Bolton Valley, VT 20APR2018

An image of Erica skiing the Alta Vista trail in fresh April powder at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in fresh powder on the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Our latest April storm brought another heaping helping of midwinter powder to the slopes of Bolton Valley.

April temperatures have been running several degrees below average here in Northern Vermont, and for those awaiting warmth, the winter weather must feel simply interminable.  Some of us don’t have a whisper of complaint though, since we know when we’ve got a good thing going.  While average April temperatures around here can bring snow, below average temperatures typically bring more snow, drier snow, and preserve the snowpack.  With the approach of the current storm, the National Weather Service in Burlington was already talking about the potential for the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake to get back up to 100 inches, and as of this evening’s co-op report, indeed it’s there.  The snowpack is essentially wall-to-wall everywhere in the local mountains here, so topping that off with fresh powder is a recipe for some awesome skiing and riding.

“Well let’s just say, the turns were fantastic – we had medium to moderately dense midwinter powder covering everything, temperatures near 30 F, and an almost fully untracked resort to ski.”

It’s spring vacation week for E and the boys, so E was able to join me this morning for a tour in the new snow up at Bolton Valley.  We’ve had substantial accumulations of snow all the way to the valley floors with this latest storm, so I knew the potential was there for some dry, winter-style snow up at elevation.  We headed out this morning amidst light snow at the house, and arrived in the Bolton Valley Village to steady snow and temperatures in the upper 20s F.  A quick check on the new snow in the parking lot around 2,000’ revealed accumulations of 5 to 6 inches.

We started skinning right from the car up the Lower Turnpike ascent route, and found a decent skin track in place with just a couple inches of additional snow in it.  We eventually worked our way over toward Vista and the depth of the new snow continued to steadily increase with elevation.  By the time we topped out above 3,000’ on Alta Vista, my depth checks on the powder were revealing 10 to 11 inches.  We de-skinned by the trees out of the wind, and E was pretty slick with her ski-on skin removal.

An image looking up the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont with a fresh coating of April powder
Looking up Alta Vista with a fresh blanket of white
An image of Erica skiing powder near the Vista Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E throwing around some of today’s powder at Bolton Valley.

On the entire ascent the snow quality was looking really good, but you never quite know how things are going to ski until you drop.  Well let’s just say, the turns were fantastic – we had medium to moderately dense midwinter powder covering everything, temperatures near 30 F, and an almost fully untracked resort to ski.  Wind effects were pretty minimal on much of the mountain so it really was a dense, velvety resurfacing that skied like a dream.  It’s definitely a good time to get out there and enjoy those uncrowded slopes with all this new snow.

An image of a Sonar Blue lens for Anon M2 GoglesWith the continuing snowfall during today’s tour, I went with our Sonar Blue lenses for my Anon M2 Goggles.  They’ve got 46% visible light transmission and are recommended for graybird days and tree skiing, but they were definitely a good fit for today even with snowfall since we’re talking late-April light.

In an update from this afternoon, eyewall noted that he encountered about 7 inches of new snow at the Bolton Valley Village elevation, so it sounds like they’d picked up another inch or two with the additional snow since E and I had left.  That would put accumulations near the summits around a foot, so it’s definitely been a nice April event for the mountains around here.

An image of a tractor with snow in Richmond Vermont after an April snowstorm
Enjoying the snowy April views from the valley – cool temperatures have brought snow accumulations all the way to the valley bottoms with this latest storm.

Bolton Valley, VT 07APR2018

An image of Ty skiing in the Wilderness Woods area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing the Cougar trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A bit of snow fell yesterday and overnight to freshen up the slopes at Bolton Valley.

A modest winter storm came into the area on Friday and left up to 8 inches of new snow at the Vermont ski areasBolton Valley was reporting 3 inches up top, which seemed like a fairly minimal covering over the base snow that’s seen plenty of spring cycling, but we figured it was worth heading up for a couple of runs to see how the accumulations had settled in.  Sometimes 3 inches can ski like 3 inches, or sometimes it can ski like more, depending on how it was distributed and how densely it settled.

