Category Archives: Snow Conditions

Skier Rewind

They remembered! The muscles. The legs. The arms. The torso. They all remembered how to get down the slope intact. Gracefully. I had a Skier Rewind, and it was a good one.

I returned to Mount Snow today for that second round of “muscle torture.” Last week at Mount Snow, my first time out for the season, they didn’t remember how to ski very well. While not performing quite as bad as a rank beginner, it felt like it after darting down the slopes on race skis at the end of last season.

It was 3 degrees at the base when I arrived at 8:30 AM. And there was a thermal inversion. That means the summit was clear but the base was choked in a cloud. It was a fluffy cloud. So it was okay. Just weird. But there wasn’t a hint of wind and not a cloud to be seen. Except that one snuggled up at the base.

In other words, it was a near perfect ski day

All the new snow has been man made. At 3 degrees that snow was hard and fast. And it stayed that way. Maybe that was the queue my skier muscles needed. 

After the first run, I could just feel that it was right. 100% correct. An A Plus. And because everything else clicked into place, the Volkl skis thought they were race skis. They cornered sharp and didn’t let go. I had a blast all morning long. 

While there was still limited terrain available, there was quite a bit to pick from. There were snow guns firing on a couple of trails. After one run through them that iced over the goggles I stayed on those without. I liked the hard and fast corduroy. It was too sweet to ignore. 

I could only stay for a long morning. Which was probably enough because I was beginning to feel the adrenaline ebb and the muscle fatigue ramp up. If I had all day I probably would have taken a breather then hit the snow again. And it probably wouldn’t have been as phenomenal as the morning.

I left on a high note. A really high, high note. Which of course makes me want to do it all again tomorrow. Despite the fact that I absolutely know that I can’t. But I still want to. Skiing sometimes makes me revert to an impudent 8 year old that wants what he wants, and wants it right now!

As a grown up, there are realities to deal with

Today however, was a banner day. It was a day as great as the late season days last year when I professed my love to a pair of race skis. Today, I have what I call the “skiing duck” feeling. Anything bad coming along is going to roll off me like water off a duck. Bliss. Euphoria. Cloud Nine. Rapture. Ecstasy. Take your pick. They all describe the feeling left behind after my day on the slopes at Mount Snow.

So do yourself a favor. Cheat and ditch work. Or whatever responsibilities you have. Let someone else deal with them for a day. Steal yourself away to slopes covered in snow. Rejoice in the click and clack of skis running over the hard and fast snow. Laugh at the “Whoops” that you hear from those sliding down below the chair as you return to the summit. Breath in deep of the crisp, cleansing air of the high New England peaks. 

Because if you do this, the following day you will meet all those pesky responsibilities with a huge smile plastered on your face. And that can never, ever, be a bad thing.

For me? The following day? I wanna go back. With the race skis…

AlanD

Mount Snow Debut

The urge to ski has been powerful this late fall. The ton of snow that fell in Vermont and New Hampshire in late November made that urge, well, more urgent. 

But life got in the way until this past Thursday, December 6th. I left the house at 5:15 AM and was on the slopes at Mount Snow in Vermont at 9:00 AM when they started sending eager skiers and riders to the summit. 

I won’t sugar coat the conditions. They were not great. But then again they weren’t horrible either. It was early season ski conditions in New England. 

Talking to many of the regular “geezer squad,” as they tended to call themselves, I heard a lot of “You shoulda been here last week.” And while I “shoulda,” I unfortunately “couldn’ta.”

What I can say, is that it felt absolutely wonderful to be out on the mountain feeling the force of gravity yank me downhill on a pair of skis. The top half of the mountain was under blizzard conditions. Snow guns were roaring full blast everywhere you looked. And it was snowing. And it was windy. Visibility at ground level was challenging at times. Snow “whales” materialized from the swirling white chaos here, there, and everywhere. 

I lapped “Ridge” multiple times, stretching out the quads and waiting for muscle memory to kick in and take better control of the skis. They didn’t seem to be remembering much.

In the swirling blizzard at the summit I took a wrong turn onto an ungroomed trail. Which I quickly regretted. But I survived the frozen lumps and bumps and spots of wind blow barren ice. All good, but more tiring.

