VTah Part V — The Most Accurately Predicted Over-the-Top Snow on Earth!

December 8, 2010

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Our apologies for this being so over the top… we really weren’t left with a choice given the over-the-top nature of this storm…




And for a final parting shot… we have Noah skiing off into the deep. Thanks for checking out FIS! We appreciate your readership, and look forward to seeing you in the mountains SOON.

If you enjoyed this TR, and want more, why don’t you check out the entire VTah series? Want to own a little bit of FIS stoke (or give it as a Christmas gift)? Check out our 2011 Ski Stoke Wall Calendar. They’re printed in the US, and guaranteed to help you find excuses to go skiing more! Thanks!

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Read about the author:   The F.I.S.
Enjoy this TR? Read another: TR: Stowe April 28th, 2010 – 20 to 30 inches


  1. grubbers
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 6:45 pm  

    Awesome shots Greg. Definitely glad I met up with you guys. Don’t think I’ve ever gotten that deep before.

  2. Adrian
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 6:58 pm  


    This is just all sorts of awesome.

  3. roark
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:00 pm  
  4. Lee
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:01 pm  

    Page after Page of amazing shots. Must have been a top 5 day evah for all involved!!!

  5. Peter
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:07 pm  

    Praise Ullr! Can I get an AMEN?!
    I believe in the power of fresh snow to bury all the evils of the world, if only for a few hours while we schuss.

    btw, pic#1 rocks.

  6. Could Be Buggy
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:17 pm  
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:19 pm  

    waittttt… so from my analysis of this pictures, it would be safe to say with a 95% confidence level that the only skiing was face shots, haha looks like a sweet day for sure!!

  8. PHall
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 7:25 pm  

    Damn, Send some this way!

  9. bushman
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 8:50 pm  

    nice….you musta been riding the double-fats….and all I had Sunday was a few inches on hardpack….appreciate that you guys can catch it midweek and share pix with us poor souls. thanks

  10. Josh A
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 9:06 pm  

    Sick shots guys. pow beard = face shots!

  11. Harvey44
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 9:35 pm  

    O”Yes! And it counts!”

    (Marv Albert)

  12. StoweNow
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 9:52 pm  

    I loved the BTV Free Press headline on Tuesday screaming “SURPRISE STORM!” It was only a surprise to those not paying attention or reading FIS. Thanks Lionel & FIS. As usual, great writing and great pictures of a truly amazing day.

    You are completely right about this:

    “The last thing Patrol wants to do on early season pow days is extract folks from closed trails.”

    Every year during the early season, someone poaches something that “looked rip-able” only to find a buried water bar, covered snowmaking line or some unknown hard object. Being comprised of dirt/rock/steel, none of those objects deform as well as the human body. NDive’s water bars have claimed their fair share of victims. Yesterday(no base, 30″ of fluff and gusty winds) was the perfect setup for just that kind of accident. You guys know what you’re doing and understand the risks. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t…especially the warriors heading up this weekend in search of snow.

    • tdub
      wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 10:18 pm  

      great advice, i’d only venture where i’ve hiked in fall and taken special note.. thing is with this crew is that they do this regularly. How else do you think they’re in such good shape to hike for this stuff and still be sharp to kill it in fine fashion?

      Greg, I’d really like to hear more about your pre season recon and training.. you inspire the hell out of people with your pics and reports, i’d also like to see some practical advice on what people should do pre season… what they should know, what they should do, to be in the condition necessary to do this safely.

      Great stuff as always!! Gracias amigo!

    • Greg
      wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 10:23 pm  

      Guys thanks so much for your kind words.

      I couldn’t agree with you more about being careful. The current setup is just waiting to injure someone who isn’t familiar with the terrain and exactly how the storm blew in.

      I obviously have spent a great deal of time with my friends from FIS and elsewhere poking around these mountains. It’s really not any one thing, or even any ten things that help keep one safe. It’s just being smart. Know the terrain as well as you can. If you don’t know, don’t ski it.

      If I had a nickle for every time we skied hard down a one stretch and then sat back and went 2 MPH the next over the past few days I’d have a lot of nickles. Every run included a “be careful” reminder from one buddy to the next. Everyone was looking out for the other giving advice about terrain…

      This is not the time to ski like Sage. This is the time to enjoy exactly the flakes Ullr has given us, and not one more.

      Turn the dome piece on and you’ll have fun…

    • PF
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 9:42 am  

      It was only a matter of time before it happened. Ski patrol is currently removing someone from the upper (upper) Liftline. From the Quad, it was obvious he was in a lot of pain and it looks like he skied straight into a very large, jagged rock that was under the deep, fluffy snow. Two skiers, looking for that “brochure photo/video” (one had a helmet cam) ducked the rope right under the lift and proceeded to end one of their seasons with an injury. Not only that, but ski patrol is now at risk as that trail is easily one of the rockiest, more technical inbounds terrain and they are descending with a sled in very boney conditions. They also can’t take the sled down Liftline due to low-snow conditions, so they need to get him by snow machine up the wind-swept, icy, rocky, Haychute.