Ty and I headed up fairly early to find bright April sun among some on and off clouds, and temperatures in the upper 20s F.  We took an initial run on the Snowflake Chair to make our way over to the Vista Quad, and while we found the groomed terrain was skiing nicely, we didn’t really find that the snow was enough to get the skiing shaped up off piste, at least down there below the 2,500’ mark.

An image from the base of the Snowflake Chair at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Base of the Snowflake Chair

We still wanted to check out how accumulations had played out at the Vista Summit up above 3,000’, and Alta Vista revealed a few good turns off the usual protected left side, but they were in the minority.  We headed over toward Wilderness and did find some nice turns in the Wilderness Woods, but as Ty nicely put it, “You just couldn’t trust it on every turn”.  Indeed you could get a few nice turns on low angle terrain, but then you’d run into a spot that had been hit by the wind and you’d be back to contacting the hard spring surface below.

“I actually had some of my best turns of the day on the left side of Cougar, where several inches of new snow had settled in.”

The opening of the Wilderness Lift had been delayed a bit due to winds, but it had recently opened as we approached the bottom, so we figured it was worth at least one trip.  It was running slow due to winds though, so we dropped off at the mid station and headed down Cougar.  I actually had some of my best turns of the day on the left side of Cougar, where several inches of new snow had settled in.  We had first tracks on the lower part of Cougar as well, and where the snow was undisturbed by the wind the turns were quite nice.  We finished off dropping in and out of the Wilderness Woods, and for some reason, (perhaps the bright sunlight, or perhaps the deep spring snowpack?) they just seemed very open and smooth everywhere.  There were very few tracks in there, so we had our pick of fresh lines.  You still couldn’t “trust” every turn, just as Ty had said earlier, but we definitely had some good smooth lines through the trees in many spots.

An image showing a Sonar Silver lens for Anon's M2 gogglesIn line with the bright April sun, Ty and I both had a chance to try out the Sonar Silver lens for the Anon M2 Goggles.  It only lets through 6% of the visible light, so it’s even darker than the Sonar Red lens that we’d used last weekend at Magic Mountain, which lets through 14% of the visible light.  We swapped between the two actually, but you could definitely notice the difference – you could easily look toward the sun with the Sonar Silver lens and not be too strained, and I can see it’s going to be another great one for these types of bright, late season days.

“…Bolton Valley is going to open back up for a couple more bonus days of skiing.”

We finished off with a trip to the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery to grab some subs, and it was around lunchtime, so a crowd was building.  Although temperatures were wintry today, and there was some wind, that April sunshine easily warmed you up and you could see that folks were generally quite comfortable out there on the slopes.  It looks like temperatures will be warming up next week for some spring skiing, and Bolton Valley is going to open back up for a couple more bonus days of skiing.  From what I can see in some of the weather models, we may not be quite done with snowfall in the mountains yet either.

Bolton Valley, VT 15MAR2018

An image of the Ski Barn with new snow on the Bolton Valley Access Road near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dave skiing powder on the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Skylar just continues to churn out the snow in the Northern Greens, so Dave stayed around for some additional powder fun today at Bolton Valley

Being in the midst of this impressive storm cycle here in Northern Vermont, Dave decided to stick around for a bit more skiing today.  We’d had an absolutely fantastic outing at Stowe yesterday with the family, and today the goal was to visit Bolton Valley for some runs.  Like other local resorts, Bolton has been putting up some impressive snowfall numbers in the past several days, with 42 inches in the past 48 hours, and 62 inches in the past week.  Another interesting note was that the Timberline Quad was slated to open today at 10:00 A.M. – for the first time this week.  That had us intrigued.

“Like other local resorts, Bolton has been putting up some impressive snowfall numbers in the past several days, with 42 inches in the past 48 hours, and 62 inches in the past week.”

Although it was calm down at the house with huge fluffy flakes falling from the sky, I was definitely concerned about lift operations on the mountain with the anticipated winds.  Dave had checked the snow report as we were heading out, and there was no note of any lift issues, but once we got up to the resort we found that the Vista Quad was on wind hold.  The Timberline opening looked delayed about a half hour due to the time required to remove all the new snow from the lift terminals, but we were able to keep ourselves busy with some runs off the Snowflake and Mid Mountain chairs while we waited.  The mountain had indeed picked up another good shot of snow overnight, but it was notably denser than what we were skiing yesterday at Stowe.  You were still getting down in the powder to some degree, but you were definitely skiing much more “on” it at times as well.

