The Vista Quad was down for a time yesterday to take care of a mechanical issue, and during that time the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam showed backups in the queues at the Mid Mountain and Snowflake lifts as one would expect with the number of holiday visitors. The repairs were completed yesterday afternoon, which helped disperse everyone, and with everything starting out as expected this morning, E and I headed up to the mountain for a morning ski session.
I was excited to check out Hard Luck, which the mountain has recently opened as their first full black diamond offering of the season. The snow report indicated that they’re still working to put sufficient snow down on Spillway, so that’s not quite open yet, but Hard Luck is definitely a favorite because it’s much more protected from the wind and often has better snow.
It was great be back on the Vista Quad for lift-served skiing, and we warmed up with a run on Sherman’s Pass and Bear Run to get a feel for the conditions. Weather conditions have been relatively stable, and although we’ve only had small systems hitting the area over the past week, there haven’t been any major warm air intrusions to really deteriorate the snow surfaces. With fresh grooming to start off the day, the groomed conditions were quite good on the low to moderate angle terrain we encountered on that run. You could still hit firm snow in spots, but the lower angle terrain was definitely staying true to form maintaining a nice surface.
Once we were warmed up we headed for some steeper turns, and started on Hard Luck Lane. E and I had a good discussion about how it’s typically quite icy because it’s steep, and gets a lot of traffic as the first option for many folks coming off Vista. Today it offered up probably my favorite turns of the day on the left side where people had pushed a lot of extra snow. Hard Luck was also quite nice throughout, but especially the edges where additional snow had either accumulated or remained untouched. As we skied a spine on the left side of the trail, I was a bit jealous of E on alpine skis because she could hold a really tight line to stay in the best snow, whereas my footprint with Tele turns was a bit larger. It was hard to go wrong though – the snow was generally nice all around on Hard Luck.
Looking forward, we might have a storm coming this weekend to potentially freshen up surfaces and perhaps open more terrain depending on how much liquid equivalent it brings.
The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so I decided to head up to the mountain for a tour in the late afternoon. There was still decent daylight available as I started my ascent, but I had my headlamp just in case I was out long enough for the light to fade. It was comfortable out there on the hill, with temperatures in the upper 20s F and no wind. I saw a few other skiers coming down while I ascended, and I bet the number of skiers touring earlier today was way up there, being a holiday week.
I stopped my ascent at around 2,500’ to make sure I’d have enough light for the downhill run, but there were a few skiers still continuing up. I saw two skiers come down with their headlamps already lit, and I’m sure the folks still ascending we planning on using theirs. Conditions were nice – most of the trail was natural packed snow from all the skier traffic, but there were still areas with a couple inches of powder along the side that I was able to jump into.
It was definitely a pleasant ski outing to add to the holiday week, and with the base in place on trails like Lower Turnpike, it’s going to offer some great turns when the next significant winter storm hits. The night skiing was just getting going as I was finishing my tour, and the Village Circle looked lively and festive as holiday week skiers headed up to the lodge and lifts.
It’s been a busy past couple of weeks finishing up the semester for me, and there haven’t been any notable storms to urge me out to the slopes, but we got out to the mountain today to take a few turns in the new snow from Winter Storm Carrie.
For conditions, there was about a half foot of new snow reported by Bolton in their morning report, although there were probably a couple more inches on top of that with the way it was accumulating while we were there. Indeed they’re now reporting 8 inches for their weekly total, and I’d say that’s probably the storm total once the backside snows were incorporated. It was a decent resurfacing of the slopes, with 0.80” of L.E. recorded here at our place. I suspect they’re in the that ballpark for L.E. up at the mountain as well, although the western slopes probably were a bit lower on storm totals relative to the eastern slopes with the wind flow for the majority of the storm cycle. In any event, the surfaces we found out there today were nice, although I could see how high-angle terrain or higher traffic resorts could find the slopes getting down to firm surfaces pretty quickly.
The overall feel at the resort was quite wintry with temperatures in the teens F, moderate snow falling, and some wind. Bolton only had their lower lifts running as they were still prepping the Vista Summit for lift-served levels of traffic, but it looks like this storm put them over the top and they’re opening the Vista Quad in the next few days. The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so with the leftover base they had plus this new storm, there’s certainly enough snow to be skinning for turns on the natural snow terrain at Wilderness, so that’s great to have in place for the upcoming holiday period. They’ll still need another decent shot of liquid equivalent to get more terrain open for lift-served levels of traffic on natural snow terrain, and to get the lower-elevation Timberline area open for ski touring traffic. I’m sure there are some people touring down at the Timberline elevations with what we’ve got at the moment, but the Timberline Uphill Route isn’t officially open yet. I think they’d lost most of the natural base snow there, so you’re working with just the accumulations from Winter Storm Carrie, and this one storm with ~3/4” of liquid equivalent isn’t quite enough to get touring into a really comfortable place.