Aside from a decent storm that delivered 10.1 inches of snow in the first couple days of the month, the first half of March had been pretty slow for snowfall in our valley. We’d only had an additional 6.3 inches of snowfall up through the 16th of the month. However, we had reached 184.7 inches of total snowfall for the season and the snowpack in the yard (elevation 495’) was still hanging at more than two feet. The mountains had as usual received more snowfall during the period, and the Mt. Mansfield stake (elevation ~3,700’) was just a few inches away from the coveted 100-inch mark. Practically any small storm could push the Mansfield snowpack into triple digits, and being mid March, it was mostly a question of when it was going to happen.
Saturday had been a decent day out on the slopes with Dave and Lori, although after Lori had aggravated her shoulder during a fall they’d decided to head home and not stay to ski the next day. I’d found that the best turns on Saturday had been in the morning, after a bit of fresh snow but before any warming. But by midday, the slopes had felt a bit worn out. With lackluster conditions, I wasn’t feeling any need to head up to the slopes on Sunday, but my attitude began to change as the weather did. I found the following in my notes from the day:
12:25 P.M.: “It just started snowing here in Waterbury. The temperature was up close to 40 F, but now it’s dropped to 36.9 F.”
Even though the snowfall wasn’t likely to amount to much based on what the local radar was showing, it got me in the mood for some skiing and inspired me to check out what was going on up at the mountain. I figured I could at least do a few runs on the Telemark skis, which would make for a decent workout regardless of the conditions. When I started driving to the mountain it was about 36 F down at the house (495’), and right around freezing up at the Timberline base (1,550’). Snow was falling with more intensity up on the mountain, but it was still just flurries to light snow at the most, and not accumulating. Since on Saturday I had opted to ski up high on the main mountain with its cooler temperatures and additional snowfall, I figured I’d focus on Timberline for this outing.
I hopped on the Timberline Quad and rode up with a father and son from Burlington. We talked about skiing (of course), discussing places like Montana and Colorado. It was a lot of fun and I was able to share some of my experiences from living in Montana and traveling around the Northern Rockies. At the Timberline summit (~2,500’) I was surprised to find about ˝ to 1 inch of new snow. It must have fallen Saturday night or earlier on Sunday morning, because it was above Saturday’s sun/warm crust. I started out with some turns on Brandy Wine, where I immediately met and exchanged greetings with patroller Quinn and his wife who were getting ready for their descent. I continued straight on down to Intro, and then cut over to Twice as Nice to finish off the run. With the sun warming up the low elevation trails on Saturday, they were quite firm now that temperatures had dropped, but it gave me a chance to work my edges. The centers of the trails had been worked somewhat hard by skier traffic since it was already mid afternoon, but people had really pushed snow off to the sides of the trails by then, so one could find plenty of loose snow there.
After that first run, I did a couple more on the Sure Shot/Timberline Run combination, and I started exploring off the sides of the trails. The inch of new snow actually made for some decent skiing off the groomed slopes, but what was most surprising was that the sun crust yielded very nicely to turns. I was thinking that it might behave more like a stiff rain crust, but that certainly wasn’t the case. It was noting like the powder from Saturday morning on the main mountain, but it wasn’t half bad.
I felt like I’d had a good little workout after the three runs, and called it a day. My Avocet altimeter had recorded 3,060 vertical feet of descent and my Suunto S6 had recorded 3,015 vertical feet of descent for a difference of 1.5%. The Telemark workout was inspiring, even if the conditions were some of the more lackluster that I’d encountered during the season. The light snow that had initiated my trip didn’t accumulate much while I was up on the hill, but the snow didn’t seem to stop falling. By the next morning we’d accumulated a little snow even down at the house, so I put together a quick weather report with my observations:
“It was a busy morning so I couldn’t get this weather update out until now, but here’s the latest from the Waterbury area. When the light snow that prompted my quick trip up to Bolton began yesterday afternoon, it never really stopped until things cleared out later this morning. I could see the upslope snow clearly on the radar well into the night last night. It started out from the northwest and then moved to north-northwest, and just kept coming down. The intensity was so light though, that we picked up less than an inch at our place. However, it looks like it produced another round of 1 to 3 inches for the mountains based on the resort reports. It’s a totally clear day out there today, so hopefully it freshened the surfaces a bit for the skiers that are out enjoying the sun. The Waterbury weather details are below:”
Monday, March 17th, 2008: 6:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT
New Snow: 0.6 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.02 inches
Ratio: 30.0 to 1
Snow Density: 3.3% H2O
Temperature: 21.9 F
Barometer: 30.56 in Hg
Sky: Light Snow
Cumulative storm snow total: 0.6 inches
Cumulative storm liquid total: 0.02 inches
Current snow at the stake: 24 inches
Season snowfall total: 185.3 inches
I didn’t manage to get any pictures to go with this report, but the Suunto S6 plot can also be viewed at:
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