Bolton Valley, VT 29DEC2011

An image of Dylan skiing powder in the Bear Run Woods at Bolton Valley in Vermont on December 29, 2011
The two feet of snow from the storms this week has finally allowed at least some minimal off piste skiing to get going at Bolton Valley.

Thanks to the second big snowstorm of the holiday week, the mountains picked up another foot of snow, so we decided to hit Bolton to check it out.  When I’d headed up for turns yesterday afternoon/evening, it was still snowing very hard with plenty of wind, but it looked like areas that weren’t affected by the wind were going to offer up some excellent powder turns today.  One downside to the storm was that it also ushered in some fairly cold air, bringing temperatures down to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  With that in mind, we didn’t rush right off to the slopes in the morning, but let the air warm up a bit because we knew it was going to be a bit rough for the boys.  By mid morning we’d reached the mid teens F at the house, so we decided it was time to get going.  We also got a little extra incentive to ski when we discovered that the mountain was beginning to open up some new, natural snow terrain for the first time this season due to all the additional snow.  In the morning snow report on the Bolton Valley Website, the indicated that trails like the Wilderness Lift Line would be opening, and that was very exciting to hear.  We also let the boys have a go at their powder skis for the first time this season, so that got them psyched up a bit for the outing, even if it wasn’t a mega dump of snow and were weren’t rushing out for first tracks.

An image of Bolton Valley's Timberline area on December 29, 2011 with ski tracks from people earning turns
The natural snow has gotten deep enough that people have even been out earning turns at Bolton Valley's Timberline area.

Even down at the lower elevations of the Timberline area (~1,500’) we could see the effects of the new snow – the Timberline trails looked to have decent coverage, and ski tracks were visible, indicating that people had clearly been out earning turns.  We found that the temperatures were in the upper single digits at the main base of the mountain, but the bright blue skies at least meant that the sun would be giving us a bit of warmth.  That sort of fooled E and the boys though, in that they waited outside by the base area ski racks while I parked the car and went into the lodge to put on my gear.  They had to wait outside for a decent stretch of time, but they seemed to be doing OK, we all hopped on the Vista Quad together for a run off the top.  It was indeed colder and windy up top, not the sort of place that one would want to hang around, but the snow surfaces were much improved on the upper mountain compared to when we had first skied Sherman’s Pass on mostly manmade snow on Saturday.  We decided to take Alta Vista, which was newly opened thanks to snowmaking.  It was pretty firm since it was all manmade snow, but at least it was an alternative to Sherman’s Pass off the top.  The mountain had also opened up the Swing trail and Work Road, connecting over to Wilderness, and those were nice on all natural snow.  The Wilderness Lift Line had its usual pleasant natural snow skiing, and coverage was fine, even if the powder was a bit wind-affected in spots and the snow seemed a little “slow” due to the cold temperatures.  It was nice to see the boys enjoying their powder boards, which were certainly helping them out if they ran into any of the wind crust.  Once we were back at the base, everyone deemed it was time for a break because the boy’s fingers were definitely cold from their extended wait while I parked the car and got into my gear.

An image of flames in the wood-fired oven up at the Fireside Flatbread Restarant at Bolton Valley ski resort in Vermont
The warm, fiery glow of the wood-fired oven at Fireside Flatbread

We ate upstairs in the lodge, and took a nice long lunch with plenty of hot tomato soup for everyone to get their bodies warmed up.  The influx of cold did make for some nice wintry scenery around the lodge though, with icicles outside the main staircase, and beautiful patterns of frost on some of the windows.

An image of icicles outside a staircase at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Icicles outside the base lodge hinted at some of the cold temperatures today.

We finally decided to head back out into the cold for another run, and this time took Alta Vista and the more standard Sherman’s Pass route below that to mid mountain.  With all the new snow, we decided to check out the Bear Run woods, since we’d seen a lot of tracks in there.  We found that they were skiable, although a lot of the area was pretty marginal because the shrubbery had not been freshly cleared this season in a lot of the area.  It was fun to get into a bit of powder, but there were definitely obstacles underfoot so one had to be very cautious and we didn’t deem it worth another round of skiing.  From what I was hearing though in talking to folks on the mountain, off piste areas that had been well trimmed were offering up some decent turns, although one still had to be very cautious.  We decided to finish off with a mid mountain run, which let us avoid the more extensive cold and wind of the Vista Summit area.  We had a final good run enjoying the groomed Bear Run, which was skiing very nicely with all the new snow incorporated by the groomers.  We are certainly looking forward to some warming temperatures and the chance to get into some additional powder in the upcoming days.  I expect that the mountain will be able to open more natural snow terrain based on what we saw during today’s outing.

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