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As I look back at my weather records, I see that this past December produced 67.2 inches of snowfall down at the house in
December 31st, 2007: 7:30 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT.
New Snow: 3.7 inches
Temperature: 29.1 F
Barometer: 29.88 in Hg
Sky: Moderate Snow
Cumulative storm total: 3.7 inches
Current snow at the stake: 17 inches
Season snowfall total: 82.2 inches
“The snow is a little fluffier than the past couple of storms; at the time of the observations flakes were small to medium. I didn’t melt any down but I’d guess 8-9% H2O.”
Based on the quantity and density of snow that we’d already picked up at the house, and the fact that it was still snowing with good intensity in the valley, it was obviously going to be a great day on the hill. So, we got the boys going as quickly as possible and we were up in the village by 8:30 A.M. That was certainly better than our usual arrival time with the boys, and the fact that the
We started off the day at the Snowflake Lift, and the boys really enjoyed the view of the snowcats working on the huge jumps in the
While E and Ty were slicing and dicing the new snow, I was alongside working with Dylan. By that point, we had about a half foot of fresh powder in the Snowflake area, so it was interesting to watch how Dylan dealt with it. We were still using the ski leash for speed control, but I think this was some of the deeper snow that he had skied entirely under his own power up to that point, and he was very intrigued by the way his skis would entirely disappear under the powder. Oftentimes with powder of that depth, I’ve had to hold Dylan between my legs to allow him to ski it – there’s just too much resistance, instability, and irregularity in the unconsolidated snow for him to maintain his speed and balance on his own. On this occasion however, he could easily handle the skiing where the new snow was over the groomed base. It was fairly dry powder, and I don’t recall it being entirely bottomless even for someone of Dylan’s weight. However, while skiing the powder over the groomed surface went fairly smoothly for Dylan, he would get into a lot more trouble when he tried to follow E and Ty off the sides of the trails, as the powder was potentially deeper and the subsurface uneven. I would generally try to guide him back onto the trail when he’d wander off, but he wanted to follow his mom and brother so much that I’d still let him go when the snow looked reasonably uniform. I ended up having to pick him up from several tumbles in those areas of course, but I really like to let him do his own thing when it looks like he’ll be reasonably safe, despite the sometimes snowy consequences. With that said, we noted a substantial improvement in his ability to adjust and stay balanced as he moved between powder, chowder, and more packed surfaces, which is a nice sign that his abilities were moving forward. I also have in my notes that Dylan may have been pulling to one side a bit, which was undoubtedly the right side as we’ve seen that he’s tended to favor that turn.
We stayed in the Snowflake area for our first couple of runs, and literally had those slopes to ourselves before we decided to head off elsewhere. I tried to extol the virtues of early morning powder day arrivals with a focus on Ty, telling him that getting to the mountain early means we can have the trails to ourselves for a while and get even more time for untracked powder skiing, but I know it didn’t fully sink in. Perhaps there will be a day when he’s up at the crack of dawn trying to get me up to the mountain for first tracks, but that day isn’t here yet.
We next moved on to the Mid Mountain lift. Ty headed right for the
It was about 10:30 A.M. by that point, and a few people had started to filter onto the mountain, but it was still amazingly quiet. As I think back now I wonder if there was an accident or slick conditions on the access road that slowed everyone down, or maybe folks were just taking it easy for the holidays. Ty and I stayed out to keep riding the powder and work on some more advanced terrain. We headed up to mid mountain again, and proceeded to shred the powder along the skier’s left of Beech Seal. Ty did a great job there in mostly open terrain that we intermixed with an occasional foray around sparse trees. In the process of that run, I decided that we’d next take things a little farther in toward the
I decided to knock it up a big notch and bring Ty to Devil’s Playground. Devil’s Playground has some of the steeper marked pitches on the main mountain, with various lines in excess of 30 degrees. When you combine that pitch with chutes that are only 10 to 20 feet wide in places, I knew it would be a challenge for Ty. We rode the Vista Quad to the summit, and before we could even access Devil’s Playground, Ty would have to navigate his way down part of Preacher. Preacher is perhaps my favorite “standard” trail at
We finished off the lower sections of Devil’s Playground, and Ty had a lot of fun as the pitch mellowed out into something he could handle with ease. I found out that E had been trying to contact me on my cell phone for much of that run, but I hadn’t gotten the call because my cell phone battery had been drained from being outside all morning. Once we got down to the lodge, we had to quickly head out because we were meeting some friends for lunch at our house. It was a decent time to finish off the ski day however, as people were really starting to arrive at the mountain. It was roughly noontime as we were heading back to the house, and a steady stream of cars was heading up the access road. I’m sure the great snow lasted all day, especially since it continued to snow, but as is often the case, the morning had been the pick of the powderhounds. It’s still hard to argue about the quality of any part of the day however. With decent continued snowfall, temperatures in the 20s F, and little wind, even in the folks that didn’t get out for first tracks should have been loving life. Both altimeters had recorded 7 runs, with 4,025 feet of descent measured by the Avocet. I forgot to shut off my Suunto until we hit the bottom of the access road, which altered the descent data, but I was able to use the ascent data from the day, which are essentially the same as the descent data when you finish off at the same location. So, the Suunto recorded 3,612 feet for the day, resulting in a surprising 10.8% difference between the two. This was certainly the largest disagreement I’ve observed between the two altimeters for a sample in that magnitude range. I’ve found that they usually agree within 1 to 2% of each other unless the vertical sample is extremely small.
Back down that the house, the snow had continued to accumulate, so I ran the snow thrower through the driveway while the others were preparing lunch. Once the six-hour interval had been reached since my previous snowboard clearing, I took another round of measurements and observations before clearing it again. The data and some associated comments from the morning are below:
December 31st, 2007: 1:30 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT.
New Snow: 2.0 inches
Temperature: 31.8 F
Barometer: 29.85 in Hg
Sky: Moderate Snow
Cumulative storm total: 5.7 inches
Current snow at the stake: 18 inches
Season snowfall total: 84.2 inches
“We headed up to
The snow eventually picked back up in the afternoon, and we had accumulated 7 inches at the house as of 4:00 P.M. By the time that snowfall event had finished off in the evening, we’d reached a final tally of 7.5 inches down at the house, as reported in subsequent observations I took at 9:30 P.M.:
December 31st, 2007: 9:30 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT.
New Snow: 1.8 inches
Temperature: 25.5 F
Barometer: 30.18 in Hg
Cumulative storm total: 7.5 inches
Current snow at the stake: 19 inches
Season snowfall total: 86.0 inches
“It looks like 7.5 inches is going to do it for this round, but more is on the way tomorrow – Burlington NWS has us in the 8 to 14 inch range for the storm. The last few inches of snow from today’s event have been notably fluffier – the 1.8 inches I swept off at 9:30 P.M. was very crystalline; I’m guessing around 6% H2O.”
As noted, the forecast was looking good for more powder, and Mother Nature certainly delivered, as I measured another 10.6 inches of snow at the house from the event that followed. So, with essentially back to back storms combining to drop over 18 inches of snow in the valley, things were certainly going off up in the mountains as we rung in the new year. Ty and I headed up to the mountain the following day to cash in on some January 1st powder, and the appropriate seasonal tune would have to have been “There’s no place like home for the holidays” if you were a local skier. It was certainly a good way to wind out the holiday period for all the out of state visitors and the ski resorts as well.
Some pictures from the day can be found at:
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