We got up to Timberline around 10:15 A.M., and conditions were looking good. The temperature was 20 F, skies were clear, and the wind had abated. The Bolton Valley website had indicated a planned Timberline opening of sometime in the 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. range, and I’m not sure what time they’d finally started loading, but there was hardly anyone there when we arrived. After experiencing lift queues at Vista on Thursday and Friday, it was very nice to have Timberline open again.
We kicked things off with a run down Spell Binder to get the boys warmed up, and Ty was really enamored with the snow and pitch on the headwall. He’s definitely been waiting for the season to get going so additional steeper terrain could open, and he was really hootin’ and hollerin’ on that run and exclaiming how “awesome” it was. It wasn’t untracked, but as usual the skier’s right held lots of chowder, with plenty of deep loose snow and a really nice subsurface. Both boys had fun making their sloughs, or “avalanches” as they call them, slide down the slope. Below the headwall, there was still ample fresh snow along the skier’s right to provide lots of powder turns. I generally found 12-18 inches of powder along there depending on how far I got towards the trees, and although it wasn’t Champlain Powder™, it was at least medium weight fluff protected from the wind and it skied really well. While I worked the powder, the boys were generally in and out of there often playing in the chowder and taking lots of jumps off the remnants of the water bars. To see all the pictures and read the rest of the story, click through to the report from Bolton Valley today.
Temperatures in the low double digits F and plenty of wind outside didn’t have me jumping out the door to hit the hill, but with the way it continued to snow at the house, I figured it had to be doing even better in the higher elevations. Bolton was reporting that everything but their surface lift was on wind hold, but I decided to head up to Timberline to make some turns. I’d missed the chance to check it out on Sunday when it was planned to open, so this would be a good chance to see how it was skiing.
I arrived up the Timberline base (1,500’) to a temperature of 9 F, and decent winds in probably the 20 to 30 MPH range. There were a couple of other cars in the upper lot that belonged to folks doing the same thing I was, but the whole scene was one of a desolate winter storm. Another fellow had headed up just a few minutes before me, so I followed his skin track… or at least I think I did because even in that short time it was starting to disappear in places due to the wind and falling snow. I ascended the usual Twice as Nice route, and was surprised at how nice the snow was. I was wondering if everything was going to be scoured down to something hard, but that wasn’t the case – there’s a really good base of natural snow, and an even in spots where the new snow had been blown away, the underlying surface was either packed powder or some sort of Styrofoam material. In actuality though, it was only isolated spots that were even down to that surface, most of the new powder was still there. Since the wind was from the north instead of the west, that was probably a better setup for the generally west-facing Timberline terrain. I checked the depth on my ascent and generally found between 3 and 7 inches of new snow, so the mountain had definitely picked up more snow since their morning report.
The boys opened up some early Christmas presents today, so there was no way I was getting them up to the hill, but I was able to join up with Stephen and his kids for some turns. In the past we’ve had some great Bolton outings on Christmas Eve, with some nice natural snow terrain available and the mountain almost to ourselves. However, due to the sizeable amount of visitors we’d seen yesterday, we were wondering what today would bring. Would more people have the day off, or would that be counteracted by more holiday obligations? Well, the visitors were back in a big way, apparently even bigger than what we’d seen yesterday. On the way up to the main base, I stopped in for a look at Timberline, and it looked quite ready for the planned Sunday opening.
Conditions were very similar to yesterday, and a bit of wind had actually reset some of the powder to provide repeat fresh tracks. The wind also put down some wind crust, but it was pretty weak and didn’t change the snow too much. The weather and snow were both great, but with the lines and afternoon holiday obligations were all left around noontime. On the way down the road I saw that two Timberline lots were being used for additional parking, so business was certainly good. To check out all the pictures with the text, head to the complete Bolton Valley report from today.
We joined up with Stephen, Helena, and Johannes and hit our usual favorite areas for powder. With the composition of the group we didn’t spend too much time in the trees, but occasional jaunts I’d make into the woods revealed that there was awesome tree skiing to be had. Since many places were already skiing pretty well over the weekend, the bolus of new denser snow definitely bumped it up another notch. Overall the snow was awesome as usual, and the sides of the lesser used trails were holding enough powder that heading into the trees wasn’t really necessary to get great turns. To see all the pictures and get the rest of the details, head to the full report from Bolton Valley today.
