New England Snow Holes

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby rfarren » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:26 am

Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:BTW, this was at whiteface, not No' VT. No' VT I believe has much more base.


I never (or rarely) ski trees at Whiteface, I have very little interest in them. WF for me is wide steep and long fall-line trails, trees at WF (based on snow, layout, topography) isn't in the same category IMO (haven't skied Lookout yet). Skiing trees at WF is like someone going to Alta to ski on the groomers. Nothing wrong with it, but not skiing their best element.


In March you're right. When the snow is soft wide steep fall lines are great. In mid-January when the snow is being blown off the trails into the woods and you need a chef's knife to hold an edge, I think the woods are preferable... especially at Whiteface where the wind is so vicious. The trees at Whiteface were pretty good btw. I think the new lookout mountain glades are much more expansive and more interesting, terrain-wise, than the older glades. Remember, I was skiing to the best element of the day, which were trees, where the snow was markedly better than on the rest of the mountain.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:42 am

ChrisC wrote: blahblahblah

Chris C and Marc C... the resemblances are uncanny.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby J.Spin » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:57 pm

ChrisC wrote:Overall, I do not believe our East Coast posters judge conditions to the some standards as West Coast threads so I do not participate in them.
I'm not sure I understand the point of the comment, and I can't speak for the East Coast posters, but I have taken great care to maintain the same standards for snow quality/ski conditions during my periods of living in Northern Vermont or the Northern Rockies, or wherever my ski travels take me. It doesn't matter if I'm posting in the East Coast Forum or the West Coast Forum, my standards for conditions remain the same. Lost Trail Powder Mountain, our local ski area in Montana, is well known for having some of the best snow surfaces in the state - in a Rocky Mountain region renowned for having very low skier density. Unless there was absolutely fresh snow at our destination, leaving Lost Trail for other more poplar destinations in the Western U.S and Canada (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, B.C.) almost always meant a step down in the typical on piste conditions. Are the typical on-piste conditions here in Northern Vermont as reliably soft as what we found in Montana, absolutely not (especially on steep, groomed terrain), but that doesn't mean my standards are different when I'm skiing in this area. I would argue that my standards for snow quality are extremely high, as in, if skiing a groomed run means that one's skis make any noise other than the dull hiss of cutting through bottomless packed powder, it is not going to get a premium rating. If a groomed run requires any semblance of sharp ski edges or has more than a couple of token windswept spots where one can even hear their skis hitting a firm surface, it should not get a rating of excellent. Do such surfaces exist around here? Absolutely, although I only experience these conditions infrequently on the steepest groomed terrain (usually in the days after a substantial storm of dense snow) for those in the know, they can be had virtually all season on the appropriate moderate angle terrain. First off, any trail that has even seen snowmaking at any point in the season is vitrually out of the running for getting a premium rating, except for when it was first put down or the periods after storms that have added substantial water content in the form of real snow as I mentioned above. The snowmakers at some of the premium resorts can actually put down some very high quality snow that can be nice and quiet to ski on right away, but once that stuff is down, it's always going to be there... and let's just say it's not going to become any less dense over time. Even a thaw/rain event, aside from an extreme one that creates flowing water that turns to solid ice, doesn't seem to be as bad as having that snowmaking base. The typical rain or melt layer may penetrate into the snow, but it is of much less substance than a foot or two of man made snow, and the groomers can eventually till it back in. So, all one needs for premium groomed terrain is exclusively natural snow and low traffic, bolstered by either temperatures consistently below freezing and/or frequent snowfall for refreshment. A perfect example of this setup is Old Turnpike at Bolton Valley. It's certainly nothing too steep, but it has a consistent pitch for good mellow cruising, it's always 100% natural snow, and much of the season the snow quality is at a level that even I consider excellent for groomed snow. As for off piste conditions, nobody I know short of perhaps an avalanche forecaster analyzes the coverage, flake structure, snow depth, snow density, wind/sun affects, degree of float, subsurface composition, etc. more than I do with regard to skiing powder. Although I have heard talk of people that ski the Cottonwood Canyons who don't go out unless there is a foot or more of fresh snow, in all my years of visiting this forum, I have not seen evidence that anyone judges snow conditions at a higher standard than I do.

