The (Other) Stowe Derby

February 28, 2010

Ben wasn’t worried though, and assured everyone that the top of the Toll Road trail was just ahead. Before too long though he started to get nervous too… The terrain was quickly becoming more like a black diamond; maybe even double black diamond :-o !!!!

GULP… I don’ know how anyone does this on cross country skis.

Soon after this point we were all freaking out. The clinometer was showing 48°, and if this was Toll Road, it was far and away the most challenging green circle any of us had ever encountered. Our lucky stars must have been shining exceedingly brightly though: despite the gentle ascent promised in the guide book we had a rope, and we all brought ice tools and crampons. As we pushed up the steep and deep snow, red flags started going off left and right. Then suddenly we all heard that unmistakable and terrifying “WHUMP!” My head shot left in time to catch a glimpse of a shallow slab cracking and propagating several tens of meters across the climb. The hardened sludge from the big snow storm on Wednesday February 24th acted as the bed layer for the ten-or-so wind loaded centimeters. We all took strong stances and dug in as the snow came down just to our left. We were in a strong position, and were prepared for the contingency but there were those below us who may not have been so well positioned. “AVALANCHE!!!” I yelled as the snow thundered down the mountain. As the dust settled, we took count, and were relieved that everyone was healthy and accounted for. A temporarily missing ski was the only casualty. As we clung to our stances no one could believe what had just occurred. The only thing that was certain: If this was Toll Road, the Stowe Ski Patrol needed to do some SERIOUS avalanche control work to get this slope ready before the Stowe Derby could be run safely.

(the crown was approximately 12-16 cm deep, 10-15 m wide)

For several minutes we were forced to hang tight and not trigger any of the hangfire that remained, while below us the missing ski was recovered. In those tense moments we discussed our constantly evolving plan. Should we continue the race or not? Whatever we decided, a significant, but manageable slab remained hanging to the climbers left, and before we could do anything with the slope it needed to be cleared. Ben devised a plan of using ice chunks to trigger the slab, and before long we managed to flush the remainder of the hangfire. With the course clear, we pushed on, and shortly thereafter summited what we assumed was the Toll Road trail. We poked around in earnest, but despite our best efforts we couldn’t find any trail signs marking the way of the race. Nevertheless, we decided this must be it, and we all put away our implements of ascent, and were relieved that we could finally don our implements of descent. And, so began the Famous Internet Skiers’ version of the Stowe Derby.

The Curmudgeon quickly took the lead due to the lightening speed with which he is able to changeover from skin to ride mode!

Around the tree and into the chute he goes!

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Read about the author:   The F.I.S.
Enjoy this TR? Read another: TR: Fall From Low To High


  1. Porter Haney
    wrote on February 28th, 2010 at 9:18 pm  

    Wait a minute. That can’t be Dwyer. He doesn’t have any accessories strapped to the outside of his La Meije.

  2. K_C
    wrote on March 1st, 2010 at 10:14 am  

    Some of your best shots G IMO!

  3. BodhiSativa
    wrote on March 1st, 2010 at 10:40 am  

    Great images and fun story as always guys. Been enjoying and envious of you given a two year old daughter doesn’t allow me to partake recently!!
    Thanks for the fun!!!

  4. Peter
    wrote on March 1st, 2010 at 5:15 pm  

    just f@cking….

  5. christian
    wrote on March 1st, 2010 at 8:03 pm  

    that last shot of ben on the toll road is killer

  6. Greg
    wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 11:16 am  

    SWEET shots and update Ben… thanks for getting the shots of the Derby from your camera up. Now I guess all that is left to do is make sure Dwyer gets his Vermonster prize

  7. Adrian
    wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 11:36 am  

    Wow, this looks absolutely superb. Hell, I would’ve thrown down some vermonsters for a trip like this. Of course, I don’t have crampons or ice tools, but… ya know.

    And really, none of you guys have any tele gear? Somewhat surprised by that one.

    • Ben
      wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 11:39 am  

      I used to but i sold it…

      telemarketing is fun for making boring resorts more exciting ;)

  8. powhounddd
    wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm  

    excellent blow-by-blow. Good time to be in the mountains!~

  9. billski
    wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 4:56 pm  

    Greg you are too funny! And now with exposure, you all must be Infamous Zuper Ztars!

    Nice writing, seriously.

    • Greg
      wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 7:15 pm  

      LOL! Thanks Bill. Glad you’re enjoying our antics. I think the last shot of ben in the technical portion of the Derby is sure to secure itself in next seasons green mtn calendar!

      As to our exposure: I think we’ve been infamous for a while now–it just depends what forum you prefer ;)

      keep in touch! G

  10. Anonymous
    wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 5:15 pm  

    HA, nice work Ben…i’m trying to work up a tear for poor Greg sloppy-fourths Petrics. normally he goes by the moniker Greg hold-up-guys-let-me-go-first-and-get-shots-of-you-coming-down Petrics.

    • christian
      wrote on March 2nd, 2010 at 6:13 pm  

      that was me being anonymous…dammit i suck at internet

  11. carol
    wrote on March 4th, 2010 at 7:46 am  

    IMPRESSIVE Pics. and skiing/boardng Wow, Christian you’ve come a long, long, way since skiing Cannon!

    • christian
      wrote on March 4th, 2010 at 6:00 pm  

      haha thanks auntie carol :$

  12. jumpin jimmy
    wrote on March 11th, 2010 at 6:28 am  

    Nice storyline, and amazing pics as usual. I kinda felt a bit of vertigo looking at the one of Ben peering down that steep gully…yikes! kudos on the hookup too…that is where i first read the report, actually

    • Greg
      wrote on March 11th, 2010 at 9:08 am  

      Thanks a lot Jim! Psyched you enjoyed it. I had vertigo too–when I was there :X

  13. billski
    wrote on March 25th, 2010 at 11:00 am  

    You are the only guys I know who are still smiling when you’re lost.

    Glad to hear you were so lost that you’ll never find your way back again! ;)

  14. Lionel Hutz
    wrote on February 27th, 2011 at 10:06 am  

    Hey- isn’t the stowe derby going on this weekend?

  15. Butch Chamberlain
    wrote on March 8th, 2011 at 1:41 pm  

    As usual, great story. With humor to boot,(gag time). Pics as always very good, very good indeed! But you guys should have warned about the toll road, (ahem). It does have it’s twists and turns. Again, great stuff,please keep it up.

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