#unepicadventures: East Coast Slides and Waist-high Snow Boulders

By BCA pro athlete Carter Snow
Photos: Matt Kiedaisch (@outsider_media).  

During the 13/14 winter season, three friends and I were filming with Ski The East in the backcountry outside of Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont. This area, referred to as “The Notch,” is home to some of Vermont’s best and most unique terrain. Around every corner, there is a hidden gem protected by the thick east coast undergrowth. If know where to look, you can have the best day of your life.

On this particular day we had received around one foot of new snow overnight and 18 inches in the past two days. The storms came through with lots of wind, not uncommon for this area. We had spent the morning lapping the endless 100-plus-yard, bowling alley-like slots through the trees, that are maintained by a core group of clipper-wielding locals. These shots held very deep and light snow. They were high up on the walls of the notch, protected from the howling wind by the dense trees.

After tracking out this area, we moved down the notch towards the road (VT route 108 closed in the winter). This area is much more open. Widely spaced, tall birch trees dominate the landscape making for some great open skiing with lots of features to play on.

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There was a very distinct change in the snow as we moved into this new area, much more wind affected and punchy than what we experienced up higher. We broke into two small groups, Noah Ranallo and I stopped at the first feature with our filmer, while Dylan Dipentima and Dominic Castine went just out of sight to line up some more shots. Noah and I waited for our filmer to set up the shots and skied our lines. When we were both at the bottom, ready to traverse over and see what Dylan and Dom had lined up, we heard what we thought were some stoked hoots and hollars.

As we rounded the corner, we quickly realized we had not heard stoke. We were greeted by a 1.5-2ft deep crown that stretched 80-90 feet through the widely spaced trees. Dylan and Dom, both unhurt and a bit mind-blown, stood 70 feet below in between some sizable waist-high snow boulders where the slide ran out into the flats just before the closed road.

This was a quick reminder that we are not immune to slides on the east coast. The persistent wind had heavily cross loaded this area and deposited a thick cohesive slab on top of a very firm and smooth existing surface.  Although it was small, this would have turned into much more of an “epic” if Dom or Dylan had taken a ride into one of the massive birch trees or sapling tangles in the slide path.

We took this as a friendly warning to pack it up and headed down the road back to Smugglers Notch Resort. Where we enjoy some fun inbounds laps and T-bar pow slalom before the lifts closed.

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