Stowe, VT 25MAR2012

An image of Dylan in a Telemark turn on the Sunrise trail area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan hits the spring snow today at Stowe for his third day in a row working on Telemark turns.

Yesterday, Bolton Valley finished up its lift-served season, and we were able to get out and make good use of the soft spring snow as the boys worked on their Telemark turns.  Weather conditions were fairly similar today, with temperatures around 40 F or so at the mountain elevations, so we were anticipating the chance for more spring snow on the slopes as we headed off to Stowe.  On the way to the resort I was surprised to see a couple of pockets of natural snow all the way down at the elevation of the Matterhorn around 1,000’, but in general one had to head up above 2,500-3,000’ to really get into substantial natural snow.  The snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is down to just 26 inches after being at over 80 inches near the beginning of the Month – and this is at a time when the snowpack on Mt. Mansfield should still be increasing.  Based on the forecast, it looks like the melting will cease for a while, and there could even be some increases with additional snowfall, so this may mark the end of the most precipitous melting.  The rapid jump in snowpack in February combined with the quick drop in March makes for quite a dramatic plot of the Mt. Mansfield snow depth.

A plot of the snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake for the 2011-2012 winter season as of March 25, 2012
The plot of snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield stake this season as of today - the past month has seen a dramatic rise and fall in mountain snowpack.

With the gray skies today, we weren’t surprised to see that parking lots were minimally occupied.  For a change of pace from the rest of the season, we decided to park on the Mt. Mansfield side of the resort, and we were able to get a convenient spot right in front of the Mansfield Base Lodge.  It was fun stopping in there and checking out the scene, since we’ve been over at the Spruce Camp Base Lodge all season.  Stowe has currently got the most available terrain in the state thanks to their snowfall and snowmaking, and when I checked on the trail report on their website, I saw that there would be plenty of low/moderate angle terrain that would suit the boys as they worked on their Telemark turns.

A photo of a painting on the wall in Stowe's Octagon building, showing a Telemark skier in powder
This painting iin the Octagon caugt our eye, especially with the theme of the day.

Much of the mountain was shrouded in fog, but the snow was nice and soft right from when we arrived around midday.  The route that we used was Ridge View to Sunrise to Tyro to Crossover to Dalton/Liftline, and it was a perfect mix of pitches for the boys.  Both Ty and Dylan had obvious “vanilla” (in this case turning to the right) and “chocolate” (turning to the left) sides today, so we worked on catching that chocolate side up to the vanilla.  We noted that on their bad side, the boys would often have their weight a bit too far back, so we were able to pass that along to them and they were able to use it to consciously work on fixing those turns.  With this being their third day in a row on their Telemark skis though, their improved comfort level and increased skills were very apparent, and they were having a lot of fun with their turns.  E commented on how they were quite disciplined and rarely ever needed to resort to alpine turns, and she was especially impressed when she’d find herself in tight quarters throwing in an alpine turn and find that the boys were still dropping the knee.  The boys were certainly feeling those long Stowe runs in their legs, so we took a break up in the Octagon before it closed; it was mellow scene with just a few people around.

An image of four snowboarders walking up for another run in the terrain park at Stowe - March 25, 2012
Four riders prepare for another round of jumps as they climb their way back up in Stowe's lower terrain park today.

On one of our runs we stopped and watched what appeared to be an impromptu session taking place in the lower terrain park near the Mountain Triple Chair.  They had a tent set up with an announcer on a loudspeaker and music, and he was calling out the tricks that the athletes were throwing down.  It seemed like they were having a lot of fun making good use of the soft spring snow.  The weather is really supposed to cool off for the next couple of days, with a chance for a little snow tonight and mountain temperatures in the single digits tomorrow night.  I think we got lucky with the soft snow surfaces this weekend, but there definitely won’t be softening with high temperatures only in the 20s F tomorrow.  The snowpack is certainly going to be preserved this week though, and perhaps we could even see some increases depending on how much snow falls, so that will help keep the ski season going as we head into spring.

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