Bolton Valley, VT 27FEB2010

Today was our first chance to see how Bolton had fared from the big midweek storm.  Numbers wise, they’d picked up almost four feet of snow from the initial round of precipitation, but as we’d seen at Stowe on Thursday, the snow was fairly dense and more difficult to ski in the lower elevations.  The mountain had reported another 5 inches overnight to top of the previous snow, so that was quite encouraging in terms of setting up some fresh powder skiing.

We parked at Timberline (~1,500’), but immediately worked our way up toward the Vista Summit (~3,150’) to see how the snow was skiing in the highest elevations.  Up at the Timberline Summit (~2,500’) the snow was skiing well and the new powder was fairly dry, but it quickly began to get thicker as we descended to the village area (~2,150’).  Once we reached the Vista Summit, we certainly found the best conditions of the morning – even the headwall of Cobrass was skiing pretty well.  There were some clouds around, but we’d broken out into the sun at the top of Vista and it was quite a sight.  The cumulus clouds off in the distance looked much more like something one would see in summer vs. winter, and presumably spoke to the interesting weather pattern that had recently brought about the big snows.  We made a long descent back to the Timberline Base to have an early lunch, and skied some of the Villager Trees along the way.  We hiked for some extra turns in there with the boys, and the powder was OK at first, but after a few hundred vertical we were getting down into the elevations where the new powder wasn’t as dry, and the subsurface became harder since it was derived from wetter snow.

We had a good lunch down at Timberline, which was rather deserted at first due to the early hour, then headed back up toward the main mountain.  Based on what we’d found in our travels up to that point, there was no need to ski anything at Timberline since the snow on the upper mountain was so clearly superior.  We got a call from Stephen that he was cycling the Vista Glades, and with the huge amounts of snow and colder temperatures up there, that seemed like a perfect choice.  The Vista Glades were in excellent shape, with all the ledgy areas well covered thanks to the copious dense snow.  E and the boys weren’t all that familiar with the Vista Glades since we don’t often ski them, but once they were in there and saw how much fun the skiing was, they agreed that it had been a great choice.

With upper elevation terrain in mind, we headed over to the Wilderness are next so we could check out Bolton Outlaw.  As a testament to just how much snow, or likely how much dense snow and liquid equivalent had fallen, the top pitch of the Wilderness Lift Line actually had pretty decent coverage.  That’s saying a lot.  I’m not sure if it was actually open at that point, but it had been well traveled by plenty of skiers.  Bolton Outlaw was excellent, and there wasn’t even a need to venture off into the powder on the sides because the trail itself was just so soft.  We were definitely up in the elevations where the drier snow had fallen and the temperatures had never gone above freezing.  Below Bolton Outlaw, we skied the steep pitch of Cougar, which provided one of the best scenes from the day.  Ty was skiing very fast due to the extra reliability of the snow surface, and he dropped into Cougar and skied the bumps at full tilt, followed by a huge hand in the air at the bottom.  E said he’d clearly been watching plenty of Olympic ski action.

Below the level of the Wilderness mid station, we played around in the various glades and found good powder down to a point.  It was a gradual change in snow quality with elevation of course, but once we got down to around the 2,300’ elevation, the untracked snow had reached a stage of density/wetness that it was getting tough to ski.  Fortunately, in the Wilderness area we were just about down to the base elevations and back on piste by that point, so it worked out pretty well.  The snow quality and skier traffic were so good over at Wilderness that I would have been happy to simply stay there for the rest of the afternoon.  However, Ty eventually started to get tired (probably because he had been skiing pretty hard) and wanted to head home.

In terms of the overall weather for the day, it was quite an eclectic mix:  one minute we’d have bright sunshine, and then ten minutes later it would be snowing at a decent clip.  As the afternoon wore on, the snowfall won out, and in the middle afternoon it was snowing at about an inch per hour for a while; I’d say it put down a quick half inch or so.  The temperatures were excellent, being a few degrees above freezing down at the Timberline base elevations, and several degrees below freezing up at the summit areas.  Even though I didn’t have a chance to get many pictures from that part of the day, the time spent over at Wilderness today was so good that it will probably end up being one of the highlights of the season.

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