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I hadn't been on the mountain in 48 hours and so I wasn't sure just how bad
the last couple of warm days had damaged the snowpack.  Well turns out
80-85F yesterday at the base was not a good thing for the low elevation
snow.  Big surprise.  Nosedive is no longer continuous and Lower Nosedive
(from the Shambles runout down, roughly 2,200ft-1,600ft) is on its last legs.  

http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4781_edited-1.jpg

The big problem is right at the top of Lower Nosedive where it intersects
with the bottom of middle National, Midway, and Lower Goat.  Ribbons on
either side, but big bare spot in the middle.

http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4784_edited-1.jpg
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4783_edited-1.jpg
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4786_edited-1.jpg

Now I was able to ski this continuously on my way down, but once I lose the
ribbons on either side, then I'll be in big trouble.  Dirt skiing is fine,
but you need to hit snow every few hundred verts in order to gain some speed
and moisten the bases up.  However, if you remember Wesley's video from last
spring, I do ski Lower Nosedive better without snow than with snow, so these
are prime conditions for me.

http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Dirt/1.png
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Dirt/5.png

The snow is continuous from there on up, with a couple narrow parts just
above the big Shambles turn.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4789_edited-1.jpg
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4829_edited-1.jpg

And one last narrow part across from Cliff Trail.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4794_edited-1.jpg

But then it opens up into a beautiful snowfield... the Nosedive Glacier.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4801_edited-1.jpg

What a nice evening to be up there though... temps in the upper 40s, perfect
corn snow, fading sunlight over the ridge.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4816_edited-2.jpg

Nothing left on south and west facing slopes as looking north through the
Notch shows.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4821_edited-2.jpg

The payoff was the best corn snow surface of the spring season for me
personally.  I can't remember a smoother surface to ski.  Even if it doesn't
look completely smooth, the melting has taken care of all the tracks from
the recent snowstorm and all the bootpacking holes.  The corn peeled away
about 1" deep up here between 3,600ft-2,800ft.  It was just that fun stuff
that had me hooting and hollering as I dropped off the last Nosedive
switchback skiers right onto the steep ramp there next to the brush.  Just
perfect crashing corn, the stuff you can hear sloughing down the slope next
to you.  These kernels were just the right size and really one of the few
true corn snow days I can remember this spring where it was either 80F+ or
snowing with nothing inbetween. 
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4825_edited-1.jpg

Out on the main pitch, it was just fun to crank out smooth turn after smooth
turn.
http://www.backtotheearthgroup.com/scottb/Stowe%202012/April%2017/IMG_4826_edited-2.jpg

I was able to keep the skis on all the way back to Crossover, but if you're
hesitent about dirt skiing, there would be one main mandatory walk.  With
the potential for some serious precipitation this weekend (rain, chance of
high elevation snow), the amount of walking will start to outweigh the
skiing.  I may only have a few more days left before I toss in the towel.

Since the corn was so good today up high, I will be in the upper Gondi lot
around 3:15pm tomorrow afternoon for another skin and corn harvest in the
evening light.  Feel free to join me.  Given the forecast for sub-freezing
at night and sunshine the next couple days, the conditions should remain the
same.  

-Scott

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