ChrisC wrote:In the twenty years of skiing on the East Coast I have really never seen more than 20-30" ever accumulated reliably.
I know you alluded to Northern Vermont being a bit different, but come on, how can anyone even look at the snowpack data for the Mt. Mansfield stake and make that comment with a straight face? I know skiing around here has changed a lot in the past twenty plus years, but if you seriously went that long without seeing more than 20-30" accumulated reliably, you were clearly doing a different kind of skiing than what people are doing now.

I’ll make a final comment as well. The focus of this thread was initially about snowfall in parts of the Northeast, and based on Mike’s comment about tree skiing it branched (so to speak) into a discussion about the length of the tree skiing season around here. There’s nothing east/west about it short of a little aside prompted by Tony’s input, which is generally fact driven and objective to the best of his abilities. Honestly, it’s great to have your input here Chris, but to come in and start off with the “I’ve really only come here to tell you that I never stoop to coming here” line, and then finish off with what appears to be some sort of insult, really isn’t a way to ingratiate yourself to the people involved in the discussion or get your comments to be taken seriously. Both River and I contributed to the discussion with multiple documented trip reports, images, and/or hard data. You can come in and contribute with impressions and conjectures based on your personal experiences, but just know that they should not be given the same amount of weight as the more thoroughly-documented, empirical reports. There is an occasional trend here among folks who have spent at least some substantial amount of time skiing in the Northeastern U.S. to temper discussions about Northeast ski conditions. In general, this can be constructive to the process in that it provides different perspectives. However, in some cases it simply comes off in a “sour grapes” sort of format, with the typical “Those conditions are nothing like what I skied when I was in the Northeast, there has to be some sort of mistake here.” There must be some impetus for people who are not actively skiing in the Northeast or working to document/archive the conditions here to want to “correct” the reports and discussions with their (mostly unsolicited) comments. If the skiing really has no effect on them, and they don’t have any hard data or empirical evidence to contribute, what’s the point? Are they trying to save future skiers from dramatically misinterpreting the snow conditions data and ruining their lives by skiing substandard snow? Are they trying to prevent the mass influx of skiers into the Northeast that is inevitably going to happen because everyone thinks that the conditions are so much better than they actually are? Or is there something more personal in their history? It is often good to point out erroneous or misinterpreted data, but some of these comments don’t come off as constructive as that. Icelantic’s posts seem to be a common catalyst for these types of comments, since he skis a lot of very good snow, and is very exuberant in his reporting (and he brings it upon himself by frequently making jabs at ski conditions in other people/parts of the country). He clearly enjoys that sort of back and forth. But, just because someone has skied a region of the country, regardless of how long and how extensively they think they’ve done it, it does not mean that they have more than the faintest clue about what other people are experiencing. Icelantic is certainly an extreme example, but he can illustrate the point. I know of nobody that skis the Northeast U.S. the way Icelantic does, so for anyone to try to use their experience of skiing the Northeast in an effort to quantify of qualify what he is experiencing… it’s a big stretch.

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:47 pm

J.Spin wrote: There must be some impetus for people who are not actively skiing in the Northeast or working to document/archive the conditions here to want to “correct” the reports and discussions with their (mostly unsolicited) comments.

