Bolton Valley, VT 11APR2010

Clouds built in yesterday evening, and the forecast showed the potential for a repeat of the snow we’d seen Friday night into yesterday morning.  I checked the temperatures atop Mt. Mansfield, and they were about 10 degrees warmer than when the previous day’s moisture had come through, but they were certainly still cold enough to support some snow.

Not expecting too much precipitation down at our location, I hadn’t even looked at the local radar during the evening, so I was rather astonished to find 0.44 inches of liquid in the gauge when I checked it yesterday morning.  It seemed to have come out of nowhere.  I did get a look at the recent frames of the BTV composite radar, which showed some moisture departing, but I didn’t look any further into it.  The temperature was roughly 37 F at the house though, which suggested that accumulating snowfall was just a couple thousand feet up.  I checked Stowe’s snow report, wondering if they had gotten in on the same moisture as my location, but all they were reporting was an inch of new snow.  In the highest elevations, it had been below freezing all night, so Stowe had to have missed out on some of that moisture; even with temperatures just a bit below freezing, the amount of liquid we received at the house would have produced more than an inch of snow.

Once the other morning CoCoRaHS reports came in, I could see that my station appeared to be in a bit of a hot spot for the overnight precipitation.  A couple of the other Waterbury stations reported liquid totals at around a third of an inch, but the totals seemed to fall off among the western slope stations to the north:

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Perhaps Mt. Mansfield just hadn’t gotten in on the best moisture, but Bolton Valley was much closer to our location, so maybe they’d done better.  We had other obligations to take care of in the morning, but maybe an afternoon trip up to Bolton was in order.

When afternoon came around, Ty was the only one game for a little exercise, so he and I headed up to Bolton to check things out.  There were only a few patches of leftover snow down at Timberline, and no sign of any new accumulations, but the main mountain was looking pretty good.  It was obvious that there had been some new snow up there.  Even though it was mid afternoon, about a half inch to an inch of new snow remained on the snowpack down at the base elevations (~2,100’).  The lower flat part of Beech Seal didn’t provide continuous snow cover, and although the upper sections had good coverage for skinning, we still opted to hike to mid mountain (~2,500’).  Up there, we found roughly an inch or two of new snow, and residual accumulations even in some shaded places where the old snowpack was absent.

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We took a snack break, and I asked Ty if he wanted to keep hiking or switch to skins; he opted to go with skins.  As we worked our way up Sherman’s Pass, we met a couple of Telemark skiers that said if we were looking for powder, the lightest stuff was up near the summit.  It would have been nice to head up there, but I let Ty make the call based on his energy level.  Ultimately, we skinned up to around 2,800’ on Hard Luck, to a point where Ty wanted to start skiing.  We found a couple inches of new snow there, which was by that point fairly wet due to rising temperatures and the afternoon sunshine.  I would have liked to know the depth of the new snow accumulations in the morning before the temperatures began to rise, as they were presumably more than what we saw.

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Still, like we’d found at Stowe yesterday, the new snow skied well over the softened base.  We took a route over toward Spillway, since it seemed to have the smoothest snow, and then below mid mountain we took the Bear Run route because the snow on Beech Seal hadn’t been all that smooth.  We were able to ski right back down to the base of the Mid Mountain Chair at around 2,150’.  I got some pictures as usual, and Ty had E’s point and shoot camera and got a few of his own.  He even got a decent action shot of me skiing, and I was impressed because that can be tough with the delay on E’s camera.  I had contemplated skiing down via the big terrain park, but Ty’s choice of Bear Run was the way to go, since some areas between the terrain park features looked to be melted out.

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We didn’t ski Spillway above the smooth bottom pitch, but above that point it was bumpy and seemed to be continuous as Matt indicated in his report from Monday.  This week’s temperatures have only been slightly above average, and the lows have been well below freezing each night so the snow shouldn’t be disappearing too fast.  If we end up getting more snow this weekend, there should be some more fun skiing up at Bolton.

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