An image of Dave skiing in the Lost Girlz area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dave working his way through the upper section of Lost Girlz as Winter Storm Skylar has finally put enough snow in there to provide good conditions.

When it was time to head over to Timberline, we caught first tracks on Tattle Tale.  Indeed the new snow was dense, but it was a lot of fun planing our way down through the untracked expanse of white.  Dave was definitely excited to get some of that feel today at Bolton, vs. the much busier slopes of Stowe from yesterday.  We spent the rest of the morning there, hitting lots of other favorites like Spell Binder, Brandywine, Adam’s Solitude, Lost Boyz, Lost Girlz, etc.  We headed back to the main mountain a bit after noon, and I headed out, but Dave was planning on a few more runs before heading on his trip back to Boston.

An image of a house with fluffy snow accumulations along the Bolton Valley Access Road near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Down in the sheltered areas along the Bolton Valley Access Road there were some nice snowy scenes

I got home to a driveway which needed to be cleared with the snow thrower again, after just having cleared it late yesterday evening.  We’ve passed two feet of accumulation now with Winter Storm Skylar here at the house, and it just keeps snowing.  We’re looking at some potentially great conditions continuing right into the weekend with snow showers around in the mountains.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 13MAR2018

An image of Stephen dropping off Heavenly Highway into some powder on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Stephen skiing powder in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Stephen enjoying some of the great snow out there in the Bolton Valley backcountry today

Today was a big ski day for Stephen.  He’s been working hard, for what seems like years, to put together an appropriate alpine touring setup for backcountry skiing at a reasonable price.  Over the past few months, the final pieces have finally been coming together.  Despite his son Johannes “stealing” critical pieces of what appeared to be his final setup, the gear swapping, shop visits, adjustments, readjustments, and everything else that tried to get in the way, was eventually settled.  All that remained was finding a day in his busy schedule to actually use his fancy gear.  Today was that day, and the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network was the place.

An image out the window of the Bryant Cabin showing icicles in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe got a fairly early start to give us plenty of time for a tour of whatever length we chose, I figured I’d give Stephen a good introduction to some of my favorite parts of the network that he’d never visited.  We’d be able to adapt the length of the tour as needed to fit energy levels and any equipment issues.  Snowfall from Winter Storm Skylar was just getting started as we began our tour from the sports center, and it intensified on our ascent of the Bryant Trail.  We saw only one other person on our ascent, and with the Bryant Cabin vacant, we were able to check out the upgrades that had been done as we took a quick break.  Clearly the cabin has seen some recent use, because the icicles draped down from the roof were some of the largest I’ve ever seen.

The next leg of our journey took us up to “The Glades” above the Catamount Trail, where we stopped our ascent around 3,100’.  Although the storm occasionally brought us some slightly larger flakes, they were for the most part small, with diameters in the 1 to 2 mm range.  This meant that the new snow was fairly dense, and it was covering everything underneath it quite well.  We continued down into the Cotton Brook Glades on Randy’s and Great White Way, and found some impressive untracked lines.  Stephen had a few good explosions in the powder, but he seemed thankful for most of them as they helped cool him down after the long ascent.  Those steep, tight sections on Randy’s were certainly the most challenging, but Stephen had some of his best turns down in the mellower pitches of Great White Way.  I find that those lower angle areas are some of my favorites as well unless you’ve just picked up two feet of fluff and really need the steeper pitch.

The ascent up from the back side was quite a labor at times.  It’s always tough skinning out in a few spots of that Cotton Brook ascent.  It’s just steep and narrow near the bottom of Randy’s, and there’s no way around it, so you have to try your best to set in switchbacks.  We were fortunate to have use of the old skin track that’s in place, but we were slipping on the steepest pitches.  Stephen was definitely feeling it as he’d take one step forward and what felt like 10 steps back, especially as he was getting used his very first day on his skins, but we made it through that struggle and the pitch of the ascent improved dramatically.  When we cut Stephen’s skins for his skis at full width, I was telling him how I considered that approach a “no brainer” vs. going with anything narrower, and after today’s ascent up from the Cotton Brook area I know he agrees 100%.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a tour in the backcountry at Bolton  Valley Resort in Vermont
GPS tracking data for today’s tour into the Bolton Valley backcountry

