It cooled back down overnight, and with continued snowfall, I suspect the snow levels dropped based on the fact that it was down into the 30s F at our place in the valley. I would have liked to see where accumulations stood as of this morning, but I had a car maintenance appointment, so I couldn’t stop by the Village until about midday. All that new snow at elevation made for some impressive views as I drove on I-89 returning from Burlington, and I stopped at Williston Southbound Information Center in I-89 to get a few images of the Green Mountains.
By the time I got up to Bolton today I’d say accumulations were generally back to what I reported yesterday, so accumulations were really only beginning to appear up near the Bolton Valley Village elevations. Temperatures had risen well above freezing by that point as well, so the snow was getting quite wet and dense. As the brilliant late-April sunshine appeared, it felt downright hot out as I was touring. The sun created fantastic views of the fresh snow gleaming white on all the trees, and the views had an almost midwinter feel. The temperatures and sunshine had the snow pretty quickly melting off the trees on aspects facing toward the sun, so the sound of dripping water and crashing piles of snow was the most prominent thing accompanying me on my tour.
With the new snow getting quite wet by the time I was out, the descent portion of the tour was pretty much just a free ride down with a few turns here and there, but there weren’t really notable powder turns like we had yesterday. It was of course still great to be out in the fresh snow getting exercise on such a beautiful day.
We’re almost on to May now, but it does sound like snow potential is going to stay around for a couple of weeks with the weather pattern, so we’ll see what Mother Nature brings us.
Although I haven’t seen it being an issue at Bolton Valley, we’ve purposefully stayed off the mountain for the past couple of weeks as we learned that the local ski resorts have asked people to refrain from touring because of potential crowding at base areas. As of today though, with the strong positive strides Vermont has made in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus through its social distancing, Governor Scott took another notable step in relaxing the restrictions. The new order states that, “Expanding on Addendum 10, outdoor businesses, construction operations and recreation maintenance work may operate with a maximum of five total workers per location. (Effective April 27). It’s only outdoor work that is being phased in at this point, but that makes sense to ramp that activity up first where people are not in the close confines of interior spaces. With respect to the pandemic, we’ve been fairly lucky here in Vermont with our small total population, and relatively low population density, so the spread of the virus appears to be on the decline locally. Modeling was already reflecting the positive trends here as of 10 days ago, with Vermont being one of only four states that could potentially begin loosening social distancing measures as early as May 4th.
“…the snow depths increased dramatically as I headed up above the base elevations.”
From down here in this part of the Winooski Valley, even this morning at the coldest part of the day, you wouldn’t know that there was a solid amount of snow falling with this storm if it weren’t for some of the resources like Bolton’s webcams. I don’t think I’ve seen a flake here at 500’, and even our local hills surrounding the valley that top out around 2,000’, don’t have signs of white on them.
Seeing what was on the webcams though, it was obvious that snow was falling and accumulating at least down to the elevation of the Bolton Valley Village. My trip up the Bolton Valley access road allowed me to get a sense for what was going on with the accumulations. I knew the snow line had to be way up there, but I just kept climbing and climbing, and there were no signs of new snow anywhere. The first signs of old snow from the remaining winter snowpack were around 1,400’, but even at the Timberline Base at 1,500’, the precipitation was all rain. The rain didn’t even change over to snow until about 1,900’, just before I reached the Bolton Valley Village. That’s also right about where I saw the first accumulations of new snow taking hold. The snow accumulations picked up quickly with 1-2” at the main parking lots at 2,000’ and 2-3” at 2,100’ near the base of the main lifts.
The snow was dense, but not really wet, and the snow depths increased dramatically as I headed up above the base elevations. Thankfully there were some skin tracks to use, because as the depth of new snow surpassed a foot, breaking trail was tough in many areas. The skiing was definitely challenging in the dense snow, akin to the snow from that storm that Erica and I encountered when we skied at Schweitzer Mountain Resort back in 2001. This storm didn’t drop four feet of that dense stuff all at once, but I’d brought my mid-fat Telemark skis because I hadn’t anticipated the depths I found, and my fat skis would have certainly been the better tool for the conditions. Some of the best turns I had on my mid-fats today were actually in the middle elevations around Five Corners, where the snow depths were still more than plentiful for bottomless turns, but not so deep that they pushed your skis around with strong resistance.
