Bolton Valley, VT 28DEC2010
After finding excellent snow conditions at Timberline near the end of the Nor’easter yesterday afternoon, it looked like lift-served skiing was going to be fantastic on today. E was a little under the weather and wanted to get some things done around the house, so it was going to be a ski day for the boys.
We got up to Timberline around 10:15 A.M., and conditions were looking good. The temperature was 20 F, skies were clear, and the wind had abated. The Bolton Valley website had indicated a planned Timberline opening of sometime in the 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. range, and I’m not sure what time they’d finally started loading, but there was hardly anyone there when we arrived. After experiencing lift queues at Vista on Thursday and Friday, it was very nice to have Timberline open again.
We kicked things off with a run down Spell Binder to get the boys warmed up, and Ty was really enamored with the snow and pitch on the headwall. He’s definitely been waiting for the season to get going so additional steeper terrain could open, and he was really hootin’ and hollerin’ on that run and exclaiming how “awesome” it was. It wasn’t untracked, but as usual the skier’s right held lots of chowder, with plenty of deep loose snow and a really nice subsurface. Both boys had fun making their sloughs, or “avalanches” as they call them, slide down the slope. Below the headwall, there was still ample fresh snow along the skier’s right to provide lots of powder turns. I generally found 12-18 inches of powder along there depending on how far I got towards the trees, and although it wasn’t Champlain Powder™, it was at least medium weight fluff protected from the wind and it skied really well. While I worked the powder, the boys were generally in and out of there often playing in the chowder and taking lots of jumps off the remnants of the water bars.
The rest of the morning was a mix of mostly trees with some on piste thrown in as well. We stayed right down at Timberline, since the snow was just so good. Because the Nor’easter had brought some of the first big winds in a while, it had knocked some small debris down onto the ground and scattered it around on the powder. Fortunately that was more of an aesthetic issue than anything, but it meant that the powder didn’t look quite as pristine as usual. We checked out some new lines that the glade crew had made in the off season, and even the steepest shots were skiable. Ty and Dylan worked on dropping some little ledges and controlling their speed to be able to hit multiple steep shots. They still need lots of work there, but they had some fun spills; there was lots of time spent digging themselves out of the powder, and they were coated with white by the end of most runs. The only major coverage/safety concerns that arose were that some debris piles from this off season’s work are still going to be a problem. We didn’t have any major issues, but those areas won’t hold up to tons of traffic until another couple feet of standard synoptic-density snow gets on top of them to bury the debris better. I would recommend taking things cautiously in the steeper tree zones, especially those that are new this season, unless one is very familiar with the area.
Right around noon the boys were getting hungry, so we decided to check out Doug’s Woods for the last run down to the lodge. It seemed like hardly anyone had been in there all morning, and fresh tracks were easy to find. It had actually been country club-style skiing all morning, with very few people making their way over from the main mountain. Since all the main amenities like rentals, lessons, restaurants, etc. are over at the main mountain, many guests just don’t find their way over to Timberline. That’s OK though, and it’s nice to have a place like that even during the holiday week. Lunch was a similar reprieve from the main lodge with how packed it was last week – even during the noon hour the Timberline Lodge never filled up all the way, so the boys had plenty of time to rest up from the adventurous morning and get ready for the afternoon.
We did some more Timberline runs in the afternoon, and then I ran into Jason giving a lesson and learned that Cobrass was actually open. Cobrass was closed according to the trail update sheet, but it sounded like coverage was good, so we decided to make a trip over to the main mountain. We didn’t travel around too much on the main hill, but the boys did request a ride on the Snowflake Lift before we hit the Vista Quad. Surfaces were certainly not as good on the main mountain as they were over at Timberline, whether due to stronger winds or more people, but we didn’t explore much of the trees in that area. Jason had said that Cobrass Woods were skiing great but we had other plans. The upper half of Cobrass itself turned out to be a lot of fun, there was just a bit of ice/rock to avoid at the top, and then skier’s right was great packed and loose powder. Descending farther we hit the Villager Trees, and found that only a few people had visited that area. The snow there was a little more wind affected and compacted than what we’d found on the lower elevations of Timberline, so the powder wasn’t quite as good. It was definitely worth the trip though. We hit Lower Tattle Tale on the return to the Timberline Base, and it skied OK, but the snow had definitely seen the wind and was slabby. As I recall, Ty got taken down by one of those slab snakes pretty nicely while we were skiing that powder. The headwall of Upper Tattle Tale was quite wind scoured, and along with Upper Spillway and Upper Show Off, were the three places we saw that definitely needed to be kept closed.
We finished off the day back at Timberline, and we skied some Wood’s Hole and Corner Pocket Glades, since the boys had asked to see how the off season work had turned out there. The TLC given to the Corner Pocket Glades really shows, and they are just a really sweet ski. The boys enjoyed having me check the depth of the powder throughout the day, so we checked it around the mountain in the off piste. In general if the wind had not affected an area and it had seen no traffic, measurements were in the 20 to 24-inch range, with 22 inches coming up a lot. The deepest stuff we found was near 30 inches. None of the snow was dry enough that one could sink down all that distance of course, but with only about 6 to 12 inches of base below that in many cases, the increased density of the snow is probably good at this point.