We finished off the tour with a line below Heavenly Highway down to Bryant Cabin, then on to Gardiner’s Lane and JJ’s, which delivered one of the best runs I’ve had there.  We’d certainly accumulated a few fresh inches of snow from the storm by that point, which helped make the skiing extra soft.  The Telemark Practice Slope was also aided by all the new snow, and made a nice end to the tour.  Actually, the tour wasn’t quite over at that point because we added on one of the most important parts:  sandwiches at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.  We even got to chat with Ralph Deslauriers while we were there, and naturally one of the topics of conversation was the very snowy week we’ve got to look forward to.  It sounds like Winter Storm Skylar is going to move up into Northern Maine and wrap some of that abundant Atlantic moisture into the Northern Greens, just like the way things happened last week after Winter Storm Quinn!

Bolton Valley, VT 09MAR2018

An image of two skiers walking through snowfall in the Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a snowboard track in powder snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm Quinn
With more snow from Winter Storm Quinn falling last night, today produced some beautiful powder skiing on the slopes of Bolton Valley.

Right on the heels of last week’s Winter Storm Riley that brought 40 inches of snow to parts of the Catskills, another nor’easter named Winter Storm Quinn hit the New England area during the middle of this week.  Quinn left three feet of snow in Southern Vermont, and really hammered the Southern Vermont Ski Resorts.  Up here in the northern part of the state, the accumulations weren’t quite that huge, but as of today the northern resorts were in the 1-foot range for total snowfall.

I actually had time in my schedule for some lift-served skiing at Bolton Valley this morning, and with half foot or so of additional power on top of yesterday’s snow, it seemed like there would be plenty of quality out there on all the slopes.  Indeed this overall shot of snow from Winter Storm Quinn had the potential for a good resurfacing of the trails, since my measurements down at the house indicated that we’d picked up close to an inch of liquid equivalent in our snow, and the local resorts should have seen at least that much.

“I took every steep and potentially rocky line I could find to get a sense for how aggressive I could make my turns in the powder before hitting the old subsurface or various trail obstacles. Try as I might to make contact with surface below, I just couldn’t do it.”

After getting to watch the Snowflake lift-op John, shred some endless tight turns on his snowboard, I made my way over to Timberline just in time to catch the opening of the chair.  My first run was Intro to Brandywine, and I took every steep and potentially rocky line I could find to get a sense for how aggressive I could make my turns in the powder before hitting the old subsurface or various trail obstacles, and I just couldn’t do it.  Even though Winter Storm Quinn only brought about a foot of snow and an inch or so of liquid equivalent, it had essentially resurfaced everything.  There’s little doubt that the robust coverage was due to the start of the storm providing some nice dense snow that simply adhered to and covered whatever was underneath.  My trip down Spell Binder revealed that the headwall was in prime form.  I launched off the ledges on the skier’s left expecting to bust down into a hard contact with the subsurface, but that simply never happened.  Although I didn’t ski it, I saw that even the Tattle Tale headwall was open, and that is really hard to cover well.  Along with the high density of the snow from the initial part of the storm, I think that fact that the storm had so little wind overall allowed the snow to really cover things well without the usual scouring.

Back at the main mountain all I can say is that everything was simply great: the powder, the groomers, all of it.  My measurements around the resort revealed generally 13” of settled surface snow at the elevations of the main mountain, and 11” at Timberline elevations, but the difference wasn’t noticeable in terms of the skiing – the new snow just covered everything.  Temperatures were in the mid-20s F during my session this morning, and I don’t think they were expected to go above freezing at the resort level, so the snow should continue to stay in great shape.