A question for the ages.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby icelanticskier » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:06 pm

let them believe what they will. most of em weren't creative or flexible enough to make the most of what we have here on pretty much a daily basis. tree skiing till april? try tree skiing well into may, the loaf, hello! i've skied incredible corn trees there for 1000 vert at a shot till mid may on more than one occasion. the most recent being may of 2007. $hit man, a storm is coming towards us right now, sunapee will likely see 8-12inches with like 98% open including glades, where just an hour north it won't snow but an inch or two. when i was in colorado and the jane was like sunny spring, it most certainly wasn't snowing an hour away from there. a hill like sunapee may only be 1500 vert, but if it's dumping, who the frig cares?

pick yer spots here from week to week, storm to storm, and there's a whole lotta variety and soft snow to ski here, and you usually only have to drive an hour or 2 either way to nail it at it's best.

monday should be fun!

SNOWIN? I'M GOIN!!!

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Harvey44 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:55 pm

ChrisC wrote: I do not participate


Promises, promises.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby christopherb » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:09 pm

icelanticskier wrote:let them believe what they will. most of em weren't creative or flexible enough to make the most of what we have here on pretty much a daily basis. tree skiing till april? try tree skiing well into may, the loaf, hello! i've skied incredible corn trees there for 1000 vert at a shot till mid may on more than one occasion. the most recent being may of 2007. $hit man, a storm is coming towards us right now, sunapee will likely see 8-12inches with like 98% open including glades, where just an hour north it won't snow but an inch or two. when i was in colorado and the jane was like sunny spring, it most certainly wasn't snowing an hour away from there. a hill like sunapee may only be 1500 vert, but if it's dumping, who the frig cares?

pick yer spots here from week to week, storm to storm, and there's a whole lotta variety and soft snow to ski here, and you usually only have to drive an hour or 2 either way to nail it at it's best.

monday should be fun!

SNOWIN? I'M GOIN!!!

ROG


Great post. When I originally posted this thread I was more than anything just thinking about how some people were saying how great a season New England was having and my experience was that it was average.
I am still new to finding/following the good snows in Vermont which is the most variable of all the northeastern states in terms of localized dumpings. (Lakeeffect in NY aside)
Never imagined the thread would go more than a page actually. Helps to solidify in my mind that In New England you just need the desire to drive a ways when you need to and to do your research.
I don't really get invested in the comparisons to the west b/c I don't live there. I appreciate the fact that Tony can actually put such care into his posts while being thousands of miles away. Great moderating!
Looks like this next storm will help balance some of the snow holes in Western Ma. and S. VT. :-D
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Geoff » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:56 am

Cannonball wrote:
There is no way the Vermont tree skiing within full lift service lasts until the end of April


I couldn't find anyone here saying "until the end of April". But I will confirm what the other (VT skiers) are saying...there is usually April tree skiing to be had. Fortunately for us we are actually skiing in the real woods on real snow and not on your conditions chart. To paraphrase someone's wise quote "statistics are a poor substitute for reality"


Why would anyone bother with tree skiing in April. It interferes with tanning?
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Patrick » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:31 am

