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On Saturday morning we picked up a quick squall at that house that dropped 0.7 inches of upslope fluff and brought us to 2.9 inches of accumulation for our second valley snowfall event of the season. It freshened up the yard and did a decent job of erasing the boys’ sledding tracks from the previous evening, but it was pretty small potatoes compared to what had been going on in the higher elevations. Only a portion of the local ski areas were actually reporting snow totals, but as is often the case
I left the house around mid morning, with Mom and the boys just heading out for some more sledding in the yard. I was somewhat excited about the trip because it would be my first chance to explore the route from Waterbury to Jay Peak, and while for the most part I was expecting a straight shot up Route 100, there were a couple of options near the end of the route that might make it interesting. Combining the new route with the fact that it was still snowing at a decent clip was probably going to make for a bit of stressful driving, but then again I was in the Subaru passing through some potentially lightly-traveled roads, so it might also mean some fun driving.
The first half of my trip took me up to Morrisville, a route that I’m very familiar with, but beyond that it was into the wilds of Hyde Park,
The snowfall had re-intensified as I’d ascended to the resort. In the tram parking lot it was really coming down and was accompanied by some of that
I geared up and headed past the lodge to check out the snow. I could immediately see that Jay peak had received a really healthy dose in the previous couple of days. I stuck my calibrated ski pole in the snow and the first reading I got was 21 inches. OK, that was a drift, but when I actually got going out into the are of more representative snowpack above the lodge, my measurements consistently delivered numbers between 13 and 15 inches of loose snow. I quickly searched around for a skin track to take upward, but unfortunately found none. So, I made my own. I headed up the lift line of the Metro Quad, a location which nicely shielded me from the wind. When I’d occasionally assess my progress up the lift line, it felt like I was going nowhere. I figured I was just tired from a busy week, but as I neared the upper station of the lift, I realized why my progress felt slow. I probed the snow depth about 3/4 of the way to the top of the Metro Quad, and found that the 13-15 inches of snow I’d started out in had already grown to 18-20 inches. I was now blazing a pretty deep trench through the powder, and as the pitch had increased near the top of the lift line, the slow going had been more obvious. I heard voices above and to the right of me, which sounded like a group of riders on the trails above the Metro Quad. At that point I was actually hopeful that someone else was touring in the tram area, because above the top station of the Metro Quad, the terrain was about to get steeper still, and even a single-pass skin track would be a big help in making better time.
I finally crested the unloading area of the Metro Quad, and although I didn’t see the riders I’d heard (they appeared to have traversed across at the top of the Metro Quad and headed off toward the Stateside area) at least there were some tracks. One traverse/skin track cut across the mountain, and I briefly checked both sides to see which end headed up. It turned out to be the more northerly end of the track that headed upwards, and unfortunately it wasn’t a skin track, but simply a downtrack from the riders. I could see that the riders had descended on the “Racer” trail, which was quite steep even though it’s only rated as a blue. I suspect it would be a black diamond trail at many ski areas. There were about four tracks on the trail, and the steep turns in the deep snow looked sublime. The trail was far steeper than I would typically choose for skinning, but a track is a track, and even with the steep pitch it was going to be easier than any alternative I could see. I locked up my highest heel lifters and headed up.
Using the downtracks really helped me increase my pace of skinning. I picked the most appropriate crisscrossing combination of tracks for my use, and the apexes of the turns in which the riders had pressured the snow were the most helpful. Between the turns, where the unweighting had taken place, the climbing was typically more difficult for a few steps. Even with the full-width skins on the CMH fats I would occasionally slip a little on the combination of steep pitch and loose snow. The snow depth continued to increase as I ascended, and on Racer my probing revealed depths of 20-24 inches, and sometimes even deeper. The measurement marks on my ski pole actually only go up to 23 inches, which is just the length of tape that I stuck on there when I made it. I guess I’ll have to extend those measurements for skiing in these parts. When I’d left home that morning,
I crested the top of Racer and got to watch a group of skiers coming down the steep part of Upper Exhibition. Their turns looked great, although the powder looked to ski a bit heavier than what I would have suspected after hiking up in it. I continued my upward trek by taking
After skiing a bit of packed snow on the mellower parts of Upper Exhibition, I cut right onto Lower Goat Run and immediately hit pay dirt in terms of powder. It was bottomless and deep, even if it wasn’t
The snowfall had really tapered off by the time I headed home, and out past the
Some pictures and data plots from the day can be found at:
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