Bolton Valley, VT 24MAR2017

An image of Ty night skiing in a snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Fresh snow under the lights tonight at Bolton Valley

There’s a frontal boundary spread across New England right now, and up here in Northern Vermont we’re on the cold side.  That’s given us a decent amount of fresh snow today, especially in the mountains where more than a half foot has fallen in some cases.  Bolton Valley was already reporting 4 to 6 inches of new snow as of mid-afternoon, so Ty and I decided to head up to check it out and grab some dinner for the family.

“…the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it.”

It was surprisingly quiet for such a spectacular night skiing evening, but I suspect concerns about the roads kept a lot of people home.  There’s definitely been some mixed precipitation around, but the precipitation was mostly snow while we were up at the mountain.  Flakes varied from granular types all the way up to massive 1” aggregates, and the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it.  Tonight looked like it was one of those evenings where weather conditions were coming together to make for some great turns under the lights, and indeed that was the case – the temperature was right around 32, there was no wind, and there was lots of fresh snow.

An image of snowfall at the Vista Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
At times we had some huge flakes tonight at Bolton Valley

Ty and I focused on Spillway, and it was great letting those steep turns fall away in the dense powder.  I brought my Tele midfats, but I definitely could have gone with the full fats and had a blast.  It’s no wonder the skiing felt like there had been such a solid resurfacing; we’re already past ¾” of liquid equivalent with today’s snow down in the valley at our house, and up high they’ve certainly had more.

Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 19MAR2017

An iimage of Dylan descending Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan makes his way down Profanity Chute today

With the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake back around the 100-inch mark, it was finally time to bring my BJAMS ski group up into the Mansfield alpine for our weekly Sunday session.  My initial plan was a run down Profanity Chute with a return toward Chin Clip, followed by a trip to the Outer Planets.  Nolan wasn’t going to be with me since he was still in the process of returning from Montreal, but fortunately Rick was going to join us and that gave me a second adult.  With Rick’s added knowledge of the area, I felt comfortable enough to kick things up a notch and bring the boys to the Hell Brook Trail for the bottom part of the run.

An image of Dylan skiing Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
More Dylan action in Profanity Chute

The weather forecast was also a big part of opting for the alpine today – highs up around 4,000’ were expected to be in the 20s F and wind was supposed to be minimal.  The Climbing Gully was in great shape, with lots of snow and one of the best boot ladders I’ve seen.  The March sun had done some work on slopes with southern aspects, but up high the effects seemed to be pretty minimal – the packed snow in Profanity Chute was quite wintry, and there was some nice powder still available in the open area on the right side of the chute.  I wish I’d had the camera out for when Rick skied that because the powdery turns looked fantastic.

We cut left following the normal Profanity route, and then traversed below the east face of The Chin containing the Hourglass Chute and connected to the Hell Brook Trail.  The north-facing aspects in the Hell Brook area held some fantastic snow, but surface conditions deteriorated the more southerly the aspect.  At times we had to ski some of those more southerly-oriented aspects, so that made for some very challenging turns on either crusty snow or powder with a sun crust on it.  But the boys all did quite well on what is a very challenging run that simply goes on, and on, and on.  By the time we traversed back to Gondola and headed over to Spruce Camp we’d covered over 5.5 miles and 2,900’ of vertical.

A map showing the ski route taken on a tour of Profanity Chute and the Hell Brook Trail above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of our ski tour today mapped onto Google Earth

Although there are roughly 100 inches of snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake right now, I don’t think coverage on Profanity was quite where it was on our last visit with the kids a couple of seasons ago.  With Winter Storm Stella we really just made back the snow that had settled or melted during the previous couple of weeks, so the snowpack doesn’t seem to have quite the coverage of a 100-inch pack that grew throughout the full season.  In any event, there’s a lot of snow up in the high elevations and things look good for the slopes heading into spring.

Bolton Valley, VT 18MAR2017

An image of Erica Telemark skiing chopped up snow on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Back out on the slopes of Bolton Valley for another beautiful day

We finally had the chance to get the whole family together today for some turns, so we headed up to Bolton Valley around midday.  We’d planned to head to Timberline, but as it turned out the resort was asking people to park there anyway because the upper lots had filled up.  The weather was much like yesterday, with clear skies and temperatures in the upper 20s F, so lots of people were interested in getting out to ski.  It’s actually pretty impressive to have such a large number of people visiting the slopes this late in the season, so that should be good news for the resort.

We made our way to the Vista Summit and then took a run down Cobrass and ventured into the Villager Trees.  The condition of the snow remained excellent thanks to temperatures staying consistently below freezing.  There was still plenty of powder skiing off piste, and the boys spent some time jumping into the powder from some of their favorite ledges.

