Bolton Valley, VT 29JAN2011
It was a little tough to motivate the boys for skiing last Saturday, since there hadn’t been any significant storms reaching Northern Vermont. At the house we’d picked up just a couple inches of snow in the preceding week, and even up in the high country Bolton was reporting just 5 inches of accumulation for the period. Without the fresh powder to get the boys jazzed up, E and I took a suggestion from Stephen and threw in the option of doing some swimming at the Sports Center after skiing. In actuality we suspected that the skiing would be quite good; temperatures had been rather wintry though the period, and a small clipper-style system was in the process of freshening up the slopes and even bringing snow down to the valley, but the carrot of swimming definitely made it easier to get the boys out there to enjoy the conditions. At times we were getting some bursts of heavier snowfall even down at the house, and directing the boy’s attention outside toward the big flakes helped inject a little more alacrity into their preparation.
I dropped E and the boys off in the village circle, and they did a quick run on Snowflake while I parked the car. Our plan was to meet up with Stephen and Johannes, but they were up on Vista and about to head in for some lunch, so we planned to meet up with them later. E told me that Ty got to ride up Snowflake with a stranger, a woman with a British accent, and after initially being somewhat diffident, he eventually had a good time talking. So that was a little adventure for him. After parking down near the Sports Center in preparation for our later visit, I found E and the boys at the base area and we hopped on Snowflake to ski over to Wilderness. E had said that she found the powder a little dense in explorations on their first run, and that the tracks of previous skiers underneath the most recent rounds of snow made things a little uneven, but it turned out that she had just sampled a windswept area or something, because a quick foray off Sprig O’ Pine revealed some very light, deep, and beautifully undisturbed powder. The big terrain park was closed while they were working on it, but I was able to traverse into some of the trees below and catch the bottom of the “Bonus Woods” as Quinn calls them. Even though recent snow accumulations had been minimal, the numerous rounds of dry powder from before were staying really well preserved with the consistently cool temperatures. I took a quick depth reading with my pole and found that the snowpack was essentially in the same state it had been for a while, finding the “base” was really just a function of how far down you wanted to push into the density gradient of powder.
Making our way over to Wilderness we did a couple of laps featuring Bolton Outlaw and surrounding areas, and there was plenty of powder off piste. I did a check on the upper part of the Wilderness Lift and found 24 inches of depth as Kurt Ries passed over our heads on the lift and inquired about what my measurement pole was reading. I’d forgotten that the mountain was only running Wilderness Fridays through Sundays, so that made the untracked powder just that much easier to find. It was an exciting day for E, as she was feeling much more confident on her Telemark skis, and thus was really stepping up the terrain challenge with things like Bolton Outlaw and Wilderness Woods. She was working the versatility of the skis very well and throwing in alpine turns if needed, but from experience I know it’s especially fun to get to that stage where Tele turns are dialed in enough that off piste skiing becomes comfortably enjoyable. E was encouraged by the fact that we saw several other Telemark skiers in the Wilderness Woods at various stages of learning – the lower mellow pitches there are great for learning, especially since the glade crew cleaned things up in the off season. Lower down we skied various combinations of Lower Turnpike and the bobsled racetracks off in the trees, enjoying my favorite high-banked corner near the bottom. E said it was reminding her of playing Mario Kart.
We stopped for lunch upstairs in the main lodge, and then finally caught up with Stephen, Johannes, and his friend Thomas. Thomas was using his “learn to ski” ticket that was limited to Snowflake, so we all hung around there for several runs as the boys hit jumps on Foxy. We did a little skiing on piste, but then quickly worked our way into the trees. The powder was really nice, and Ty and Dylan were really ripping up the woods along the Snowflake lift. I showed Ty some fun lines that I’d skied before in the Foxy and Bentley woods, we shot some photos, and Stephen even took a bit of video of Ty in one of my favorite Bentley woods lines. Johannes has an update at his site entitled “T.U. Back on the Slopes” that talks about their day and includes a video slide show.
Finally we couldn’t hold Dylan from the swimming any longer, so we headed down to the Sports Center. I debated taking a tour on the BC network while E and the boys swam, but instead stayed and had fun in the water. The pool was plenty warm, and it was great to watch the big flakes of snow come down outside while we hung out in there. One thing I can say about the hot tub was that it was really hot!
Back at the house that evening I sent in my snowfall report and a brief summary of the weather we’d encountered that day. With the combination of sun, snow, and nice temperatures close to the freezing mark, it had been another outstanding day in the Green Mountains:
Saturday 1/29/2011 6:00 P.M. update: “I checked the depth of new snow on the snowboard around 11:00 A.M. this morning just as we were heading up to the mountain, and I found 0.8 inches of very fluffy stuff on there that had accumulated since I’d cleared it at 7:00 A.M. I’m not sure how much additional snow fell down at our place in the valley, but it definitely snowed on and off up on the mountain. At times we had light snow, at times more moderate snow, and at times we had some sun. I’d say they picked up a nice inch or two today, and as of their 3:00 P.M. update Bolton is indicating a couple of new inches. It was really a gorgeous day on the mountain; even though we haven’t had any massive dumps this week, the consistently cold temperatures have kept everything mid winter, and there’s tons of powder around.”