As my legs were feeling the sting, it being first time out for the season, I figured I better dial it back a bit and relax. So I started lapping “Long John,” just letting the quads cool down and letting the muscles do what they know how to do if left to their own devices. And they began to remember what to do.

No, I never went to see what was open on the North Face. My legs weren’t quite ready for that adventure. It’s early in the season. No sense getting stupid and pushing the boundaries. No yet anyway. Later in the season that will happen.

While conditions for my seasonal debut on the slopes were less than ideal, it was great to be back on a chair lift chatting with like minded folk out playing in the snow. It was great to hear the click and swish of skis riding over snow, crust, and ice. And it was great to see the landscape covered in white once again.

It was less than great when I got out of bed Friday morning. My quads quickly and forcefully reminded me of what I did the day before. But that’s the price that must  be paid. And I gladly pay it each and every season. That pain is the gateway to a season of fun in the snow.

Next time, “the day after” muscle burn will be a bit less. And by mid-January that won’t even be a memory. Except on those days when the boundaries get pushed. 

For me, the 2019 ski season is now in play. I hope to make my next “muscle torture” event this coming week. Before the muscle recovers too much. That just extends the break in period.

I hope your ski and ride season has started as well. If not, the slopes are ready for you. Judging by the extent of snowmaking going on, and the number of whales ready to spread across the slopes, things should be in good shape for the weekend. And beyond.

We have some consistent cold in the forecast, with a bit of snow here and there along the way. Get your gear together. Stop in at Avie’s Ski / Sports to pick up what you need to get you going. Then go. 

Hope to see you on the slopes.

AlanD

Ski Resort Changes

Ski resort changes are rampant for the upcoming season. And at least from what I can see, all of them good. Some of them fantastic. Here we give you a quick rundown of what changes we see coming up at the ski resorts that Avie’s Ski / Sports visits on ski and ride trips.

Vermont

Killington has some exciting changes for this season. New for this year is a high speed bubble chair at Snowdon Mountain. Tunnels have been constructed along Great Northern so that skiers and riders on that trail go subterranean. Now folks coming down those very fun blue square trails at Snowdon can proceed downhill without worry of dodging crossing skiers and riders on Great Northern. That’s really nice.

Killington this year follows suit and will be using RFID lift ticketing. Many ski resorts have converted to the use of RFID ticketing. Personally, I love the RFID system. It is quick and easy. No liftie chasing after you to scan your pass. No standing around when the pass won’t scan until the 14th try. Some may miss the giant, bristling wad of lift tickets and wire wickets hanging off their jacket zipper. I won’t be one of them.

Killington has also installed a new lift in the South Ridge area. The new lift will bring skiers and riders to a point near Killington Peak where they can access the resort in most any direction. This will really help with traffic flow and allow much better access across the resort.

This year will be a very exciting year for skiers & riders.

Okemo has been purchased by Vail Resorts, Inc. Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado were also a part of that deal. No details or hints of change have been released at this point, though there are rumors of a bubble quad on the South Face in the near future. Given the sale just happened at end of September, we may not see any massive change for the upcoming season. 

Mount Snow has a new lodge that will be open this season at the Carinthia area of the resort. New snow making guns will be firing up to blanket the area with snow made from a huge new water retention project that will improve  snow making considerably. The one other tidbit for Mount Snow is that some portions of the Long John Trail, a beginners trail, are being significantly widened to improve skier and rider flow.

Stratton, keeping with the trends, has been purchased by Alterra Mountain Company, which owns 12 ski resorts. Stratton is their only New England holding. With this is coming a new high speed lift to the Snow Bowl  area. This will be a great addition, reducing a 15 minute ride back to the top to only 4 minutes. Pretty sweet.

New Hampshire

Loon has replaced their gondola cabins with new ones. No other changes on the mountain that I could find.

Resort changes are just the tip of the iceberg.

All these resort updates will bring some nice changes to our skiing and riding experiences this season. For sure. But that really is just a small part of what is really exciting for the 2018 – 2019 ski and ride season. Especially for skiers.

Skis are trending towards improved on piste performance and better carving on the groomers.

Based on race boot designs, ski boots are trending towards improved performance and fit.

