We popped back up to the mountain for another sunny ski session at Timberline on Sunday, and the boys were both off work so they were able to join us. Temperatures were about 10 F warmer than Saturday, but I didn’t notice too much change in the variety of ski surfaces that we’d seen – the direct, west-facing trails were decent corn snow, but there were still some sticky spots on other aspects, and some firmer snow on terrain well out of the sun.
We sampled most of the available terrain off Timberline, and folks had some different favorite runs. E liked Twice as Nice the most, while I liked Spell Binder the best because it seemed to have seen less traffic and offered some of the smoothest corn snow surfaces below the headwall. All in all it was yet another great day of spring skiing though, topped off with a little takeout from Mad Taco Bolton for dinner.
It was a fantastic out there today for some spring skiing. E and I headed up for an afternoon session at Timberline with its classic western-facing afternoon sun.
The temperatures were quite pleasant, but despite the decent warmth with temperatures in the 40s to around 50 F, there were still different types of ski surfaces out there. Terrain right in the sun on the main part of Timberline was mostly good corn snow, but up around 2,500’ or so, snow that was not in the sun was still in a more frozen, winter-like state. In some lower elevation areas that were only partially in the sun, there were also some areas of mushy/sticky snow because it had not been cycled enough yet for complete corn.
I think we’re planning to head out for another afternoon session tomorrow – it’s supposed to be even warmer, and we should get another freeze-thaw cycle overnight, so that might change the dynamics of which areas have which types of snow surfaces.
I wanted to head up before that colder air was supposed to move in later in the afternoon, so I hit the mountain in the late morning. With those strong winds blowing from the northwest, it wasn’t at all surprising to see in the snow report that the Vista Quad and Wilderness Double, being the highest elevation lifts, were on wind hold. With that in mind, I decided to make it a hybrid outing of both riding the lifts and skinning to get efficient access to the fresh powder. The Mid Mountain Chair was running, so I ended up using that for a quick elevation assist over to the Wilderness area. I followed some folks that were using a nifty access route around the mid-mountain snowmaking pond to get to Wilderness.
I generally found powder depths topping out around 6” just like the snow report indicated, aside from wind scoured or drifted areas, or trails that had been groomed during the storm. Low angle terrain on fat boards was what I’d been planning to hit, and that definitely delivered. The lift assist from the Mid Mountain Chair was just right for cycling the bottom half of the Wilderness terrain, which had the kind of pitch this snow called for. Anything with moderate pitch or above was just too steep for the available snow, and you’d be hitting the scratchy subsurface unless you were in a drifted area.
The BTV NWS forecast discussion said that the precipitation would be somewhat cellular during the day, and indeed that’s just what I experienced out on the mountain. At times it would be whiteout conditions with near-zero visibility, and at other times that snowfall would wane and it would almost look like the sun wanted to break through. Temperatures started out in the 20s F, but were down into the teens F by the time I was leaving, so that colder air was moving in as scheduled.
It would have been great if the upslope system we’ve had in the area over the past couple of days delivered more than an inch or two of new snow, but putting that on top of the 9” from the midweek event has definitely kept the off piste conditions respectable at Bolton Valley. The resorts is reporting 11” new in the past week, and the bulk of that must be the sum of those two events. Not surprisingly, that powder has settled a bit over the past few days, and that actually helps out somewhat with respect to how it skis. When that first round had fallen on Wednesday, it really was so incredibly dry that you sank right through it and got down to that relatively firm subsurface, but the settling, and the addition of a couple more inches that wasn’t quite as dry, gives you a bit more underfoot to cushion things.
I was hearing noise from skiers and riders even on low angle groomed terrain today, and it wasn’t as if it was horribly icy, but the noise revealed that there was at least something firm there. It could just be a traffic issue on the groomed slopes – I’m not sure how much liquid equivalent the mountain ultimately got from the two rounds of snow, but it probably wasn’t more than a quarter of an inch, and that’s only going to hold up so long with on piste skier traffic.
I focused my time in the trees today, and I found the conditions there were far superior to the groomed terrain. I spent my time exploring more of the sidecountry off Wilderness that I’d visited last Saturday. There was plenty of snow for good powder turns on low-angle terrain, and even moderate and steep terrain weren’t too bad where people had skied and sort of packed the new snow into the base. The trees were the place to be though – the snow was protected from the wind in there, and I’d say there was plenty that had been blow off the trails as well.
Temperatures were in the mid-teens F when I was out this afternoon, which is certainly nothing to complain about in terms of cold, but there was plenty of wind around, especially up high. We had some peeks of sun, but in general it was cloudy with some light flakes in the air, and it just sort of had the feel of a hum drum midwinter day. Being in the trees meant that I was out of the wind, but as I’ve heard other folks around here expressing, I could certainly use some warmth. I definitely found myself missing the nice temperatures up around the freezing mark that I encountered last Saturday, even if that storm did bring a touch of mixed precipitation.
My plan was to hit some low-angle stuff on my fat skis, and that was indeed about the only terrain that offered up bottomless turns today. Anything above that angle and you were hitting the subsurface – and that subsurface snow on anything that hadn’t been groomed is indeed loud. Moderate angle turns were still decent with that new snow to push back on, but the low-angle powder was the best. I had some nice turns on the mellow inclines of Villager and Spur in the fresh snow. Groomed terrain was also pretty nice where they’d been able to till up the old stuff and get some new snow into it, although that depended on the time they’d groomed. Some spots were groomed before the new snow fell, so it was powder on top of that. The resort was being cautious and hadn’t even open the ungroomed terrain today, and that was probably wise, since the powder made it dangerous in some cases by simply hiding the moonscape below.
“I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range. I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.”
I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range. I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.
My boys headed up for some turns in the afternoon, and my younger son said it was pretty hilarious in that “It was like skiing powder, but still skiing on the base.” We were talking tonight at dinner about how what they skied was literally the antithesis of “bottomless powder”. I guess one could call that “bottomful powder” in that line of terminology. “Dust on crust” also gets that point across, although I typically don’t think of 6-8” of snow when I think of dust. With those snow ratios in the range of 30 to 1 or even 70 to 1, and the temperature cycling that the existing snow had seen, I knew it was going to be pretty much a “dust on crust” setup. But with a half foot of snow, at least it’s more of a “Northern Greens” sort of dust on crust experience.
In any event, it was a good aesthetic refresher for the pack both down at the house and up on the hill, and hopefully we’ll have a bit more to add in the next couple of days.