Bolton Valley, VT 15FEB2010

Today I had some time to ski, and since I’d found such good snow in most of my excursions yesterday, I decided to put together a similar sort of session comprised of easy sidecountry/incountry.  The bit of icing on the cake was that our snowfall from yesterday had kept up and we’d received 2.9 inches of new snow down at the house.  The accumulations didn’t seem to be too elevation-dependent for that event; the local mountains picked up in the range of 2 to 4 inches, with Bolton reporting 3 inches new in their morning report.

Our region was in between weather systems today, so there were some breaks of sunshine when I arrived up at Timberline around mid morning.  Fresh tracks were visible on the lower reaches of the Timberline terrain and things were looking good.  Boarding the Timberline lift, my pass was checked by Josh from the marketing department; he recognized my name and said he’d be on the lookout for my pictures.  I was skiing alone, but hopefully I’d be able to find a few nice images to capture during my travels.  I planned to finish off my day at Timberline, so I headed over toward the main base area to start things off there.

Combined with the snow from yesterday, the few inches of new powder that fell last night really gave the snow conditions an invigorating shot.  Heading down the side of Villager, I was immediately floating on the new snow, even in areas that had previously seen traffic.  The snow was light and dry, but not quite the pixie dust that we sometimes get, so it really provided some substance.  I saw plenty of untracked snow on the side of Lower Foxy, and couldn’t resist heading in that direction.  That trip turned into a few Snowflake laps because I just couldn’t pull away.  It took me a couple of rounds, but I was eventually able to home in on some shots in the Foxy trees that I’d wanted to try for a while.  The powder was well protected and as bottomless as anything I’d found on the mountain throughout the weekend.

Finally I pulled away from Snowflake and headed up Wilderness.  From the top, I decided to catch some turns off the west face of Ricker Mountain, so I took the boot pack up the north side.  Once I got farther up, I could see that the west side snow had experienced some effects from the wind (and sculpted some neat drifts as well).  This was visually appealing, but looked like it would make for slabby skiing, so I skied the undisturbed powder on the north side.  The turns were deep and the snow quality excellent.  There were no tracks leading off the main access trail to the back side either, but that level of commitment wasn’t really in the plans for today’s outing.  I got onto Upper Crossover and found excellent snow below the initial pitch – the wind had loaded it in there really well and provided more than just the few inches that had been reported.  Along the way, I eventually found some good undisturbed terrain on the west face of Ricker Mountain, so I strapped on the skins and headed up for a run.  The turns in that run set a new bar for steep and deep on the weekend, so deep that they actually threw me off for a minute and I messed up my line.  Action shots up there would likely have produced some gems.  I explored some of the thicker trees below Upper Crossover, and after roaming around for a while, I found one nice line that took me to the exit.  I’d be hard pressed to find that one again though.

Back down at Vista, I boarded the lift with Ed, a gentleman that works in the biology department at UVM.  We skied a run on Cobrass, and while the steep headwall section was actually better than it often is, the rest of the trail was worse than usual.  I found hard snow, ice, and bare patches, so I’d argue our extended dry spell is even catching up with Bolton’s level of traffic.  The signs really do point to traffic being the issue, because once we were down below the Cobrass Lane junction, the base became soft and the fresh powder quite plentiful.  Cobrass Lane was awesome, and Ed commented that all the trails should be like that.

I joined Ed for part of another run before breaking off into the trees while he headed home for lunch.  Instead of skinning up in the Villager Woods, I took the back side boot pack route.  Whoever found that slot up through the ledges did a really nice job.  The new snow and a little wind had reset much of the terrain, and the few added inches made the previously untouched terrain all the better.

For my final run, I followed some of the new higher traverses out into the Twice as Nice Glades.  I found some very steep ledgy areas that would be very cool in deep snow, but for now they are suffering from southern exposure combined with low elevation – there’s a crusty base below 6-12 inches of snow, and it’s just not enough for the pitch and tree spacing in that spot.  I eventually wrapped around toward the west and found much better snow.

It will be interesting to see what the upslope snowfall does over the next few days.  Ideally some of Bolton’s trails could use a nice resurfacing storm with a good shot of liquid, but we’ll have to take what Mother Nature delivers.  Even with fluffy upslope snow, if enough comes down and the wind isn’t too rough to let it sit, it could help out the spots that need it.

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