      Greg and FIS crew… you guys know your stuff and know the mountain well. You also go out-of-bounds in a respectful way (not under a lift or in the public eye). But just a warning to everyone out there looking for the next great powder shot… I’m sure ski patrol will have little to no tolerance this weekend for disrespecting the trail closures, especially after this accident.

      I had heard of some injuries from waterbars (dislocated shoulder on a snowboarder, knee injury on a skier) but both of those guys got out under their own power and did not require a rescue. However, this rescue today under the lift is a great example of why ropes are in place.

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 9:50 am  

      Thanks for the comment PF. Sad to hear about this, and sad to hear how hard it is for patrol to deal with stuff like this. I really appreciate their hard work.

      To everyone looking for powder this weekend, be safe, and be respectful of what you can do, and what the snow allows you to do. I’m a firm believer in letting people do what they want, but not if that freedom comes at the expense of others quiet enjoyment/safety.


      BE SAFE

      REMEMBER: if you get hurt it’s not just you that’s going to be inconvenienced. Be a part of the mountain community… not a drain on it.

  13. Rob Rox
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 10:23 pm  


    Simply splendid!

  14. tdub
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 10:48 pm  

    Thanks Greg, that’s what I needed to hear, because if i’m thinking this is easy meat, someone else is too.. and it aint.
    I dig your under-statedness, and don’t want to stoke kill, just want to see more along the lines of “how you, too, can be an FIS type and still be safe. and fit. and a great skier. and photographer(bonus). but that’s a whole other tack, maybe for the late summer fall.

    Thing is , I never hear any of you uber studs talk about what I know is a critical component, which is fitness.. recon and experience is key too, just that if you’re arriving at a challenging run, having legs of jello and totally smoked is not safe. I think you’d do a service to speak more to that.

    Stoke kill over, sorry, keep it fun, keep it safe! :)
    page two of the pics, last pic…. looks positively alien with the perfect snow sheet over the face giving a ghostly impression. too cool, love it! t

    • Greg
      wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 11:12 pm  

      Fitness is, without a doubt, key… if there’s any doubt in your abilities/fitness-level don’t do it. Let it be your motivation to prepare, not your undoing. That’s always been my motto.

      Thanks for your note though tdub. I appreciate it. One thing that DOES bug me in ski movies is how everything seems so effortless… as if there was no risk. I don’t want to overdo it and sound like I’m brimming with machismo, and I tried to make a note of it in this TR, but for those who didn’t read between the lines: this snow is asking to break a leg or worse. Just be sure you’re up for the task…

      We didn’t put in all those rock ski days because we love skiing rocks… we did it cause we want to be ready to ski the good stuff even better and even stronger.

      Here’s something to finish this ramble… let it motivate you like it did us last spring:

    • Ben
      wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 11:40 pm  

      My answer to the fitness question is always just to be as active as you possibly can. It sounds really basic – and it is – but if you get out and do something active every day in the pre-season you’ll be rocking it by the time the snow starts to fly. Greg and I both have ski racing backgrounds and used to do a lot with weights and specific drills and all that while we were still pounding plastic, but now we really just try to have adventures in the mountains as much as possible and let that be our training.

      My personal favorite pre-season adventure is mountain biking – I think it’s about as close to skiing as you can get (whitewater kayaking is up there too!), and it takes a TON of fitness to ride hard. It also seems to get a lot of the same muscles as skiing, which makes it a great cross-training sport. Nothing seems to get my legs ready for the skintrack or the powder like riding my mountain bike all fall…

      anyway, thanks for the comments! stay safe and enjoy all the snow!

    • Josh A
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 8:51 am  

      “One thing that DOES bug me in ski movies is how everything seems so effortless… as if there was no risk”

      Greg…I know you were put off by all the marketing hype, but this was one reason I really liked Deeper. I thought they did a great job capturing the effort and risks behind their descents (in addition to a bunch of awesome footage). I’d recommend putting your misgivings aside and watching it when you get the chance.

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:33 pm  

      word up Josh. I actually saw it and agree… that is definitely one thing I liked about the flick.

