The snow in the yard has melted

The last of the snow in the yard melted today, so I can finish off that portion of my seasonal snowfall numbers.  The data for the last of the snow melting out in the yard (as of this season the mean date is April 15th ± 10 days) is actually something I’ve recorded all the way back since our first winter here (2006-2007) and April 24th is one day later than the previous record I had down (April 23rd, 2007).  This puts the continuous snowpack season in the yard at 141 days, which is exactly the same number recorded for ’06-’07.  Both of those seasons had slow starts with poor November snowfall, and snowpack that did not become established until early December, so they are well behind the highest value of 152 days recorded for the 2007-2008 season.  The next benchmark I’ll monitor will be when the last of the snow melts out in our neighborhood, which tends to be about a week beyond when the snow melts out at the house.

As I was skiing at Bolton yesterday I was reminded of some outings in April ’07, and realized that while the snowpack is in excellent shape this spring, the skiing this month has really paled in comparison to the equivalent period back in ’07.  Even down at this elevation we had almost two feet of snowfall in April ’07, and this season we’ve had just 4.4 inches.  I’m not sure what the mountains have had this April, but in ’07 it was measured in feet; I skied one day mid month on the mountain where I found up to 19 inches of new snow, and that was for just one of the storms.  The reading from the Mansfield stake on Friday was certainly respectable at 82 inches, but for the same date in ’07 it was actually at 84 inches.  It’s really been just an issue of the storm track this April; the moisture has been there, but the track has been too far to the north/west to get into the appropriate combination of precipitation and temperature.  With a good track over the past few weeks we probably would have had another April 2007 on our hands.  I think that the past couple of springs have been so poor in the snowfall department that some perspective has been lost on April’s potential, this one is good in terms of base/snowpack, but I’d say subpar for snowfall (we’re still below average by a few inches at the house).

Bolton Valley, VT 23APR2011

Picture of ski tracks in the powder on Lower Turnpike
Cutting some big arcs across the lower part of Turnpike

While the weather was full-blown spring with sunshine and corn snow yesterday at Sugarbush, today it was back to winter with a bit of fresh powder in the mountains.  I headed up to Bolton for some turns and found snow that was dense enough to keep me from touching down to the old subsurface much of the time.  The base snow provided wall to wall coverage, so with the powder on top it was a great ride.  For all the details and pictures, go to my April 23rd trip report from Bolton Valley.

Sugarbush, VT 22APR2011

Picture of Sugarbush's Clay Brook complex and trails
A view of the Clay Brook silo-style structure with some of the Lincoln Peak trails in the background

The forecast called for sun and spring temperatures today, and Mother Nature delivered just that, so I headed to Sugarbush with the boys for some spring turns.  It was our first day of skiing away from Stowe and Bolton this season, and thus our first day actually buying real lift tickets.  Fortunately, spring ticket specials are in effect throughout the area, making things more affordable; Sugarbush has a two for one offer on their already reduced spring rate if you bring your season’s pass from another ski area, so the boys and I skied for $59 total, which was pretty economical.  It was an excellent afternoon on the slopes with the boys, with lots of snow and sun, and then we stopped in at Timbers for some après ski snacks.  For the full details and pictures, click through to my April 22nd Sugarbush report.

Stowe, VT 19APR2011

Image of Stowe's Gondolier trail from the Spruce Peak base
Looking up at Gondolier from the Spruce Peak base area

Ali and Wini were heading to The Shed for dinner today, and since I had the time and E and the boys were out of town, it was the perfect chance to get in an evening of skiing and dinner in Stowe.  I stopped off first at Spruce Peak where the coverage is still excellent; that’s a really good gauge of just how much snow is out there because the bottom of Spruce Peak is both low elevation AND south facing – it’s hard to find a tougher challenge to the snow than that.  The skiing was great, with a couple of inches of beautifully smooth corn that had softened during the day and had partially recrystallized into airy goodness.  Dinner with Wini and Ali was great; definitely one of those classic Vermont spring evenings, and with the current snowpack it looks like there can be many more!  For all the details and images, go to my trip report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 17APR2011

Image of Whiteface from Bolton
Looking between the chairs of the Timberline Lift to take in the view of Whiteface across Lake Champlain

Unlike yesterday, where temperatures stayed rather wintry and didn’t give the snow a chance to warm up, today the temperatures were warmer and the sun was starting to break out in the afternoon, so I headed up to Bolton for some turns.  The snow coverage is still great all the way down to the Timberline elevations, so I made turns there and found some excellent spring corn.  The full details and all the pictures can be found in my Bolton Valley trip report from today.  There is a lot of skiing to be done in the coming weeks, so get out and enjoy that great snowpack!

Bolton Valley, VT 26MAR2011

Image of Jay skiing in powder
Jay comes into view skiing some of the beautiful powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 23MAR2011

Ski tracks on Spell Binder
Some of my tracks left in the delicate powder present on Spell Binder this morning

I headed up to the mountain for some turns this morning and got in my first powder of the week, with more powder likely to come as the upslope snow continues to fall.  I skinned up at Timberline and found 3 to 5 inches of powder at 1,500′, and about 6 inches at 2,500′.  The full details and pictures are in my Bolton Valley report from this morning.

Bolton Valley, VT 06MAR2011

An image of snowy evergreen branches
Snow was quickly turning the area into a wintry scene both up on the mountain and down in the valley.

E and her co-director decided to cancel ski program at Stowe today due to so many parents being concerned about the large incoming storm, so I popped up to Bolton Valley for a bit this afternoon to see how some of the new snow was taking hold.  The conditions were actually quite nice, as the new snow is dense and it seems to be bonding to the old snow as it cools down.  I skied Hard Luck, which is fairly steep, and although I was certainly touching down on the old snow at times, even that was reasonably pliable and the new dense stuff was providing quite a ride even on pitches in the 30-degree range.  I followed up with Beech Seal, smiling the whole way as I ripped fresh snow down the deserted slopes.  I didn’t get any images of the new snow from up on the mountain, but I grabbed a shot out back at the house when I was making my weather observations at 4:30 P.M., and the snowy branches were representative of how the trees were starting to look up on the mountain.  For all the details, check out the full report from up at Bolton today.

Cochran’s Ski Area, VT 05MAR2011

Image of the trails at Cochran's ski area
Looking at some of Cochran's terrain from the base

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 26FEB2011

Image of Dylan skiing powder
Dylan blasting the powder in Doug's Solitude

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.