Bolton Valley, VT 23APR2011
In the morning the precipitation at the house was a mixture of rain and snow, but down at our elevation on the valley floor it wasn’t accumulating. It was hard to tell the elevation of the accumulating snow line with the amount of clouds around, but it seemed like it might be around 1,000’. At some point in the mid morning timeframe, sleet began to mix in with the rain and snow, and that’s when we actually started to get some accumulation. We picked up just 0.2 inches of snow and sleet, but that was enough to bring us to an even 197.0 inches of snowfall on the season. The grass was whitened in some areas, but it wasn’t a consistent coating in the entire yard.
With the sleet starting to mix in, I decided it was time to pop up to the mountain for some skiing in case the snow conditions were going to deteriorate. At the base of the Bolton Valley access road (340’) accumulations were similar to what we’d picked up at the house, with patchy areas of white. And as expected, the accumulations increased with elevation. Up in the village (~2,100’) the accumulations were 1-2 inches, and the precipitation was snow with sleet mixing in. It was raw, windy, and wintry as I put on my ski gear. Winds had taken the new snow and built it up to as much as a foot just to the east of the upper parking lot, so I knew I’d have to factor that distribution of the snow into my ski plans.
For a change of pace and to keep out of the wind, which seemed to be coming straight down the mountain at times, I skinned up Fanny Hill instead of something in the Beech Seal/Deer Run area. The depth of the snow continued to build, and at the 2,700’ mark I found accumulations of roughly 2.5 inches. I wrapped around through the Swing area, and continued up on Sherman’s Pass toward the Vista Summit. As I got close to the Vista Quad, I began to hear a low swishing sound, and it turned out to be the wind turbine – I was amazed to see it running with sub-freezing temperatures and winds that were at times in the 30-40 MPH range. The turbine was rotating at roughly a revolution per second, which is certainly the fastest I’ve seen it go; it really must have been putting out some power.
I found about 3 inches of dense accumulation up in sheltered areas at the summit, and my initial thoughts of checking out Cobrass changed once I observed the summit winds; they seemed to be from the south and southeast, and watching the orientation of the turbine confirmed it. I decided on a descent of Alta Vista instead, and aside from a bit of scouring at the very top, it yielded some pretty nice turns. They weren’t 100% bottomless, but with the dense snow they were pretty close.
Below Alta Vista I decided to keep touring past the Wilderness mid station and over to Turnpike, expecting that side of the mountain to be reasonably sheltered. The powder was good, especially good down on Lower Turnpike where I was able to carve huge arcs across the entire untracked trail. Those turns were so nice that it was at that point that I really felt like E and the boys were missing out for not hitting the mountain with me. The mix of precipitation that had trended toward sleet on my ascent had seemed to head back toward very small flakes, and the winds appeared to have calmed down as well.
When I got back down to the house around noontime, the white coating was still hanging around in the yard, so the temperatures seemed to be in no hurry to warm up. I suspect it was a rather depressing day for those pining for spring, but it was a great day to get out and get some fresh turns on top of the deep base of snow sitting up there in the mountains.