J.Spin wrote:
ChrisC wrote:Overall, I do not believe our East Coast posters judge conditions to the some standards as West Coast threads so I do not participate in them.
I'm not sure I understand the point of the comment, and I can't speak for the East Coast posters, but I have taken great care to maintain the same standards for snow quality/ski conditions during my periods of living in Northern Vermont or the Northern Rockies, or wherever my ski travels take me. It doesn't matter if I'm posting in the East Coast Forum or the West Coast Forum, my standards for conditions remain the same. Lost Trail Powder Mountain, our local ski area in Montana, is well known for having some of the best snow surfaces in the state - in a Rocky Mountain region renowned for having very low skier density. Unless there was absolutely fresh snow at our destination, leaving Lost Trail for other more poplar destinations in the Western U.S and Canada (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, B.C.) almost always meant a step down in the typical on piste conditions. Are the typical on-piste conditions here in Northern Vermont as reliably soft as what we found in Montana, absolutely not (especially on steep, groomed terrain), but that doesn't mean my standards are different when I'm skiing in this area. I would argue that my standards for snow quality are extremely high, as in, if skiing a groomed run means that one's skis make any noise other than the dull hiss of cutting through bottomless packed powder, it is not going to get a premium rating. If a groomed run requires any semblance of sharp ski edges or has more than a couple of token windswept spots where one can even hear their skis hitting a firm surface, it should not get a rating of excellent. Do such surfaces exist around here? Absolutely, although I only experience these conditions infrequently on the steepest groomed terrain (usually in the days after a substantial storm of dense snow) for those in the know, they can be had virtually all season on the appropriate moderate angle terrain. First off, any trail that has even seen snowmaking at any point in the season is vitrually out of the running for getting a premium rating, except for when it was first put down or the periods after storms that have added substantial water content in the form of real snow as I mentioned above. The snowmakers at some of the premium resorts can actually put down some very high quality snow that can be nice and quiet to ski on right away, but once that stuff is down, it's always going to be there... and let's just say it's not going to become any less dense over time. Even a thaw/rain event, aside from an extreme one that creates flowing water that turns to solid ice, doesn't seem to be as bad as having that snowmaking base. The typical rain or melt layer may penetrate into the snow, but it is of much less substance than a foot or two of man made snow, and the groomers can eventually till it back in. So, all one needs for premium groomed terrain is exclusively natural snow and low traffic, bolstered by either temperatures consistently below freezing and/or frequent snowfall for refreshment. A perfect example of this setup is Old Turnpike at Bolton Valley. It's certainly nothing too steep, but it has a consistent pitch for good mellow cruising, it's always 100% natural snow, and much of the season the snow quality is at a level that even I consider excellent for groomed snow. As for off piste conditions, nobody I know short of perhaps an avalanche forecaster analyzes the coverage, flake structure, snow depth, snow density, wind/sun affects, degree of float, subsurface composition, etc. more than I do with regard to skiing powder. Although I have heard talk of people that ski the Cottonwood Canyons who don't go out unless there is a foot or more of fresh snow, in all my years of visiting this forum, I have not seen evidence that anyone judges snow conditions at a higher standard than I do.

ChrisC wrote:In the twenty years of skiing on the East Coast I have really never seen more than 20-30" ever accumulated reliably.
I know you alluded to Northern Vermont being a bit different, but come on, how can anyone even look at the snowpack data for the Mt. Mansfield stake and make that comment with a straight face? I know skiing around here has changed a lot in the past twenty plus years, but if you seriously went that long without seeing more than 20-30" accumulated reliably, you were clearly doing a different kind of skiing than what people are doing now.

I’ll make a final comment as well. The focus of this thread was initially about snowfall in parts of the Northeast, and based on Mike’s comment about tree skiing it branched (so to speak) into a discussion about the length of the tree skiing season around here. There’s nothing east/west about it short of a little aside prompted by Tony’s input, which is generally fact driven and objective to the best of his abilities. Honestly, it’s great to have your input here Chris, but to come in and start off with the “I’ve really only come here to tell you that I never stoop to coming here” line, and then finish off with what appears to be some sort of insult, really isn’t a way to ingratiate yourself to the people involved in the discussion or get your comments to be taken seriously. Both River and I contributed to the discussion with multiple documented trip reports, images, and/or hard data. You can come in and contribute with impressions and conjectures based on your personal experiences, but just know that they should not be given the same amount of weight as the more thoroughly-documented, empirical reports. There is an occasional trend here among folks who have spent at least some substantial amount of time skiing in the Northeastern U.S. to temper discussions about Northeast ski conditions. In general, this can be constructive to the process in that it provides different perspectives. However, in some cases it simply comes off in a “sour grapes” sort of format, with the typical “Those conditions are nothing like what I skied when I was in the Northeast, there has to be some sort of mistake here.” There must be some impetus for people who are not actively skiing in the Northeast or working to document/archive the conditions here to want to “correct” the reports and discussions with their (mostly unsolicited) comments. If the skiing really has no effect on them, and they don’t have any hard data or empirical evidence to contribute, what’s the point? Are they trying to save future skiers from dramatically misinterpreting the snow conditions data and ruining their lives by skiing substandard snow? Are they trying to prevent the mass influx of skiers into the Northeast that is inevitably going to happen because everyone thinks that the conditions are so much better than they actually are? Or is there something more personal in their history? It is often good to point out erroneous or misinterpreted data, but some of these comments don’t come off as constructive as that. Icelantic’s posts seem to be a common catalyst for these types of comments, since he skis a lot of very good snow, and is very exuberant in his reporting (and he brings it upon himself by frequently making jabs at ski conditions in other people/parts of the country). He clearly enjoys that sort of back and forth. But, just because someone has skied a region of the country, regardless of how long and how extensively they think they’ve done it, it does not mean that they have more than the faintest clue about what other people are experiencing. Icelantic is certainly an extreme example, but he can illustrate the point. I know of nobody that skis the Northeast U.S. the way Icelantic does, so for anyone to try to use their experience of skiing the Northeast in an effort to quantify of qualify what he is experiencing… it’s a big stretch.

