Powderfreak’s Forecast for New Years

From Scott Braaten aka Powderfreak: The snow worked out a little better than planned at the lower elevations today…I’m surprised there were so many 3″ or greater amounts in generally valley locations. Most resorts should be reporting a general 3-7″ tomorrow morning. That’s pretty good news.

1) Friday night and Saturday’s event looks like a moderate snowfall with amounts of 4-7″ in the Green Mtns from SB/MRG northward and eastward (1-4″ Adirondacks and BTV). An isolated higher amount is still possible just north of the sleet mixing line, which I still think will be in the vicinity of Glens Falls-Rutland-Lebanon. I think I posted earlier this week that MRG/SB region looks like the bullseye and I’m sticking with that…but man is this a tough call with sleet/freezing rain not far away. Just an FYI, the NWS has included sleet all the way to northern Vermont. This very well may be correct but I just don’t see the warm air penetrating that far north.

All these mixed precipitation events are starting to make me pull my hair out. South of the mixing line I laid out above, anywhere from 1-5″ can be expected with a topping of sleet or ice. For those outside of Vermont, that 4-7″ band will stretch across the northern half of NH and ME including areas like Cannon, Wildcat, and Sugarloaf.

2) Sunday Night and Monday’s system is still a big question mark. Does the surface low get captured enough to hug the coast to some degree? European says yes with a moderate snow event…GFS is the exact opposite and is almost partly cloudy as the low moves eastward off the mid-Atlantic coast. The NAM is with the GFS. I can’t deny the American models and will forecast some light accumulating snow on Monday as the upper level trough swings through…but the possibility for something more is there.

3) The good news is that we’ve got some snowfall over the next 4 days and then an arctic surge with sub-zero nights and teens during the day. There are some indications of persistent upslope snowfall as this arctic air pours in on Tuesday and Wednesday. This could add several inches of fluffy snow across all upslope favored areas. Dry and cold on Thurs/Fri.

Bad news is that we are going to warm up big time starting Saturday January 5th. Big time and for at least a week. The models continue to show ugly, ugly heights and 850mb temperatures of up to +10C (50F!), possibly into northern New England. 50F at summit level is trouble and would mean a 60F+ day at BTV is not out of the question later in the week towards the 12th. We will average well above average from the 5th through the 12th and if there is a silver lining in this, its that its a mild/dry pattern not a mild/wet pattern.

This is our January thaw and it might feel more like late March or early April during the later part of that week. One other saving grace is very cold air in far northern Canada which could keep low level cool air in the north country under an inversion as strong 850mb SW winds warm the upper elevations.

I don’t want to sound like doomsday but prepare for a more serious thaw…maybe even enjoy a few warm, sunny days like they are spring days. At least we’ve got a snowpack that isn’t isothermal so we’ll keep something around. The cold still looks to return later in January…though I’ve got a feeling that’ll be delayed. But it will come back. Enjoy whatever happens because a day in the mountains is still twice as good as a day anywhere else. -Scott

Gore Mountain, NY: 12/21/07

Ski Day 6

Busier than yesterday, but still basically deserted. Trying to relive my glory on Double Barrel from yesterday I went to the top. The rope was across Pine Knot (access to the top) and Skipat told me it was going to be 20 mins. I figured I’d learn my lesson from yesterday, and get a warm up in on the lower mountain. I did the Rubyrun tuck, and took Showcase. Again intense fog in the saddle and if I had been able to see, I’d taken Sunway which had been groomed.

Showcase was crunchy. Rode the Gondi again – by myself at 8:45 – and got to the top. It seemed colder than predicted. I had dressed lighter today and was feeling chilly on the windwhipped summit of Bear Mtn. Pine Knot was open, and I resisted the lure of the Cave or Pine Brook Glades. Pine Knot was actually great – they must have blown some snow on it. Teley all the way.

I rode the Quad and hit the Straightbrook Glades off Chatiemac. Is it only me, or does it seems like a glade that seemed somewhat hammered the day before, somehow has new life the next day, even when no significant snow has fallen? Next run I went into lower Double Barrel (below Hawkeye) and it was just as good as it was yesterday. Carvable, manageable, fun. At the top of my next trip up the quad I was hailed by Jimmer and his crew. J told me he had seen me on DB from the chair, but it looked like I was really “concentrating” so he didn’t call out. Hmm…okay. I think that’s code for resting a lot. I was still beat from yesterday. But…this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

These guys….and there are like 10 of them..are local rippers who know all of Gore secrets. Hippy seemed like the treemaster. Todd, Tom and Megatron were fearless rippers. Charlie certainly knew his way around. Time would tell whether they had the patience to show it all to a Teleyboy from NJ. I was determined to do everything I could to keep up. I kept asking the names of everything. For years I’ve heard this name and that, and by gosh if I was hittin it I wanted to know. What is this, what is that?