An image of the Bonus Woods area with lots of fresh powder at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching a line through the Bonus Woods today and admiring how everything was just caked with powder

We’ve actually got a winter Weather Advisory out for the Northern Greens for tomorrow into Sunday because there’s a chance for some decent upslope snowWinter Storm Quinn was the type of storm that took a track northward after it hugged the coast, and it’s now part of the general cyclonic flow over there in the Maritimes that just spins Atlantic moisture into the area.  Around here in the Northern Greens we like that setup very much and we’re looking forward to seeing what else Mother Nature might throw at us in the coming days.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 03MAR2018

An image of people riding fat bikes on the Nordic Trails at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont March after a fresh snowfall
An image of the Prayer Flag trail on the Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading down through a bit of fresh powder today on the Prayer Flag trail on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network

Yesterday the Northeast was affected by Winter Storm Riley, a whopper of a system with wind gusts reaching 93 MPH in Barnstable on Cape Cod.  On the winter side of the storm, the Catskills were the epicenter for big snowfall, with accumulations reaching 40 inches.  Here in Vermont, the snow totals weren’t quite as outrageous, but the southern resorts still pulled in over a foot of accumulation.  Bolton Valley was reporting 4 inches of new snow from the storm, which seemed like just enough to temp me out for a tour in the new powder.

“I didn’t have first tracks, but I did catch second tracks, and they were generally bottomless thanks to the dense snow and 115 mm fat skis.”

I headed up to the Village in the mid-morning timeframe with temperatures in the upper 20s F and mostly cloudy skies.  The parking lots were already getting quite full, but there were still a number of parking spots right along Broadway, and I was able to grab one of those.  I actually saw a few folks riding fat bikes on some of the lower Nordic Trails, and it looked like a perfect day to be out on those.  Actually, with the fresh snow, comfortable temperature, and peeks of sun, it was just a gorgeous day to be out on anything – I saw all manner of folks on the trails varying from the bikers, to snowshoers, to Nordic skiers, to backcountry skiers.

A direction arrow and snowy evergreens on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontWith only a few inches of new snow, I was looking for some low-angle glades for today’s tour, and I decided to venture across to the west side of the valley for a change.  I kicked things off with a run on Prayer Flag, augmented by ascending a bit farther up the west wall of the valley above the flags to get some extra vertical.  I didn’t have first tracks, but I did catch second tracks, and they were generally bottomless thanks to the dense snow and 115 mm fat skis.  Only when I had to cut hard to stop or adjust for a major obstacle would I get down to the subsurface.  Lower angle was clearly the way to go today though, because down on Brook Run I could see that steeper terrain like the Holden’s Hollow Glades will definitely need another storm before they’ll be back in top form.

Down at the pump house on Broadway, I reskinned my skis and headed back up World Cup to Bryant.  I skied the first half of Cup Runneth Over to start my next run, skipping the steeper bottom half because the new snow just wasn’t sufficient for that pitch.  Cup Runneth Over had seen a couple of skiers, but there was ample fresh snow remaining and the turns were generally very nice.  I finished out with some of the usual glades in the World Cup area, and even caught part of the Telemark Practice Slope, which had actually seen minimal traffic.

A Google Earth Map with GPS Tracking Data for a ski tour on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A map of today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

The classic end to the tour was of course a visit to the Village Deli to grab some subs with that fantastic new bread they’ve got.  I didn’t see Gus today, but the Deli was really hummin’ with just about every table filled.  It sounds like we might have another storm affecting the area this coming week, so we’ll certainly be watching that potential over the next few days.

Bolton Valley, VT 19FEB2018

An image of a ski track in powder snow in the White Rabbit area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Glades Right area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The excellent snow conditions were still out there today at Bolton Valley, as were a lot of untracked areas of powder.

Although today really was the President’s Day holiday, it didn’t feel like it to me because everyone seemed to have to go to school or work anyway.  My plan was to head to the office as well, but being a holiday, it seemed silly to miss out on the fantastic ski conditions that are out there, so I had to stop in at Bolton Valley for a few runs en route.

Today was the third in a string of really nice ski days featuring soft, midwinter snow conditions and temperatures in the upper 20s F at elevation.  You really couldn’t ask for much better timing for all the visitors to the resort over this long holiday weekend.  Figuring that the powder from our recent storms would be pretty tracked out by the plentiful skier traffic from the big weekend, my plan was to just work the legs a bit with a few on piste Telemark runs. 

“…Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”

But, as soon as I started down Vermont 200 I started began to look off piste and saw that there was simply too much good snow out there to resist.  Once I got into the trees I was finding untracked lines everywhere, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my ski session today.

An image of the upper White Rabbit area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching a beautiful untracked line through conifers in the upper part of White Rabbit.

