Fall: From Low to High

By:  Greg
October 18, 2010

First things first: This Trip Report goes out to FIS‘ own Lionel Hutz. He called the October Nor’easter EARLY, and then followed the storm through to the end. Everyone owes him a big thanks for the hard work he did to help us get the weather information we need to find the snow we want. So please join me (in the comments below if you wish) in saying “THANKS LIONEL!”

Now, onto the first skiing trip report of the season. By now most everyone knows that a giant storm came through the northeast on October 15, 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised if several of you missed a few of the finer details of the storm though, so I will recap them for you.

The effects of the Nor’easter started to be felt when a deep low pressure system came up the east coast on Friday October 15th, surged over Cape Cod, and then entered the Gulf of Maine where it parked itself. Needless to say it brought high winds and large amounts of precipitation into the northeast. The storm was so strong that at one point its pressure was measured to be lower than that of all the current tropical storms in the Atlantic.

As with all Nor’easters, this storm had a strong counter-clockwise rotation, much like a hurricane. This rotation was so strong however, and the storm was positioned in just the right spot in the Gulf of Maine, that the storm came in kind of “backwards,” and deposited more snow in some places than others. In particular–at least at elevations below 3500 feet–it bucked the trend and gave peaks like Killington and Whiteface more “winter” than Mounts Washington and Mansfield.

The reason for this was that, because of the position and rotation of the Nor’easter, at places like Killington and Whiteface, the storm’s moisture was able to mix with cold winds from the north-and-west and produce copious snow all the way to the base lodges there. Meanwhile places like Mounts Washington and Mansfield received the moisture “direct” from the ocean on easterly winds, and lacked the deep cold air to bring snow to lower elevations. Hence this storm brought snowfall in much greater quantities to elevations between 2,000 and 3,500 feet in the region from Killington to Whiteface than it did to the same elevations in the region between Mansfield and Washington. This outcome is exactly opposite from normal. Therefore, low on Mansfield and Washington things were grim, but higher up–say above 3,500 feet though–well, you’ll just have to read on. Anyway, now that you know about the weather event, the remainder of this TR will tell a tale about Fall… From Low… To High. Much like the storm itself, it is “backwards,” if you will.

Chained to engagements on Friday morning in northern Vermont, part of the FIS team had no choice but to standby as we read tweets of “nukeage” from Killington and Whiteface. (And since then we’ve also been treated to a cool writeup on this storm at Killington from Tim at Ski the East as well.) Essentially all we could do was hope better weather conditions would come to points north of Route 2. Low on Mount Mansfield, a thin layer of white was visible below a 3400 foot cloud deck. Low on the mountain the conditions were wet, windy and grim.
thin snow low at Stowe

To make a stupid story short, we left Stowe as quickly as possible and headed as far south toward Killington as we could before nightfall. At the Middlebury College Ski Bowl a thin layer of white frozen stuff allowed us to make our first turns of the new season. Christian gave a thumbs up… but it was faked. We were cold and wet, and were hearing tales of better things further south (and have since heard of better things higher up on the Monroe Skyline as well–thanks to Brian at Adventure Skier).
thumbs up? Seriously?

Despite the conditions, I couldn’t help but smile. Sliding is fun. I’ll count this snow-with-skis-on-it-at-low-elevation as Day 1. I’ve definitely had worse.
had worse

Enough of that garbage though… moving on… moving up… moving higher, the following morning we made our way up Mount Mansfield. The riding was REAL this time. The snow was deep–between 12 and 18 inches deep near the top–and the schuss was glorious. Christian enjoyed his first genuine surf of the season. This hand gesture was NOT faked.
not faking it

The snow was VERY good. Most important detail: we could go as fast as we wanted.
snow was good

Continue Reading: 1 2 3 4 Next »

Read about the author:   Greg
Enjoy this TR? Read another: TR: We Did it for the Traversing


  1. Adrian
    wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 10:24 pm  

    Great shots as always, Greg. I wish I had had more of a chance to get out this weekend, but after my excursion to the bush (which had to be sadly cut short), I had a blast, and am now proudly able to say that I’ve skied in October.

    I can’t wait for the next snowfall!

  2. Dwyer
    wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 10:38 pm  

    The Ullrangez blend nicely with the foliage!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 20th, 2010 at 8:31 am  

      I could sense that their master and commander was pleased.

