Journal (January-February 2011)

Day 67: Feb. 27
Stowe Derby day!  I think they had a record number of entrants.  Meg and I went up in the afternoon and took some runs.  Weather was warm and  they had gotten a couple of inches overnight.  Starr was pretty good as the new snow made the bumps skiable.  Goat on the other hand was skied too much.  First it’s hard to get into the trail, both cut-offs dump you onto rocks.  Then there still are lots of rocks lurking behind bumps.  I hit one and took a dime size hole out of my P-tex right down to the core of the ski!

Day 66: Feb. 26
A hosting day.  The weather cooperated and produced a partly sunny day with very little wind, contrary to the forecast.  Very busy at Mansfield, less busy at Spruce.  I had Spruce in the morning which was very nice,  Good surface on even Upper Smugglers.  My afternoon was on the gondola where the conditions held up pretty well.

Day 65: Feb. 25
A hosting day.  Snow began as I arrived and was very heavy by afternoon.  I had gondola in the morning and conditions improved as it snowed.  Mansfield in the afternoon was good as well, but the wind was beginning to kick up.  Everybody is in a good mood so hosting was pretty easy.

Day 64: Feb. 24
Sunny and relatively warm morning.  Everybody’s talking about tomorrow’s storm.  I hope it doesn’t jinx us!  The mountain did some serious grooming in anticipation of the storm including Centerline.  It’s the first time this season!  Liftline was good as was Centerline and Hayride.  The crowd was bigger than yesterday, but not overwhelming: good line on quad, short line on Lookout and Gondola.

Looking East from Top of Quad, yup, you could see Mt Washington

Looking East from Top of Quad, yup, you could see Mt Washington

Day 63: Feb. 23
Hosting Day!  Finally a sunny day with almost no wind.  You could be comfortable standing around.  Visibilty was great: Mt Washington standing out to the East and you could see down to Killington in the South.  Mansfield in the morning was excellent.  A slow arriving crowd and it never got too crowded.  Medium line on quad, inside the building on gondola.  Spruce in the afternoon.  The Headwall was causing problems even though I’ve seen it much worse!  My newly tuned skis were working well.

Day 62: Feb. 22
Bluebird day, but a little chilly!  The pesky breeze just won’t completely go away.  It was nice on the gondola, but riding up Sensation the wind was right in your face.  Conditions are getting a little tired as they rework the same surface every night.  Fewer cars in the lot than I would have expected.  There were lift lines, but not very long.   Spruce seemed busier than the mountain.

Day 61: Feb. 21
Another good hosting day.  The little bit of snow we got overnight made a big difference!  The day cleared off quicker than forecasted, but that meant the temperature actually went down during the day.  It was 10 when we arrived at 8:00 and 6 when we left at 3:00!  Modest, late-arriving crowd.  Longest line was on the gondola.  I gave a three mountain tour to a guest, call me Walt!

Day 60: Feb. 19
Hosting day!  Plus the freeze after the thaw!  Strong winds with declining temperatures.  They did get all the lifts except the gondola and Sunny Spruce running.  It was a good thing they did because there was a huge holiday crowd!  Conditions on Mansfield were not bad considering what transpired in the preceding 24 hours.  However Spruce was brutal!  Easy Street was boiler plate and the wind blew off all the new snow!  On Main Street at the top there were death cookies.  Side Street was OK if you found where the wind left the snow.

Day 59: Feb. 18
They blew the weather forecast today which meant I picked the wrong part of the day to ski!  I went up in the morning to ski in intermittent showers.  The surface was very spring-like and the groomed trails such as Perry and Gondolier were excellent.  Chin Clip on the other hand needed skiing.  The surface was soft and grabby so it made for a real workout.  I went home at noon and the sun came out for a brilliant afternoon with temperatures up to 58 degrees!

Day 58: Feb. 17
Nice Spring skiing day!  Sunny with temperatures hitting about 40.  Gondola got soft, but Mansfield stayed firmer.   Starr needed skiing.  Liftline and National were good as was Hayride (the bumps were very skiable).

Day 57: Feb. 16
Nice recovery from Monday’s warmth and Tuesday’s cold and wind!  The groomed trails were really nice!  I took several cruising runs down Perry and Gondolier – both good.  Even Cliff Trail was in good shape.  Liftline, Hayride, and Nosedive were all good.  Had lunch at Spruce then took a couple of nice runs on Main Street and Lower Smugglers.