  15. VTColdSmoke
    wrote on December 8th, 2010 at 11:52 pm  

    Holy shit I didn’t realize it was that deep today! Sick pictures of an EPIC blower VTah December. I guess that’s enough coverage for a nice little base…

  16. tdub
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:05 am  

    That’s what i’m talking about Ben and G, perfect!~.. Sylvain, caught that youtube here( ithnk), i liked it for its serious prep note. I try to prep properly just for inbounds, running up and down mountains I find helpful, quick footwork, ski specific plyometric type stuff also helpful. Endurance work, long days trail running or mtn biking(i’m lying, reg old road riding)

    I’m looking to make a transition next season to mostly AT, no seasons pass, simply getting bored doing the same old thing. I’m actually happiest just being on a mtn, in the snow.. the sliding down part is damn fun too, but I can see i’m turning the corner, and you need deep fitness to do that..safely , at least.

    Please consider something more in depth on the subject next summer late, some examples of what you do for fun/fitness in prep for the season, appreciate the comments guys, both. Best damn site on the skiing intrawebs, east coast style! :D Pics are outta this world, that shot of G on Dodges, still blows my mind! that was a firm day as i recall. Icelantic, a guy like that, too, for input re what it takes for “off season” work.

    Keep up the great work you guys, really appreciate it! T

  17. Hos
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:11 am  

    Epic pics! Glad to see someone getting the goods. Heading north Friday, any suggestions?

  18. Bubba
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 5:47 am  
  19. colin_extreme
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 9:31 am  

    amazing shots. we got ours up here too. great day, even if I landed on a rock with my new powder skis. good thing that the early season has made me into a ptex doctor

  20. lemmycaution
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 10:04 am  

    so very truly sick, and really nice photographs

  21. JMO
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 11:03 am  

    Pure awesomeness. I’m drooling.

  22. Les
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 11:48 am  

    god, sometimes I hate you guys so much, like every day I have to work and you don’t . . .

  23. Chris
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 11:53 am  

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Nice work guys!

  24. Castlreock
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:04 pm  

    Greg, I love your written style, but I think you need to be more explicit. The photos are great, but they only look like Utah. 2′ of 5% blower is barely an inch of water. On top of NOTHING. Oh the upper mountain in a favored location it is great, everywhere else it is an orthopedic, or possibly even a trauma surgeon’s second home. (or at least a downpayment).

    How many two+ foot storms don’t require a shovel, only a broom to move the snow?

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:11 pm  

      you’re definitely right. One needs to be VERY careful skiing this snow/storm. I thought we made that reasonably clear in both the comments and in the actual TR. But it’s definitely getting into again. It’s that important. (no sarcasm)

      That said, I don’t think it’s in our best interests either to point out where folks SHOULD go…then if they break an ankle there we’re just as liable since we advised it.

      The only thing I can say definitively about this storm for folks looking to get sum this weekend is exactly what I’ve said in other comments: USE YOUR HEAD. Skiing this takes some knowledge and thinking… don’t just drop in and ski like Sage switch to the road. BE CAREFUL.

      Thanks for the comment though! It’s good to keep getting into this discussion.

  25. Savantskis
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:25 pm  

    Great photos fellas. It’s like the faceshots started getting dull. Wait that’s not possible. Makes everyone stuck somewhere else jealous. My only complaint – where’s the tele-love in this group?

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 2:37 pm  

      HA! Yeah Ben and I were thinking that as we were working on the TR… we were almost like… “is this TOO MANY faceshots?”

      in the end we decided the answer was “no”…. and just went for an all out over the top collection of faceshots :D

      yeah we do need some tele skiers! nothing against ya’… i am afraid of getting smoked at the top transitions though and getting second tracks to you tele heads :P

    • Lionel Hutz
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 2:50 pm  

      I believe I’m the lone free-heeler amongst the FIS and sadly I fail at getting faceshots on camera.

  26. Castlreock
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:28 pm  

    Too many inexperienced chargers, hooked on ski pron that can’t read between the lines. (I’m worried my son could be one of them, although he did tell me about finding some of this blower yesterday on the upper part of Abraham on top of snow making overspray).

    Here’s to a heavy dump this weekend. (And hoping Lionel’s prognostication comes out on the solid as opposed to liquid side)

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 12:31 pm  

      I hear you. Thanks for point it out. We definitely want to keep in mind the fact that we want to impart the risks involved in whatever we do on FIS… because after all that is what I dislike most about the current state of affairs with ski porn/ski flicks.

      Your comments are duly noted. I’ll try tweaking the wording of this TR later today to reflect this. Thanks.

      In other news (and only because i still have an alarmingly well developed sense of bathroom humor) I’m always glad when anything big that comes out of Lionel is solid rather than liquid :P

  27. Nick
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 2:26 pm  

    Nice shots Greg!! Looks like you guys got it good! Hope to be up your way in the next few months, I’ll let you know when I know!

    • Greg
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 3:15 pm  

      sounds good Nick! let us know for sure.

  28. Matt
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 3:26 pm  

    Great photos! Everyone be safe this weekend, nothing worse than a broken limb or worse when the season has just begun!

