Bolton Valley & Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry, VT 09JAN2021

An image showing snow in the woods during January at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Although the base is still quite shallow, the mountains are definitely beginning to have that midwinter look after a week with some additional snows and excellent temperatures for snow preservation.

I was last out at the mountain on Sunday, and although we’ve only had a few additional inches of snow since then, it seemed like today was a good day to head on up for a tour and check out the conditions.  We’ve continued to be treated to temperatures that are well above average, which in January around here actually makes for some very nice temperatures in the 20s F.

I didn’t check out any of the manmade or lift-served terrain today, but I started my tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network and then connected over to the Wilderness area.  After several outings following the standard Wilderness Uphill Route right from the base over the past few weeks, I wanted to mix things up today.  So, I started out down by the Nordic Center, headed up Bryant until I got to World Cup, and then continued over to Lower Turnpike via the connector trail used by the mountain operations crew.  It was a fun variation with some new views, and it let me check out the conditions across a number of trails, including the Telemark Practice Slope, which looked to be in such good shape that I skied it on my descent.  Starting out on my tour in one of the tennis court lots, I actually had my pass scanned by a resort associate with a handheld scanner.  This was the first time I’ve been checked since Bolton Valley has switched to RFID.  It’s great to see that they’re checking, and it’s a good reminder to be sure you bring your pass, even if you’re going to be touring!

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The GPS tracking data plotted on Google Earth for today’s tour, which brought me from the Nordic trails over to the Wilderness area.
An image showing the depth of the snow at Village elevation of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
I generally found 6-12″ of surface snow at the 2,000′ Village elevations today, but in some places there’s little to no base snow below that.

The Colorado-esque weather regime over the past few days has definitely been outstanding with respect to snow preservation.  In areas that haven’t been skied, all the recent snows are just sitting there in the form of midwinter powder, and I found depths of generally 6-12” at the 2,000’ elevation and 8-12” up around 2,700’, which was as high as I went on my tour.  I toured on my midfats today instead of my fat skis, assuming powder would be fairly hard to come by after a week of modest snowfall, settling, and skier traffic.  I’d still go that route again based on what I chose to ski, but there is definitely some fat ski-worth powder out there in many areas.  I’d say the main issue is still the base below that snow.  It’s quite variable, and down at 2,000’ in the Village elevations there’s nothing at all below the powder in unprotected areas.  In the higher elevations the base is a bit less variable, but there’s still nowhere near enough base for steep terrain.  I could tell that the mountain had opened up some of the natural snow terrain on Wilderness for lift-served skiers connecting over from Vista, because there were surprising number of people skiing the Wilderness Lift Line and Wilderness Woods.  I saw a group of four kids in Wilderness Woods having a lot of fun, although it’s still a bit thin and you could hear them hitting the occasional stump or rock.

“I toured on my midfats today instead of my fat skis, assuming powder would be fairly hard to come by after a week of modest snowfall, settling, and skier traffic. I’d still go that route again based on what I chose to ski, but there is definitely some fat ski-worth powder out there in many areas.”

What I saw that impressed me most on today’s tour was the state of skier-packed natural terrain.  Areas like Lower Turnpike, Telemark Practice Slope, Bryant Trail, and Nordic trails like World Cup (some of these may have been machine-packed) were in very good to excellent shape.  Presumably, these areas of packed snow held up well against the warmth around Christmas, and now the additional snows of the past week or two have reinforced that base.  Lower Turnpike had nearly perfect coverage, and all this packed terrain is going to make for some excellent powder skiing when the next storms come.

All in all, though, you could definitely feel that winter has settled in for the mountains, even if the snowpack/base is on the low side.  The water bars I encountered today were all sufficiently frozen, although most of them are still visible and require a bit of navigation.

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