-J


=D> =D> =D> =D>

Same here...great post.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:55 pm

I am pleased that JSpin has provided meticulous documentation of Dec. 9 as the median data of first tree skiing in N VT. One of his other observations is worthy of some comment:
Whether the season has been fantastic or a total dud, the skiing usually finishes up within the same timeframe that spans a couple of weeks.

I see this and agree with it based upon what I can analyze: closing dates, percent of area open as the season winds down. I thought, as most of you easterners were grumbling about the crappy March in 2009, that the eastern season would end early, and surely much earlier than after the epic April of 2007. Yet it did not; the closing dates were in the 2 week timeframe JSpin mentioned. Thus makes little sense to me. In SoCal we have erratic winters, so much that natural snow dependent Baldy barely opens at all and never gets over 50% open in poor years. Yet in its big years the natural base gets up to 10 feet and in 2 seasons it was open until first weekend of June. So I must conclude that spring weather (by May at least) is so warm and/or rainy that even an excellent eastern snowpack (excepting Presidential and Chic-Choc backcountry) cannot withstand it. With the consistency of closing dates it's probably fair to say that 3 weeks into April is the likely median for last lift service tree skiing. So I underestimated by one week on each end the "might be skiable" timeframe.

JSpin wrote:I have not seen evidence that anyone judges snow conditions at a higher standard than I do.

I have commented before that JSpin's level of powder snobbery rivals that of the jaded Utards.

With respect to ChrisC's comments, it's easy to shoot at the 20-30 inch base remark. There's a reason the Mt. Mansfield "40-inch rule" came into being. That base is usually there from mid-January to late March. But he also alluded to the inconsistency issue.

The problem you easterners do not like to address is the percent of the time within that Dec. 9 - Apr. 22 timeframe during which the woods are unskiable due to rain/thaw/freeze conditions. Judging from the precipitous shutdowns of expert trails when that happens, I'm fairly confident that it's 1/4 to 1/3 of the time. JSpin is less likely to know that stat because by his own admission he won't ski at all under those conditions.

The current situation in LCC (and a week ago at Mammoth) is illustrative by contrast. There has not been a scrap of new snow in 2 weeks, the base is only 4 feet and yet there is not any melt/freeze activity on 80% of terrain. If it goes 2 weeks with no new snow in the Northeast, it's generally not a pretty picture. I know they might make snow during that time, but JSpin has rendered a cogent opinion of the resulting surface conditions. And then there's the rain: average 1/2 day per season at Mammoth (probably similar in LCC) vs. 12+ days per season at high elevation on Mt. Mansfield.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby rfarren » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:10 am

Tony Crocker wrote: If it goes 2 weeks with no new snow in the Northeast, it's generally not a pretty picture.


