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Last Sunday, I decided to head out and take advantage of all the new snow that had fallen during the week in
Once at the mountain, I could see that snow was being made over near the quad, so I wasn’t too interested in heading over there for the ascent. I was shooting to hike/skin up Nosedive anyway, since its exposure really seems to help it hold plenty of snow at the fringes of the season. I pulled into the gondola parking area and found about three or four other cars in the lot, with patchy snow on the nearby slopes at around 1,600’. In terms of gear, I’d decided to use my old Atomic Betacarves for the day’s skiing. Long ago they were my carving ski, but it looks as though they’ve finally descended to the status of “rock” skis, or at least grass skis. My plan was to ski down as far as possible (which looked like it was going to be basically back to the base) and I find it’s just a lot more fun to do it on a pair of skis that you’re really not worried about. I don’t really have a pair of skins sized for my Betacarves, and when I tried the skins from my CMH fats, the skins were too wide to even fit between the brakes. Fortunately, it turns out that our “guest” skins were a pretty good fit with regard to dimensions. They’re actually sized for 180 cm skis, but the tail clip has enough adjustment to go another 10 cm or so and it ultimately looked to create a pretty bomb-proof setup.
I made the short trip from the parking lot to the bottom of Nosedive, and while it was mostly bare earth on the trip across, as soon as I got to the bottom of Nosedive proper (~1,600) there was consistent snow. It was fairly thin cover (~1 inch) with some earth and a lot of grass showing, but it was definitely skiable and even skinnable if you weren’t too picky. I was feeling the flow of the hiking however, and decided that I’d hold off on the skinning until the walking became more difficult or an obvious skin track developed. The bulk of the trail was skier packed snow, as there had been a lot of hiking/skiing traffic in recent days. At around 2,500’, I found what appeared to be the start of a skin track, so I took the skis off the pack and started skinning. The skin track wasn’t very consistent, and it was at times riddled with the post holes of hikers, but the rest of the trail was so packed that it was still easy traveling off track.
At around 3,000’, the snowpack became more substantial, and for a while there was a rather consistent skin track along the climber’s right of the trail. Another person on skins came up behind me and we exchanged a brief greeting as he passed. As I soon found when he stopped in a sunny spot of one of Nosedive’s switchbacks, it was SkiVT-Ler Evan Osler. As he mentioned in his report from the day, he was out with Mr. Rogers for a ski. We chatted a bit, and based on what Evan had seen while at Mad River Glen, he said that Stowe seemed to have more snow. We talked about routes, and I mentioned that I was planning on the
Any semblance of a skin track pretty much broke down in the switchbacks area of the trail, as the highly-traveled areas were a hodge-podge of skier and hiker-packed snow. The surrounding parts of Nosedive looked quite powdery, with 6-12 inches of snow, but unfortunately they were mostly populated with 24 inches of weeds and brush. At the top of Nosedive, I took a quick look around, and then headed up the
Up in the summit station area I took a break to enjoy the scene. The weather was spectacular, the sky was totally clear and there wasn’t even any wind. There were places with close to a foot of fluffy snow up near the summit station, and the very top layer of snow had turned into rather large, plate-like crystals. I’m guessing it was something like surface hoar that had formed in the preceding days of weather. I saw several hikers in the area, and they all kept asking me where the other members of their party went because they couldn’t keep track of them. One hiker would come by and ask me where another one had gone, and no sooner did that one go off looking but the other one would snow up. I tried to help with their inquiries, but I wasn’t really paying attention to all their comings and goings; it was sort of like a scene out of some situation comedy. Upon seeing my skis, more than one of the hikers commented that they should have brought theirs up. That seems like a no-brainer to me when there’s been a foot of snow in the past few days. There was a bit of a haze obscuring the view of the
I began my descent down
I merged back onto Nosedive and started making turns on the packed surface. My legs were pretty cooked from my first skin of the season, and it was definitely more work to ski the packed surface than an equivalent one with powder. Somehow though, about halfway down, my legs got their groove on with the somewhat foreign Betacarves, and everything really clicked. Without concern for avoiding the occasional rock, I was free to just carve up the slope and it was a lot of fun. The snow got thinner toward the bottom, but I was easily able to ski right to the bottom of Nosedive as I’d suspected, and then I took off my skis to walk across to the car.
Unlike when I’d arrived, there were now 30-40 cars in the parking lot, and groups of skiers could be seen heading up Gondolier. I snapped a few pictures and headed out. I actually did a double take on the way out as I passed by the Stowe Mountain Lodge; there must have been a couple dozen of those snorkel lifts on the west side of the structure where they were doing exterior work. I had to get a picture because I’d never seen anything quite like it. The temperature had remained pretty cool during the day, as even on the way home it was still just in the mid-30s F in the valley. The Avocet recorded 2,390’ of descent, and the Suunto recorded 2,464’ of descent for a difference of 3.0%, and the GPS data indicated a descent of 2,336’.
Some pictures and data plots from the day can be found at:
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