Powder Outage at Stowe


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Stowe, VT, Nov. 17–When it comes to early-season powder, Stowe skiers showed that they know how to hit the curve.

The curve was thrown by a sizeable storm that came in Sunday night Nov. 14, and sat in the Canadian Maritimes, circulating and re-circulating moisture on the back of howling winds.

The resulting accumulation some 32″ by mid-morning on Tuesday. One big glitch, however, was that Stowe was not yet open for skiing. The mega-dump will allow Stowe to open top-to-bottom on Thursday–more than a week ahead of schedule.

In the meantime, locals went for the largesse under their own power, setting off a kind of land rush on the trails of Mt. Mansfield in the pursuit of fresh tracks and big November powder.

“All we wanted was Mother Natures best,” said Kim Brown, ski columnist for the local Stowe Reporter. “It didn’t matter how much fell because we knew that high winds will put between two and two-and-a-half feet all over the mountain.”

“It never snowed hard, but it never seemed to stop, making Tuesday the best November day in a decade,” said Piper Laidlaw, manager of Pinnacle Ski and Sports, a SKI Magazine Gold Medal Demo Center. He also cited the consistency of the powder as “too dry to make a snowball” on Tuesday morning. “Going from no snow to this kind of snow was the perfect scenario,” summed up Laidlaw, noting that shoulder-season snow in New England can often be wet and heavy.

For the face and chest shots he got, Laidlaw skinned up the hill on fat skis seen in numbers in Stowe. He left early, reaching the bottom of the upper turns on Stowe’s famous Nose Dive Trail by 7a.m. Only to face off with six other Pinnacle employees on boards and fatties on their way down.

Flaunting time, schedules and daylight was the norm. The Stowe Reporter’s publisher was said to have headed up the mountain in full darkness Monday night after work. Another local started skinning at 4am Tuesday in order to be back to deliver his kids to school on time. He failed, however. “Deeper than I thought,” he said.

After another night of freight-train wind to fill up pockets to waist deep, Wednesday dawned cold and clear, with humidity barely at 50%. Already dry powder now was cold smoke. By 9 a.m. skiers and riders were already streaming off the hill. Ski model Teo Calcagni (“Jay Birds” SKIING Nov 1999) was nearly incoherent with appreciation, scarcely able to get beyond “bottomless.”