Bolton Valley, VT 07MAR2012

An image of ski tracks in the powder on the Peggy Dow's trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching a little powder in the sun today on Peggy Dow’s

This morning saw milder temperatures than what we’ve had in the past few days, but it was still 28 F at the house when I made my observations at 6:00 A.M.  It was a beautiful morning, and since I had to take the car to Burlington for some errands, I decided to stop off at the mountain for some turns on the way.  Heading up the Bolton Valley Access Road around 8:30 A.M., the temperature actually rose somewhat as I ascended out of the valley, but that must have just been a warm layer in the middle elevations, because the temperature dropped again as I approached the Village (2,100’) where it was still below freezing.

With the Vista Quad being the first lift planned to open at 9:00 A.M., I was still somewhat ahead of that time even with my procrastination at the house, so I continued with my plan of skinning up for some earned turns before riding the lifts.  With opening so close, I kept out of the way of potential skier traffic by ascending on Lower Fanny Hill, and I found 1 to 2 inches of new snow at the base elevations.  I hadn’t gone too far up Fanny Hill before I realized that lift service was underway, so I removed my skins, stowed them in my pack, skied down, and caught a ride on the Vista Quad.  Up above the 3,000’ level, snow accumulations were generally in the 2 to 4-inch range, but I even found some depths up to 8 inches that weren’t obvious drifts.

I was still looking to earn some turns in the fresh snow, and since the Wilderness Lift hasn’t been open since Sunday, I pulled the skins back out and made my way up to the Wilderness Summit. When I arrived at the summit (~3,150’) I noticed that the snowpack was close to level with one of the benches up there, and with typically a couple more weeks of snowpack gain to go based on the Mt. Mansfield Stake Data, that’s a good sign of how the higher elevations have caught up from the slow start in terms of snowpack.  So despite the lame initial stages to snowpack building this season, the storms of the last couple of weeks have really helped it catch up to near normal in the highest elevations.

An image of the bench with the Powderbank sign at the summit of the Wilderness area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont - the snowpack is several feet deep and is just about level with the seat of the bench.
Several feet of snowpack at the Wilderness Summit mean that the Powderbank bench is close to getting buried.

I opted for a run on Peggy Dow’s and Lower Turnpike, where I found plenty of nice powder, but it was good that I was out rather early, because the day was warming up quickly and that was already affecting the slopes.  The lower elevations and areas exposed to the sun were feeling it first, and I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have left with good snow, so I quickly hopped on the Vista Quad for another trip.

Up at the Vista Summit, I ran into Quinn and some of his fellow patrollers outside the patrol house.  We chatted about the conditions, and how this weekend might be the last one for Timberline – very spring-like temperatures in the 40s and 50s F are on the way, and with the base at those lower elevations not overly deep, the coverage will be challenged.  Leaving the patrollers, I headed over to check out the Villager Trees and see how the powder was hanging on with the rising temperatures.  I got a few good turns in there, but the window of opportunity for good powder was just about closed, and I encountered a lot of thick snow.  Although the off piste conditions were deteriorating, there was also a plus side to the temperatures edging their way above freezing – the on piste conditions were actually improving with the warmth and the groomed snow was something that you could really bite into.  It hadn’t progressed to corn or anything like that, but it got me excited about spring skiing; I’m still more interested in the upcoming powder possibilities on Friday/Saturday with the front coming through though.  That was my final run for the day, but when I reached Burlington I found beautiful weather with temperatures in the 50s F.  It’s really nice to have this warm spring weather in the valley, but hopefully it won’t come on too fast because we’d like the quality snow to stick around for a while on the slopes.

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