Bolton Valley, VT 19FEB2018

An image of the Glades Right area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The excellent snow conditions were still out there today at Bolton Valley, as were a lot of untracked areas of powder.

Although today really was the President’s Day holiday, it didn’t feel like it to me because everyone seemed to have to go to school or work anyway.  My plan was to head to the office as well, but being a holiday, it seemed silly to miss out on the fantastic ski conditions that are out there, so I had to stop in at Bolton Valley for a few runs en route.

Today was the third in a string of really nice ski days featuring soft, midwinter snow conditions and temperatures in the upper 20s F at elevation.  You really couldn’t ask for much better timing for all the visitors to the resort over this long holiday weekend.  Figuring that the powder from our recent storms would be pretty tracked out by the plentiful skier traffic from the big weekend, my plan was to just work the legs a bit with a few on piste Telemark runs. 

“…Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”

But, as soon as I started down Vermont 200 I started began to look off piste and saw that there was simply too much good snow out there to resist.  Once I got into the trees I was finding untracked lines everywhere, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my ski session today.

An image of the upper White Rabbit area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching a beautiful untracked line through conifers in the upper part of White Rabbit.

I visited a number of spots that I hadn’t been in quite a while, including places like Glades Right, Snow Hole, and White Rabbit, and the skiing was so good that I had to visit some of them more than once.  I was amazed at how little traffic those places had seen as I glided my way through the powder and thought, “Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”  That’s of course one of the things that makes the mountain so great.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 18FEB2018

An image of Erica skiing in the backcountry area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
For the first time this season the whole family was able to get out for some skiing together, and we were greeted with some fantastic conditions in the Bolton Valley backcountry.

After the good conditions I experienced yesterday on my tour of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, I knew today had some great potential depending on how Winter Storm Noah performed.  It wouldn’t take much to produce some really excellent skiing, and when the numbers finally came in this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow.  That was more than enough for the whole family to get together for a tour.

“The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.”

Although it’s already mid-February, today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family would have a chance to ski together.  It really looked like a beauty though, with close to 10 inches of snow in the past couple of days, temperatures in the upper 20s F, and snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon.  Arriving up at the mountain in the mid-morning timeframe, the resort was really humming with visitors once again.  We were able to get a prime parking spot right along the edge of Broadway, geared up, and we were on our way.

Since I’d like what I found on my tour yesterday, I brought E and the boys on a variation of that trip.  We headed up to Bryant Cabin, stopped for a quick break among about a dozen other backcountry travelers, and then headed on above Gardiner’s Lane as I’d done yesterday.  My skin tracks had just about disappeared with all the new snow overnight, but there were just enough vestiges of my passage to allow me to use my old track as a guide.

An image of Ty in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe descended through a lot of glades I knew well, in addition to a few different lines that we found in our explorations.  There were definitely plenty of good crashes in the powder, especially by Ty who seemed to enjoy the crashes as much as any aspect of the tour.  The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.

A Google Earth map overlayed with GPS tracking data from a ski tour in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map overlayed with GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour

We stopped in for some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery after the tour, and I got a great shot of Ty grappling with his huge sub.  It was great to finally get the whole family out together, and what a day for great ski conditions!

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 17FEB2018

An image of a ski track in powder snow in the backcountry at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Yesterday’s cold front put down some excellent powder in the higher elevations of Bolton Valley

We had some great ski conditions in the area last weekend thanks to a couple of winter storms putting down a solid resurfacing of the slopes.  Ty and I hit some beautiful powder on Saturday at Bolton Valley, and the good snow conditions carried right over to our BJAMS ski program session on Sunday at Stowe.  Some mixed precipitation moved in as the weekend closed out though, potentially setting up some dicey conditions as temperatures cooled back down during the week.  Some new snow would likely be needed to soften up the slopes, but the only real possibility in the forecast was a cold front coming through the area on Friday.  It was only expected to drop an inch or two, but true to form, the resorts along the spine of the Northern Greens managed to reel in a solid four inches.  A subtle but important aspect of the snow that fell was that it started out dense and wet, then gradually dried out.  That held the potential to really bond it to the old snow and actually create a rather soft subsurface that would be great under the new powder.  You never know exactly how the layers are going to come together, but the potential definitely piqued my interest enough for a trip to the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.

