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About J.Spin

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  • Location:
    Waterbury, VT
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    Skiing, Snow, Snowboarding, Outdoors, Winter Weather, Photography

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  1. I’ve posted the latest BTV NWS maps below for the storm that is expected to affect the area toward the end of the week. Winter Storm Watches extend up from SVT into eastern Addison County. For the projected accumulations map they’ve got 8-12” accumulations along the spine up into Lamoille County, with a small area of 12-18” shading east of Rutland in what is probably the Killington area. Down at the elevation of our site, there’s not too much accumulation expected, with the point forecast here suggesting up to an inch of accumulation.
  2. I’ve seen others like Will also mentioning the 2015-2016 season, and here’s the comparison I mentioned in my post above. While the 2015-2016 snowpack was higher at this point in the spring, it’s incredible how low it remained for such an extended period – to think of the Mansfield snowpack never reaching even 40” during the winter season is just amazing. This season has been a low snowpack one, but the fact that the depth at the stake still reached almost 60” and was roughly double the 2015-2016 snowpack at points near the heart of the ski season sort of puts it in perspective.
  3. I think in general you’d see a Mansfield snowpack plot like that and think it must have been a pretty poor ski season, not a halfway decent one, but it’s hard to get all those nuances out of just the snow depth unless there are some obvious massive meltdowns. All it took for a bit of perspective though was to superimpose it over the 2015-2016 snowpack plot – that plot is substantially lower than the current one for almost the entirety of the season except for the spring melt off happening now. The skiing the past few days has been great, and I guess we sort of lose perspective in how we can often be battling marginal temperatures and cloud cover to even get these nice warm spring days in April. We’ll certainly take them when we can get them. I headed up to Bolton on Friday afternoon for some turns because the weather was so nice. I wanted to take a run on Hard Luck since I knew the snow there was fairly deep and probably just about continuous to make for a nice steep run. It’s funny, but Spillway, which is a usual the big spring holdout with snow in terms of steep terrain on the main mountain, isn’t really an option at this point. Mother Nature covered it up enough on her own this season that I guess the resort decided to save the money and skip the snowmaking there. Hard Luck did look good, but I was a little too tight on time to fit it in my tour, so I ended up skiing some moderate terrain, but it made for a nice run. On Saturday I headed to Stowe to go for a tour on Spruce Peak, and again the weather was simply sunny and fabulous. I hadn’t been to the resort in a while since we didn’t have our school’s ski program this season due to COVID-19, so I poked around the Spruce Peak Village for a bit first. There’s a huge new building going up where the ski patrol building was at the base of the Sunny Spruce Quad, so that’s a big addition. I’m not sure what’s going to be going in there, or if it’s more lodging? As usual, the crowd of folks earning turns was in the MMSC lot, and I found about a dozen cars or so there and ran into a friend of the family who was there skiing with some of her friends. You almost can’t help but run into someone you know on these days. All I can say is that Main Street delivered what were unquestionably the best turns of the weekend, and probably the best corn snow I’ve skied the entire spring season so far. I’m not sure what it is about Main Street, but year after year after year, it just seems to deliver superior corn snow. Maybe it’s because it faces south and really starts its corn snow cycling early, or maybe it’s because they blow that massive amount of dense snow for the racers, or maybe it’s because it gets so much less traffic than the trails on Mansfield. Maybe it’s a combination of all these factors, but it just delivered ridiculously smooth, perfect peel-away corn snow turns when I was there. The snow seems pretty deep, and it’s definitely worth more trips while that snow is around. On Sunday I headed back to Bolton to catch that run on Hard Luck that I’d missed on Friday. Temperatures were definitely a bit cooler than Saturday, with more clouds around, but it was still plenty warm to keep the snow soft. Hard Luck is nearly continuous except for a small area near the top, but from there on down it has solid coverage that runs right into Sherman’s. There’s still top-to-bottom coverage on the main mountain via the usual Sherman’s route to Beech Seal, but it’s getting close to a gap near the middle of Beech Seal. That won’t be continuous through next weekend with the reasonably warm temperatures in the forecast though. Some pictures from this weekend’s time out there on the snow:
  4. In my previous report I mentioned where this season sat with respect to winter snowpack duration (fourth lowest), but I hadn’t checked on where it sat in terms of melt out date. This season’s April 5th date came in third lowest ahead of ‘09-‘10 (April 4th) and ’11-‘12 (March 22nd). It’s certainly in the lower half of seasons, but not any sort of grand aberration for our site because it’s also quite close to ‘08-‘09 (April 6th), ’15-‘16 (April 8th), and even last season (April 7th). It appears to be much more anomalous over by Phin, but I’m guessing the historical data must be coming from other sites as well because that current Randolph site only has about ten years of data as far as I know.