One run on the dark side hadn’t been named yet. Charlie said that the work was done over the summer and because today was the first day the dark side was open…we were christening it. By name we hit the Newtons, Birch, Thumper, Top Secret, Nugget, The Unknown Zone, KHS and some other things that I just didn’t get the names of. It will really be interesting to see how much of this stuff I can find on my own, Some of these shots have entrances that are hidden like the Bat Cave.

The thing that amazed me was the lines we were finding. 5 Days since the storm and some of the lines we were hitting hadn’t been skied yet this year. How can that be? One thing is for sure…. nothing teaches good teley technique like skiing in the fresh. While there were no real distinct layers in the snow, you could tell that somewhere down in there, there was some sleet.

Not wanting to invite myself into a lunch that had been clearly planned in advance in the summit warming hut….I headed for the saddle at around 1pm…to get a burger and to call Zelda. (The Saddle is a good place to get a cell signal and our camp has no phone.) Had a burger and a cookie, called Zelda, and then headed back out. Down to the bottom, up the Gondi, Pine Knot to Pinebrook Glade and then up the Quad again. Truthfully, I thought ok I’m on my own now…I survived the morning.

An hour or two on my own to “concentrate” and take it easy. As I slide off the Quad at the summit…there was an expanded version of the gang, now including some expert women. The pull of the pow was too much. I had to go with them, as tired as I was. We hit some favorites again including, I think, the Unknown Zone, and Nugget.

By the end of the day, some of the guys wanted to hit “Sagamore.” I’d seen old maps of Gore and Sagamore was a trail that never happened. I was sure there would be a serious cliff in there somewhere…so I begged off and went down Foxlair with the whole group except Todd, Tom, Megatron and Hippy. We skied down to the access road and they never appeared.

On the radio we connected…they were in some deep yogurt. We knew they’d be a while, so we bolted for the Gondi and caught it about 10 mins before they shut it down. Back down Foxlair…which was like a snowmaking whale terrain park…and to the access road again to wait for the intrepid crew coming off the Sagamore ridge. When they finally popped out..they were totally beat and maybe just a little bit relieved to be back on the groomers.

We did some high speed arcs down Sunway, sneaking through all of those blue trails down there that nobody uses…and called it a day. One of the great skiing experiences of my life. THANKS to Jimmer and the crew for their patience and generosity. I’ll be back on the hill in the am, and I’ll head for the highway about 1pm to get home for Christmas…back next week if conditions are ok. I’d get out there and get it tomorrow, may be the best day for a while.

Gore Mountain, NY: 12/20/07

Ski Day 5: Last day of fall was a great day to ski. And once again the place was empty. Everything was packed pow at least, and in some spots better. I didn’t see anything gray all day. We got maybe 2″ on top last night and in a lot of places that was on top of the corduroy. I checked the website in the base lodge at 7:30 and they were only listing the Cave and Pinebrook as open glades. That turned out to be BS as most of everything was open, without a rope.

In the Gondi, I connected with another tele guy I’d never met – Zach. We skied together almost the whole day. Hard to find a tele skier whose not a total ripper, that I can keep up with. This guy was perfect – maybe 20% better than me. My first run in two weeks, and for some reason, I went to the Cave. It’s reasonably easy with well space trees and options, until you get to the runout where line choice is really limited.

If you ski at Gore, you know that the Cave isn’t really on the way anywhere. If you get there and it’s closed, you’re then committed to a trip back to the lower mountain. Web site had it open, Ski Pat told me it was open – so I went under the rope. I’m not much of a rope ducker as I still haven’t figured what ropes to ignore and which ones to respect. Coverage was good in there. Really good. I did get spanked and ended upside down at one point – probably should have done some warm up. I’ve got too much of a weekend warrior mentality – better get it while it’s good.

In reality, no one was there and the Cave was good most of the day. We got lucky on Lies. The sun came out for about 30 mins all day, right when we hit Lies. It was soft and carvable for 2 runs with the fresh on it on the sun softening it. It was really too warm for my taste today – high temp was about 28. But it made Lies sweet. We hit the Straightbrook glades, Mineshaft and Double Barrel, the lower half of DB was the pick of the day.

After Zach took off around two, I dragged my exhausted self up there and did 3 more laps on it. I could barely get my skis around by the time I finished. My last run down I hit Twister, which had been roped off for a racing event all day. Love that…the racers take one line all day. They opened the run at the end of the day…. and you hit the sides. I took skiers right all the way down, in the fresh from last night – at 3:30 pm. It was freaky because the lower mountain was in an intense fog, like you might see in Switzerland, you couldn’t see anything. It’s a great drill to feel and respond to the terrain with your feet, without looking. It was so foggy I ended up on 1A by mistake and finished out the run on Showcase.

I heard some local talk that folks were hitting the darkside today. I don’t know the topography well enough to do that without a running lift. The talk is that the darkside will open officially tomorrow, with all the possibilities over there. If you’re a Gore lover, get out there tomorrow. You won’t be disappointed.