Bolton Valley, VT 14APR2013

An iamge of the Timberline Lodge sign at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow falling at Timberline today

We had a family gathering through early afternoon today, but in the mid to late afternoon, I headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour.  Up to that point we’d had on and off bouts of precipitation in the valley, often showers mixed with sleet, but no notable accumulation other than transient stuff.  Temperatures were in the mid 40s F in the 300’-500’ elevation range along the bottom of the Winooski Valley as I headed westward toward Bolton; we’d had breaks of sun among the clouds and precipitation, and I was preparing for some fairly soft and slushy spring turns up on the hill.  Since I never pulled them out yesterday at Stowe, I’d even brought my fat skis to evaluate how they’d perform in the soft stuff.  A lot of people seem to like the way they smooth out the mushy stuff, but I’m still curious about how well that works.

An image of the entrance to the Ponds event area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont showing a lit street lamp in the afternoon in April due to cloudiness and snowfall
A dark, November feel today

Precipitation was pretty sparse as I headed up the Bolton Valley Access Road, and while there’s patchy snow all the way up out of the valley, consistent natural snowpack really didn’t appear until roughly the 1,500’ elevation at the Timberline Base.  Temperatures had dropped into the upper 30s F by that elevation, and light snow was falling.  It was mid to late afternoon, but it was actually pretty dark with the clouds around, and more of them appeared to be building in from the west.  Based on the available light, it actually felt like a typical November outing in the mountains.

“The snow was
good on the
whole descent…”

On the slopes, the snow wasn’t really the mushy spring snow that the valley temperatures had given me the impression I’d find; I think the temperatures and/or available sunlight really weren’t high enough to support that.  Instead what I found was the couple inches of wet snow/sleet that we’ve picked up from these latest storms, sitting atop the base.  The subsurface was still fairly soft and spring-like, presumably due to the recent rounds of wet precipitation percolating some moisture down in there.  The intensity of the snowfall was fairly light on the ascent, although I could see squalls around off to the west.  There was one off to the south, and another more ominous-looking one off to the north, they were both starting to devour the views of the Adirondacks and it looked like the spine of the Greens was in their path.

Up around the Timberline Mid Station at 2,250’, the surface snow began to have a bit more coalesced consistency relative to what was below.  The temperature was approaching the freezing mark, and it appeared to be due to a combination of elevation and some cooler air coming in with the approaching weather.  I topped out at the Timberline Summit at 2,500’, and the temperature by that point was either below freezing or very close – the trees still held snow from the recent storms.

An image showing ski tracks on the Brandywine Trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Brandywine Tracks

After starting down Upper Brandywine, I was about to head back toward the Timberline Mid Station, when I saw that there was a lot of good untracked snow farther down on Brandywine, so I followed that less traditional route.  The coverage was actually quite good, and although I don’t follow that route as often, I’m realizing that it’s got more of a northerly aspect than the slopes below the mid station.  I think it’s going to be a good route to use in more marginal situations of coverage or sun exposure.  The snow was good on the whole descent, transitioning from that stronger, peel-away stuff in the higher elevations, to a wetter consistency down low.  I was amazed at how much be  It was very much like what we experienced yesterday at Stowe up to the midday hour before the freezing level rose up above the summit of the Fourrunner Quad.  There are certainly areas starting to develop bare patches at Timberline, but if you wanted you could ski natural snow terrain all the way down to the Timberline Base; that’s pretty decent for west-facing terrain down at those low elevations this time of year.

The precipitation that had been looming off to the west finally pushed its way over the ridge and into the valley as I was switching out of my ski gear at the car.  In typical Bolton Valley style, it came strong, and it was snowfall that meant business.  It wasn’t quite the whiteout that I saw in Powderfreak’s Stowe pictures, I think in part because the flakes weren’t as large (probably about ½” max in diameter), but a decent wall of snow came in and made its presence known.

If that snow had been rain, it would have been pouring, and indeed I was able to watch that transition as I descended back down the access road.  The snow stayed with me down to around the 500’ elevation, and finally mixed out to just a pouring rain.  That rain followed me through the lower elevations of the Winooski Valley, and then by the time I got up a bit higher back at that house along the Waterbury/Bolton line, snow was mixing back in.  Checking the radar a little while later, it showed a nice shot of moisture making its way through the Winooski Valley.

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