  5. Yeah, it’s absolutely a complement to lift-served, it’s not really meant to fully replace it for most of us. With that said, I’m big on snow quality, so I’ll happily ski one run of quality powder (or even quality corn snow in the spring) that required skinning vs. four runs of lift-served chattery ice. I’m like PF in that I’ll typically do one run via skinning, especially on Mansfield where you’re looking at 2,000’+ of vertical in one run, or nearly 3,000’ of vertical if you’re going all the way up to The Chin. Sometimes I’ll do a run and a half if there’s fresh snow that’s good only from a certain elevation on up. Or at Bolton, I might tour around and do a few half runs if I’m exploring across the mountain and hitting different pods that don’t require full descents in between. You can think of it very much as a way of exercising with a free ski run at the end. Skis with skins on them are very efficient mechanism for moving about on the snow. It’s not as if it has to be arduous – you can pick whatever pitch you want for an ascent, and it can literally be the same amount of effort as going out for a walk or a gentle hike if desired. I typically enjoy the up as much as the down, and I generally take a nice pace on the way up that’s comfortable, but gets the heart rate up if I want it to. It all depends on if I’m looking for the up to be a leisurely stroll, or if I’m feeling like I want to put in a bit more effort and get more exercise out of it on any given day. As long as the up isn’t arduous, it’s just a great overall experience because you’re out on the mountain, often alone or with some friends/family, enjoying the scenery at a much slower and quieter pace than lift-served skiing. In the winter it’s fun to ascend and watch the fresh snow get deeper and deeper the more you climb, and all the while, you know you don’t even have to hike down because you’re going to just take off your skins and get a free ski run out of the deal.
  6. You couldn’t be more on the mark with this one - when I saw your nice picture of the last push of the season at Spruce, my immediate thought was “Woo! Skinning time at Spruce!” Would I probably do some lift-served skiing at one of the late-season resorts if I had a season’s pass there, sure, but in heading off to other areas, there are some pretty large thresholds to overcome to top just skinning for turns at a local resort. Do I really want to travel an hour plus down to Killington, pay ~$100 for a ticket, and deal with potential crowds to ski, or do I want to travel less than 30 minutes, pay nothing, have less skier traffic, and get in my cardio for the day? It’s not as if I’m interested in skiing anything near bell-to-bell anyway, I just want to get out for a couple of runs, get some turns, get some exercise, enjoy the nice snow and weather, and then have the rest of the day to do whatever else I want to do. I mean one has to sort of LOL at the thought of paying $400 to bring the family for lift-served turns for a day when there’s a free alternative that’s closer and has so many other perks as well. It’s not that I’m at all opposed to heading down to Killington for some great spring turns on Superstar, but they’ll have to get well into those reduced spring ticket prices if they want to compete against tickets that are priced at $0.
  7. PF, did our early April snowstorm count, or is there a higher threshold required to satisfy your prediction?
  8. As of this morning’s CoCoRaHS report, there’s no snow left on our property, so April 4th was the last day with continuous winter snowpack here for this season. This year’s snowpack start date was on December 6th, which is 4 days later than the mean, and it ran continuously through yesterday, which was 10 days ahead of the mean. So the overall run was 120 days, which is about two weeks less than normal due to the slightly late start and early finish. This season was on the lower end, but there are three seasons in my data set with shorter snowpack durations: ‘09-‘10 with 119 days, ’15-‘16 with 103 days, and ’11-‘12 with 90 days.
