kitchen Wall

It was really great to finally be able to get out there with the boys into the some of the exciting terrain we’ve been missing all season.  It actually looks like we could have yet another winter storm affecting the area this week.  This one has the potential to bring upslope snow as well, so we’ll just have watch for where this one tracks over the next few days, but ski conditions should continue to improve going forward.

Stowe, VT 04MAR2018

An image of Dylan snowboard in the Meadows are at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan out on the slopes of the Meadows area at Stowe today as he worked on learning to snowboard

I haven’t been on my snowboard for a while, but it was definitely fun being back on it for today’s BJAMS ski program session at Stowe.  Dylan was planning on his first real day of snowboarding, and with Molly snowboarding in my group as well, riding today seemed to be the obvious choice.

“I’m not sure if we had the groomers or the skiers to thank for all that loose snow, but it was more than a foot deep in spots, which provided a nice surfy feeling on the boards.”

We started off in the late morning, a bit earlier than usual, so that E could work Dylan on his board a bit and get him as far as possible ahead of our session.  When I caught up with the family after parking and getting changed, Dylan had just finished his third run on Inspiration and was moving on to the Meadows Quad.  I joined everyone for that run and we helped him work on his heel side transitions and turns, which were definitely his weaker side.

Stowe had picked up a couple of inches from Winter Storm Riley, but the subsurfaces were generally frozen granular in the Meadows area.  Fortunately, there was tons of loose granular on top of the base in many areas.  I’m not sure if we had the groomers or the skiers to thank for all that loose snow, but it was more than a foot deep in spots, which provided a nice surfy feeling on the boards.  It was great stuff for cushioning falls, which as anyone knows, are common when you’re learning to snowboard.  Dylan certainly had his share of tumbles today, but his improvements were obvious on his last couple of runs.

An image of Shrimp Pho from the Great Room Grill at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in VermontPrecipitation in association with a minor system affecting the area had already started falling by the time we got to the mountain in the morning.  It began out as light graupel, transitioned to some granular flakes as time went on, and had graduated to much fluffier flakes by the end of the day.  There were some bursts of fairly heavy precipitation as well.  With Dylan’s hard work learning to maneuver his snowboard around, we took plenty of breaks in the lodge.  Lunch with the family was definitely a fun break – I visited the Noodle Bowl area at the Great Room Grill and got the shrimp pho… definitely delicious!

Stowe, VT 25FEB2018

An image of the trails of Mt. Mansfield from the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A view today from Spruce Peak Village with a bit of the fresh snow we had to ski from Winter Storm Polly

Today we were under the influence of Winter Storm Polly, a system passing through the Great Lakes that’s brought snow and mixed precipitation to the area.  Although our BJAMS ski program was on today at Stowe, between the people opting out because of the questionable travel and weather, and those families that are on vacation for school break, we had substanially fewer participants than usual.  My group actually wound up being just Ty and Dylan at first, although eventually Jacob joined when his group was not going to be able to meet up with him.

“Snow conditions were bolstered significantly by a couple of dense inches of sleet and snow that had fallen by the time we arrived around midday.”

Snow conditions were bolstered significantly by a couple of dense inches of sleet and snow that had fallen by the time we arrived around midday.  There was definitely a good shot of liquid in those couple of inches, and it helped to keep you off the subsurface in some areas, but the firm surface below definitely made its presence known.

The Gondola and Fourrunner Quad were both on wind hold due to the strong gusts associated with the storm at elevation, so we started the afternoon off with a Sunny Spruce run to get a feel for the conditions.  We found the edges of the runs quite good in some areas where the new snow was either untouched, or skiers had pushed the excess from the trails there.  I decided to bring the group across to Mansfield to ride the Mountain Triple Chair where I expected to find that type of snow on trails like Tyro, and indeed we found some of that smooth snow and had some fun runs.  The biggest hassle of the day was some freezing drizzle that would frequently crust up one’s goggles and reduce visibility, but fortunately it wasn’t really affecting the quality of the snow surfaces.

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 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.