We had a busy day of holiday-related activities planned today, so I headed out early to earn some powder turns up at Bolton Valley before things got going. Although I’d been hearing great things about the snow at Timberline, and I’d driven by and seen the tracks there a number of times, I decided it was finally time to check out just what all the fuss was about. Indeed, as I found out, the quality of the powder there is in fact worthy of a fuss. To see all the powdery details and images, go to the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.
We had one of those weeks where it snowed almost continuously at the house and in the local mountains, but there haven’t been any huge synoptic storms to make people really stand up and take notice. We’ve actually had over a foot of snow this week at our location in the Winooski Valley, and 1.5 to 2 feet in the local mountains, but when it comes in doses of just a few inches a day and it’s very light and dry, it’s hard to know if it’s really adding up on the slopes. Well, after heading up to Bolton yesterday we can definitely say that it’s been adding up in a big way.
Since it wasn’t an obvious powder day, we didn’t rush and headed up for a mid morning start. After dropping E and the boys off at the village circle, I parked in the bottom row of the main lot, right above the sports center. That lot was still mostly empty at that point, so I had the sense that the number of visitors wasn’t going to be quite as big as it was last Saturday for opening weekend.
I hadn’t looked at the snow report for the day, so we just played it by ear and discovered all the new ropes that had been dropped during the day. Patrol has opened routes like Cobrass, Glades, The Enchanted Forest area, Vista Glades, Alta Vista, Vermont 200, Schuss, Beech Seal, etc., most of them just on the natural snow that has fallen. I’m not sure exactly when all those trails opened, but most of them were not open when we were at the mountain last weekend. According to SnoCountry Mountain Reports, Bolton was 45% open yesterday, and based on the snow we saw, I bet they could be 80% open if they wanted to. They haven’t even fired up the Wilderness, Timberline, or Snowflake lifts yet, so while some of the Wilderness and Snowflake terrain can be accessed from Vista, there is a lot of potential terrain that’s just not open due to lack of lift access. I did notice that snow was being blown down at the bottom of Timberline, and have heard that plans are to open it after Christmas. I also noticed work being done at the bottom of the Wilderness lift yesterday, perhaps it was some preparation to get it going.
Anyway, as far as the skiing went yesterday, we rotated run choice among the family, so we managed to mix it up among the terrain options fairly well. On the announcement board at the bottom of Vista they had a sign that said “LOTS OF FLUFFY SNOW”, and they weren’t kidding. We found that most areas, even those with some manmade underneath were really nice packed powder due to all the natural snow that has fallen on top of the base, and on the sides there was plenty of untracked powder. Areas where we did find icy snow were the top half of Alta Vista, where it was pretty horrible at the end of the day, and a few smaller spots on Beech Seal where there were snowmaking whales that hadn’t been covered with enough natural snow. I didn’t ski it, but it also sounded like Hard Luck Lane was in similar shape to Alta Vista, which is not surprising with the way they are exposed to summit winds and the amount of traffic they get. We didn’t ski Cobrass, since we only realized that it was open toward the end of the day, so I don’t know how much snow they blew and what it was like. Coverage was clearly not perfect on steep, natural snow runs like Vermont 200, and patrol has thin cover signs up, but the coverage seemed quite manageable on what they had open. On that note, we did ski Glades, which is on all natural snow, and it was very easy to avoid any thin areas even in the steep sections. There were still some pockets of powder on Glades in areas that are awkward to access, but for the most part it was packed powder. I’d forgotten how much fun even packed powder can be on a trial with lots of natural terrain features on which to play. To read the rest of the details and see all the pictures from the outing, continue on to the Bolton Valley trip report from today.
E and I headed out to Stowe yesterday for the school program training session, wondering what we were going to experience in terms of weather. Happily, the first flakes appeared just after we arrived at around 8:00 A.M., the snowfall quickly ramped up in intensity, and then it dumped hard all morning and into the afternoon to make for great riding conditions.