  3. powhounddd
    wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 11:14 pm  

    “THANKS LIONEL!” And I owe you 2 Canadian beers, eh, or others of your choosing.

    • powhounddd
      wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 11:18 pm  

      great TR Greg and photos are just wild. I was tripping on the contrast of the foliage and the wintry lookout I found myself in on Saturday, too, sunny leaf-covered hills in the valley, howling winds and snow underfoot. Bring it.

  4. Harvey44
    wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 11:26 pm  

    What powhounddd said. Love the pics and contrast. Now … gotta run … and click on that “next storm” link above…

  5. Greg
    wrote on October 18th, 2010 at 11:32 pm  
  6. natron
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 12:08 am  

    “Christian gave a thumbs up… but it was faked.” lol 2 funny!!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:40 am  

      HA! yep… it was definitely faked. Never been so bummed on day 1 in my life… oh well. Live and learn. In the end it all worked out. Loved your video/slideshow TR on T4T. I would have loved to make it over there to join you, but alas… it worked out OK.

      We will get together soon though. I have a feeling :D

    • natron
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 11:41 pm  

      my day was def. cool!! however there is no way I’d drive to mt.w. right now if I lived in vt., this storm blessed you guys!! love the pix, esp. the ones from the 18th!!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 20th, 2010 at 8:46 am  

      thanks man! it did indeed make more sense… not for long though ;)

      looking forward to getting some Snowboarding Photos AMalgamated with you in the frame. They’re pretty fun.

      check out the ones of Christian up high in SPAM 6

  7. David Howland
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 12:20 am  

    This makes me so jealous! Still hasn’t snowed in Montana yet…what’s up with that? Great pictures!

  8. Anonymous
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 12:21 am  

    Yeah dude Thanks for the information that helped me have a SICK DAY!!!! Great start to hopefully a great season!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 20th, 2010 at 8:32 am  

      I’m stoked to hear this… and I know Lionel is as well

  9. street
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 5:49 am  
    • Anonymous
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 9:11 am  

      yeah… it’s totally garbage ::rollseyes::


  10. Brian
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 9:11 am  

    Nice work by all, especially Lionel!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:39 am  

      Brian: thanks as always for checking into FIS. Appreciate the readership from AZ.

      and yes: we OWE a beer or five to Mr. Hutz. He’s the man

  11. Patrick
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 9:31 am  

    Nice photolog, Greg. The shot across the valley to Mansfield is my new desktop.

    • Greg
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:37 am  

      excellent! Thanks for tuning into FIS Pat! we appreciate it

  12. Stuck@Work
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 9:37 am  

    Thank you Lionel! What an epic and awesome way to start out the season. As I sit here in my office, I am very jealous of what I see there!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:38 am  

      hey dude thanks for the comment. Any chance you can sneak out this weekend? I think we’ll still have a sliding surface come saturday! Go for it!

  13. K_C
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:04 am  

    Nice writing G, the last two pages are especially awesome!

    There must have been krummholz under those rocks, just waiting to make lunch out of a snowboarder.

  14. Evan
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 10:50 am  

    Great work! Still kicking myself for going back to bed instead of going skiing. I really need to re-think my priorities, and get some bindings for my rock skis. Next time I’ll be there.

  15. Aaron
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 12:30 pm  

    Thanks for the stoke guys, it’s great to see the mtn cover in snow!!!!!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 1:16 pm  

      sure thing! thanks for stopping by FIS! glad you liked it. SO STOKED ON THE SNOW!

  16. Steve
    wrote on October 19th, 2010 at 6:16 pm  

    Well played up high. Given the rain at the base Saturday morning, I never would have thought the summit would have done so well! Cheers to Lionel for the good forecast!

    • Greg
      wrote on October 20th, 2010 at 8:48 am  

      tell me about it… it was a great great surprise to see that once the snow lifted. incidentally we got the beta when I was taking the scenic snow/foliage shots on Page 3 of the TR. At full crop we were like… woah… that’s rideable!!

  17. Sam
    wrote on October 20th, 2010 at 12:32 pm  
  18. Ben C
    wrote on October 11th, 2011 at 7:45 am  

    Great pics as always. Love coming to this site and seeing EAST COAST being repped so well.

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