Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 22JAN2011


After a great powdery outing with Dave up on Boltonís Nordic/backcountry network on MLK Monday, our next snow event began the following day.It was one of those low pressure systems in the Great Lakes that redevelops as a coastal, and as has been the trend this season, Northern New England was outside of the areas of heaviest precipitation.However, we did manage to get some snow out of the event.  While there was no snow falling in Waterbury at the house when I left in the morning on Tuesday, a couple of hours later it had started up in Burlington.When I got home that evening I found 4.2 inches of new snow on the snowboard, and it turned out to be some reasonably dense, base-building material.Iíve added an excerpt from my 6:00 P.M. update to below:


Tuesday 1/18/2011 6:00 P.M. update:


Event totals: 4.2Ē Snow/0.49Ē L.E.

ďIt wasnít snowing in Burlington this morning in the 6:30 to 7:00 A.M. range, and I didnít see when it started, but by 8:00 A.M. or so it was coming down. There were some big flakes at times during the day, but even by later in the afternoon it didnít seem like more than 2 or 3 inches had accumulated. At the Waterbury park and ride at around 5:45 P.M. I found a similar 2 to 3 inches of snow on my car, but boy was it coming down! It was pouring snow at over an inch an hour, hard enough that I couldnít tell until the very last minute where to turn off for our road. It must have been part of that big burst that Powderfreak showed on the radar and mreaves was riding in. I found 4.2 inches of snow on the snowboard at 6:00 P.M., and it actually seemed pretty dry and fluffy, but it was secretly very dense. It contained 0.49 inches of liquid and came in at a ratio of 8.6 to 1 (11.7% H2O). If Iíd had to guess the density on that stuff I would have been quite off the mark. Itís been snowing on and off since then, with some big flakes at times, but nothing of the intensity I saw when I first got home. As of 9:00 P.M. there was another half inch of snow on the board of what seems like the same density material.Ē


In the valley we wound up with 6.5 inches of snow comprised of 0.63 inches of liquid with that event, and then a similar system came in for yesterday.We were even farther out of that one though, and would up with just 1.6 inches of total snow at the house.As expected, the mountains did somewhat better, and Bolton had picked up over a foot of snow for the week.


The big weather event for this weekend isnít snow however, itís the cold.Highs are expected to be around 10 F today, and then perhaps not even get above zero tomorrow.E and the boys decided not to ski based on the cold forecast, but todayís temperatures seemed like they would be pretty nice for a backcountry tour.I waited until about midday for the temperatures to warm, and warm they had!Driving toward Bolton, the temperature was almost 20 F in the valley, and it seemed quite a bit warmer than initially thought.Even up in the village above 2,000í, the temperature was already 10 F and rising.


Kicking off my tour, I headed up Bryant as usual, and was treated to blue skies and lots of white trees.I could feel that the temperature was cooling down as I gained elevation, but I still had my hat off at times to keep cool.Once I reached the Bryant Cabin I assessed some tour options.Ty was having some friends over for a birthday party starting at 4:00 P.M., and I still had to do some grocery shopping on my trip home, but it looked like I had time for a longer tour that just a Bryant lap.I decided to head out north for a bit along the Bolton-Trapp/Catamount Trail and catch some turns off there.


The trip through the flats to the North of the cabin was fairly quiet, with more white trees and lots of deep snow visible on the steep slopes to the east.I saw one other skier in the flats on what looked like lighter touring gear, and then I saw another pair of skiers at the top of the drop in for the Cotton Brook trail.I kept going and assessed some glade options on the high side of the trail.There were a few tracks, but plenty of lines that hadnít been visited, and the powder looked fantastic both above and below.


I finally decided to stop my ascent at a bit over 3,000í, switched over to descent mode, and dove into the beautiful snow in the glades.Although not quite as ridiculously light and deep as the previous weekend, there was really nothing to complain about because the snow was absolutely grade ďAĒ material.Depth checks on the powder were only somewhat useful, since the snow consisted of a gradient of powder density that went very deep, but Iíd say one could generally find a good 12Ē-24Ē inches of soft stuff into which one could push their skis.Essentially the harder one cut their turns, the deeper one would go, and the powder would gradually push back more and more.As deep as you wanted or needed it to be, thatís how deep it was.When round after round after round of powder falls with nothing to interrupt the cycle, thatís what you get.


After my initial descent in the higher elevations, I headed back down to the Bryant Cabin and hit some of the lower North Slope and Gardinerís Lane glades that Iíd skied the previous week with Dave.I dialed in the descent route pretty efficiently and had a really good trip back to the base area.Just as I was approaching my car, I looked into the sky and noticed that there was a hole in the clouds that were building in from the west.Below the hole I could see tendrils of snowfall, and it looked like that section of cloud had just decided to give way and turn into snow.It was a very cool scene:


As I started heading back down into the valley, I noticed that the temperature was up into the mid teens F even at the village elevation, so it really had gotten quite a bit warmer than expected.I stopped off at the grocery store for food supplies, and then got back to the house and prepped pizza components for the party attendees.While I worked on that, E was out in the yard with the kids for a big session of sledding.I peeked out a few times to see what was going on, but fortunately E had her camera and really filled me in on some of the fun: