New England Snow Holes

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in eastern US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:59 pm

Cannonball wrote:Many eastern resorts pre-pick closing dates in order to manage staff and budgets.

This is even more true in much of the less densely populated West. But with the big population base of the Northeast somebody would stay open in May if there were a natural snow base worth skiing, as Baldy has. That somebody used to be Killington, but it was on expensive stockpile snowmaking not natural. MRG is the Baldy analogy, and even in the best of eastern seasons they close not too far into April.

Cannonball wrote:As has already been mentioned in this thread, spring lift closures are frequently due to inadequate snow at the bottom of the lift.

If the lifts are closed it's only relevant to the tiny percentage of earned turn skiers (disproportionately represented on FTO) if the woods on the upper 1/3 of a ski area are still covered. Baldy's chair 1 is used for transport and is often completely bare of snow in April/May when Thunder still has a good base. I've :dead horse: in the Killington threads before, but perhaps K is not the only eastern area that should be thinking about utilizing an upper mountain terrain pod with a lower transport lift for early/late season.

Expert trails vs. woods?
1) Mid-season the arguments make sense the woods will be skiable more often. Given rain frequency there is still a non-trivial percent of the time when they won't be.
2) December/early January before the "40-inch rule" is attained, I would be very surprised if the woods were skiable as often as advanced trails with snowmaking.
3) Late season woods are probably better, but lift operation as discussed above is what often determines accessibility.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Mike Bernstein » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:33 pm

Tony Crocker wrote: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.

Tony -

I think your point is well taken that the windows of great skiing are smaller in the NE but, in my experience, your 1/4 to 1/3 estimate is well over-stated. I'd say no more than 20% at most. Every year is different of course, but the % of rain events where it rains and then the front comes through with no moisture is relatively small. Much more common is a front coming through with 2-4" of dust on crust, or often times much more than that. You then get lake effect that adds on top of that and within a week you're back to powder conditions in the woods. Expert trails can be closed (Castlerock for instance) b/c they don't get groomed and are porcelain even though the base in the woods is absolutely sufficient for tree skiing. There are bands of rocks on Liftline at SB that never get covered even though the woods on either side have a 6-7" base. The dense NE trees hold snow in a much better fashion than the wide open trails and their winds/skier traffic. The majority of my days from December 1 through March 31 were powder days in some fashion, almost all of which were spent in the trees.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:59 pm

in my experience, your 1/4 to 1/3 estimate is well over-stated. I'd say no more than 20% at most.

The 1/4 to 1/3 is based upon the expert trails. 20% for the trees mid-season sounds reasonable based upon comments here and lower rain incidence than early/late seasons.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby riverc0il » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:00 pm

Tony is right on that the rain/thaw/freeze cycle shuts down the woods. But you can not put a blanket number on the entire northeast. Some areas miss the worst and some areas get hit hard more frequently than others. There may even be a direct correlation with how long the woods are open with how infrequently they get shut down due to the weather. Even without the rain/freeze... woods not benefiting from higher totals can often ski very poorly just a few days after a storm. This was evidenced across New England last weekend after only one week since the last storm. Traffic is often just as, if not more of, an important factor than weather.

Cannonball wrote: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.

I can understand why!!! Personally, as a non-pass holder, I was really glad they shut down when they did as the skinning in April that year was outstanding! I still VERY fondly remember my April 21st tour of Cannon with 100% coverage all over the mountain. Simply amazing. My favorite was skiing right smack down the center of Middle Hard on a perfectly flat and clean corn surface. Perhaps my best run down Middle Hard ever, sensational. The woods most definitely were skiable the last week of April in 06-07, but....

Practically speaking it really doesn't matter because who wants to ski corn in the woods when you can be ripping corn on the trails. So I guess ultimately the point is moot.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:17 pm

Practically speaking it really doesn't matter because who wants to ski corn in the woods when you can be ripping corn on the trails.

