The Vermont ski areas received up to a foot of new snow in the past 24 hours, with the highest totals in the northern half of the state, and a lot of variability up and down the spine. Morning snow showers began to clear out to blue skies, as temperatures sat in the mid 20s F in the valleys and upper teens in the higher elevations. Winds were strong in the morning, and the Bolton Valley snow report indicated that the Vista Quad was on wind hold, but all the other lifts slated to open looked like they would be on time. We got a call from Stephen indicating that he was up at the mountain with Helena, and that things were a little crazy since all the weekly ski programs were back in action this weekend.
Upon dropping in and seeing
what lay before them, both
boys were off like a shot,
with Dylan proclaiming “This
is our winter wonderland!”
We eventually got the boys motivated to head up to the mountain in the late morning, and while the parking lots were filling up, after I dropped E and the boys off at the village circle I got a rather neat parking spot. The main tiers were full and the attendants were starting to fill those other nooks and crannies, and they parked me and another vehicle right along the entrance road near the Courtside 1 Condos. The spots were sort of created due to the way the plowing was done, and I can definitely say it was the first time I’ve every parked in such a unique spot. In any event, it meant that from the car it was a pretty quick shot right up to the lodge.
E and the boys had stopped in the ski shop to purchase a couple of gifts for upcoming birthdays, and then I met them out near the Vista Quad. Any congestion from the weekly ski programs was gone, because there were no queues and we headed right to the Vista Summit. Winds had been rather insignificant at the base, but they picked up a little in the higher elevations. We could see that the summit areas looked rather wind scoured, but for our descent we checked out Hard Luck Lane and hung to the left to see if we could catch some soft snow. There was a little soft stuff, but between the blowing wind and the hard scoured snow it was still “loud skiing”, as E put it. We shot down onto Hard Luck, and the snow was still wind scoured and firm for another couple hundred feet before we started getting into protected terrain. Then things started to get nice; we began finding soft snow and powder along the edges of the trail, and once we descended a bit more we cut through the trees to get over to Show Off to even more protected terrain that I expected to yield some excellent turns. The trees were just choked with bottomless powder, and in terms of snow quality it was really night and day from up in the exposed on piste areas. The bottom half of Show Off held excellent snow that featured anywhere from a few to several inches of powder over a soft base. Ty had fun jumping off the side of Little Rock, one of his favorite spots. We slid into the powder along the Sherman’s Pass/Show Off intersection, and then caught the Vista Quad Lift Line and terrain park below Mid Mountain. There were just a couple of spots where coverage was bit thin on the lift line, but it’s really progressed in the past week or two to a point that you don’t have to worry about avoiding anything. Ty and Dylan discovered that the Jungle Jib was open with features (including the new “Oil Can” oil tank jump) so they couldn’t get enough of that.
Dylan called for the Mid Mountain Chair on the next run, and we got to check out the Enchanted Forest where we found top notch packed powder and powder off to the edges. A quick measurement of the powder depth there on the lower mountain revealed 14” above the previous packed layer. The Enchanted Forest was definitely a good choice below Mid Mountain.
I convinced the boys to head to Snowflake next, thinking that we’d either the Butterscotch Terrain Park, which was still without terrain features and open for powder skiing, or perhaps the Bonus Woods. Finding just one track in the Bonus Woods, we headed right through there and caught some great snow. Upon dropping in and seeing what lay before them, both boys were off like a shot, with Dylan proclaiming “This is our winter wonderland!”
We had time for one more run before Ty needed to head off to a birthday party, but Dylan’s hands and feet were getting a bit cold, so he headed inside with E while Ty and I took the last run together. Ty wanted a Vista run, specifically to hit Alta Vista, which is one of his favorite trails. Unlike many of the high elevation spots, Alta Vista was well protected from the westerly winds, and the skier’s left offered up great soft turns on packed snow as well as some powder. I was amazed that people hadn’t been in there yet – Ty had definitely made a good call. We dropped in and out of the powder on that left side, all the way down to Sherman’s. I showed Ty Schuss, and a nice untracked line through the trees that he could hit. He had to get through a branch in there, and like a true tree skier her put those hands up to protect his head and face while he blasted through. Schuss had a few slick spots at the top where it was more exposed, but it had filled in nicely in the bottom half. We traversed our way off Sherman’s Pass over to Show Off, right at the level of Big Rock/Little Rock, and Ty was very impressed with how I’d managed to get us over there. We finished off that run with another pass through The Enchanted Forest/Jungle Jib.
We were totally out of synch with Stephen and Helena today, since they were just going into the lodge for a break when we first spotted them, but at least E and Dylan got to see them when they headed to the lodge. Although we felt as though we’d arrived somewhat late, the unloading area in the Village Circle was absolutely mobbed with people arriving around 12:45 P.M. as we were leaving. Those folks may have been coming for an afternoon or twilight session, but either way, it looked like the mountain was getting a full slate of visitors. Parking spots were at a premium and we had someone waiting for ours as we packed up the car. We even saw that they were parking cars down at Timberline and the shuttle was running.
From what I’ve read on the Bolton Valley Facebook Page, it sounds like the mountain is shooting for having the mechanical issues addressed to enable opening of the Timberline Quad next Saturday, January 12th. A lot of people are going to enjoy having lift access to that terrain, although it does mean it won’t be quite the perpetual powder playground it has been the past couple of weeks. On that note, our next storm is on the way and snow is supposed to be building in tomorrow with some potentially nice accumulations for the local mountains.