It's tough to remember that there were actually a couple of good ski days
last year. It seems so long ago.

Glad you got to have some good snow for your vacation.


On Mon, 3 Jan 2005 07:25:22 -0700, Jay Silveira <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>One of the nice things about heading back to New England for the holidays
>was that Ty would (hopefully) get a chance to play in the snow.  Although we
>do get valley snow in the Bitterroot of Montana, it pales in comparison to
>what we get in Vermont.  So far this season the Bitterroot had only had a
>couple of 1 inch snowfalls before we left for the holiday break.  We arrived
>in the Boston area on Dec 22nd to only a few patches of snow, which were
>quickly washed away by the deluge received on the evening of the 23rd.
>Fortunately, winter returned on the 26th as an ocean effect snow event began
>blasting the Massachusetts coast.  By mid morning, 2-3 inches had
>accumulated at Erica’s house south of Boston, and we were able to go out in
>the yard and have a snowball fight.  The snow was quite dry however, so
>making snowballs took a bit of work.  This event was only supposed to drop a
>dusting of snow on the areas up north, but the steady, light snow continued
>all the way on our drive up to Burlington.  At my parent’s place in
>Shelburne, we received about 3-4 inches of the same dry snow.  I checked the
>hydrology readings to get a little better estimate of the snow density, and
>found that the Smuggler’s Notch, Jay Peak, and Mt. Mansfield weather
>stations gave values of 5.8, 8.0, and 9.0% H2O respectively.
>I got in touch with Chris, who was staying at the Sugarbush ski house that
>evening, and he said the ‘bush was expecting as much as 5-10 inches of
>accumulation.  We also got in touch with Dave, and set a tentative plan of
>skiing Sugarbush the next day (depending on how the snow actually fell).
>Early the next morning, Dave called from Boston to let me know that he
>wasn’t going to be able to make it.  The Boston area had been slammed with
>snow (I heard reports of 12-20 inches) and he said it was going to take him
>so long to drive in the snow, that it just wasn’t going to be worth it.  I
>contacted Chris a little later, and he updated me on the ski area snowfall
>totals.  He said Sugarbush was only reporting 3-5 inches of new snow, but
>Jay Peak was reporting 12-14 inches.  Sugarbush was our preference, but it
>was hard to argue with a foot of new snow, so Chris picked me up and we
>headed north to Jay Peak.
>The temperature was 8 F when Chris picked me up, and dropped down to 2 F by
>the time we reached the base area of Jay Peak.  We knew it was going to be a
>pretty cold day, although I took comfort in knowing that it was at least 20
>degrees warmer than a day I’d spent there once with James (-20 F with a wind
>chill of -80 F).  I was happy to find out that I could use my Vermont
>driver’s license to get a $37 lift ticket (don’t lose your Vermont license
>when you move out of state if you can help it).  We arrived at nearly
>lunchtime, so I knew fresh tracks were going to be a challenge to find.  I
>wanted to go for quality over quantity anyway, and explore the area beyond
>Beaver Pond Glade.  We rode the “Green Mountain Freezer” Quad which clearly
>lived up to its nickname.  We got off the lift and found that the unloading
>zone was a horrible surface of ice, since the fierce wind had blown away
>much of the new powder.  Fortunately, once we got onto Ullr’s, we found a
>nice packed powder surface.  The final steeper pitch leading down to Beaver
>Pond Glade had seen its powder blown away by the stiff winds however, and
>the surface was composed of refrozen boiler plate.  We found that if we cut
>left onto Poma Line, we could ski some bumps that were holding onto a bit
>more snow.
>We passed by the signs marking the ski area boundary, and side-stepped up a
>bit until we found an offshoot from the main hiking trail.  Not knowing the
>area, we wanted to take it conservatively at first.  We poked around in the
>terrain below and found plenty of steep tree lines, which were cut, but far
>less extensively than many of the typical Jay Peak glades.  Unfortunately,
>this terrain was really too steep for the density of snow we’d received.  We
>found ourselves quickly cutting down to, and skiing on, the crusty base of
>old snow.  Coverage was good in general, partly due to the impenetrable
>base, but areas of rock and sticks were evident in the steep ledgy areas.
