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 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.
Today we were back at Stowe Mountain Resort for our weekly BJAMS ski program day. There was some light to moderate snow during the day for a short time, but nothing in terms of accumulation that established any powder on the trails. Conditions were still excellent, with packed powder on piste and powder off piste, and while the most popular off piste places had seen enough traffic that they featured packed or tracked snow, untracked powder was easy to find. We played around in the trees on Spruce Peak and had a good time, even if the powder was a bit old. The snowpack is well past that stage where the off piste is sufficiently covered, and after finally getting in on a couple of synoptic storms, things are now at the stage where brush is becoming so buried that most hardwood areas between trails, even those that don’t receive trimming attention, have opened up enough for turns. We were finding that aside from zones with tight evergreens etc., you’d just poke your head in the trees and go. Click through to get to the full report from Stowe today.
We were at Stowe all day today and got to experience the skiing associated with last night’s thundersnow event. The snow was certainly dense, very much like Cascade Concrete/Sierra Cement etc., and one typically sunk down into the powder only a few inches when skiing it, but there didn’t appear to be any detrimental effects from whatever mixed precipitation fell. While not the top of the line snow for fluffy powder skiing, we picked up 7.6 inches of snow down at the house comprised of 0.99 inches of liquid, and the Bolton Valley through Jay Peak area picked up about a foot, so it was a good shot of moisture to add to the base. There was also a touch of wind crust in exposed areas, but in general the skiing was awesome and it was a nice day for some reasonably fat boards as Ty demonstrated. Thanks to the hearty snow, coverage on steep terrain was really nice, so the boys had several runs in the Green Acreas area. To read more about the day and see all the pictures, click through to the full report from today at Stowe.
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.
Today was our first school program session of the season, so we were off at Stowe for the afternoon. With the level of skier traffic, especially weekend skier traffic that Stowe sees, Sunday afternoons don’t typically offer optimal snow surfaces. However, last season had to be a low point in that continuum; not only was the snowfall below average, but an inordinate number of times the next round of snow seemed to come in for Monday, after we were done skiing.
So far this season however, things have been much better. We had fresh snow for our training day back on Sunday, December 12th, and as we moved into our first session with the students, it looked like Mother Nature was going to try to help out with fresh snow again. On Friday, an inverted trough system had set up shop over New England, and while the focus was south of our area, we’d managed to pick up a couple more inches last night. This morning’s snowfall report from the house at 6:00 A.M. revealed that we’d already picked up almost a half foot of snow, and it’s easy to imagine what the skiing was like at Stowe today when the snow just kept pounding down – for all the details and pictures, head to today’s trip report from Stowe Mountain Resort.
E and I headed out to Stowe yesterday for the school program training session, wondering what we were going to experience in terms of weather. Happily, the first flakes appeared just after we arrived at around 8:00 A.M., the snowfall quickly ramped up in intensity, and then it dumped hard all morning and into the afternoon to make for great riding conditions.
This year we both decided to go with the snowboard training session, since out of necessity E seems to spend most of her time boarding instead of skiing, and it would supply me with some additional tools to serve as an alternate snowboarding coach when needed. We joined up with Stan Biasini’s group, since he would be advising everyone on how to work with the students that were early in their snowboard progression. We started out with techniques for the “never evers” at the Magic Carpet, then stepped it up to Inspiration, followed by the Alpine Double, and finally the Sunny Spruce Quad. We got a raft of good teaching techniques, and Stan made ample time to ensure that everyone got plenty of their own instruction as well. I learned that Stowe no longer requires leashes for snowboards, and that the slope of the Inspiration trail is an impressively consistent 8% grade for teaching. Continue reading the text and see all the pictures by going to the full trip report from Stowe today.
By this morning, enough snow had accumulated that we decided to head up to the higher elevations and check it out. Without much of a base, we didn’t expect the skiing to be too great, but it would be a good chance for Dylan to get on his skins and see how everything was working for him.
We first stopped in up at Bolton Valley, where accumulations appeared to be in the 2-3 inch range at the main base (~2,100’). I took a look around to see if any manmade snow had been put down outside the areas of current snowmaking operations, but didn’t see any on the lower mountain. A good amount of snow had been made in the Mighty Mite learning area, a fan gun was blowing snow above the lodge, and I could see at least one other gun going underneath the Mid Mountain Chair. The snow was certainly light and dry, and the powder had accumulated up to a foot in some areas. We hung out for a bit and let the boys play in the snow, then we headed off to Stowe to see if any ski options were available atop manmade base snow at Spruce Peak.
As we drove toward Stowe, we could see that the valley snow accumulations were quite variable. We had an inch or two at our house on the Waterbury/Bolton line, and there was a bit less in the center of Waterbury. North of Colbyville however, the ground was bare, and between there and the Stowe’s Lower Village, there was only the occasional dusting visible on the ground. As Powderfreak had mentioned in one of his reports to Americanwx.com, we saw a sharp increase in snowfall amounts as one entered the center of Stowe, where they had picked up a fluffy few inches earlier in the morning.
Up at the mountain base, accumulations were similar to what we’d seen at Bolton, with roughly 2 to 3 inches on the ground at the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club building. We were surprised to see that lift-served skiing was going on over at Spruce (Easy Street area), so we decided to skin up above that elevation and check out the options. We headed up toward the Sunny Spruce Quad, and found about 4 to 5 inches of fluff as we approached the top of East Run. The snow was definitely fluffy, so good turns could be had on grassy slopes, but beyond that it was sketchy. It was definitely rock ski/junkboard territory, although with all of the extra snow we’ve had in the past couple of days, that will be changing. To continue with the rest of the text and see all the pictures, click through to the Stowe trip report from today.
