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The Adventure Skier: In Praise of Thin Cover
An update and photos from Mr. Mohr..
Words and Photos by Brian Mohr
Editors Note: This season, Ski The East is collaborating with local photographers and storytellers, Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of EmberPhoto, to bring you a column titled “The Adventure Skier.” Brian and Emily will be showcasing their skiing adventures in the Northeast, and documenting off-piste powder treats, backyard shredding, and the occasional venture into the wilds of the Arctic, the Andes and beyond. – Erme Catino
Butter Cream, Gritz, Crystalline Micro-Pow... those are just a few of the names we gave the snow under our skis on Monday afternoon. We were sliding on one of our farming neighbor's pastures, and the dust-on-crust conditions from last week had evolved into about one inch of icy, crystalline powder that is well bonded to a crusty 2-3" base - perfect conditions for ripping pastures. Someone counted off ten runs during our sunset session. Two thousand vertical. Cool.
Our pasture session was just the latest in a string of skiing adventures shaped by the especially thin-cover conditions prevailing in the northeast this season. And while the snowpack has been thin and the deep powder in short supply, it continues to be a great season - a season that has forced us to be more creative than usual, to scramble when even a few snow flakes started to fly, and to slow down and simply enjoy what we've got.
Here are some highlights of the season to share:
It finally got cold enough to snow in late October, and thanks in part to our edgeless, go anywhere, ski anything Marquette Skis, we were enjoying our first sweet turns of the season on little more than a heavy frost...
A few days later, just before Halloween, the giant storm that knocked out power to thousands of homes across southern New England had us sliding shin deep into some of our favorite runs at Killington, VT...
The Halloween snow didn't last long, however, and before long, we were back to typical early November conditions...
Thanksgiving delivered, however, with nearly a foot of snow that was dense enough to allow us to slide into some of our favorite tree lines for the first time this season..
But even the Thanksgiving snow didn't last, and before long, we were making sacrificial turns for the snow gods, in the rain... in December...
Word on the street over the holidays was that Lake Champlain was still ice free and warmer than usual, and right after Christmas, the lake-induced Champlain Powder machine turned on. And it dumped...
Our local mountains were treated to a solid foot of fluff from that first blast of Champlain Pow, just enough to allow Mad River Glen to open for the busy New Year's weekend. Although a cycle of warm air, light rain and then cold turned our powder to crust on New Year's Day, mountain snow showers over the last week have been covering up that crust, with conditions improving by the day...
Some higher elevations areas have picked up more than a foot of fresh snow in the last week, and although the snowpack is still very thin and riddled with stumps, hidden branches and stray rocks, we've been sliding very carefully into some very tasty zones...
Still, especially at lower elevations, there's only so much snow to go around. But, with just enough snow to tempt us into ripping our neighborhood pastures, we've been skiing locally. At times, we don't even start the cars...
Still, as much as we've learned to love the thin-cover season upon us right now, let's hope this next storm heading for the Northeast opens a new chapter into a long winter ahead.