I visited a number of spots that I hadn’t been in quite a while, including places like Glades Right, Snow Hole, and White Rabbit, and the skiing was so good that I had to visit some of them more than once.  I was amazed at how little traffic those places had seen as I glided my way through the powder and thought, “Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”  That’s of course one of the things that makes the mountain so great.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 18FEB2018

An image of Jay skiing powder in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing in the backcountry area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
For the first time this season the whole family was able to get out for some skiing together, and we were greeted with some fantastic conditions in the Bolton Valley backcountry.

After the good conditions I experienced yesterday on my tour of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, I knew today had some great potential depending on how Winter Storm Noah performed.  It wouldn’t take much to produce some really excellent skiing, and when the numbers finally came in this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow.  That was more than enough for the whole family to get together for a tour.

“The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.”

Although it’s already mid-February, today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family would have a chance to ski together.  It really looked like a beauty though, with close to 10 inches of snow in the past couple of days, temperatures in the upper 20s F, and snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon.  Arriving up at the mountain in the mid-morning timeframe, the resort was really humming with visitors once again.  We were able to get a prime parking spot right along the edge of Broadway, geared up, and we were on our way.

Since I’d like what I found on my tour yesterday, I brought E and the boys on a variation of that trip.  We headed up to Bryant Cabin, stopped for a quick break among about a dozen other backcountry travelers, and then headed on above Gardiner’s Lane as I’d done yesterday.  My skin tracks had just about disappeared with all the new snow overnight, but there were just enough vestiges of my passage to allow me to use my old track as a guide.

An image of Ty in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe descended through a lot of glades I knew well, in addition to a few different lines that we found in our explorations.  There were definitely plenty of good crashes in the powder, especially by Ty who seemed to enjoy the crashes as much as any aspect of the tour.  The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.

A Google Earth map overlayed with GPS tracking data from a ski tour in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map overlayed with GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour

We stopped in for some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery after the tour, and I got a great shot of Ty grappling with his huge sub.  It was great to finally get the whole family out together, and what a day for great ski conditions!

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 17FEB2018

An image of fresh snow on evergreen branches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a ski track in powder snow in the backcountry at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Yesterday’s cold front put down some excellent powder in the higher elevations of Bolton Valley

We had some great ski conditions in the area last weekend thanks to a couple of winter storms putting down a solid resurfacing of the slopes.  Ty and I hit some beautiful powder on Saturday at Bolton Valley, and the good snow conditions carried right over to our BJAMS ski program session on Sunday at Stowe.  Some mixed precipitation moved in as the weekend closed out though, potentially setting up some dicey conditions as temperatures cooled back down during the week.  Some new snow would likely be needed to soften up the slopes, but the only real possibility in the forecast was a cold front coming through the area on Friday.  It was only expected to drop an inch or two, but true to form, the resorts along the spine of the Northern Greens managed to reel in a solid four inches.  A subtle but important aspect of the snow that fell was that it started out dense and wet, then gradually dried out.  That held the potential to really bond it to the old snow and actually create a rather soft subsurface that would be great under the new powder.  You never know exactly how the layers are going to come together, but the potential definitely piqued my interest enough for a trip to the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.

“In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.”

We had a morning of blue skies and bright sun, but it was dimming just a bit ahead of incoming Winter Storm Noah as I headed up to the mountain around midday.  Arriving up in the Village, there was no doubt that it was President’s Day weekend – it took me several minutes to get a parking spot even down by the Sport Center and Nordic area because the lots were just jam packed.  Hopefully that’s a great sign that the resort is going to have a great weekend of visitors.  I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out today though – it was simply spectacular out there with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20s F.

“Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.”

My first real sign that there might be some great snow on the hill came as soon as I walked to the back of the car to gear up.  I’d backed into my parking spot and was pleasantly surprised when I had to remove almost a foot of powder to clear a spot so I could get my ski boots on.  The snow had clearly drifted some, but it was obvious that the resort had picked up a good shot of accumulation and I was eager to see what the protected environs of the trees held.

An image of a sign on the Bryant Trail indicating the direction of Bryant Cabin at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontStarting my ascent I generally found about four inches atop the old base, very consistent with what the resort had mentioned in the snow report.  It was actually tough to gauge the depth of the new snow at times though, because indeed the new snow had bonded so well to the old snow that it was hard to find the interface.  In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.