Even before the storm existed, the formation of the season’s first Nor’easter had appeared likely for several days, and with it, the appearance of at least a few flakes in the higher elevations of the Northeast seemed like a good bet. However, the question of the whether or not we’d see our first decent dump of skiable snow took a few more days to settle out. Eventually, the mountain forecasts came into focus, and it looked like the Greens were going to get good elevation snows up and down the spine. The Northern Greens seemed to be in a good spot for precipitation, but the Central and Southern Greens were likely to be closest to the core of cold air that would support the most early season snow. On Wednesday the 13th, Scott Braaten did a nice job of alerting everyone about the setup through SkiVT-L and Lionel Hutz was all over it at the FIS website.
On Friday, October 15th, the storm was underway, and morning reports were already coming in about snow falling in the Southern and Central Greens. The pictures from the Killington web cam were looking quite wintry even at the lower elevations, and when Paul Terwilliger sent in his Friday Killington trip report to SkiVT-L and said he’d already found 18 inches at the summit, it was clear that the area was getting a good shot of snow. By that point the temperatures indicated that the Northern Greens were getting plenty of snow as well, but if they weren’t going to catch up to the Killington area, I was thinking that it might be a good time to mix things up and head a bit south for turns.
My thoughts of heading south to Killington were suppressed somewhat around 8:30 P.M. that evening. After checking on our rain gauge a couple of hours earlier, I hadn’t looked outside at all, as a massive sword and ball battle had kept me busy in the basement with the boys. When I finally did look out back, I was very surprised to see that it was snowing… all the way down at our elevation of roughly 500 feet. The air temperature had dropped to 33.3 F and the precipitation was big flakes of snow, without even any rain mixed in. The snowfall lasted for a couple of hours, long enough to put down 0.3 inches of slushy accumulation on the snowboard and coat the ground white. Eventually as the precipitation slowed down, the temperature began to warm up and it all changed back over to rain. I knew that if we were getting snow all the way down to the lower valleys though, then the local mountains must have been getting pounded, so I suspected that Mt. Mansfield would come through with sufficient snow to make it worth skiing.
For quite a while, the local weather gurus had been talking about the potential for local snow at the end of September/beginning of October. Yesterday, reports started coming in of white in the mountains, and from UVM I could see the tendrils of snowfall crashing out along the Green Mountain spine. It was looking like this morning would feature some real accumulations of snow, but yesterday evening the snowfall seemed to come to a halt. I started to reconsider my thoughts of taking a morning trip up to Mt. Mansfield, but sometime after dark I checked the local radar and it looked like snowfall was blooming again. I awoke this morning to see that there were still echoes on the radar, the temperature at the house was ~41 F, and our back deck was wet. I suspected there had been some additional snow on Mansfield, so I hopped in the car and decided that I’d at least go for a hike before work.
While I couldn’t see much white at all on my drive to the mountain, as I finally got close to Mt. Mansfield, I could see that there was a good covering of snow from about the middle elevations of Spruce Peak on up. I parked in the upper lot of the gondola (~1,600’) and there were a half dozen cars that looked like they could belong to other early morning folks checking out the snow. Snow was falling all around me, and while it wasn’t sticking at the base, I could see white on the ground not far above. At some point after 7:30 A.M., I strapped my skis on my pack and headed up Nosedive, hitting the snow line right around 1,800’. The depth of the snow didn’t increase too quickly, only up to maybe ½ to 1 inch in depth by the 2,000’ mark. I thought that the snow would probably be great for the junkboarders, but I wasn’t quite sure about those who were on regular skis. Not long after I had that thought though, I met three skiers coming down Nosedive, right around the intersection with National. They clearly seemed to be making due on regular skis and seemed to be enjoying it. During my ascent it snowed most of the time, and occasionally the snow came down with moderate to heavy intensity. Being starved for a bit of winter weather, I loved it.
Even by the top of Nosedive (~3,600’) the snow was only up to about 3 inches in depth, but I hiked on a bit farther to check out the Mt. Mansfield Stake. There was some vegetation in front of the stake (~3,700’) that hadn’t let the snow settle all the way to the ground, but the depth of the snow was clearly less than 6 inches. At least one vehicle had driven on the Toll Road, but I still popped on my old Telemark skis and did a little gliding in the untouched snow outside the tire tracks. That was quite pleasant, although due to the minimal snowfall, there was the occasional crunch of a piece of gravel. Not wanting to deal with the hassle of negotiating the steep terrain of Nosedive with somewhat minimal snow, I continued on the Toll Road and into the Ridge View area before deciding to take off my skis. I had even made a few Tele turns on the snowy grass, but by around the 3,000’ elevation, a combination of wanting to head back in the direction of the Gondola via steeper terrain, and not wanting to put any real damage into my skis saw me strapping them back on my pack. I’m not totally ready to commit the Hellgates to official rock ski status just yet.
Hiking up had been really enjoyable (I think it was the first time I’d hiked such a long distance in Tele boots without switching to skinning) but the vistas on the descent were spectacular. With the dramatic scenes of white surrounding me, and the brilliant colors in the valley, I stopped frequently to pull out the camera. My descent was somewhat meandering, taking me down through the Hayride and Lookout areas, before making it down to Crossover and down to the gondola lot. The snow level on Mansfield looked like it had crept up a few hundred feet since my ascent, so it was certainly warming up. Insofar as I can recall, I think today’s outing was the first time that things came together to allow me to ski on my birthday, so that made it even more of a treat that usual. To check out all the pictures from the day, head to the Stowe trip report from today.