Heading back to Timberline we found lots of partially cut up powder still left on the lower half of Tattle Tale – Dylan had decided to use his Telemark skis today, and he really ripped it up on that snow.  The lower reaches of Timberline were getting a bit affected by the sun, and we found this to be the case on Twice as Nice.  It hadn’t been groomed, so it was skier packed, but there was lots of terrain contour still present.  Dylan struggled with his Telemark turns on that surface, so for the bottom half of the run he and I switched over to the groomed surface of Showtime and he fared much better.

An image of Dylan having skied backwards into a bunch of chairs outside the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan… of course!

Around 2:30 P.M. or so we stopped in at South of Solitude for some food, but they’d clearly had a lot of patrons today because they were just about out of everything.  They put together some plates of burrito and taco ingredients along with tortilla chips for us for a reduced price of $6 and that worked out really well.  The mountain was definitely humming with business today.

Bolton Valley, VT 17MAR2017

An image of Ty taking a huge jump off the railing of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut into deep powder below at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Making more use of all the great powder left by Winter Storm Stella

The boys and I had a field trip this morning, but we were done with enough time left to make it to Bolton Valley for a short photo session with some of the resort staff.  Indeed today was a great one for ski photography – there was plenty of snow from Winter Storm Stella, clear blue skies, and temperatures in the upper 20s F.

We met Josh at his office, and he let us know that we’d be working with Tucker and Kyler today.  The plan was to get some shots over at Wilderness with the afternoon views, and we started with some scenic photos from the deck of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut.  After the photos, we still needed to wait for another family to arrive up top, so the boys promptly decided to make use of the deep powder sitting just below the deck by launching themselves into it.  Some of the folks coming up on the lift felt that it looked like so much fun that they joined in as well.  By the time everyone was together it was just about time to shut down the Wilderness Lift, and we watched as they put the “Last Chair” sign in place.

An image of Tucker and Kyler viewing the Adirondacks from atop the Wilderness Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Wilderness Summit today

Our photo session took place on Peggy Dow’s and the Wilderness Lift Line, and the guys generally did shots of trios of skiers with background scenery.  Once we were done I asked the boys if they wanted to take any more runs, but they said they were good based on the anticipation of skiing more over the coming weekend.  Hopefully we’ll have the time this weekend to get the whole family out together for some turns in all the great snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16MAR2017

An image of the Adam's Solitude trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A visit to the Adam’s Solitude trail at Bolton Valley to check out the 58 inches left by Winter Storm Stella

Snow totals from Winter Storm Stella were in excess of four feet at the resorts of the Northern Green Mountains, and Bolton Valley topped the list with an impressive 58 inches.  It wasn’t just the mountains that made out well from this storm cycle though, it left 41 inches of snow at our house, which trumped the 2007 Valentine’s Day Storm to become the largest storm we’ve recorded since we moved here.

Not wanting to miss the chance to check out all that new snow up at the mountain, I headed up to catch a few runs this morning.  The potency of the storm was immediately evident as I saw some of the vehicles that had been parked in the Village parking lots over the past couple of days – they were buried in deep drifts, and some were barely visible.

An image of a car, barely visible under drifted snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There is a car in there somewhere.

“ I stuck my measurement pole into the powder up top there and it went all the way up to the handle – that’s a depth somewhere north of 40 inches.”

I got in line for the opening of the Vista Quad, but the lift operator felt that it was going to be on wind hold for a bit, so I headed up Snowflake and was happy to find that Timberline was already open.  On the way over I cut the traverse over to Tattle Tale, and with two to three feet of snow in the way it took a good deal of effort.  I found Tattle Tale untracked, and the powder very deep.  There were also pockets of super light powder scattered among slightly denser snow, and when you hit one of those pockets, any support you found in the powder would simply disappear as if the floor was dropping out on you.  I had on the fattest skis I own, with 115 mm width at that waist, and even that couldn’t stop the free fall in that snow.  On my first encounter with one of those pockets, I quickly went over the handle bars on my Tele skis and had to extract myself from the deep powder.  The snow was so deep that even with my fat skis combined with the steepest pitches, I had to straight-line it.  I didn’t get to make many turns there, but it was definitely a neat experience.

An image of the handle of a ski pole showing powder more than 40 inches deep at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm StellaI stayed at Timberline the entire morning, and found great turns on Twice as Nice.  It was actually nice as the powder started to get chopped up a bit, because you could keep plenty of momentum going to hop in and out of the untracked areas.  The turns were simply fantastic all around though; Winter Storm Stella definitely provided one of the more thorough resurfacings I’ve witnessed around here.  Since the storm dropped over 2 inches of liquid equivalent down at our house, you know the mountains were well above that.  I did a run on Adam’s Solitude, and it was my first visit there in quite a long time.  I opted for the Secret Solitude option, and got first tracks down one of the lines with a number of small cliffs.  At the top of that section I contoured across the hill, and with the pitch of the slope, the powder was up to my shoulder.  Adam’s Solitude is famous for catching some well-protected powder, and the depth was very impressive.  I stuck my measurement pole into the powder up top there and it went all the way up to the handle – that’s a depth somewhere north of 40 inches.  After seeing that, I knew I could just straight line my way right down through the ledges, and that was indeed one of those lines where the snow is just up and over your shoulders.

