Bolton Valley, VT 17APR2010

This morning I found another 0.80 inches of liquid in the rain gauge, which represents the 24-hour total since yesterday morning and brings the event totals at this location (elevation 495’) to 0.3” snow/1.32” liquid.  It did snow here for a bit in the morning, but there was no additional accumulation down at this elevation.  Watching the radar and forecast trends, I decided that I’d head out for an afternoon session of skiing today.  There was a lot of moisture pushing in from the west, and I was hoping that it would add some additional accumulation in the mountains.  Looking out across the valley during the day, I could see that the hills had accumulations of snow down to somewhere in the 1,000’ to 1,500’ range.  It continued to rain in the valley, and the temperatures were sitting around the 40 F mark for quite a while before things warmed up a bit later in the day.

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I headed up to Bolton Valley in the 3:00 to 4:00 P.M. range this afternoon, and at that point the temperatures in this part of the Winooski Valley (elevations 300’ – 500’) were in the mid 40s F.  Ascending the access road, I could see that more snow had fallen since yesterday, and the higher elevations were coated in another round of bright white.  The temperatures were warmer and the distribution of snowfall at elevation was different than what I had encountered yesterday morning; whereas yesterday morning I saw the first traces of new snowfall at around 1,200’ on the access road, this afternoon they didn’t appear until roughly 1,800’.  The temperature at the main base area (2,100’) was around 37 F when I arrived there, and there was about an inch of new snow on the ground. There was a little precipitation in the air, which was just a few spits of rain.  I could see that the freezing line had crept upward from where it probably had been earlier, and it looked like it was somewhere around mid mountain (2,500’).

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I ascended using the same skin track I’d created yesterday, which in the lower elevations was still mostly visible under the new coating of snow.  There was a crusty layer under this round of snow, which was presumably derived from yesterday’s mixed precipitation.  I could tell that the overall accumulations of snow on the ground have been growing however; it looks like most of what was there yesterday was still around, sealed under a crusty layer, and now there’s another round of snow on top of it.  Up at mid mountain (~2,500’) I found about two inches of new snow, and although I hadn’t seen any other skiers, the scene was far from quiet.  The ascent of the freezing line was causing the frozen coatings on the trees to come crashing down all around me.

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Above mid mountain, the precipitation switched over to snow, and the snowfall gradually picked up in intensity as I ascended Cobrass.  While the overall coverage on the top steep pitch of Cobrass is much better than it was yesterday, the ascent was actually a bit trickier due to the crusty layer under the new snow.  Once I’d reached the lower part of the Vista Summit at around 3,100’, I checked out a protected area that I’d wiped clean yesterday to get a final number on the new snow at that elevation.  I found between 2 and 3 inches of new snow, and again the measurement was made easy by the solid layer from the mixed precipitation.  I wiped it clean, and I’ll use it again to see what fell at the Vista Summit if I go up tomorrow.  With that thought in mind, the snowfall had ramped up in intensity while I was up there, and at around 5:00 P.M. when I was beginning my descent, it was coming down with the greatest intensity I’d seen.  I’d say that it was still below the level of moderate snowfall, but it was very steady and certainly accumulating.

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I descended via Sherman’s Pass again, which still seems the most practical option, and there were a couple of tracks on it from other skiers that had taken it earlier in the day.  I was worried about that crusty layer underneath, but the 2 to 3 new inches up there were more than dense enough to keep me off the base in untracked areas.  The skiing was very nice down to about the 2,700’ level, just below the Sherman’s Pass hairpin, at which point the snow quickly got sticky.  For quality turns, I’d say lapping the top 400 to 500 feet of vertical would have been the best bet, since below that level I was just letting the skis run to keep up speed in the sticky snow.  So, while those upper-elevation turns were almost on par with what I skied up there yesterday, yesterday morning wins for overall turns because they were nice almost right back down to the base area.

The snow line seemed to have dropped by the time I was finishing my descent, and it was almost back down to the base area around 5:30 P.M, although it was still mostly rain right in the village.  Based on what I saw in terms of how the snowpack is building up and the way that first round of snow is now locked with a solid layer on top, there shouldn’t be much concern about rocks on the Sherman’s Pass/Bear Run route anymore.  Even routes that had little base prior to this event are starting to look good as long as the underlying ground is smooth and grassy.  Depending on how much snow falls tonight, things could be very nice tomorrow.  Although the NWS isn’t suggesting much in terms of accumulation tonight, the BTV composite radar (below) still shows quite a bit of moisture around, and the snow line may even drop back down to the lower valleys tonight.  We’ve probably had about a third of an inch of additional precipitation here today, and it’s still raining out there.  E just came back from Morrisville and said it was raining the entire time, so it’s certainly snowing in the mountains.  We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

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