“In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.”

We had a morning of blue skies and bright sun, but it was dimming just a bit ahead of incoming Winter Storm Noah as I headed up to the mountain around midday.  Arriving up in the Village, there was no doubt that it was President’s Day weekend – it took me several minutes to get a parking spot even down by the Sport Center and Nordic area because the lots were just jam packed.  Hopefully that’s a great sign that the resort is going to have a great weekend of visitors.  I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out today though – it was simply spectacular out there with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20s F.

“Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.”

My first real sign that there might be some great snow on the hill came as soon as I walked to the back of the car to gear up.  I’d backed into my parking spot and was pleasantly surprised when I had to remove almost a foot of powder to clear a spot so I could get my ski boots on.  The snow had clearly drifted some, but it was obvious that the resort had picked up a good shot of accumulation and I was eager to see what the protected environs of the trees held.

An image of a sign on the Bryant Trail indicating the direction of Bryant Cabin at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontStarting my ascent I generally found about four inches atop the old base, very consistent with what the resort had mentioned in the snow report.  It was actually tough to gauge the depth of the new snow at times though, because indeed the new snow had bonded so well to the old snow that it was hard to find the interface.  In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.

An image of one of the mountain operations buildings at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontI was inspired to try a couple of new areas on my tour today.  First, I ascended up the Bryant Trail, then past Bryant Cabin to Gardiner’s Lane.  I then ascended up above Gardiner’s Lane at an angle until I hit the evergreen line, and then contoured across at that elevation until I reached the North Slope area.  I stopped where I could catch a nice line all the way back down to Gardiner’s Lane, and got in some great turns.  Then, instead of continuing along Gardiner’s Lane, I dropped off into one of the glades and skied fresh lines down to the next bench.  I contoured on the bench until I found myself entering Gotham City, where I caught a series of various glades back down to Bryant.

Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.  I headed back up Bryant, and ascended back up to the bench near the bottom of A1A.  I worked back toward Gotham City and then ascended into some lines above.  I finished off my descent heading down Alchemist and back toward the Village for a stop in at the deli for some subs.

A Google Earth map showing GPS tracking data from a ski tour in the backcountry at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s ski tour in the Bolton Valley backcountry

The Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery was really hoppin’, but I definitely have to give a shout out to Gus and his crew for some great work managing all the holiday visitors.  Thanks Gus, the sandwiches were great!

Stowe, VT 11FEB2018

An image of the Meadows Quad Chair from the Spruce Camp Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Looking out from the Spruce Camp Base Lodge toward the Meadows Chair at the start of a great midwinter afternoon of skiing at Stowe

February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.  The quality of the skiing both on and off piste has naturally taken a huge jump, and unlike the great snow we had back around the holidays, this snow didn’t come with subzero arctic temperatures.  Everyone seemed quite excited to get out for our first BJAMS ski program of the season where the mountain was really delivering in quality and quantity of terrain.

We had most of our usual group today, along with Johannes, since he and Stephen were at the mountain to watch some of the Bolton Valley Freeride Team take part in the 2018 Stowe Freeride Challenge.  Ty was also with us, since he wasn’t needed for any other coaching responsibilities today.

“February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.”

I wanted to make the most of the great conditions and get our crew into some fun terrain, so I set my sights on getting them over to Lookout.  Coming over from Spruce Peak, we took the Gondola to Cliff Trail, and I’ve got to say, Cliff Trail had some of the best conditions I’ve seen there in a long time.  You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.  Lookout was closed from the top, so I brought the group around via Hayride and we wound up skiing through much of Tres Amigos Glades.  There are still some icy sections in there on the heavily used lines, but there were a lot of great soft lines present as well if you just ventured out to the sides a bit.  I hadn’t been in Tres Amigos for quite a while, and I’d forgotten how steep and fun it is in there.

