When Bolton Valley reported another four inches of snow this morning, we knew that we’d be heading up to make some turns. That amount of snow, on top of the four to five inches that I’d found when I visited the mountain yesterday, was definitely going to bring the skiing up a notch. As it turned out, it brought the skiing up several notches and turned it into what was for us, unquestionably the best ski day of the 2014 calendar year. That’s actually not saying much with the way the past few weeks had gone in terms of weather around here, but when Ty gets talking about having to ski blind because there’s too much powder in his face, it’s a sign that conditions are on the mend.
“…when Ty gets talking about
having to ski blind because
there’s too much powder in his
face, it’s a sign that conditions
are on the mend.”
The approach of an arctic front brought an inch and a half of snow to the house overnight, but as the cold air continued to filter in, more snow was wrung out, and we received snowfall of various intensities through the morning. Snow was falling up at the mountain as well, and with updates on the website indicating that new trails were opening, it sounded like conditions were getting better and better. While we had initially started to discuss both skinning and lift-served options for today’s outing, the opening of new terrain sealed the deal in favor of the latter; we knew that meant that the recent accumulations had resulted in substantial changes in coverage. In the end, with so many additional terrain options opening, it was clearly the right choice.
We finally headed up later in the morning to find the parking lot only about half filled, and after dropping E and the boys off at the base of the Snowflake Chair, I quickly got a great spot to park down near the end of one of the top rows with help from one of the parking attendants. I’d spoken with him before, and as I got my gear on, we chatted about how nice it was to have some consistent temperatures back – the past few weeks have been a real roller coaster with systems passing though off to the west, and he said that he had to pack a ridiculous amount of clothes each day just to keep up with the weather. In any event, winter was definitely in place, and as I look around at the falling snow and ski vehicles covered in white, it was a much more familiar look for the Northern Greens in winter.
By the time I got to the base of Snowflake, E and the boys had already completed a couple of runs, and Ty was raving about the conditions. They’d taken Butterscotch, and Ty said that there was powder off to the sides, but even if you didn’t go into the powder, the conditions were great. We hit one more run there, and then boarded the Vista Quad to hit some steeper terrain. We spent the midday hours trying out the steepest available terrain like Spillway, Hard Luck, and then Alta Vista. Not surprisingly, there were some firm surfaces on the middle areas of the trails where manmade snow predominated, but off to the sides where traffic was low, the snow was generally softer and there was plenty of chopped up powder and even untracked powder at times. The skier’s right of Spillway held a lot of great snow over the edge of the trail where the terrain fell away.
After a few runs, E was getting a bit cold, and Dylan was ready for a break, but Ty was just too jazzed to go in. He wanted to stay out with me and shoot some photos, so I told him that I had two specific runs in mind. We kicked things off with a run down Spillway, where he dissected all the potential powdery lines off to the skier’s right, coming up with his own lines and photos that he wanted me to shoot. He was one fire on that steep terrain, taking on everything, even the occasional massive death cookie that got sent that way from the groomers. On our next run we headed over toward Wilderness. Although Swing was roped off, closing the upper entrances, another track was available off Sherman’s that gave us some lower access. I checked the snow depth as we headed over, and found 10 inches of settled powder. The Wilderness Lift Line was in nice shape with plenty of coverage and plenty of powder, and Ty managed some nice face shots.
We stopped in the lodge for some lunch with E and Dylan, and then brought Dylan out for one more run in the powder on Wilderness. They boys got some deep turns on Cougar, followed by a delightful cruise through the powder on Turnpike. Actually, we had to use the tracks of others at times on Turnpike, because the powder is now getting almost too deep for some of the pitches there. The snow had let up, and the sun came out for that final run to really punctuate the day. The coming week is looking quite cold, with single digits for high temperatures, but at least the snow is going to be well preserved for the near future. It was interesting to note what Powderfreak said in the Ski Tread at American Weather – that this week we just managed for the first time in 2014 to have an average snowfall week here in the Northern Greens. With that being the case, an above average week should be really fun.