Thursday, December 16, 2010
Stratton Mountain, VT: 12/16/2010
I don’t ski in Vermont often, but desperate times call for desperate measures. With damaging rain earlier in the week, and little natural snow since then at Gore, I headed with 2 ski pals to Stratton today to take advantage of their superior snowmaking firepower and grooming capabilities. About a half foot of natural snow had fallen since Monday to sweeten the pot and seal the deal.
The three of us each traveled from different directions, and we met at the base lodge at 8:30, half an hour before the lifts start turning. We were among the first skiers to ride the gondola. On our first run, we expected to find lots of groomed corduroy, and we did, but we were pleasantly surprised to also find lots of untracked powder lines. An inch or two of new snow had fallen overnight, and it accumulated to double that depth in the prime deposition zones along the sides of many of the trails.
During the day it snowed on and off, not quite enough to re-fill tracks, but more than enough to really make it feel like winter. Skier traffic was extremely light, and we kept finding untracked lines and pockets of powder well into the afternoon.
One of the treats of the morning was stumbling upon Frank's Fall Line, one of the steeper lines down from the summit. Either nobody else had found it yet, or maybe ski patrol had just dropped the rope on it. In any case, the entire skier's left side was untracked 2- to 4-inch powder for 1200 to 1500 vertical feet. It's amazing what a difference the little bit of snow that had fallen overnight made in terms of softening up the trails.
Stratton reported around 50 trails open, which provided lots of top-to-bottom options. Although I generally feel that Stratton's terrain suffers from a sameness, today's snow conditions erased those shortcomings and provided my best overall day of skiing so far this season.