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September 1999, Week 3


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Denis Bogan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Skiing Discussion and Snow Reports <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 21 Sep 1999 18:57:02 -0400
text/plain (57 lines)
What I really need is snow.   Lacking that, please bear with me for a few
moments while I pull together some threads.  Several recent posts got me
thinking, TeleDude's great poem, a recent reference to a ski mag article on
frost skiing and memories of some of my WV days last season.

Last season here in MASH was pretty weird and pretty bad.  WV did better
than anywhere else - it usually does.  But even in Almost Heaven country we
had a month or so of mostly dry ground sandwiched between an average start
and a great (70 inches) March.  I was up at Whitegrass with my friend Chip
Chase on a couple of those dry ground days when cold fronts with heavy
afternoon thunderstorms rolled in.  Both times we got a few minutes of pea
size hail followed by an intense 5-10 min. of snow with about an inch of
accumulation.  Whitegrass has a large open slope that was the Weiss Knob
ski area in a former life.  I am one of the people who help to clear off
each summer's crop of boulders and thistles in the autumn so I know that it
doesn't take much snow for that slope to be skiable.  It is about 700
vertical feet and steepens steadily to about 30 deg. at the top.  On the
two afternoons mentioned, the half dozen of us who were there grabbed rock
skis (things like Bushwackers, Lookouts, skis of the edgeless waxless
persuasion, etc.) raced up the hill and grabbed a few runs of the "frost
skiing" or more accurately hail, graupel, snow, snot skiing.  Anybody who
hasn't partaken of this kind of madness just hasn't lived.

That slope has gullys on both sides and if you are good enough or crazy
enough to ski the fall line in a 5-10 foot wide gully all the way down, you
get to ski in drifts that can be as much as 18" deep after one of those
brief intense snow squalls.  Frost on leaves is OK I'm sure but frost
doesn't drift.  Which brings me to the real point, snowfences.  Chip
practices "snowfarming" in the open areas of his touring center.  He sets
up snowfences with knowledge of the local wind and he always has a good
base on 2-3 miles of mostly flat loop through his meadows.  Modern snow
fencing is thin plastic sheet with a lot of holes and comes on a roll.
It's light, easy to move around and economical.  If you had your own
Cemetery Hill somewhere and a couple hundred foot rolls of plastic snow
fence I'll bet you could do some interesting things even if the land
weren't yours.   Just read those weather reports that Wes posts every day
and the night before a storm go up and string some snowfence on a few trees
and make your own powder heaven.  In the morning when you go up to ski,
take the fence down and I'll bet few of the town citizens would know or
care what you had done.

Denis Bogan

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