As we neared the end of the day we’d whittled down the group to just Wiley, Ty, Dylan, and I, and we finished things off back at Spruce Peak with some runs off the Sensation QuadGreen Acres yielded what was definitely the most consistently great snow of the day, with deep bottomless powder that had us stunned with the fact that it was still untouched after the whole weekend.

“You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.”

Temperatures were great today, running in the range of probably 25 to 32 F, so comfort wasn’t at all an issue there.  What was an issue though was the low clouds that were thick on the upper half of the mountain, making visibility really tough in open areas.  There was also some light mixed precipitation in the afternoon that compounded visibility issues by leaving droplets on people’s googles and causing fogging.  We had to ski with goggles up at times because the visibility was so tough, but fortunately temperatures were warm enough to make that feasible.  The snow surfaces stayed nice at just about all elevations though, since the mixed precipitation we were picking up was fairly light.

Base depths are great right now, with five feet of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, so as long as we can keep refresher storms coming we should be in great shape heading into the rest of February.

Bolton Valley, VT 10FEB2018

An image of Ty skiing powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The Northern Greens are definitely back at it now, with Bolton Valley picking up 16 inches in the past few days from Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo.

With the combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo over the past few days, Bolton Valley is reporting 16 inches of new snow and the ski conditions are taking off.  E and Dylan were off to Lake Elmore to do a polar plunge today, but Ty and I headed up to the mountain to make use of all the new powder.

“Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.”

We had snow falling at the house in the morning, and were surprised to see what looked like some brief sleet or rain as we passed through ~1,000’ elevation band on the Bolton Valley Access Road, but as we got to the switchbacks below 1,500’ near the Timberline Base we were hit with a wall of steady light snow.  We arrived at Timberline in the 9:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. range when the Timberline Quad was just opening, and had light snow falling with a cloud ceiling around 2,200’.

An image of the depth of the powder after Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Liam + Winter Storm Mateo = Let’s Go!

We kicked things off with a quick run through Wood’s Hole and the Corner Pocket Glades.  The powder was good, although you could feel that the freezing level had rise to just about the Timberline base elevations.  We found that total snowpack and coverage is OK below 2,000’, but those elevations could use one more solid storm to cover up some obstacles that still remain.

An image of Ty skiing the Glades trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping into some great snow on Bolton Valley’s Glades trail

We spent time over at the main mountain after that, with a couple of great runs connecting from Hard Luck to Show Off, which hadn’t seen much traffic and had excellent snow.  The main mountain was well above the freezing level and base depths are plentiful up there.  We had a quick break with some slices at Fireside Flatbread, and then we finished off at the main mountain with a trip through the Villager Trees before heading back to Timberline.  Eventually we took a lunch break at the Timberline Lodge before we finished off the day skiing over there, and it was definitely disappointing to see that South of Solitude isn’t running in the lodge – we were really amped to have some burritos!

An image of fresh snow on evergreen branches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThere was light snowfall when we first arrived, and it ramped up to moderate intensity at times, but the flakes were fairly small early on.  We had a period of heavier snow with big flakes near midday, but snowfall was typically on and off through the day.  The freezing line was climbing during the day, and at least based on the temperature’s effect on snow surface consistency, I’d say it was around 1,700’ around midday, and 2,000’ by the time we were leaving near 3:00 P.M.

Overall the skiing is excellent right now as one would expect, but I’d say the biggest improvements have been on piste.  The groomed terrain is skiing very nicely.  Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.  There really wasn’t a lot of champagne to top it off with this last storm, so I can’t put it up there with those primo dumps where you get that amazing density gradient of powder, but the powder skiing was still great.

An image of Ty spraying powder while skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Pow!

It’s nice to have some more typical Northern Greens conditions back in the house.  We’ve got some big flakes falling here at our place this evening, so hopefully we’ll get a nice addition for more fun on the slopes tomorrow!

