Bolton Valley, VT 24MAR2010

We picked up 1.7 inches of snow at the house this morning, which was a lot considering the amount of snowfall we’ve seen this March, so I decided to stop up at Bolton to earn some turns and maybe ride the lifts if the skiing was decent enough.  The reports coming in from the local ski areas indicated that they’d picked up similar accumulations to what I’d seen at the house, but the 1.7 inches I’d measured was comprised of 0.24 inches of liquid, so it definitely had some substance to it.  The snowfall had mostly tapered off in the valley as I was heading up the Bolton Valley Access Road in the ~8:00 A.M. range, but precipitation was still falling in the higher elevations.  I was surprised to see that the precipitation was actually a bit mixed as I approached the Bolton Valley Village, but the temperature was in the mid 20s F.

I was encouraged as I stepped out of the car into about 4 inches of powder, but on the snowbank in front of me, I could see that there was just a dusting, so clearly the wind had been messing with the new snow.  The weather was actually pretty nasty, with some wind, light snow/mixed precipitation, and fog, but there was definitely some new powder to be skied.

I skinned straight up Beech Seal, which was easy with the grooming and minimal accumulations.  It quickly became apparent that I’d need to find sheltered places to hit the powder, because the wind had stripped the snow off exposed areas.  With that in mind, I headed over toward the Cobrass area, and at around 9:00 A.M. when the Vista Quad was scheduled to open, I began my descent.  The lower parts of Cobrass itself were looking somewhat windswept, but the Cobrass Run area had a fairly even coating of snow.  The turns were pretty nice, although I was touching down to the hard base on about 50% of them, and once I was down below Cobrass Run, I was into the terrain that had been groomed after the new snowfall.  That surface was not nearly as soft as the terrain that hadn’t seen a grooming.  The couple new inches of dense snow was sort of lost as it was churned into the base snow.

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Once down at the base area, I checked in with the lift operators at the bottom of Vista.  With the combination of wind, some riming, and a bit of grooming still taking place, they weren’t quite ready to get underway.  They did ask for the lowdown on the conditions, and I told them what I’d found on Cobrass Run.  So, with the lift situation it was back to manpower for turns, but my initial foray had left me optimistic enough to search out some additional powder.  I ascended by the same route, seeing some nice smooth coatings in the New Sherman’s Pass/Lower Vermont 200 area, but somehow the thought of Wilderness crept into my head, so I continued on up Sherman’s Pass to about the 2,800’ level.  I hopped onto some of the low/moderate angle terrain that brought me over to Wilderness, and the skiing was OK, but nothing too fantastic as I did cross some windswept areas.

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I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me earlier, but as I saw the Wilderness Lift line showing signs of the wind’s effects, I just kept heading north to Lower Turnpike.  That wound up being the pick of my morning.  I started down, and there was initially a little scouring in spots due to wind, but as I headed lower and lower into more sheltered terrain, the coating of snow got smoother and smoother, and the skiing got better and better.  It wasn’t long before there was only the occasional contact with the old subsurface snow, and as much fun as the corn skiing has been this March, it was very satisfying to fell that consistent powder float again.  That definitely made the morning, and I was ready to catch a lift ride and do it all again, but the chairlifts still didn’t appear to be loading.  All the skiers I saw seemed to be congregating around the handle tow, so based on the time I decided to call it a morning and head to Burlington.

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The precipitation was very light snow as I left the mountain a bit after 10:00 A.M., and the temperature in the village was 26 F.  Descending the Access Road offered up some of the snowier views of the day as I got down into elevations where the wind had been more minimal.  The temperature at the bottom of the Access Road was 32 F, and mid 30s F when I got into Burlington.

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When I was leaving Burlington later in the afternoon afternoon, it was sunny and the temperature was 50 F.  Most of the valley snow had melted, but the last clouds were pulling away from Mt. Mansfield offering some nice views.  I was surprised to see that we had retained much of the new snow at our house due to the shade, and it was neat to have the yard entirely white again, since our snow at the house had almost disappeared through the course of the month.

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