Bolton Valley, VT 28APR2013

An image looking down the Spillway trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont on a sunny spring afternoon
Enjoying the descent of Spillway today in the afternoon sunshine

We’ve had some decent temperatures to get the corn snow cycle going over the past week, and this weekend has been much better than last weekend in terms of warming up the snow on the slopes.  Yesterday was pretty nice in terms of weather, but today was even warmer, and the sky was crystal clear.  In terms of the mountain snowpack, Stowe is looking great down to pretty low elevations based on Powderfreak’s latest pictures, but I know the snow at Bolton Valley isn’t going to last as long due to its western exposure and late-day heating.  With that in mind, I decided to make it a Bolton tour today, and since I haven’t been up since my April 14th tour at Timberline, it was a good time to check on the snow situation at the local hill.

“I actually found some of
the smoothest snow, or
more accurately softest
snow, on Beech Seal…”

I headed up in the late afternoon, with valley temperatures around 70 F.  There’s no visible snow along the Bolton Valley Access Road until one reaches the 1,500’ elevation, where there’s a big patch at the base of the Timberline area.  There’s really not much snow visible on the Timberline trails below the 2,250’ elevation though, and I suspect most of what is there is leftover manmade snow.  After passing Timberline, I next saw natural snow appearing a bit below the 2,000’ elevation as I approached the Village.  Temperatures were in the low 60s F up at the main base area, and on the slopes in that area there’s snow right down to the main base lodge, but it’s not continuous on all trails.  I had to walk a couple hundred feet in the flats above the lodge before I could put on my skins and ascend Beech Seal.  From there on up though, the snow is basically continuous on Beech Seal, Sprig O’ Pine, Sherman’s Pass, and Spillway right to the Vista Summit.  I took the Sherman’s Pass ascent, and there is some pretty dirty snow in protected areas that haven’t seen much sun.  That sun was glorious today though, and I definitely brought along the sunscreen because we’re talking about an August-like sun angle now.  On the upper half of the mountain, there’s actually a good mix of manmade and natural snow options, although the trails that received manmade snow are the ones that will really give you those continuous runs with good snow coverage.  I stopped my ascent at the Vista Summit right beyond the top of Spillway Lane, ripped off my skins, and got into descent mode.  There was just the slightest breeze, but the wind turbine was making good use of it and spinning along.

There are some sun cups starting to form that make the snow surface uneven in spots, but Spillway has smooth options just about everywhere so you can get in some really nice turns.  Spillway’s steep pitch felt good as usual, and the snow is indeed nice after this week’s corn cycling.  I actually found some of the smoothest snow, or more accurately softest snow, on Beech Seal; perhaps the lower elevation let it warm a bit more than what’s up on Spillway.  In any event, the softening was far superior to what we experienced last weekend on either Saturday or Sunday – those temperatures were just a bit to cool to get things to where I found them today at Bolton.  At the bottom of my run, I took off my skis and threw them back on my pack to walk through the couple big broken patches of snow in the flats above the lodge, but you can essentially ski all of the ~1,000’ of vertical on the main mountain for now.  There’s no snow or even cool temperatures in the forecast this week; it looks fairly mild and sunny, so I’m not sure what the situation will be on the mountain next weekend.  There will still be snow for skiing, but I don’t think it will be continuous with the melting that could take place in the sunny, warm afternoons we look to have on tap in the coming days.

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