Here’s the full accumulations profile for this storm as of ~5:00 P.M. based on what I saw up to the Village and beyond. It gives a pretty good sense for the elevation ranges with the largest jumps in accumulation, but on average it looks like once accumulations took hold, they increased by more than an inch per 100’ of elevation gain:
Morning revealed some additional snow accumulation at our house at 500’ in the Winooski Valley, and as we climbed the road up toward Bolton Valley we could see that the snow levels had indeed come down compared to what I’d seen on my tour yesterday. After whatever settling occurred since that point, total accumulations at 2,000’ in the Village were now up to roughly 8”. We topped out at around 2,800’ on today’s tour, and accumulations are a foot plus from there on up. The elevation profile from yesterday’s tour is updated below with the addition of today’s total new snow depth numbers, which are in bold below:
So with depths of new snow hitting a foot or more in the higher elevations, and snow continued to fall during our tour as well, the skiing was of course even better than yesterday. Indeed, the snow was deeper and drier, and the turns were even more bottomless and effortless. We saw a few other skiers out there on the slopes, but traffic was quite light and fresh tracks were in great supply. I gave Dylan my Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens, so we had a couple of cameras available to document the outing, and it was great to be out with the family. Ty was working in the morning, but he would definitely had been there if he was free.
As the forecasts have been hinting at over the past several days, a late season winter storm has moved into the area as we close out the week. The forecasts have been suggesting the potential for a foot or more of snow along the spine of the Northern Greens, and as is common in these late season events, substantially lower accumulations were expected upon descent down into the valleys.
The snow really struggled to accumulate in the valleys today, but up in the mountains it was a different situation. By midafternoon as I checked on the Bolton Valley live webcams I’d say there was already an inch or two at 2,100’ in the Village. For the local mountains, the slightly lower temperatures had definitely helped promote accumulations today relative to yesterday, where you could see the new snow down at the main base kind of accumulate and melt back to expose areas of old snow. Those areas of snow were pretty well covered up this afternoon. From images shown by the Vista Peak cam, it was clear that there had been at least a few inches of snow up at 3,150’, but it was hard to get a detailed sense for the new snow due to the winds.
What I’d seen from the webcams by the afternoon was certainly enough to get me to head up to the mountain for an exploratory tour, but I wasn’t quite sure enough of conditions to entice the rest of the family to go.
At the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road at roughly 340’, there were no signs of snow accumulation, but right around 900’ you could see the first traces of white, and they quickly jumped up by the time you hit the Bolton Valley Welcome Sign at ~1,000’. There were a couple of inches of new accumulation at the Timberline Base, and continuing on up to the Village. I found a solid 4-5” in the parking lots. Heading farther upward with my tour in the Wilderness area revealed the following elevation profile with respect to storm totals:
Right near the start of my ascent on Lower Turnpike, a skier cam swishing by through the powder on his descent and shouted “Don’t head up, it’s not worth it!”, but I laughed in reply because it was obvious he was being sarcastic. The turns looked fantastic and belied his remark even down at that elevation with a nice 5-6” of medium-weight powder.
Indeed, despite this being a late season storm, the snow wasn’t really wet at all out there today (at least where I was touring in the 2,000’+ range). It was reasonably dense and offered plenty of bottomless turns, but certainly not unlimited bottomless turns on all the steepest pitches. We’ve had roughly 1.25” of liquid equivalent from this event down at the house, so there’s certainly a decent amount of L.E. in that snow at elevation where they’ve had little if any rain. Today I toured up to the Wilderness Summit, then around to Bolton Outlaw and on back down toward Lower Turnpike. The turns were excellent and there had been very little skier traffic.