  9. After finding such nice conditions yesterday, my wife and I headed up for another session at Bolton this morning. Based on the forecasts I saw, those temperatures and humidity should have preserved everything – and they definitely did. The powder was just as good as yesterday – it seemed to have settled a touch, but the L.E. was all still there, so it skied just as nicely. The groomed terrain on the upper mountain that had been blasted by the wind yesterday was much improved today, I guess due to another round of the groomers pulverizing it with the new snow mixed in, and this time without the winds scouring it away. We were talking about how the resort’s essentially come full circle on the season as it often does, and we’re back to the way it can be in November and early December when the focus is on the main mountain, but the other pods that aren’t open have enough snow to ski. All you have to do is traverse out to the powder. We both remarked at what a fantastic late winter day it was, with the powder, the Colorado blue skies, and humidity to match. We were just starting to find a few spots in the direct sun where the powder was starting to get sun-affected around midday when we were leaving, but it really was holding up quite well with these humidity levels. A few shots from today:
  10. March Totals Days with new snow: 15 Accumulating Storms: 7 Snowfall: 14.1” Liquid Equivalent: 1.98” SDD: 275.5 I’ve put together my numbers for March, and it was certainly on the lean side with snowfall running about half of our average. It’s interesting to note that we still had more snow than last March, and three other Marches in my data set as well, so it’s certainly at least a tier above the basement in terms of snowfall. Liquid equivalent was also about half our average as well, and it’s not too surprising that snowfall and L.E. would run somewhat in sync. The other parameters are reasonably below average too, due to the greater than average amount of benign weather days. Number of storms and days with snow are probably not as far off the mark, but I’d have to run the averages on those parameters to know.
  11. It’s interesting to hear that about Mansfield – when I was out today at Bolton I saw that the front face trails on Vista had been absolutely hammered by the wind, which is not surprising with the way they face west, but apparently even areas of the east side got hit pretty hard as well. Timberline is usually a nice place to go to get away from the wind, but it’s not open right now because coverage just isn’t great down that low, but lower Wilderness is another good option for sheltered terrain, and that was serving up some great powder. I headed up not too long after opening today, and it was really dumping when I arrived thanks to that push of moisture that hit in the morning. The old base is just so consolidated and hard after a couple weeks of spring weather and no new snow, that I didn’t really find any of the steep groomed terrain that had really improved. Either the wind had blown everything away, or it was exposed enough to the wind that the groomers couldn’t do much with it. Low and moderate angle groomers on the bottom half of the mountain seemed to have incorporated the snow nicely though – turns were nice and quiet, so the new snow must have stayed put and been churned in by the groomers. Low and moderate angle powder terrain was the way to go though. I’d thrown both fats and midfats on the car today, and ended up using the midfats and found they had plenty of float. There’s was definitely enough L.E. in the snow to set up everything below black diamond pitch. A few shots from today’s outing in the Village and on the mountain:
  12. Event totals: 2.1” Snow/0.58” L.E. We picked up a final tenth of an inch of accumulation today, and I assume the above totals are the final numbers for this storm at our site since it seems like we’re clearing out. Details from the 6:00 P.M. Waterbury observations: New Snow: 0.1 inches New Liquid: Trace Temperature: 27.0 F Sky: Mostly Clear Snow at the stake: Trace
  13. Here’s the north to south listing of available snowfall totals I’ve seen from the Vermont ski areas along the spine for this event. The focus for this storm was certainly the Northern Greens, with lesser amounts in the Central Greens, and not much reported out of the Southern Greens. Jay Peak: 12” Smuggler’s Notch: 9” Stowe: 7” Bolton Valley: 9” Sugarbush: 3” Pico: 3” Killington: 3” Okemo: 0” Stratton: 0” Mount Snow: 1”
  14. I stopped off at Bolton today for some turns, and here are the general accumulations I found from this latest storm starting from near the Bottom of the Bolton Valley Access Road: 500’: 0.5” 1,000’: 2” 1,500’: 5” 2,000’: 7” 2,500’: 8” 3.000’: 9” The biggest jumps in accumulation appear to be in the 1,000’ to 2,000’ elevation band. The resort is reporting 9” in the past 48 hours on their snow report, so that seems in synch with what I found up at the main mountain.
  15. Event totals: 2.0” Snow/0.58” L.E. Details from the 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations: New Snow: 0.6 inches New Liquid: 0.01 inches Snow/Water Ratio: 60.0 Snow Density: 1.7% H2O Temperature: 22.8 F Sky: Flurries Snow at the stake: 0.5 inches