  29. Aaron
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 4:24 pm  

    Unless you know where the rocks and other dangers are STICK TO THE TRAILS! The woods are not worth it right now, ever fall on a dead pine tree?? There spiky.

    I’m glad that we got all this blower snow, mostly because it’s going to setup nicely during the next thaw/freeze cycle and then it’s going to be on!

    • powhounddd
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

      fell on a narrow pine stump once and nearly took it direct in the spine. Was lying in the snow for about half an hour before I could get up and limp downhill. Quit riding for 3 years after that and did other things; figured death was not worth it, it felt that close. These things happen. Shred is dangerous all the time.

  30. Aaron
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 4:25 pm  

    I meant to say STICK TO THE OPEN TRAILS!!!!


  31. aspenextremegreatestmovieever
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 4:28 pm  

    Is the trip worth it up to Stowe for tomorrow? Should I venture to Jay? Decisions, decisions. I guess the trees are a no go as I don’t know my way around Mansfield well at all. I did contemplate a tour up the Bruce trail but I suppose that would be ill-advised also. This is why I need to live in No. Vermont, so I can sample the goods on tap.

    • PF
      wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 9:08 pm  

      No matter where you go, the trees will not be skiable… not even close. And even for those of us that know the mountain intimately, the trees are still off-limits. There’s a reason why no locals ventured into the woods this week (also a reason no locals skied upper upper liftline).

      I ventured into the woods to my usual snow measuring spots and found it downright sketchy and scary to make turns in there. Basically traversed back and forth slowly to get out. The snow may be thigh deep but since its so light there is absolutely no support. A wet, 3″ October snowfall would provide more protection from the dangers lurking beneath than this 3 feet of fluff.

      You are asking for a shattered leg if you are in the woods and carrying any sort of speed beyond a gravity traverse. You may still be asking for a shattered femur if you are carrying any sort of speed on closed terrain right now. If you do not know the terrain (ie rock locations, major waterbars, where snow drifts/scours on a NW flow, etc) do not go anywhere near it right now. The broken leg today on upper Liftline was a big wake up call for many of us…

  32. jj
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 6:11 pm  

    Nice job capturing some images of how this storm skied. Not a typical storm for around here.

    I noticed you were skiing trails that get groomed out later in the season…good call

  33. powhounddd
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 7:39 pm  

    awesome. Winter is ON.

  34. Sam
    wrote on December 9th, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    “use your head, wear a helmet”

    ::cough cough:: … greg…

    • Greg
      wrote on December 13th, 2010 at 12:37 pm  

      i know i know… i need to figure out where it is. I have one that is I surgically removed the ear flaps from for spring skiing… but i can’t find the one that has hear flaps still… and god knows something on the ears is required up on the hill when it’s cold like that.

  35. jus a dood
    wrote on December 11th, 2010 at 2:59 pm  

    enuff is enuff.. let the big games begin!! time for some snow pack on the rock pile!!

    • Greg
      wrote on December 13th, 2010 at 12:35 pm  

      ha. while i agree…. i’ll take another round of blower like this ANY DAY

  36. Butch Chamberlain
    wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 11:09 am  

    Very awesome early season pics. I do enjoy them so. Snow is gathering and it is time to start the hunt. As with everythng else, one must be prepared
    and ready for the challenges. Anytime playing with Mother Nature unexpected
    things will happen. In all the past pics I have reviewed, I do not think you are one for being lax about being prepared. Mt Mansfield is not Mt. Washington, but it still can produce some surprises. I have enjoyed the pics that you have produced very much, and would like to wish you and your family the best for the holidays. Keep on skiing and keep taking those wonderful pictures. Simple just turn when things get in the way, right?

  37. Lionel Hutz
    wrote on December 15th, 2010 at 1:30 pm  

    It’s still effin awesome. I’m bored at work, unfocused and needed a jolt.
    This did it.

  38. Joe
    wrote on December 20th, 2010 at 6:17 pm  

    Couldn’t wait for enough snow at my house. I tried out the Rossi 125 BCs at Sugarbush.

  39. Butch Chamberlain
    wrote on July 24th, 2012 at 12:25 pm  

    I just reread this VTah adventure. The shots once again are AWESOME! Deep stuff like that is not really expected in Vermont, and therefore, all the more reason to know what you are dealing with. You guys are experts and understand what you are up against. Most groom trail huggers do not understand that nobody has packed down a layer to ski on. This is more realistic, natural, as it should be. For first timers out there, if you haven’t done this before you might want to try something a little less deep. Deep and steep is great, BUT, if you don’t know how to deal with it, you will trip up the first time you try. Go and get some help, from an instructor or a person you can validate is competent. These conditions, when approached correctly, yield the most fun you can have with your clothes on. But understand there is more than just snow snakes out there. There’s reality. Be safe, be very safe. Follow the advise given in the TR, who knows you might just save a life, or your own.

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