It was interesting up on the mountain today because a bit of sunshine appeared near the start of the tour, but by the time I was finishing up it was pounding heavy snow made up of big flakes. It was in the 20s F and snowing so hard in the Village at that point that it felt like it had to be accumulating down in the valley, but it was an impressive gradient as I headed back down the mountain and the snow still wasn’t really accumulating much below the 1,000’ level.
Today was even a bit warmer than yesterday, with temperatures in the valley this afternoon topping out around 60 F. So, I decided to get in another round of exercise with a Bolton Valley ski tour.
The strip of snow just to the climber’s right of the Timberline Quad base station had broken up even a bit more than yesterday, but I still traversed the gap with skins to start my tour. To mix things up today, I headed up Timberline Run and over toward Brandywine for my ascent. That area is more shaded from the sun, but with the warmer temperatures I figured it might be softened up enough for some smooth turns.
“The slightly warmer temperatures today made the snow quality even better, so the trend has just been one of increasing snow quality of these last few sessions.”
The snow there was fine, but once I got back into the snow below the Timberline Quad near the top, I could see that the exposure to the sun had made the snow just so much better there. I couldn’t resist that snow, so I ultimately ended up descending via Showtime as we’ve done on the past couple of outings. The slightly warmer temperatures today made the snow quality even better, so the trend has just been one of increasing snow quality of these last few sessions.
It’s beginning to look more and more likely that we’re going to get a winter storm toward the end of the week with the possibility of substantial snow for the mountains, so hopefully we’ll be able to get back into some powder skiing. The spring skiing has been very nice, but a change of pace with powder skiing would of course be welcomed as well.
We had another nice day of weather today with some sun and temperatures in the 50s F, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for another ski tour at Timberline. The strip of snow just to the climber’s right of the Timberline Quad base station that we used for skinning during our ski tour on Saturday, was slightly broken up now with a small gap. It was just a few feet of dry grass in the break though, so I easily continued right across it, and coverage was great from there on up.
On Saturday, we stopped our tour at the Timberline Mid Station because it was our first outing in a little while and I figured it was good to take it easy, but today I headed right up to the Timberline Summit. The views were nice with some late day clouds to the west over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. The snow on Showtime was even a notch better than Saturday, I think thanks to a bit more sun to soften it up and create a smoother, more even surface today.
It looks like we’ll have more spring weather in the first part of this week before it becomes wintrier in the latter part of the week.
Our most recent winter storm cycle was Winter Storm Quincy, which took place over a week ago. It brought a couple days of good powder, and D and I were able to get out for some fun turns, but since then we’ve sort of been back in the spring weather doldrums. We haven’t had another significant storm, and it hasn’t really been warm enough to soften up the slopes.
Some warmer, sunnier weather moved into the area today though, with temperatures in the 50s F, so the family headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick tour and some soft spring turns. Timberline still has plenty of continuous lines, so we toured from the Timberline Base, and up to the Timberline Mid Station. Just to the right of the base of the Timberline Quad there’s a thin line of snow that supports skinning right from the base, but that will probably melt out in a couple more days of warm weather. There’s solid coverage on the climber’s left of the quad base though, so that will probably be fine for ascents and descents for a while.
Ty cruised right up the hill on the ascent, with Dylan not too far behind, so the two of them had the chance to hang out at the top for a bit before I arrived. One of the chairs of the quad is nicely positioned at the mid station to make a convenient bench, so the boys really enjoyed hanging out there and enjoying the mountain views.
Showtime is doing the best with respect to coverage thanks to additional manmade snow, so we made our descent there. The snow was nice spring corn that had softened on Bolton’s usual afternoon sun, so the turns were quite good.
We only saw a couple of other cars in the parking lot, although it was fairly late in the afternoon, so most people had probably gotten their turns in earlier.
It looks like the weather is going to cool back down as we head into the latter part of this coming week, so we may be looking at more fresh snow coming to the mountains. We’ll see what happens, but I know everyone would be psyched to get out for some more powder.