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March 28, 2008

Closing In On Us

Listed below are some tentative closing dates to ponder. I know the majority of folks are pining for some springtime temps, but seeing this list makes the snow season seem really short. It's been an interesting winter from a weather perspective and for me personally as I've recalibrated my sense of skier-hood to mesh with the Green Mountains. But I'll save all those thoughts for another day. 

This list is courtesy of the Vermont Ski Area's Association.

Suicide Six: March 23 or 30 depending on snow conditions

Burke Mountain: March 30, but may stay open into April if conditions warrant

Middlebury: March 30

Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush: March 30

Pico: March 30

Magic: April 5th but potentially longer

Bolton Valley: April 6 (pond skimming contest April 5)

Bromley: April 6

Killington: April 13

Smugglers’ Notch: April 13

Okemo: April 13, but considering longer

Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush: Open through end of April, conditions permitting.

Stowe: April 20

Jay Peak: April 27

Mount Snow: No planned date.

March 28, 2008 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 27, 2008

Ski Iraq

Well, you don’t have to wait until fall to check out quality produced ski videos from this season. Thanks YouTube for trumping the traditional ski movie production schedule. The following clip has it all as far as ski movies go: good music, great photography, ski bum lifestyle stuff, silly backyard crashes, powder … come to think of it, there’s not enough powder. But there’s a T-Shirt at the end, previously obsessed over by Billy Chenowith and alluded to in the title of this post, that’s worth the price of admission (i.e. 3 minutes of your time).

March 27, 2008 at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

March 23, 2008

Face Chutes Looking Up

Jay_1 On a frigid and windy day at Jay Peak, the tram swung to and fro as it carried passengers to the top of the mountain. The powder-choked face chutes and upper glades awaited.

I watched from the lower lifts. My group had one claustrophobe, another acrophobe and another with a rule against entering aerial trams when wind gusts reach 70 miles per hour. Jay's staff did a fantastic job getting the tram and the upper mountain open Saturday. But we weren't going to make the trip.

The Jet and Bonaventure lifts kept us busy riding soft snow and powdery glades all day, and our lower vantage point gave us a great view of the hard-cores lining up to shoot the chutes. With nearly 2 feet from Thursday to Friday, the steepest upper mountain lines were in prime condition - and they hadn't been touched since the storm ended because of wind-related lift holds. We watched as the best skiers on the mountain picked their spots then shot themselves through to the powdery apron below.

It gave us a good sense of what Jay can offer. If the wind ever dies down, maybe we'll check it out from the top looking down.

Soft snow wasn't restricted to the upper mountain, though. It also filled the mid-mountain glades, where these pictures were taken. And here are some photos from the real professionals.




March 23, 2008 at 08:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

March 20, 2008

Snow Surfing

When the Surfrider Foundation’s winter offshoot — the Snowrider Project — was at Sugarbush last month, the hydrological cycle was a big topic of conversation. The Snowrider Project’s goal is to educate those living in mountainous areas about watershed stewardship and the connectedness of all the world’s H2O.

The idea is to create a sense of responsibility for the mountain creeks that flow into suburban rivers and eventually meander into the ocean, where the Surfrider Foundation does its most extensive work.


Now that the sizable Green Mountain snowpack is poised for a spring run, it’s a good time to consider what we’re sending downstream.

Because the Surfrider Foundation and Snowrider Project are environmental organizations and as such take global warming seriously, I asked the Snowrider representatives on hand last month (pictured below) about warming and how it might affect the surf.

My argument about warming helping skiing was shot to pieces this year with all the rain we’ve received, but the theory of heavier precipitation events — bigger storms — had to have an affect on the surf, right?

Remember that spot in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” where Gore ran footage of hurricane Katrina and juxtaposed the death and destruction with his climate change science? His point (made in a definitively political fear-mongering way that soured the whole movie for me): expect bigger storms in a globally warmed world.

Gore and his co-Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, believe hurricanes will get bigger and more frequent as global temps increase.

Here on the East Coast, the best surfing occurs when storms are barreling up the coast. In the days before they touch land, they send swells to the coastline and surfers start to get that same buzz we snowriders do when powder is in the forecast.

So I’m thinking — just as I used to about skiing — this warming thing is going to be great for surfers.

Not so fast, I was told.

Along with the predicted bigger and more frequent storms, there is also a predicted sea level rise associated with global warming. The rising sea level has the potential to completely wash out the beach breaks along the east coast, I learned.

So while more storms might mean more swell, the swell won’t be breaking where it does now. Where will it break? Good question, but I inferred from our conversation that coastal homes might be involved.

The thing is, the IPCC has moved on to the idea of adaption — that is, whatever’s happening may be beyond our power to control it so it’s time to learn to live with it.


That is not at all to say conserving resources and developing renewable energy is not worthwhile. Even if the Earth’s climate is out of our hands, our pursuit of better energy use and production should be no less aggressive. If we can achieve that, we may eliminate our need for an Iraq policy or a business relationship with Saudi Arabia.

And if in achieving that we put a dent in climate change, and these mid-winter rain storms turn back to snow and surfer’s aren’t worried about their beach breaks washing out, so much the better.

March 20, 2008 at 01:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

March 18, 2008

Wide Open

When I was covering snowboarding in Colorado, the X Games and the Vans Triple Crown were always held up as the pinnacle events on the professional calendar.

Now that I’m a Vermonter, I know better. The 26th annual U.S. Open of Snowboarding is ongoing this week at Stratton. All the big guns are there — White, Teter, Clark, Kass. The same riders compete in the X Games and Vans Triple Crown as well, but the Vermont event has something those contests can never touch: history.