By the time the morning was over, the Tele turns had cooked my legs and my body was craving some food, so I stopped in for a burrito at South of Solitude.  I kicked back and did some browsing on my phone while I ate, which seemed to be a popular option for the handful of folks populating the lodge. The Vista Quad was running by the time I got back to the main base, but my legs had definitely had their workout, so I skied down to the car and headed out.

An image of Telemark ski boots in the back of a car at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Packing up the gear and away we go… until next time.

In general, most areas I found offered up powder in the 24 to 30-inch range, similar to what we found at Stowe Yesterday.  There are no major warm-ups in the near future, so we should have some excellent conditions going into the weekend.

Stowe, VT 15MAR2017

An image of Ty skiing in deep powder up and around his shoulders and head at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Ty and I experienced a lot of this today at Stowe Mountain Resort thanks to Winter Storm Stella

After some simply fantastic ski conditions during the first half of February, temperatures warmed up in the Northeastern U.S. and everything changed.  The result was actually some nice days of spring skiing, but as temperatures cooled back down and no winter storms with substantial snow came through the area, conditions were just generally hard and crusty.  It’s amazing that it took until mid-March to really get the ski conditions back on track, but boy did they come back in a big way thanks to one heck of system named Winter Storm Stella.

“As one would expect, the skiing was simply fantastic – surface powder depths we found were typically 18 to 24 inches, with sheltered spots hitting 30 inches.”

Some of the biggest nor’easters are actually picked up fairly early on the weather models.  These very large storms are associated with an alignment of such prominent weather features that they produce a signal that the models can really key in on.  That was the case with Winter Storm Stella.  The buildup was impressive on the weather boards and in the national media, and although it didn’t deliver massive amounts of snow to the big coastal cities in the Northeastern U.S., areas farther inland (such as Northern Vermont and Upstate New York) made out like gangbusters.  Reports were coming in of over 40 inches of snow in Upstate New York, and the Vermont resorts.

Unfortunately Dylan was a bit under the weather today with a cold, and while he was bummed to miss out on some great powder, he probably made the right decision to stay home and rest up with the way he felt.  Although he could stay home alone, E felt that if she was home with him he’d do a much better job of taking care of himself.  So, Ty and I headed off alone to Stowe for some turns this morning.

“We’re talking white vest-wearing, powder cascading over the shoulders deep.”

It was still snowing steadily at the house when we left, but the roads weren’t bad because the plows were out working hard.  In terms of snow accumulations and snowfall rates around the area, they tapered off somewhat as we headed from the house to Waterbury and Waterbury Center, and surprisingly, snowfall rates dropped to just flurries along the Stowe/Waterbury line.  That was the nadir in terms of snowfall intensity, and then it gradually ramped back up as we headed through Stowe Village and up to the mountain.

We decided to focus on the Gondola terrain today, so we parked in the Midway area, and got suited up in the Midway Lodge.  There were very few people in the lodge at that point, which was probably a good sign with respect to crowds.  At the Gondi, the lift queue was a few minutes long, but that’s really not bad for such a storm day.

As one would expect, the skiing was simply fantastic – surface powder depths we found were typically 18 to 24 inches, with sheltered spots hitting 30 inches.  This storm gave the whole resort quite an impressive resurfacing.  We started off with Waterfall, and then headed to Gondolier and eventually we found ourselves on Ravine.  That’s where we started getting into the untracked powder, and boy was it deep.  We’re talking white vest-wearing, powder cascading over the shoulders deep.  It was actually pretty easy to get buried in the snow if you fell, so we were definitely watching out for each other.

An image of deep snow on a picnic table at the Midway Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont

We’d skipped breakfast to save time, with the intention of getting it at the Midway Lodge.  So, we stopped in quickly for a couple of really good breakfast sandwiches, and then got right back into some additional Gondola runs.  We actually spent a lot of time over by Perry Merrill skiing the powder along the sides of the trail and exploring new terrain along the edge of the Hazelton Zone.  We found a lot of untracked shots, and I pulled out the camera for some of our favorites.  On our last run Ty blasted me with a massive wall of powder and covered everything, my clothes, my camera, my open bag, all of it.  He described what I looked like all covered in white with my mouth agape.

An image of Ty skiing deep powder in the Hazelton Zone at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm Stella

We stopped to grab some sandwiches for lunch on the way home at Edelweiss Mountain Deli, one of Ty’s favorite options.  I could tell that it continued to snow at home because I’d check on our web cam while riding the Gondola, and watched it as the snow got so deep that all the camera could see was white.  The settled snow on the deck is now deeper than the level of my web cam, but I pulled away some snow and adjusted the angle so the settled height of the snow is once again visible.

As of this evening, we’re approaching 40 inches of accumulation at the house, and earlier, Jay Peak was already reporting 72 inches of accumulation, so Winter Storm Stella has been quite the event around here.