That's only true if it rains. Natural snow is natural snow, and in the trees where the snow is generally protected from the wind and the sun, it doesn't really get too icy. IMHO man-made snow is more temperamental when it comes to turning into ice from skier traffic and sun, and that's why it can get bad on some trails without new snow.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Jan 18, 2010 6:22 am

rfarren wrote:That's only true if it rains. Natural snow is natural snow, and in the trees where the snow is generally protected from the wind and the sun, it doesn't really get too icy. IMHO man-made snow is more temperamental when it comes to turning into ice from skier traffic and sun, and that's why it can get bad on some trails without new snow.

If you look at my Belleayre TR from Saturday, you'll see what I mean about us skiing on natural snow trails/woods on a paltry 47 inches total of snowfall (not a 47-inch base), and it was great. Harvey/Jason can back me up on that. Of course, I'll be more than happy to get some more base-building snow, but you also need to consider what is being covered up... and when there are no shark's teeth sticking out, you can take chances that you wouldn't try out west.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby skimore » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:54 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:
rfarren wrote:That's only true if it rains. Natural snow is natural snow, and in the trees where the snow is generally protected from the wind and the sun, it doesn't really get too icy. IMHO man-made snow is more temperamental when it comes to turning into ice from skier traffic and sun, and that's why it can get bad on some trails without new snow.

If you look at my Belleayre TR from Saturday, you'll see what I mean about us skiing on natural snow trails/woods on a paltry 47 inches total of snowfall (not a 47-inch base), and it was great. Harvey/Jason can back me up on that. Of course, I'll be more than happy to get some more base-building snow, but you also need to consider what is being covered up... and when there are no shark's teeth sticking out, you can take chances that you wouldn't try out west.


There also was still great snow to be had in the Adk's this weekend

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Cannonball » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:34 am

Tony,
There are at least 2 problems with correlating expert terrain closure (and resort closures) to possibility of tree skiing. These issues may be what is confounding your stats.
1) As has already been mentioned in this thread, spring lift closures are frequently due to inadequate snow at the bottom of the lift. I've been at many closing weekends at Sugarloaf when the snow up top (and in the trees) was sweet but the mud hole at the bottom of the lift made continued operation impossible.

2) Many eastern resorts pre-pick closing dates in order to manage staff and budgets. Cannon is an extreme example. I believe it was the 06-07 season that had phenomenal April snowfalls. But Cannon was closed because they planned to be. I'd still like a refund on my season pass for that year. And the reverse is true too. In a bad year many resorts will cling on to a pre-planned closing date even when the conditions are long past reasonable. I've seen this at Jay for sure. This is a big bias in the consistency of closing dates that doesn't necessarily reflect the overall conditions.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Marc_C » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:51 am

Cannonball wrote:Tony,
There are at least 2 problems with correlating expert terrain closure (and resort closures) to possibility of tree skiing. These issues may be what is confounding your stats.
1) As has already been mentioned in this thread, spring lift closures are frequently due to inadequate snow at the bottom of the lift. I've been at many closing weekends at Sugarloaf when the snow up top (and in the trees) was sweet but the mud hole at the bottom of the lift made continued operation impossible.

2) Many eastern resorts pre-pick closing dates in order to manage staff and budgets. Cannon is an extreme example. I believe it was the 06-07 season that had phenomenal April snowfalls. But Cannon was closed because they planned to be. I'd still like a refund on my season pass for that year. And the reverse is true too. In a bad year many resorts will cling on to a pre-planned closing date even when the conditions are long past reasonable. I've seen this at Jay for sure. This is a big bias in the consistency of closing dates that doesn't necessarily reflect the overall conditions.

I'll add one other....
Just because the expert trails are closed doesn't necessarily correlate well with the woods being unskiable. There are a variety of reasons why a resort may close an expert trail - eg: a rain/wind/freeze event that leaves the trail as unedgeable porcelain but the nearby woods have the snow/recrystalized powder that blew off the closed trail.
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