The U.S. Open is the oldest snowboarding event in the country, starting in 1982 at Suicide Six. Back then, the Snurfer was prominently involved. The event is a source of pride for locals and is an industry party of the highest order.

I have not made it to Stratton on my ’07/’08 tour of Vermont resorts yet, and this week will be the perfect opportunity. Part festival, part snowboard industry convention and all elite competition, the U.S. Open will be abuzz through Sunday.

March 18, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

March 15, 2008

Peak Pitch

The concept of an elevator pitch — a quick, on-the-spot business proposal designed for those times you find yourself in an elevator with a millionaire looking for a business or idea to invest in — got its annual ski area twist on Friday at Peak Pitch.

About 40 entreprenuers and 20 venture capitalists got together at Bolton Valley and turned the elevator pitch into the chairlift pitch.

The event, sponsored by Fresh Tracks Capital, got skiing and snowboarding entrepreneurs the ears of investors for six precious minutes at a time on Bolton's lower valley quad lift. The fast-skiing entrepreneurs got about seven chairlift pitches in over three hours.

Ideas ranged from bath products to sporting goods to renewable energy to medical diagnostics. The best pitchers were given little green $$$$$ cards that qualified them for a final pitch-off over lunch.

It was an invaluable networking opportunity at the very least, and at most, a chance to plant the seeds for real investment agreements to negotiate at formal follow-ups.

Kluster, Vermont’s user-based project development system (that’s a poor description — just go to the web site to really get the lowdown) won the pitch-off. A natural soap manufacturer (with visions of changing the natural beauty products industry) placed second, and a renewable energy software development company was third.

Great event. The snowboarder in the photo came from Aspen to talk snowboarding and harnessing wind energy.


March 15, 2008 at 07:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 11, 2008

A Peak at Tucks II

Back in January we posted some pictures of Tuckerman's Ravine courtesy of the Mount Washington Avalanche Center. Now that the Tuckerman's spring ski season is mere weeks away, we figured another look was in order. And we like what we see.

The main bowl and gullies are filled to the brim. From the looks of it, there will be skiing on Mount Washington into July.

The first photo is of Hillman's Highway, the second of Dodge's Drop and the third of the main Tuckerman's bowl. All were taken this week. The photos may be a little deceptive because what looks like great snow is actually frozen solid. The mountain wasn't spared last weekend's rain. But once the sun starts loosening things up, the skiing will be world class.




March 11, 2008 at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 10, 2008

When All Else Fails, Hike the Rails

Sometimes, after an ice storm puts the screws to the snowpack, the best thing to do is stick to something you can rely on: rails. They're weather-proof, they're always there and they ski the same in soft snow and hard.

There were a good handful of all-weather skiers and snowboarders at Stowe on Sunday. And with icy surfaces covering the mountain, many of them decided to stick to the terrain park.






However, the surface was forgiving enough to sink an edge into. Stowe's groomers did a great job and the beginner and intermediate trails were classic loose granular. We even found a snowboarder with a racing setup willing to lay down some great carves for the camera.


Snow fell heavy throughout the day, and a good 4 inches covered the crust on the ungroomed trails. It'll take some serious melting, serious grooming or serious snowfall to soften surfaces. Now that daylight savings is here, it might be time to start thinking about melting. The snowpack is still deep (this was one of the top ten snowiest winters in history after all), so there is a lot of spring skiing to look forward to.

Enjoy ...

March 10, 2008 at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 07, 2008


Progression continues at Mad River Rocket, Warren’s own re-inventor of the sled. They’re calling their sport freesledding, and the best way to describe that is in video. The clip below was from their Rocket exploits in Utah last year. Apparently, there’s nowhere these things can’t go. And you thought snowboards floated in powder.

March 7, 2008 at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 05, 2008

The Politics of Skiing AND Snowboarding

There is absolutely no telling what we'll find on the hills after this storm is finished. Nothing will surprise me. Fourteen inches, bare ground and mud puddles. At this point of a roller-coaster winter that's allowed me to coin the term "precipitation pu-pu platter," and use it often, I am completely unnonplussable (consider that term minted as well).

At least this storm saved its havoc wreaking for the mountains and didn't interfere with Tuesday's local elections and presidential primaries, allowing Vermont to speak up loudly for its man Barack. (Note: the slant thinly veiled here absolutely represents the views of Snowbloggan and its affiliates, if we had any.)

I remember when John Kerry was running for president and he went for a winter vacation at Sun Valley, Idaho. He was surely a terrible presidential candidate, but he is a decent skier and snowboarder, not to mention kitesurfer (he dominates the annual Congressional kitesurfing contest.)

During his 2004 Sun Valley trip, in the midst of a neck-and-neck race with The Current Occupant (to borrow a device to avoid naming He Who Shall Not Be Named from the great Garrison Keillor), Kerry flashed his Stein Eriksen form for the cameras.

Pictures flew across the wires. And that, on its own, would have been nice. But not more than two hours later, several more photos flew across the wires of Kerry at Sun Valley, only this time he was riding his snowboard. I mean, is it any wonder he was labeled a flip-flopper and managed to lose to That Guy. "I actually started skiing before I started snowboarding," you could almost hear him say.

Not that doing both is a bad thing. Quite the contrary. But it was just such a staged attempt at all-inclusiveness, and it illustrated the worst of politicking using winter sports of all things.

Thankfully, Mr. Kerry has kept his recreation habits to himself this political season, although I’m keeping guard for a photo of him learning to telemark.

We may have loose granular for the foreseeable future, we may have rock-solid moguls that will jar your back to the bone, but at least we have presidential candidates that blow the doors off those in 2004 — McCain included — skiing and snowboarding ability notwithstanding.

March 5, 2008 at 01:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)