Ski Resort Life

East Gets First Snowfall


Break out your boards, put the ski rack back on the car, dust off your gloves and hat, put the snow tires on, and sharpen those edges. All right, settle down. It’s a little premature to hop in a lift line, but it’s still snow. Eastern resorts received their first dose of the white stuff this weekend, and Killington even fired up their snowguns for the first time on Sunday night. Temperatures have dipped into the 30s the last few nights and mountaintops are snowcapped throughout the East.

With last year’s record Eastern snowfall still fresh on everyone’s mind, this first dusting is cause for optimism: many are hoping that a second helping of season-long powder could be on the way. At Jay Peak, they’ve skipped the dusting phase and gone straight to dumping — 12 inches fell Sunday night and into Monday morning.

“There’s so much snow that it’s drifting,” said Jay’s Chris Veillon. “It’s getting to be customary.” Last year at Jay, the first snowfall — 10 inches worth — came on October 9. In 1999, 14 inches fell on October 4. Last season, Jay got blasted with 571 inches of snow from start to finish. They expect to open for business on November 17.

After waiting for low temperatures at higher elevations for the past two weeks, Killington snowmakers found their window of opportunity on Sunday night and created a ribbon of white snow on Cascade, an upper-elevation trail. Killington also received a dusting of natural snow over the weekend, as flurries could be seen late Saturday night atop Killington Peak (4,241 feet). Killington expects to be the first Eastern resort to open this season, as they have been for the last 40 years. Last season, they opened on October 29.

At the top of Mt Washington in New Hampshire, a foot of snow fell in a 24-hour span Sunday and Monday. Meteorology intern Emily Fischer reported 60- to 70-mile-per-hour winds on the summit Monday afternoon and a wind chill of negative 20 degrees. It was 18 degrees and had crept as low as 13, close to setting a record for the coldest October 8 in history (11 degrees back in 1937). The foot of snow was the second helping of the year at Mt Washington, after an initial coating fell two weeks ago.

At The Stake near the top of Mt. Mansfield (part of Stowe), about two inches fell on Saturday night and early Sunday. Used by the Weather Service as an indicator of actual snowfall, The Stake has been around since 1954. It’s an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site. “I can see two inches maximum,” said WCAX air transmitter engineer Fred Lavenberg from his perch at 4,000 vertical feet. “It looks like winter. It’s all frosted up here. It could be January for all I know.”

The winter scenery is not likely to last, however, as forecasters are predicting temperatures in northern Vermont to creep back into the 60’s later this week. If nothing else, appetites have been whetted.

From the top of Mt Mansfield, Lavenberg summed up what skiers are feeling this time of year. “I like the fall,” he said. “But once it starts snowing, might as well just let it snow.”