An image of one of the mountain operations buildings at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontI was inspired to try a couple of new areas on my tour today.  First, I ascended up the Bryant Trail, then past Bryant Cabin to Gardiner’s Lane.  I then ascended up above Gardiner’s Lane at an angle until I hit the evergreen line, and then contoured across at that elevation until I reached the North Slope area.  I stopped where I could catch a nice line all the way back down to Gardiner’s Lane, and got in some great turns.  Then, instead of continuing along Gardiner’s Lane, I dropped off into one of the glades and skied fresh lines down to the next bench.  I contoured on the bench until I found myself entering Gotham City, where I caught a series of various glades back down to Bryant.

Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.  I headed back up Bryant, and ascended back up to the bench near the bottom of A1A.  I worked back toward Gotham City and then ascended into some lines above.  I finished off my descent heading down Alchemist and back toward the Village for a stop in at the deli for some subs.

A Google Earth map showing GPS tracking data from a ski tour in the backcountry at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s ski tour in the Bolton Valley backcountry

The Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery was really hoppin’, but I definitely have to give a shout out to Gus and his crew for some great work managing all the holiday visitors.  Thanks Gus, the sandwiches were great!

Bolton Valley, VT 10FEB2018

an image looking down Bolton Valley toward the Winooski Valley at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The Northern Greens are definitely back at it now, with Bolton Valley picking up 16 inches in the past few days from Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo.

With the combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo over the past few days, Bolton Valley is reporting 16 inches of new snow and the ski conditions are taking off.  E and Dylan were off to Lake Elmore to do a polar plunge today, but Ty and I headed up to the mountain to make use of all the new powder.

“Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.”

We had snow falling at the house in the morning, and were surprised to see what looked like some brief sleet or rain as we passed through ~1,000’ elevation band on the Bolton Valley Access Road, but as we got to the switchbacks below 1,500’ near the Timberline Base we were hit with a wall of steady light snow.  We arrived at Timberline in the 9:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. range when the Timberline Quad was just opening, and had light snow falling with a cloud ceiling around 2,200’.

An image of the depth of the powder after Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Liam + Winter Storm Mateo = Let’s Go!

We kicked things off with a quick run through Wood’s Hole and the Corner Pocket Glades.  The powder was good, although you could feel that the freezing level had rise to just about the Timberline base elevations.  We found that total snowpack and coverage is OK below 2,000’, but those elevations could use one more solid storm to cover up some obstacles that still remain.

An image of Ty skiing the Glades trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping into some great snow on Bolton Valley’s Glades trail

We spent time over at the main mountain after that, with a couple of great runs connecting from Hard Luck to Show Off, which hadn’t seen much traffic and had excellent snow.  The main mountain was well above the freezing level and base depths are plentiful up there.  We had a quick break with some slices at Fireside Flatbread, and then we finished off at the main mountain with a trip through the Villager Trees before heading back to Timberline.  Eventually we took a lunch break at the Timberline Lodge before we finished off the day skiing over there, and it was definitely disappointing to see that South of Solitude isn’t running in the lodge – we were really amped to have some burritos!

An image of fresh snow on evergreen branches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThere was light snowfall when we first arrived, and it ramped up to moderate intensity at times, but the flakes were fairly small early on.  We had a period of heavier snow with big flakes near midday, but snowfall was typically on and off through the day.  The freezing line was climbing during the day, and at least based on the temperature’s effect on snow surface consistency, I’d say it was around 1,700’ around midday, and 2,000’ by the time we were leaving near 3:00 P.M.

Overall the skiing is excellent right now as one would expect, but I’d say the biggest improvements have been on piste.  The groomed terrain is skiing very nicely.  Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.  There really wasn’t a lot of champagne to top it off with this last storm, so I can’t put it up there with those primo dumps where you get that amazing density gradient of powder, but the powder skiing was still great.

An image of Ty spraying powder while skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Pow!

It’s nice to have some more typical Northern Greens conditions back in the house.  We’ve got some big flakes falling here at our place this evening, so hopefully we’ll get a nice addition for more fun on the slopes tomorrow!