Bolton Valley, VT 06FEB2014

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley
Some of the great powder out there today at Bolton Valley

Yesterday’s snowstorm finished up with a few more inches overnight, bringing the local ski area storm totals to the 9-12” range.  Just as important though, was the amount of liquid that the snow held, and based on the fact that we received 0.56” of liquid equivalent at our house, and Mt. Mansfield picked up at least 0.60”, Bolton Valley should have been well above the half inch mark.  An inch or two of liquid equivalent would have been even better, but even a half inch is more than we’ve had in recent storms.

The amount of liquid in the snow seemed substantial enough that I decided to see how Timberline was skiing this morning.  The last time I’d looked, it wasn’t quite there, but after our past couple of storms, plus somewhere near 9 inches of additional snow from this latest one, it was worth a look.  As I parked at the Timberline Base, I met another couple of skiers who had just come down from a run, and were preparing to go back up for another one after a quick break.  When I asked about the snow, one of them said, “It’s @#$%(#$%^ awesome!”  I took that as a good sign.

I followed an excellent skin track up Twice as Nice, and generally found 9 to 10 inches of settled powder.  However, in the lowest elevations there was often little to no base below that snow.  I hate to say it, but rolling the trail with a snow cat would probably be the best thing to do in terms of preserving the snow, turning it into a base, and getting it ready to support lift-served skiing.  The tracks of previous skiers definitely spoke to the quality of the powder though – it was classing Timberline fluff that had settled nicely with no wind.

I ended up making my descent on Spell Binder, and indeed the snow was awesome, just as that skier had indicated.  The main detractor from the experience was that there just isn’t enough base snow yet to take the steep terrain with reckless abandon.  I found 15 inches of snow atop the Spell Binder headwall, but I had to play it safe on that steep terrain since there are rocks lurking.  So, even with the great snow, that offered champagne on top and a very nice “right side up” density gradient, I have to give the skiing a middle of the road sort of score because of the base.  One more big storm and some settling of what’s out there now, and Timberline will probably be ready for some lift served skiing.  Actually, the resort was planning to open at least the main snowmaking routes over there today, so a lot of the area should be ready to go if more snow comes.

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