>It was tough to get a really good gauge of the snowfall in the area since it
>seemed that some wind had penetrated the trees, but a few checks revealed
>anywhere from 6-12 inches of new snow where we were.  The main lines were
>certainly tracked, but we found some untracked lines as we explored.  The
>powder skiing was actually better as we got into the mellower terrain
>further down, where you could avoid touching down as hard while turning.
>Eventually the glades ended, and we merged into the trails for a gentle
>glide back to the base.  The traverse was relaxing (and a bit slow due to
>all the new snow) on skis, but I was cringing at the though of riding it on
>my snowboard.  I have to think some snowboarders stay away from this area
>due to the traverse, but maybe they don’t mind it as much as I do.
>We braved another windy ride on the high-speed quad and headed back to the
>same area for our next run.  This time, we took the hike all the way to the
>top of the local ridge, and continued a little further as the hiking trail
>began to lose elevation.  We even passed another ski area boundary marker,
>giving us the impression that the resort was telling us, “You may have been
>outside the boundary before, but now you are REALLY out of bounds”.  I was
>hoping to find an area with a mellower pitch at the top as we got further
>along the traverse, but things still stayed really steep.  There is a lot of
>great expert terrain back there that will be a blast with a bigger dump.  We
>played it conservatively once again, making sure we didn’t head off the far
>side of the rise, so we were still in the presence of tracks made by others.
>  But, we did find a lot more untracked snow now that we were further out.
>Even though the temperature was around 0 F, it was pretty comfortable out of
>the wind in the trees.  We were even able to set up for some still photos,
>which was a good temperature test for my digital camera (Olympus C-750).
>This was probably the lowest temperature at which I’d used it, and it seemed
>to perform fine.  I didn’t even store it in my jacket to keep it warm.  The
>electronic screen in the viewfinder was a little slow in refreshing, but
>everything else seemed normal.
>Although it might have been fun to take another run and explore more of the
>area, we decided to give ourselves a rest from the extreme wind chill on the
>high speed quad and rode the low speed Metro Quad to the left.  We used it
>to get us over for a run on the Village Chair lift line, where we enjoyed
>cruising through the powder on the left side of the trail near the vacation
>homes.  I’ve always found it neat to be able to cruise the powder right
>along the edge of these houses, while dodging furniture, toys, and whatever
>else comes your way.  It is quite the mellow pitch, but I knew this powder
>would be light enough that it would barely slow us down.  We rode the
>Village Chair and skied back to the car, as we were pretty chilled after a
>few hours out in such temperatures.  Overall, the new foot of snow made for
>a good, although not really spectacular day due to how dry the powder was
>(the NWS Jay Peak station reported 10 inches of 8% H2O powder).  But it sure
>beat what conditions would have been like without any new snow.  It had
>remained snowy and windy throughout the day, and it really felt like we were
>sitting under the Jay Peak cloud.  If we looked up, we could see blue sky at
>times, which suggested the sun was out somewhere, but not at Jay Peak.  You
>could even see the snow streaking across the sky against the sunny backlit
>background, and it felt like you were surrounded by your own miniature
>Once we drove to the west away from Jay Peak, the sky became almost clear,
>but we could look back and see the huge bank of cloud shrouding the
>mountain.  It was quite a weather contrast.  The worst part about the drive
>home was some jerk in front of us (driving an SUV from Massachusetts) that
>threw his Gatorade bottle right out the window onto the side of the road.
>It was obviously in clear view of all the other cars on the road, especially
>ours, which was right behind him.  I’ve often wondered where all that crap
>comes from along the sides of the roads; well, here’s an example.  We took
>several photos of his license plate (it looks like MA tag 1759 MC), although
>I’m not sure how much can really be done if we report it to the state
>police.  At least it’s reported here.
>Upon returning to the Boston area on Dec 30th, we found that Erica’s house
>had received 12 inches of snow from the storm.  So overall, Ty was able to
>get quite a good snow fix from the trip, and even got in a couple days of
>back yard slide time on his skis in Vermont.  Dad was just happy to get in
>his annual day of Vermont skiing, but he had a lot of fun playing around
>too. ;)  We got back to Montana yesterday to find two inches of snow at our
>house (our biggest accumulation of the season) and cold enough temperatures
>to keep it around for a bit.  I’m sure we’ll let Ty get out and play in it
>as much as possible while it lasts.
>A few pictures from our Jay Peak day are available at:
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