Follow the Avie’s Ski / Sports blog so you don’t miss out as we report on what’s new. And there is lots. I will be posting something new every week. Hopefully this will help get you as excited for the new ski and ride season as I am. And that’s lots!

AlanD

Spring Skiing? Delightful!

Despite the fact Avie’s bus trips are done for the season, the urge to let gravity yank me downhill is still impressively strong. And my leg muscles are finally tuned to the point where at days end there is only a blissful ache instead of throbbing pain.

So, I pointed north and had the great pleasure of being at Okemo yesterday. The resort is still 100% open, and there is plenty of snow, though they are done with snowmaking for the season.

I was clicked into a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS skis, which thrive on firm-and-fast. So I started my day over on the South Face to hit it before the snow began to soften. I put down first tracks on every open, non-mogul trail. I had first and second tracks on Blind Faith. If you get the feeling there were few people there, you got it right.

I stayed until about 10AM when the lower parts of the trails began to soften, and a steady stream of skiers and riders began to show up to take advantage of that softening. I worked my way over to the Main Face of the resort and hit all the classics—World Cup, Chief, Defiance, Nor’easter and Jolly Green Giant. These trails were still firm-and-fast, though the ice chip/”Death Cookie” mix—which graced most slopes on the South Face—had been skied over and chopped up to make the glide a bit less tooth rattling. I liked Chief and Nor’easter so much I did them each a few times top-to-bottom. I caught a big air (for me) on World Cup, and landed it! Usually airtime for me results in spectacular yard sale events, but not this time.

I went next over to Solitude, and the surfaces there were very smoothed out. What is typically called “dust-on-crust” though the “dust” was a pretty good coating. I took a run on all the trails in Solitude, then headed back for a few final runs down Chief to make some big carves in the softening snow.

It was a blast. There is plenty of snow left to have plenty of fun on. Yes, there are a growing number of hazard markers gracing the trails, and bald patches are sure to be turning up as the warming days march onward. But for now you can get the best of everything. Firm-and-fast to start the day with some high speed runs, mellowing in mid-morning as the snow softens, and then outright spring skiing and riding in “Hero Snow” late morning through mid-afternoon.

Conditions are still phenomenal up north, so there is no reason to toss your gear in a corner for the spiders to play on until next fall. Get yourself up north again while the getting is good. And it is good.

I’m still smiling, the morning after my day of play at Okemo. Since smiling and being happy are good things, I’m planning on doing it again. And again. Hope to see you out there.

 

 

AlanD

Save the Best for Last

Fifty-three lucky people filled the bus for the last 2018 Avie’s Ski & Ride Trip. And they were very, very lucky people indeed.

As is typical for the last trip, Okemo was the destination. The weather was typical January, though it was mid-March. The mood on the bus was typical; happy people getting ready for a day of playing in the snow. And what a day of play it was!

The definition of “Bluebird Day” in the dictionary has a picture of the skies at Okemo on the day of the trip. Brilliant sunshine from a brilliantly blue sky. All day long.

The snow? Incredible! Firm and fast across the mountain early in the day, allowing for some quick runs down the mountain. South Face softened up a bit late morning, allowing for some exquisite carving fun. Woods, bumps, corduroy. It was all there laid out in abundance for all. And amazingly, the crowds were not so horrible in the morning, and by early afternoon skiers and riders went from trail’s end right onto a waiting chair.

It was a perfect ending. If we needed something to complain about, it might have been that there was a touch too much breeze at the summit. But that really didn’t wipe the huge smiles off the faces of folks as they climbed aboard the bus for the ride home.

Ted gave away a wealth of socks and scarves, koozies and cookies, hats and hoo-dads. There was even a movie that wasn’t Ice Age or Elf!! Can you believe that!?

If you didn’t make the last Avie’s trip, you can still get in on some action in the snow up north. There is plenty there, and things look to stay colder than “normal” for the next week or so, meaning the snow will linger. It’s worth the trip. I had so much fun Sunday, that I went back up on Tuesday. It was just as good, but a bit less fun without the great bunch of people I skied with throughout the day.

Get out there a few more times while the snow lingers. But if you are really dead set on calling it quits for the season, be sure to bring in your skis or board and have it “summerized.” This will ensure that come next year, when the Avie’s bus is pulling out of the parking lot with you on board, your gear will be ready to play hard.