Day 56: Feb. 13
Antique ski race at Suicide Six!  Great day.  I had never been to Suicide Six and was impressed with its variety for a small area.  It has everything from a long beginner run to a steep woods run.  Lots of bump areas to compliment smooth groomers.  The base lodge which is relatively new is a study in something-for-everyone: there’s a bar/restaurant, cafeteria, ski shop – all in a relatively small area.  The antique ski race was fun also with relatively few competitors, but a wide range of skis.  And what do you know, Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee was there as both a celebrity and a competitor.

Day 55: Feb. 12
Another excellent hosting day with sun and great conditions.  I began at Spruce and finished at the gondola.  At Spruce we did some speed control at the foot of the headwall – kind of a waste there.  I understand in the afternoon they moved it to the Horse Barn pitch where it makes a whole lot more sense.  They had 32 buses!  But still the crowd wasn’t as large as last weekend.

Day 54: Feb. 11
Wow!  A sneaky 3-4 inches over night made for some great skiing.  I took Starr, Lookout, Upper National, and the midsection of Goat.  All were in good shape.  At times I was skiing well, but still have moments where I get too far back in the bumps.  I did put in a full day and enjoyed it.

Day 53: Feb. 8
A windblown 5-6″ with descending temperatures.  Apparently not enough to bring out the regulars so it was rather quiet.  I was surprised to be able to find untracked on Chin Clip mid-morning!  I appeared to be the first one down upper Waterfall as well, but with the wind it’s possible an earlier track had been drifted over.  Trails were definitely not trashed however.  This prompted me to take Goat from  the top.  I believe I was  the first to take the top pitch which is unusual.  Granted it still isn’t in the best shape, but there was soft snow all along the left edge.  And I think I skied that section better than the lower Goat below Midway.

Day 52: Feb. 6
Didn’t get up to the mountain until the afternoon and by then the 8-11″ of snow overnight was hard to find.  In fact the surface was reminiscent of the old, pre-grooming days where there were small bumps even on the cruiser intermediate trails!  Meg caught on to that quickly and decided we might as well ski steep trails if we were going to have to work hard anyway.  Starr was in good shape as were the big bumps on skier’s left of Pitch 13.  We finished the day on Spruce.  Smugglers has lots of little bumps, but very skiable.

Looking East from Top of the Gondola

Looking East from Top of the Gondola

Day 51: Feb. 5
Great hosting day: sunny blue skies with temperatures right around 32 – above, that is!  People were in a great mood.  I took many pictures for people.  Big crowd with lines on quad, gondi, and even Lookout for awhile.  We are now doing some speed control with the ski patrol at the bottom of North Slope.  It was such a nice day I didn’t even mind standing there for a half hour.  After hosting, Meg and I took a few runs.  By then the clouds had started to come in, but it was still warm and nice conditions.  Since neither of us had lunch we decided to stop at Piecasso for dinner on  the way home.  While we were there it started snowing and in the time it took to finish dinner and drive home, we had 2-3 inches of snow!  It let up after that, but later we had lightning and thunder (while snowing).  Amazing day, to start as nice as it did and then turn so completely into a major snow storm!

Mainstreet and Mansfield from top of Sensation

Mainstreet and Mansfield from top of Sensation

Day 50: Feb. 4
UVM Winter Carnival!  So I went over to Spruce and caught some of the action.  Some excellent skiers racing GS on Main Street.  I saw just the first run, but once again the top racers were clustered within 1 second of each other.  There was also some excellent skiing to be had although they still haven’t completely removed the whalebacks from Side Street!  Smugglers was in good shape with even the last pitch above Sunny Spruce very skiable.

Day 49: Feb. 3
Hosting day.  Good thing as I need to recover from yesterday.  Big early crowd as they actually thought something would be left from yesterday!  The gondola was on early wind-hold so I took the job of informing people.  By 9:10 they decided the wind had let up enough to start the process of opening the gondola which takes 40 minutes.  By 9:30 I was tending a rather large lift line.  I told someone that if they didn’t make their estimate, I was out of there!  But they did and I could face the masses!  The skies cleared and it became a bluebird day.  I went over to Spruce for lunch and spent a nice sunny afternoon there.  They have blown some huge piles of snow on Side Street including the Horse Barn Pitch.  That’s all that trail needs are more hazards to intimidate those looking for the Easier Way Down!

