Bolton Valley, VT 08JAN2011
Northern Vermont wasn’t the focus of the weekend’s inverted trough system, but Bolton had reported a couple inches of new snow. We’d seen generally small flakes from the system at the house, but in the late morning when they started to get much larger, I figured it was time to head up to the mountain and see what was going on up there.
Getting into my bindings near the base of the Timberline Lift, I saw a snowboarder coming down the final pitch to the base, but more importantly I could also hear the sound of his board – generally not a good sign. Coverage didn’t look too bad on even the natural snow trails, but it was still just the combined coating put down by the midweek clipper and the weekend system. There were several inches of new snow, but closer inspection showed that there were still some bare spots under there, so it wasn’t surprising that the mountain was keeping most natural snow trails closed.
Off of the Timberline mid station the only real option was to head straight down Showtime, so that’s where I went for my first run. The base snow was manmade, and generally quite capable of holding an edge, but it was definitely not in the same class as the natural snow we’d been skiing over the holiday week. I checked off the edge of the trail to see what the natural snow situation was, and over the base I found generally 4 inches of powder in that 1,500’ to 2,250’ elevation range, with a few spots of 5 inches. That represented the sum of the fluff from the clipper and the latest denser synoptic snow from the inverted trough on top of it. All in all it was actually a fun run, and there were plenty of nice powder turns to be had along the edge of the trail. For the most part it wasn’t the kind of snow that made noise like I’d heard from the snowboarder near the base, and there seemed to be enough powder for low-angle woods, so I decided that I would check some out. That’s when I found out that Wood’s Hole was totally roped off, and heading straight down Showtime actually was the only option – so I skied it again.
I wanted to see what was happening on the upper mountain in terms of new snow, so I rode to the top of Timberline and checked the snow depths. Even up at just 2,500’ things were already improving over just a few hundred feet lower. The increase in snow above the mid station was very evident, with my measurements revealing a consistent 5 to 7 inches of snow along the side of the trail. Even the groomed snow surface seemed better, whether due to higher elevation, less traffic, or potentially other factors like wind etc.
I next wanted to see what the snow was like at the Vista summit, and I headed down Villager. I was just going to continue on the trail right to the Vista base, when I saw another Telemark skier dive off the side of the trail and head down Lower Foxy in a flurry of powder. It made me stop in my tracks and it looked so good that I quickly changed my route and followed his lead. The whole left side of Foxy had a beautiful 6 inches of powder that skied with bottomless ease. I decided that I’d be more than happy to spend my entire time there for snow like that if it actually came down to it.
I still needed to check out the Vista Summit though, so when I finally got up there and checked out the snow, it turned out that I couldn’t find more than 7 inches of powder, so there didn’t appear to be much need to head all the way up to 3,000’. There were a few options open at the top of Vista, but after that it was pretty much Sherman’s Pass, because even Swing was closed, and apparently all of Wilderness. With that run I’d gotten my sampling of the upper mountain. The skiing that was available had some decent snow, but options were really rather limited. From the Deer Run area I skated to the top of Snowflake and headed to the Timberline base.
Since the crossover was open, I did stop in to check out the bottom of Tattle Tale, and it had only a few tracks. The powder was again a little shallower being back down in the Timberline elevations, and I was touching down to the base on turns. There were only a few tracks on the trail though, so there were tons of fresh lines to be had. The best lines were where nobody had skied in the base snow while it was soft – those spots were quite smooth.
E and the boys had decided to take it easy at home for the morning, and the plan was to give them a report on whether it was worth heading up for lift-served skiing, or whether we’d do some backcountry. Finding areas with such good snow made the decision a little difficult, but in the end the limited terrain made the call easier to head out to the Nordic/backcountry network. Out there we knew that everything would be open, and based on my investigations on the alpine side I knew there would be plenty of powder. The combination of decent snow and reduced lift-served options made it an opportune time to introduce E and the boys to that area of the resort.
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