This year we both decided to go with the snowboard training session, since out of necessity E seems to spend most of her time boarding instead of skiing, and it would supply me with some additional tools to serve as an alternate snowboarding coach when needed. We joined up with Stan Biasini’s group, since he would be advising everyone on how to work with the students that were early in their snowboard progression. We started out with techniques for the “never evers” at the Magic Carpet, then stepped it up to Inspiration, followed by the Alpine Double, and finally the Sunny Spruce Quad. We got a raft of good teaching techniques, and Stan made ample time to ensure that everyone got plenty of their own instruction as well. I learned that Stowe no longer requires leashes for snowboards, and that the slope of the Inspiration trail is an impressively consistent 8% grade for teaching. Continue reading the text and see all the pictures by going to the full trip report from Stowe today.
The morning’s outdoor adventures got started right on the ascent of the Bolton Valley access road. Once we got up to the big steep S-curve pitch at around 1,200’, we could see that traffic was stopped. It turned out that a couple of cars were struggling with the ascent. The road didn’t seem that bad from our perspective, but I later heard some comments suggesting that it wasn’t prepared as well as usual. In any event, the benefits of 4WD/AWD were obvious, not just for getting up the slick road, but having the ability to start right back up and get going from a dead stop on a steep slope. I met Stephen right in the parking lot as he was getting out of his car, and we made plans to meet up later.
While I was parking the car, the boys had warmed up on the Mighty Mite, and then I brought E and the boys right over to Wilderness based on my experiences from the previous day. I knew that the fresh snow and moderate pitch over there would be great for E to work on here Telemark turns off the groomed. In places that had seen some traffic, we found about 4 inches of new, but there were still spots that hadn’t been touched on Friday and had a good foot of powder. To check out the rest of the story and see the pictures, click through to the full report from today at Bolton Valley.
This morning I headed up to Bolton to catch some opening day turns and check out the four feet of new snow they’d picked up over the week. On the way up I could see that Timberline was just loaded with tracks from all the folks that had been earning turns there. We’d had our coldest temperatures of the season this morning, and although it was still somewhere in the single digits when I arrived at the mountain, the wind was calm and it turned out to be very comfortable.
They had the usual early season options going, but also some natural snow terrain such as the lower part of Wilderness. I saw that VT 200 was open at the top, but it still looked somewhat bony. I found that Wilderness and the routes over there were the places to be though, one could get some nice steeper turns in about a foot or so of powder in the junction areas of Swing, Lower Crossover, and Work Road, and then down on the Wilderness lift line it was mellow powder cruising. To check out the rest of the details and see all the pictures from the day, head to the full Bolton Valley Trip Report from today.
By this morning, enough snow had accumulated that we decided to head up to the higher elevations and check it out. Without much of a base, we didn’t expect the skiing to be too great, but it would be a good chance for Dylan to get on his skins and see how everything was working for him.
We first stopped in up at Bolton Valley, where accumulations appeared to be in the 2-3 inch range at the main base (~2,100’). I took a look around to see if any manmade snow had been put down outside the areas of current snowmaking operations, but didn’t see any on the lower mountain. A good amount of snow had been made in the Mighty Mite learning area, a fan gun was blowing snow above the lodge, and I could see at least one other gun going underneath the Mid Mountain Chair. The snow was certainly light and dry, and the powder had accumulated up to a foot in some areas. We hung out for a bit and let the boys play in the snow, then we headed off to Stowe to see if any ski options were available atop manmade base snow at Spruce Peak.
As we drove toward Stowe, we could see that the valley snow accumulations were quite variable. We had an inch or two at our house on the Waterbury/Bolton line, and there was a bit less in the center of Waterbury. North of Colbyville however, the ground was bare, and between there and the Stowe’s Lower Village, there was only the occasional dusting visible on the ground. As Powderfreak had mentioned in one of his reports to Americanwx.com, we saw a sharp increase in snowfall amounts as one entered the center of Stowe, where they had picked up a fluffy few inches earlier in the morning.
Up at the mountain base, accumulations were similar to what we’d seen at Bolton, with roughly 2 to 3 inches on the ground at the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club building. We were surprised to see that lift-served skiing was going on over at Spruce (Easy Street area), so we decided to skin up above that elevation and check out the options. We headed up toward the Sunny Spruce Quad, and found about 4 to 5 inches of fluff as we approached the top of East Run. The snow was definitely fluffy, so good turns could be had on grassy slopes, but beyond that it was sketchy. It was definitely rock ski/junkboard territory, although with all of the extra snow we’ve had in the past couple of days, that will be changing. To continue with the rest of the text and see all the pictures, click through to the Stowe trip report from today.