Bolton Valley, VT 10DEC2011

A December image from the mid mountain area of Bolton Valley looking up toward Ricker Mountain
Checking out a December scene from mid mountain as the snow clouds pull away

With lake-effect snow coming off the Great Lakes, and some upslope hitting the Green Mountains, we picked up about a half inch of snow at the house overnight.  The local ski areas also picked up an inch or two, which was enough to get me interested in heading up to Bolton for opening day.  Checking their morning update on the website, I found out that they weren’t opening until 10:00 A.M., so that gave me a chance to take it easy for a while in the morning.

At some point after 9:00 A.M., I headed up to the mountain – I did check in with E and the boys to see if they wanted to head up for turns, but none of them were interested.  I can’t blame them, since I knew it was going to be pretty vanilla with just Bear Run off the Mid Mountain Chair and the Mighty Mite learning area going.  In terms of natural snow, at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) the snowpack was sitting at around an inch, with snow melted out on south-facing slopes, pretty much like it is at our house.  At around 1,000’ the snowpack became consistent on all aspects – the depth was only about an inch or so, but the consistent snowpack gave everything a much wintrier look.  Up above 2,000’ in the Village there was a general 2-3” inches of snow everywhere – not enough to open any natural terrain, but certainly enough to know that winter was here.  Temperatures were in the mid 20s F, and there was on and off light snow falling, so that really helped to fill out the wintry scene.

An image from the Bolton Valley Village area - December 10, 2011
Checking out the snow in the Bolton Valley Village area this morning

I still had some time before the lift would be loading, so I skinned up Bear Run to catch an early descent.  I could see that the mountain had made just enough snow to get the Bear Run area open wall to wall, and it sounds like they were crunched for time to even do that.  Up at Mid Mountain I enjoyed the solitude while I de-skinned, and took in the scene for a few minutes.  There were patches of blue sky appearing as the snow clouds began breaking away, and it was turning into a nice December day.  I had a nice mellow descent of Bear Run, enjoying my first groomed turns of the season.  The snow was a little firm since it was almost 100% man-made, but it was decent enough for opening day.  I poked around a little off the edge of the trail at the junction with Sprig O’ Pine, and there was that roughly half inch to inch of new snow to be found, but they had groomed essentially everywhere that they had put down the man-made base so there weren’t really any fresh turns to be had.  The few inches of snow on the natural snow trails actually looked pretty nice aside from the tall grass sticking through, and there’s plenty of snow out there to make it a paradise for junkboarders.

It was just after 10:00 A.M. when I got to the bottom, and a queue was already forming at the Mid Mountain Chair, but I decided to hop on and catch a lift-served run before I left.  I got a nice little burn going from continuous Telemark turns, and was reminded of the benefits of lift-served skiing in that regard.  Heading down toward the lodge after my run I ran into Jason, one of the instructors I know from the summer glade crew, and we chatted for a while.  They had about 200 people from some group visiting the resort that were skiing and taking lessons, and they were all still quite keen to go despite the limited terrain.  I popped into ski patrol to pick up my Powder Pass tickets from summer glade work, and then I was able to find patroller Quinn in civilian clothes up in the lift queue to thank him for getting all of us the tickets.  The mountain appeared to be running the lift a little slow, perhaps to keep any trail crowding to a minimum, and there had been some starts and stops of the lift, so the queue was actually getting pretty big.  It would have been a bit of a wait for another lift-served run if I had been planning to do any more.

A picture of some of the Vermont food vendor tables at Bolton Valley - December 10, 2011
Vermont food vendors hosted by Bolton Valley Resort upstairs in the main base lodge

I checked the time and decided that I could catch the start of the Vermont food vendors display that was going on upstairs in the main lodge, so I stopped down at the car, changed out of my gear, and then headed up.  I sampled everything they had and got some of their business cards to keep for holiday gift options, clearly timing was great in that regard for all the vendors that participated.  The mountain really got together a lot of fun stuff to make opening day festive; they were having an Eastern Mountain Sports Telemark Demo Day and a Christmas tree lighting and visit from Santa later in the day as well.

The resort is planning to go top to bottom on the main mountain for next weekend, which should be possible with what looks like decent snowmaking temperatures for the coming week (low in the 10s and 20s F, and highs generally in the 20s and 30s F).  In terms of natural snow, the next shot appears to be in the Wednesday through Friday period; it’s not expected to be any huge dump as far as I know, but we’ll see what plays out when we get there.

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