For the record.
The forecast suggested new snow at higher elevations in Northern Vermont. I had a voucher to burn so I set my alarm extra early and made the drive to Stowe looking forward to a few inches (which would be a top five day of the year for my season). With modest expectations, I boarded the Forerunner and prepared for disappointment.
What I found was startling…
Last Saturday at Smuggs, I gazed across the notch at the Nose and marvelled that routes like Profanity, Hourglass, and Hellbrook were already long gone. The Mansfield summit usually looks more filled in by the end of December. I usually reserve my two Stowe vouchers for days when I can ski off the ridge. But those days are long gone this season, so I decided to pick the best spring skiing day possible instead.
I was hell bent on getting the full spring skiing experience. So I lathered up my arms and face with sunscreen and hiked up to the Forerunner in a short sleeved T-shirt. I was wearing the only short sleeved T-shirt to be seen at Stowe that day. Despite the base area pushing into the mid-50s causing a puddle of water in the loading area, the top of the mountain was in the 40s with a 20-30 MPH wind. The chairlift ride was mostly pleasant except coming over the final ridge. The brief unpleasant wind burst was well worth skiing without a jacket.
I started off skiing some groomers which were frozen despite the warm temperatures. I was dumbfounded at how bad the snow conditions were. Occasionally you could find soft snow and make an awesome carve. But on your next turn, you would find frozen groomer tracks or legit ice. It was mostly unpleasant skiing.
Earlier this week, I wondered if it would be possible to ski more days this month than I had last month. Thankfully, I am now halfway towards that benchmark. The weather forecast didn’t seem likely to deliver enough snow for earned turns. But several online reports on Saturday suggested otherwise. The Mansfield Stake recorded 8″ up high but I also knew there would be far less down low.
Despite the warming temperatures, there was enough snow to start skinning from the base of Nosedive. I am always thankful to have my skis on the snow rather than on my back during the ascent. It felt great to be skinning again and I was anxious to ski natural snow for the first time in many months. But with only an inch of snow on top of fast grass down low, I knew that I would not be skiing top to bottom.