Bolton Valley, VT 05FEB2018

An image of a skin track for ascending on skis on the Twice as Nice trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
This morning there was a great skin track on Twice as Nice bringing everyone up for turns in all the new snow.

Light snow fell yesterday during the daylight hours while we were at Stowe, but the snowfall intensified after dark and we picked up more substantial amounts of snow in the evening.  Knowing that the same thing was going on at the local resorts, it seemed like this morning would be an excellent time to catch some turns in the fresh powder.  So, I decided to head up for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley.

When I’d left the house the temperature was still right around freezing, but by Bolton Flats I hit winds associated with the cold air moving in, and by the time I got up to Timberline the temperature was down around 20 F.  I found several cars in the usual parking spots off to the right, and they belonged to various skiers and riders coming and going from trips in the new snow.

“Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.”

On my ascent I found a nice skin track in place on Twice as Nice, and I frequently checked the depths of the powder.  Wind had pushed the snow around a bit, but I generally found depths of 5 to 8 inches with spot amounts up to 10 inches near the Timberline Mid Station.  I opted for Spell Binder on the descent, and even though the headwall had seen a lot of its snow blow around, the usual spots that hold the snow yielded excellent turns.  Throughout the trail, turns were bottomless aside from a few contacts with the subsurface here and there, and I found protected spots with depths of over a foot.

Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.

Stowe, VT 04FEB2018

An image of Dylan making a Telemark turn at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan out for some Telemark turns and bit of new snow today at our BJAMS ski program

Snow from our incoming winter storm began in the area this morning, and maintained a steady light intensity through our arrival at Stowe a bit before noontime.  After the family had some lunch at the Great Room Grill, everyone gathered up for the afternoon’s sessions.  With the past couple of week’s program sessions having rather stale snow, there was a bit of a buzz in the air with the incoming storm, even if new snow accumulations were still on the minimal side at that point.

An image of snow falling in the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A view of the snowfall today in the Spruce Peak Village

Molly was continuing with her snowboarding, so Ty snowboarded as well, while Dylan and I went with Telemark skis.  E feels that Molly is progressing really well with her turns, and just needs time on snow, so that’s exactly what we gave her.  We did several runs off the Meadows Chair, which provided Molly with great terrain for her boarding, and it was an excellent area for Dylan’s Telemark practice as well.  I drilled him using a technique that he actually invented, which involves skiing all turns in both directions in the same Telemark stance.  In this case I made him work on his weaker stance, which is left foot in the back.

An image of the Meadows Chairlift and some of the trails on Mt. Mansfield in the background at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the view of the Meadows Chair and some Mansfield trails in the background

We had a good hot chocolate break back in the Great Room Grill before finishing off with a couple of bigger runs off of Sunny Spruce.  The snow continued to fall lightly, but ended up adding a couple inches to freshen up surfaces before we left.  We only took the occasional quick jaunt into the off piste, but it skied quite nicely with about 6 inches of powder, even down near the base elevations.  The snow’s been chugging right along this evening at a slightly invigorated pace, so tomorrow should be another excellent day for turns.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 03FEB2018

An image of a Coyote trail sign on the backcountry skiing network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Following a skin track out in the Bolton Valley backcountry today – the recent snow really started getting the backcountry conditions back on track.

As the forecasts suggested, we’ve moved back in a bit of a snowier weather regime after the past couple weeks of midwinter doldrums.  A system on Thursday ushered in some welcomed snow, with 4.4 inches down here at the house, and 6 to 8 inches at most of the resorts in the northern 2/3 of Vermont.

Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day.  I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in.  Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.

An image of an Old Goats trail marker on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Old Goats: The Bolton Valley Backcountry Network is probably the only place you’re ever going to see a trail marker like this.

Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour.  I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City.  I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical.  I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches.  The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area.  The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.

A Google Earth map showing GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the backcountry ski network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
GPS Tracking Data for today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network overlayed onto Google Earth

Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more.  We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.