Day 48: Feb. 2
Wow!  Finally a powder day.  I could be picky and say it wasn’t all that deep, but between yesterday and today I’d estimate at least a foot.  Combined with the Woodchuck day discount it also meant a busy day!  I took Starr from  the top and it was crowded – not what you need on that top pitch.  Lookout was good.  We met Charlie and Rob Church for lunch then skied with Rob.  Since he likes woods we did Bypass, Nosedive Glade, and the lower Goat woods.  I was sweating after that.  Great Day!

Day 47: Feb. 1
Light snow all day plus the fact they had groomed almost everything in anticipation of the big storm made for some nice skiing.  I put in a full, social day skiing with Bob Edmonds, Jerry Barton, and Bruce Prince in the afternoon.

Chin from Nosedive on a cold day!

Chin from Nosedive on a cold day!

Day 46: Jan. 31
Subzero temps in the morning.  By the afternoon the thermometer at the top of the quad was at 0!  But it was a bluebird sunny day with no wind which made it enjoyable.  Skied the gondola in the morning then switched to the quad.  Most trails were in good shape, but Nosedive was the old Nosedive: slick, particularly in the turns

Day 45: Jan. 28
Short day, but still good skiing!  I had some good runs down Starr and the Pitch 13 bumps.  As usual started on the gondola and then switched to the quad.  The quad actually developed a lift line – a busy Friday.  I found that you can’t cruise quite as freely when there are more people.

Smugglers Notch from Top of Hayride

Smugglers Notch from Top of Hayride

Day 44: Jan. 27
Another good day.  A little snow overnight and some grooming made for some great skiing.  Gondolier and Perry were just effortless (although they were blowing snow on the bottom pitch of Perry so it paid to switch over to Gondolier at that point.)  I also pulled non-stoppers on Nosedive and Hayride.

Day 43: Jan. 26
Some light snow really helped things.  Gondolier was great, you could really fly with no effort.  Temperatures were slightly warmer (up to 10).  I tried Lookout and had a disastrous run. Too many obstacles to dodge and I’m not getting far enough forward in these boots.  I did better on Starr and Goat.

Day 42: Jan. 25
Well, yesterday it was -30 at my house in the morning and -23 at the mountain so I stayed home.  Today was a little better, but temperatures still just made it above zero.  The skiing was good.  I spent time on the gondola for obvious reasons, but braved the quad as well.  I find my feet get cold after about 5 runs at these temps.

Day 41: Jan.22
Hosting day.  It was supposed to be a very cold day, but it turned out warmer than forecast.  It was a sunny day with minimal wind and the temperatures rose above zero.  I spent the morning on Mansfield and the afternoon at Spruce.  Spruce was particularly nice in the sun.  Small crowd for a weekend, but I’m sure the forecasted temperatures kept people away.  Too bad since it was the warmest day we’ll have for awhile!  Took in the ice sculptures, torchlight parade, and fireworks  that evening.

Day 40: Jan. 21
A few inches of feathers fell overnight and that on top of grooming made for some nice skiing.  They’ve finally groomed in the whalebacks on Perry, Hayride, and Gulch.  Hayride was good, but Gulch was slick.  Also good were National, Liftline, and Nose Dive.  They were blowing snow on Ridgeview and that was wild: zero visibility and 5 foot piles of snow!  They’re still blowing on Gondolier also.  I ran into Tom and Irene Light again riding  up the gondola.  We had a good chat and I told them they were in this week’s Stowe reporter.

Day 39: Jan. 20
More good skiing, but I guess I was still feeling yesterday.  My timing in the bumps was off so didn’t enjoy myself quite as much.  Nose Dive was in great shape even in the turns.  You could take the high lines and find soft edgable snow.  They’re blowing snow on the entire length of Gondolier, very impressive.  I finished the day with a great run down upper Waterfall which had some untouched snow.

Day 38: Jan. 19
Great day!  Good conditions, moderate temperatures.  Put in a full day of skiing.  Starr, Goat are technically closed (I skied Starr anyway), but almost everything else was open.  I restored the canting on my right boot and they were the most comfortable they’ve been!

Day 37: Jan. 18
Snowing again!  I had a short day as Dish called to move up my appointment!  Took Hayride again.  Right now it’s the toughest trail on the mountain.

Chin from the top of Lookout

Chin from the top of Lookout

Day 36: Jan. 17
Martin Luther King Day!  A beauty (see picture) but cold – hardly got above zero at the top.  I was hosting, started on Gondola then Mansfield in the afternoon.  Struggled keeping my feet warm in the morning.  A moderate crowd that thoroughly enjoyed the day inspite of the temperature.  I took Hayride late in the day for the first time this year.  Oof – irregular bumps on whalebacks.  Despite the temperature I worked up a sweat!

