An Alberta Clipper hit the New England region yesterday, dropping up to 10 inches of snow in Northern Vermont and continuing the process of covering up surfaces that were hardened by the big mixed precipitation event earlier this week. We had a couple additional rounds of light snow prior to yesterday’s storm, but there still hasn’t been enough new snow to resurface steep, icy terrain. As such, Bolton Valley only has their core set of trails open on the main mountain. I had fun on those trails on Saturday, but it’s still a limited number of options for runs, and with a good amount of new powder available, we decided to earn some turns and get some fresh tracks today. The Wilderness Lift isn’t running yet for the season, so we decided to pay that terrain another visit. Ty, E, and I had a great time there back on November 30th, and with the current firm, icy subsurface, we knew that the moderate pitches and relatively high elevation of the lower Wilderness area trails would be a good bet for powder skiing today.
Now that we’re back into a more consistently wintry weather regime, the Northern Greens snow globe has kicked in, and we’ve had a fairly consistent supply of light fluffy snows in the air. It’s not really substantiating the base snow, but it is creating quite the quintessential Vermont winter scene for holiday visitors, and it’s topping off the slopes with some serious softness. Another burst of flakes was just kicking off when we left the house to head up to the mountain today after lunch, and the snowfall intensity increased as we headed up toward the resort. Up in the Village we encountered temperatures in the low 20s F and steady light but accumulating snows. There were plenty of cars in the parking lots, but since spots were opening up with early afternoon departures, we secured a spot right at the north end of the upper lot.
“The descent was a
peaceful glide through
silky smooth powder,
with only the occasional
touchdown on the old base.”
We headed up to the landing on the northwest corner of the main Village complex, and got our gear ready. Quinn passed through and gave us a heads up on conditions – below the powder was a slick, icy base as we’d suspected. We followed a nice skin track up Lower Turnpike, and there were a few sets of tracks on the trail, but a lot of fresh snow remaining. A couple of guys came down the trail and let us know that the steep upper sections weren’t worth the effort because of the ice, right in line with what our beta was suggesting. Depth checks at the start of the ascent revealed 5-6” of powder, which represents the accumulations from this recent clipper and the couple of small bouts of snow that preceded it.
“…you could really feel the
way the floatation afforded
by our fat skis was letting
us ride a bit higher and
faster in the powder on
those lower-angle pitches.”
We skinned up among steady flakes, enjoying the snowy views of evergreens around us, and when Dylan called for a break ,we stopped at the first crossover to the Wilderness Lift Line at 2,500’. I checked on the conditions on Wilderness Lift Line, and found that it had been hit with wind harder than our last visit – it was clear that although Turnpike had a few tracks, it was the better choice for snow quality. With Ty leading the charge, we continued on up to ~2,750’ before finally putting a halt to the ascent because we were getting into icy, scoured terrain. The snow depth up at the point had increased to roughly 7 inches.
The descent was a peaceful glide through silky smooth powder, with only the occasional touchdown on the old base. The pitch and powder were essentially perfect, although the powder was deep enough that Dylan would sometimes have difficulty keeping his speed up. Dylan’s Telemark skis (Völkl Gotama Juniors) are fairly wide, but nothing like the Black Diamond Elements and AMPerages that E and I were using, and momentum issues aside, you could really feel the way the floatation afforded by our fat skis was letting us ride a bit higher and faster in the powder on those lower-angle pitches. I was curious to see if E had noticed the effect, so I asked her how she felt about the speed of her skis on the descent. She initially thought that they were very fast, and figured it was because they haven’t been used for too many outings and had been waxed. I explained that a good part of that was actually from the floatation that the skis provided. Ty invented a new descent technique where he would kneel all the way on the tips of his skis with both knees, and in the powder it gave the illusion that he was just kneeling in the snow with no skis and flying down the mountain. We’ll have to get some video of that at some point, because it’s quite a hoot.
We ended our descent back at the landing on the northwest corner of the Inn, and discovered that it’s a great spot to be if you want to catch up with what’s going on at the resort. After seeing Quinn at the start of our tour, we ran into Cam and later Josh at the end of the tour. We got to chat about the current state of the conditions, being happy that there are still great options out there for powder, but hoping that we can get some larger storms in here to start building the base. We’re in an OK pattern for maintenance over the next couple of days, and there’s a chance for getting in on snow from a coastal system as we head into Sunday night. We’re certainly a bit fat to the northwest to really jackpot with that storm, but if we can get some base-building synoptic snow out of it, it will really be a step toward terrain expansion.