Bolton Valley, VT 22DEC2012

An image of the edge of the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the edge of Alta Vista today

The back side snow of our current storm cycle was starting up right around 6:00 A.M. this morning when I was making my CoCoRaHS observations, and it continued at a steady, albeit light pace through the morning.  Knowing that yesterday’s mixed precipitation left some variable surfaces on the slopes, I waited until around mid morning to let the accumulations get going, and then headed up for some turns.  On my way up the Bolton Valley Access Road, I stopped in at the Timberline Base (1,500’) to check the depth of the new snow; I found 2” there, then roughly 3” up in the Village (2,100’).  It actually wasn’t too busy at the mountain, with about three rows of the main lot filled.

“The skier’s left of Alta Vista
yielded some excellent turns – it
wasn’t untracked powder, but it
was a good combination of new
snow along with what skiers
had pushed over there.”

It was basically walk-on at the Vista Quad so I headed up with the intention of checking out Alta Vista and going in the direction of Wilderness.  The skier’s left of Alta Vista yielded some excellent turns – it wasn’t untracked powder, but it was a good combination of new snow along with what skiers had pushed over there.  I did touch down to a firmer surface below, but you could tell that it was one of those thick, spongy sort of crust layers as opposed to an ice sheet.  Checking in protected areas, it seemed like the upper mountain had picked up about 4” of new snow by that point.  I boogied over to Wilderness to check out the snow conditions there, and as I dropped in elevation I could tell that the snowpack had taken more of a hit due to more warming.  Underlying surfaces were a bit firmer, and of course the new powder a bit less, so the turns on chopped up powder weren’t quite as good.  In addition, the westerly wind was whipping its way right up the trail, so that was taking away a lot of the snow.  The sides of the trail were well protected and yielded at least some decent powder turns, even if I was typically touching down on my RT-86s.  There was certainly a part of me that wanted to see how the AMPerages would float, but I figured it was good to get the RT-86s out and give the AMPerages a go in what’s expected to be a bigger powder day tomorrow.

An image of snow-covered evergreens along the edge of the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Wintry views off Alta Vista today

I next explored Cobrass on the other end of the main mountain, which was open on 100% natural snow with an “Experts Only” sign.  Coverage was easily sufficient, and the only detraction was encounters with that firm layer.  In the higher elevations it was sufficient to support skiing in the powder on top of it, but below mid mountain you could punch through so you had to be on your guard.  In many spots you could tell that the conditions were the sort where turns were great in some of the fresh powder, or in areas that had seen plenty of skier traffic that had pulverized the thick layer back to packed powder, but those in-between areas created a challenge.  That run led me down onto Cobrass Run, where there were more good powder turns as long as you didn’t get on terrain that was so steep that you’d punch through the thick layer.

I decided on one more run to explore the central part of the main mountain, hitting Alta Vista again but finding it not quite as impressive as my first run because other skiers had apparently discovered that left side.  Sherman’s Pass was fine, with some excellent powder turns available along the skiers left down near Hard Luck and Lower Show Off.  I checked out the Enchanted Forest, and coverage was good, but that low on the mountain the new powder was only a few inches, so I was spending a lot of time on the old surface.

“We almost didn’t go to
a Christmas party tonight
because it was snowing
so hard when we were
leaving that we could
only see a couple of
yards in front of us.”

Before leaving I stopped in at ski patrol and picked up my powder pass from Quinn from our summer glade work.  Quinn said that he was very happy that they were able to have Show Off open, because the skier traffic was just what it needed to help keep that snow in place and fend off the effects of the wind.  It looked really good from above when I was riding the lift, but I was thinking I’d hit it tomorrow with a bit more snow.  I stopped in at the retail shop for a bit of last minute shopping with my pass holder discount, and the place was hopping.  I ran into people buying all sorts of gear like goggles, gloves, etc., so hopefully business was good.

I’d say that another inch or so had fallen by the time I left the mountain around lunchtime, but we’ve been getting blitzed with snow tonight here at the house.  We almost didn’t go to a Christmas party tonight because it was snowing so hard when we were leaving that we could only see a couple of yards in front of us.  Fortunately the intense snow tapered off as we headed west out of the mountains, but there was a half a foot of snow on the snowboard by the time I measured after the party, and then after the snowboard was cleared, another couple of inches fell in just that next hour.  That’s another 8 inches of snow here at the house tonight, so it will be interesting to see how much the mountain reports in the morning.

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