Bolton Valley, VT 17MAR2012

An image of the Mid Mountain Chair at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont, with the Beech Seal trail in the background containing leftover ski racing ruts that had been carved into soft spring snow
The Mid Mountain Chair with racing ruts carved into the spring snow on Beech Seal

Spring is definitely making inroads now that we’re into March, but last Saturday, winter was still in charge as we had a great powder day at Bolton with midwinter snow.  Today however, there was no denying spring its due, with a forecast for morning inversion fog in the valleys burning off to sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s up in the mountains.  This looks to be the first weekend since back in early/mid December without local powder available, and it was a good opportunity to get the boys out on the Telemark skis for some practice on groomed terrain.  E has wanted the get the boys out on their Teles for a while, and since they were excited about it today, we were hoping to seize that opportunity.

Around 10:00 A.M. I checked on the Bolton Valley Web Cam to get a sense for how much the snow had softened, and I could still see a sheen out there on the slopes of the Butterscotch Terrain Park, so I knew it wasn’t quite time to head up just yet.  Stephen also called us on his cell phone to let us know about the conditions – he was on the mountain and agreed that the slopes weren’t quite softened to that point of perfection.  I’d actually just seen Stephen on the web cam, and was able to look at him in the image while we talked on the phone.  We were certainly enjoying the convenience afforded by the new technology that the resort has added to the base area.  Stephen let us know that the resort was pretty busy, and with the parking lots getting full, he was unsure whether or not we’d have to park down in the Timberline lot.

As we approached midday, the fog in the valley had burned off, the weather was looking pleasant, and it was time to head up to the mountain.  We were still torn on which ski gear to bring for the boys – I wanted to give them the chance to tackle the steep, and presumably soft, bumps on Spillway with their alpine skis, but we definitely wanted to capitalize on that eagerness to work on the Telemark turns.  In the end, we brought both sets of equipment, and we figured we’d play it by ear once we’d seen how things looked on the mountain.  We ended up with a good spot in the parking lot; we’d basically gone late enough in the day that some people were leaving and spots were opening up.

An image of a couple of young children playing in the water in a spring drainage runnel at the base of Bolton Valley Ski Area in Vermont
Fun in the melting snow for a couple of young Bolton Valley visitors

Since the boys were keen on getting in some Telemark skiing, we ultimately jumped on that opportunity and decided to have them go with their Telemark gear instead of alpine.  We made several runs off the Mid Mountain Lift to get the ball rolling, and we had a good time coaching the boys with their turns.  We worked on aspects such as fore-aft weighting and leg positioning, and tried to keep them from sitting back too far.  Ty was really starting to self diagnose some of the issues himself, which was very helpful in making improvements.  We stuck to mostly Bear Run for the consistent moderate pitch for learning, but also did a couple of Beech Seal runs to increase the challenge, and a Sherman’s Pass run from the top for variety.

I shot various video clips throughout the runs we took, getting a chance to try out E’s new Canon PowerShot ELPH 510 HS camera.  Her old Canon PowerShot SD700 IS from several years ago finally had to be retired from regular service since there was a crack in the LCD screen that made it unviewable, but it had served us quite well and we went back for a new one in the same series.  In the five years since we got her last camera there have naturally been some huge improvements in the technology.  This new Canon has a touch screen, a 12.1 megapixel sensor, which is twice what her old one had, a 12X optical zoom versus only 4X before, and most importantly for today’s ski outing, her new camera shoots full HD 1080p video.

An image of the sign indicating the requirement for shirts and shoes at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery

We took a mid afternoon food break when the boys needed it, and started out on the main deck beside the James Moore Tavern, where table service was an option.  We quickly decided to move on though because it was so sunny and hot, and instead headed down to the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery to sit outside on the covered deck.  We got some snacks and drinks and started out sitting on some milk crates from the huge stack that they had at the east end of the deck, but the picnic table quickly cleared and we commandeered that.  We weren’t even sure if the boys were going to want to go back out on the slopes, since working on Telemark turns in substantially more tiring that just ripping laps on the alpine skis, but we had time to rest and discuss the session we’d just had.  Ty said that his toes were definitely getting worked, and that’s something that I’ve experienced when first getting up on those toes for extended periods of Tele turns.

An image of the exterior of the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery in the village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Outside the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery this afternoon

The boys were actually able to rest up enough that they wanted to go back out and make some additional runs.  E and I were certainly excited about that, so we quickly got ourselves back out to main base area.  While on the Mid Mountain Chair, I invented a way to use all the soft corn snow that was accumulating on the tops of our skis.  I made snowballs from it and attempted to throw them hit the chair in front of us, which contained combinations of E, Ty, and Dylan depending on who sat with whom.  All the chairs are moving at the same pace of course, so one doesn’t lose target distance in that regard, but it’s much harder to get a snowball to reach the chair in front of you than you might initially think.  It’s a challenge to throw from a seated position, and, the chair in front of you is often elevated relative to the one that you are on.  After many trials, I was finally able to hit a chair containing Ty and Dylan when E was away using the restroom.  I eventually discovered that the spacing of the chairs on the Mid Mountain Chair is far from consistent – I was able to hit the back of chair 25 from chair 24 because they are quite close, but many other chairs were farther apart.

We had a greater focus on Beech Seal in that second session, and I was able to work on my own Telemark turns in the leftover ruts from the race course.  That was quite challenging because the ruts were almost like the corners of a bobsled track by that point, and you were really locked into taking that fixed, fairly aggressive line.  It was indeed a pretty challenging line, but by my last run I was really starting to get it.  You had to hang on, carve hard, and have confidence that you were going to hold through the entirety of the sharp arc.  I was amazed that the boys were trying it with Telemark turns as well, but they clearly wanted to see what it was like, and could manage in the flatter sections of the course where the turns weren’t as aggressive.

It was well after 5:00 P.M. before we finally called it quits, but it was hard to pull away from such a beautiful day with temperatures in the 50s F.  I love how the mountain keeps things running a little later take advantage of their western exposure and the long lasting spring sunshine.  The boys definitely made a lot of progress on their Telemark turns though, so the whole afternoon was worth it even beyond the chance to simply be outside on the slopes.  It sounds like we could be in for quite a warm one this week, with some temperatures in the valleys getting up near the 80 F mark, so we’ll really have to hope that the slopes can handle some melting if that forecast comes to fruition.

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