 

 

AlanD

Another Lousy Powder Day

I popped into Okemo Thursday morning, only to be greeted with yet another top coat of 5-8 inches of fresh snow. Looked like another lousy day in paradise-—a powder day—was about to play out.

This powder, due to the windy conditions while it was snowing, was a bit “denser” than the really fluffy stuff. It was more tiring to ski in, and a wrong move would get me tossed to the surface for a very inelegant face plant. After three of those I decided to stick to the groomers. I had enough snow in my jacket for the day.

Needless to say conditions are pretty incredible throughout the Green Mountains. More than enough snow is on the trails and in the woods. The carving is into beautiful packed powder, and the lumps and bumps are generally pretty forgiving.

We appear to be sliding into a bit of a cold spell, so expect the snow to hang around a bit. There is even talk of another nor’easter dropping by middle of next week. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, go skiing and riding. Get out there and enjoy some of the most incredible conditions we have seen in a couple of years. This truly is Madness in March.

Ted informed me there are only a few seats left on the bus for this Sunday’s trip—the last shop-sponsored trip of the season. “Single digits” was the descriptor he used. So if you want to get in on this fantastic trip—Ted and all Avie’s employees are going—you better do it soon. Like today. This morning. Shop opens at 10:00AM.

I hope to see you Sunday morning. If not, perhaps we will cross paths out on the slopes. I’ll be the skier in the orange pants, which you will clearly notice as I do another face plant. Enjoy.

AlanD

March Magic

Today I had the pleasure of popping into Okemo and spending the morning cruising the mountain slopes. Like Killington the day prior, the newly fallen snow was plentiful, though Okemo had smoothed out many trails into delectable corduroy. They did leave quite a few trails ungroomed, so there was a nice diversity of snow across the mountain.

My legs were still a bit sore from the day before, and it took a few runs in Jackson Gore to work out the kinks. Most of the trails in the Solitude area were ungroomed, and so not very busy. I stayed there for a bit, then wandered back to the main mountain, ending my day with a quad crushing run down Chief.

There is abundant snow on all the trails, and if forecasts are on target then it will mostly stay there as temperatures warm a bit by day, then tumble again by night, preserving the snowpack. There are rumors afoot of another “dump” early in the coming week; let’s hope it’s true. 

Regardless, conditions are incredible right now. Most of the ungroomed trails will eventually get groomed over the coming few days to preserve and enhance conditions, so if you want the lumps and bumps, get out there soon. And if you like the groomers, get out there! Now! 

And to help you get there, you can hop on the bus from Avie’s this Sunday the 11th of March. The bus heads to Stratton for what I am sure will be a great day of playing in some very, very, tasty snow. Seats still available, but dwindling rapidly. 

However you can get there, get there. And enjoy some of the seasons most endearing conditions.

 

 

AlanD

Nor’easters Are Nice

While most folks are grumbling about the past couple of storms, us skiers and riders are quite happy with the outcomes.

I managed, for once, to be in the right place at the right time—at Killington at the start of Storm No. 2 that will leave behind 16+ inches, and it’s still snowing. New England ski country needed a shot in the arm just like these storms provided. It is beautiful to see. And a marvel to play in. No. 2 did a real bang up job of covering the landscape white.

While you may have missed the actual powder day, don’t fret, there is plenty of nice, soft, packed powder to carve into. And the woods still hold the goods for those wanting to dive into a  bit of the fluffy stuff. 

I’m popping in to Okemo tomorrow to play on the beautiful stripes of corduroy I know they will be laying out all over the mountain. I know it will be another banner day in ski country,

So get out soon and play in the latest covering of snow. You may want to consider getting on the Avie’s trip heading up to Stratton this coming Sunday, the 11th. Conditions will likely be some of the best to be had this season. And yes, there is still room on the bus. But space isn’t unlimited so don’t procrastinate too long.

 

 

AlanD

 

Thursday At Okemo

I managed to get up to Okemo Thursday the 25th. I thought I would share with you what I found, which may be handy if you have been “fence-sitting” about the Avie’s bus trip to Stratton this coming Sunday, the 28th.