Probably true with New England tree spacing. Baldy's trees (South Bowl etc.) are prime in corn.

But you can not put a blanket number on the entire northeast.

I've tried to focus my chart and comments on the Killington to Jay Peak region. I believe the numbers are far worse elsewhere in the Northeast.
1) The substantially lower snowfall elsewhere means the "40-inch rule" is a hit-or-miss proposition all season instead of being routine mid-winter as JSpin and the Mansfield Stake have documented. I have commented before upon the striking similarities between Cannon and Mt. Baldy in terms of both terrain quality and erratic opportunities to utilize it.
2) Worse tree density at most areas outside central/northern Vermont per admin's "brush line" comments.
3) The boundary between rain/snow events is erratic, but in general the closer to the coast the more rain events there are.

As in every region, the usual leaders do not win with every weather pattern. People like River and Icelantic are skilled at taking advantage of the exceptions.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby icelanticskier » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:22 pm

tony, one thing you fail to realize as far as preservation goes is, you don't need a ton of snowfall to have the longest tree skiing season. sure jay gets more snow than the loaf, probably almost double, but the loaf is higher, colder, further north, and preserves it's snow longer than pretty much anyone in new england. vermont may get more snow, but that also means that it gets more rain come spring to melt the snow faster.

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Marc_C » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:49 pm

icelanticskier wrote:tony, one thing you fail to realize as far as preservation goes is, you don't need a ton of snowfall to have the longest tree skiing season. sure jay gets more snow than the loaf, probably almost double, but the loaf is higher, colder, further north, and preserves it's snow longer than pretty much anyone in new england. vermont may get more snow, but that also means that it gets more rain come spring to melt the snow faster.

Remember that Tony's perspective on snow preservation is highly western-centric, with an emphasis on southern CA, with extremely limited NE experience. As such, his view is a statistical outlier and can safely be ignored.
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby icelanticskier » Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:41 pm

Marc_C wrote:
icelanticskier wrote:tony, one thing you fail to realize as far as preservation goes is, you don't need a ton of snowfall to have the longest tree skiing season. sure jay gets more snow than the loaf, probably almost double, but the loaf is higher, colder, further north, and preserves it's snow longer than pretty much anyone in new england. vermont may get more snow, but that also means that it gets more rain come spring to melt the snow faster.

Remember that Tony's perspective on snow preservation is highly western-centric, with an emphasis on southern CA, with extremely limited NE experience. As such, his view is a statistical outlier and can safely be ignored.


thanx marc! :mrgreen:

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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:03 am

Sugarloaf clearly comes to the fore in late season as evidenced by either stats or trip reports. But in the early season it's often a non-factor. This season they got that 30-inch storm right after New Year's so most of the area is open. But there are quite a few past seasons where Sugarloaf is half or less open mid-January, lagging most major eastern ski areas.

Remember, the major impression I get of eastern skiing is from the reports I read here. :stir:
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:41 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Remember, the major impression I get of eastern skiing is from the reports I read here. :stir:

Since Baldy being 100% open is a once-even-seven-years occurrence, shouldn't you be out skiing the 2-4 feet of new snow there INSTEAD OF POSTING HERE ABOUT THE EAST COAST?
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Cannonball » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:59 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Remember, the major impression I get of eastern skiing is from the reports I read here. :stir:


Yet, your general M.O. is to critique and contradict our real world observations with your questionable statistical interpretations. Your vision of east coast skiing reminds of the story of the man who drowned in river with an average depth of 3".
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Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:28 pm

Baldy being 100% open

50% at best today IMHO. As I leave early Saturday morning for 15 days in Canada, I am not able to ski local this week. Baldy would not likely be worth it today in any case. Chair 1 coverage is still marginal, though it may not be by tomorrow. The storm is still strong now, so both lifts and terrain are likely very restricted.

Tony Crocker Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:41 pm wrote: If I had to pick a day for Baldy it would be Friday.
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