Day 35: Jan. 14
Good skiing!  Began on the Gondola and then switched to quad.  Top pitch of National is very good!  Also had a good run down the bumps on Pitch 13.

Day 34: Jan. 13
Arrived to find gondola and quad on wind-hold so the early arriving crowd had to put up with Lookout lift.  They did get the quad going before 9:00, but the gondola never did load.  Skiing was good with 9-12″ of snow: I took Lookout, Starr (from S-53), National, Liftline, and more.  Still have to be careful on the natural snow trails as rocks are easy to find!  One of my most fun runs was on Tyro!  They’ve blown the piles for the big terrain park, but haven’t built the elements.  There was lots of untracked along the edges.  It was cold and I struggled with cold toes, but it was still a fun day – well, half day as I left at 12:30 and had lunch at McCarthy’s!

Day 33: Jan. 12
Well, finally!  We got some of this storm ~10″.  The snow was dense so the wind didn’t just blow it away.  Should help conditions significantly.  Today it paid to stay on the steep where you could power through the snow.  Made the bumps on upper National and Pitch 13 very skiable.  On the flatter trails I would have liked some fatter skis.  BTW, driving today was challenging (I came from South Burlington) with wipers icing up repeatedly.

Looking East from Top of the Quad

Looking East from Top of the Quad

Day 32: Jan. 11
A sunny, pleasant day with a real packed powder surface!  This is what it’s supposed to be like.  We got a few inches of fluff overnight and that on top of grooming was effortless.  I did a non-stopper down Nosedive!  I finished the afternoon in the sun on Spruce.

Day 31: Jan. 10
Wow!  You know it’s a bad snow year when 6-8″ fills the parking lots!  The wind blew it all off Gondolier and Perry was hit-or-miss.  But Mansfield was in good shape.  They groomed National before the snow came so it was very good.  Nosedive was also good.  Gulch has mini whalebacks which were a blast!

Sun through Snow Crystals from Top  of Lookout
Sun through Snow Crystals from Top of Lookout

Day 30: Jan. 8
A little light snow in the morning.  The mountain was busier than I expected.  Particularly busy hosting day due to injuries and people over-their-heads.  The Toll Road is closed which became a problem for a lot of people.  They groomed Nosedive, but by the end of the day it was pretty slick.  Met Tom  and Irene Light skiing in leather Alpina telemark boots with adapted alpine bindings – quite a character!

Day 29: Jan. 7
Gondolier was particularly nice since most of the traffic seemed to prefer Perry Merrill.  Nosdive was re-opened with some fantastic whalebacks particularly up in the turns.  It changed the terrain completely!  Good surface all the way down to Cliff Trail.  Liftline was a little slick again.

Day 28: Jan. 6
Had new custom footbeds put in at Inner Bootworks.  They made a big difference!  I still have to tighten the boots some, but the overall feel is much better.  Nosedive was closed since they are blowing snow on it again.    I made the mistake of making my last run down the Lower National: icy irregular bumps – oof!

Day 27: Jan. 5
A little fresh snow made Gondolier an absolute delight so I skied it twice!  Perry Merrill wasn’t as good.  Liftline had been groomed which made the surface a little wider and more edgeable.  Nosedive on the other hand wasn’t as enjoyable as yesterday since it was getting a little bumped and skied off.  Lower National was interesting with the new snow and icy bumps.

The Chin from Nosedive
The Chin from Nosedive

Day 26: Jan. 4
Surprise!  Liftline and Nosedive were open today.  Both had been groomed to a firm surface, but that was better than the tired, loose surface on the Gondola runs.  Nosedive was particularly good while Liftline was more difficult to edge.

Day 25: Jan. 3
The third “recovery” of the season!  Temperatures dropped over night after 3 days of warm temperatures.  Natural snow trails are wiped out.  they were blowing snow on Sunrise and Sunny Spruce.  Trails they groomed were hard but skiable, trails they hadn’t groomed were to be avoided.  Quad shut down at noon?  Best skiing other than under the guns was on Sensation!

Day 24: Jan. 1, 2011
Happy New Year!!  Warm day with light rain in the morning.  People stayed away in droves!  Skiing was actually good Spring conditions, but that’s not what January 1st is supposed to be like.   Hosting was pretty easy due to lack of people!  The sun made an appearance on-and-off particularly at the top.

November-December Journal

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