As we enter March, the polar vortex continues to flood Northern Vermont with unseasonably cold air. It’s great for preserving the snow, but it’s also pushing synoptic storms southward, and it’s been two weeks since we’ve had a major storm cycle. Fortunately, smaller impulses have rotated their way around the base of the vortex to the tune of roughly one per day over the past week, and thanks to those events, the Northern Greens have picked up almost a foot of snow since Monday. I’d been curious about how the powder was building up off piste with all those little events, but when I saw Powderfreak’s deep pictures from Stowe yesterday, it was obvious that conditions were getting good.
“Conditions were good, with
the only thing keeping them
from being great was that
crust looming below the
E’s sister Tina and her family arrived last night for a visit and some skiing. With Dylan under the weather, they decided to maximize his peace and quiet and stayed at the Best Western in town last night, but stopped in this morning to get together before we headed up to Bolton Valley. We didn’t rush too hard, since we were happy to let the temperatures warm. They’d actually picked the perfect day for skiing with respect to temperatures, because the single digits and teens that the polar vortex has thrown this way all week were finally giving way to temperatures in the 20s F thanks to southerly winds from an approaching storm.
Tim had to rent some equipment, so we started off at the main mountain with a trip down Deer Run from the Mid Mountain Chair. I wanted to make sure that Riley and Nikki were comfortable on the terrain, but they were ripping it up, so we moved right on to the Vista Quad. In the overall scheme of the mountain tour, my plan was to bring them down to the slopes of Timberline, which looked quite nice from what we saw on our drive by this morning, so we hit Cobrass and took the long run all the way to the base of the Timberline Quad. Along the way, we didn’t do a lot of exploring or traversing with Riley and Nikki being on snowboards, but I did bring Tim on one of the crossovers to Spell Binder to check out the snow. They resort had done one pass on Spell Binder with the groomer, but the rest of the trail was powder. The depth of the powder down at that elevation was enough to keep you off the subsurface for a good portion of the turns, but you would definitely touch down on a certain percentage as well. The turns were definitely nice though, and having my fat skis might have made it even better.
Riding the Timberline Quad, we could see plenty of untracked snow on Showtime, so we gave that a shot first. They had a strip of grooming, which was good, because the powder was nowhere near as consistent as what was on Spell Binder. There were areas with 4 to 5 inches of powder, and then areas that looked like powder but were actually just crust with a little snow on top. That made the skiing very tricky there, and it just didn’t seem like it was worth another run. Twice as Nice was a little more protected, so it had some better areas of loose snow among its bumps. I also brought everyone for a trip down Sure Shot to get them all to the powder on Tattle Tale and Spell Binder. It meant that the snowboards had to click out of their boards for the traversing, but the snow was definitely worth it. We had lunch at the Timberline Base Lodge, and it was a quiet scene with a few families at some of the tables. Nikki and Riley really enjoyed their food. I took everyone on an adventure through Wood’s Hole with more powder on Spell Binder after that, and then we headed back to the main mountain.
During the rest of the afternoon we finished the tour by catching the lifts we hadn’t, like Snowflake and Wilderness, with a good run that everyone enjoyed through the Wilderness Woods. We mixed things up near the end of the day with visits to see Tina in the lodge and some runs off Mid Mountain and the Vista Quad. Tim was amazed at how quiet the resort was for a Saturday, and it was quiet, but nothing too atypical. Conditions were good, with the only thing keeping them from being great was that crust looming below the powder. It wasn’t an issue where snow had been groomed, and there was indeed some nice packed powder in spots, but we’ll need a bit more snow to fully bury that crust. We’ve got yet another system coming in tonight, so that will aid in burying that crust deeper still.