I have to admit I didn’t have real high expectations after being up there last week after the major rainfall they got whomped with, and then a lesser rainfall event on Tuesday of this week.

No Matter the Rain

I have to admit I was more than pleasantly surprised. If I had the money to buy the entire Okemo Mountain Ops Team a beer for excellent work, I would because they deserve it. Okemo wasn’t 100% open, but they did have 87 trails open, which is closing on 90%, maybe more. And what was open was good to great.

The snow was firm and fast on most all trails. I was skiing a pair of Blizzard Quattro race skis, so conditions were about the best you could ask for that pair of Greyhounds. Grooming was impeccable all over the resort, with fresh man-made snow gracing many of the blues and greens.

While steeper pitches were firm and fast top-to-bottom, many of the milder trails had a dusting of fresh snow, generally piled up on the side where the wind was blowing towards. This provided some really nice, soft, and in some places “floaty” snow. A young lady I road the lift with described it as “wearing a silk evening gown.” I’ll have to take her word for that! But I think she agreed that it was pretty sweet stuff to ski through.

I didn’t go over to Jackson Gore since they were blowing snow on several trails, and I didn’t feel like  messing around in the snow guns. I presume it would be much like the rest of the mountain—good to great.

It was cold and it was windy. But it was sunny and beautiful. Because the conditions on most of the steeper trails were such an awesome match for the Blizzard Quattro skis, it turned out to be one of the best days I have had on the slopes in a number of years.

So, if you have been “fence-sitting” regarding the trip to Stratton this Sunday, hop off onto the side that says “go skiing.” It will be cold again Friday, so snow-making will continue at “full tilt boogie” rates. Then the temperature goes up a bit, with Sunday being in the high 30’s. So instead of firm-and-fast you get “Hero Snow” to play in. Hmmm, that stuff can be kinda fun!!

No, I won’t be bringing the Blizzard Quattro skis to Stratton on Sunday. But I do hope to see you on the bus. Then you can find out what skis I brought, because I’m not going to tell.

As a warning however, the bus this Sunday is a “mini-coach” so while there are seats still available, it’s not a lot of them. So maybe you better launch off that fence quick-like and get over to Avie’s and reserve your spots.

Hope to see you Sunday morning.

AlanD

Update from the Trails at Okemo

I had the pleasure of stopping at Okemo for a day of skiing yesterday. I thought I would pass along an update on how things are looking and what snow conditions are like.

As you might expect, the massive rainfall late last week resulted in the loss of a lot of snow. Yes, there are patches of glacier ice here and there on the downslope edges of some trails. And yes, some trails were closed because the cover was too thin.

That said, the trails that were open (85 of them) all had pretty good coverage, especially along the edge where the snow guns were located. A few trails were like crushed ice cubes, but they offer their own kind of fun as long as every trail isn’t that way. And they weren’t.

Bottom line? While a step backwards was taken due to the rain, Okemo retaliated quickly and surely to make things skiable.The 6 or so inches they are expecting today will of course make things that much better. And things look to be staying cold, with the potential for another snowfall early next week.

Of course, one of the nicest things about being at Okemo on a weekday was that there were no crowds competing for the snow. I made run after run after run, until about 10:30 AM, when I finally shared a chair of the heated 6-pack bubble lift to the top. While I didn’t lay down first tracks on any trail, I was second or third on many of them.

My point here is, to be clear, Avie’s has a bus trip scheduled for Okemo on Wednesday the 24th of January. I very strongly suggest you be on that bus. Okemo is a great mountain with a good diversity of trails. If you want the opportunity to ski and ride that diversity without waiting in long lift lines, then constantly dodging an endless procession of people while sliding back down the hill, a Wednesday is a prime day for such a feat.

Join me on the 24th as we head to Okemo for a day of skiing and riding on the less crowded side. Conditions are good, and will be one heck of a lot better after this storm rolls through, and even better still if another happens before our visit. And if not, you know Okemo—known for it’s snowmaking and grooming—will be blasting snow all over the mountain between now and then.

So stop by Avie’s and get your name on the trip list. And do it soon. You don’t want to miss out on a great weekday on the mountain. Weekend trips are fun, but weekday trips are, well, a lot more fun!

See you next Wednesday.

 

AlanD