Bolton Valley, VT 26FEB2013

An image of one of the chairs of the Vista Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The sun came out for some glorious redemption after yesterday’s clouds and snow.

Erica and the boys are on vacation from school this week, and it’s allowed us to do some planned media work with the folks at Bolton Valley Resort over the past couple of days.  Since last week, the Monday afternoon/Tuesday morning period looked like the best window for sunny skies between storm cycles, so Josh arranged for photographers (Justin) and videographers (Dennis, Sam, and Daniel) to be on site and capture whatever Mother Nature would permit.

Yesterday was a classic case of Mother Nature doing exactly what she felt like doing though – the forecast called for clearing skies in the afternoon, but as we drove up the Bolton Valley Access Road for a 12:30 P.M. meeting with Josh, we headed right up into the clouds.  Those clouds didn’t show any signs of pulling away as we gathered in the, and in fact to emphasize their command of the situation, they decided to send along some snow by mid afternoon.  It was actually some beautiful snowfall comprised of large, gently falling flakes, but it was clear that we weren’t going to see the sun.  With the clouds and snow, we laughed about how that was life in the Northern Greens, but that really is a good thing, even if it means a bit of waiting for prime ski marketing images.

“With the clouds and snow,
we laughed about how that
was life in the Northern
Greens…”

Fortunately, Josh knew how to make excellent use of the weather, and he took care of getting all the interior work done.  We had several families with lots of children, and Justin set up a variety of images in a couple of the hotel rooms.  Later we went over to the James Moore Tavern and got some dining and après ski shots there in front of the fire with pizza etc.  I had a good time, although it was definitely a lot of sitting around for Ty – he was getting pretty cranky by the end.  He was in sore need of some outside time on skis, so we were definitely hoping that the following morning would bring some sunshine with it.

An image of a photographer working with children in a hotel room at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont as he takes lifestyle photos
Justin works with some of the kids to get interior lifestyle shots at the hotel.

I had some work to do in the morning, but E and the boys were up at the mountain by 7:45 A.M. to kick off the day.  The media crew got to hit the lifts before they opened to the general public, and Dylan definitely enjoyed getting to ride one of those early chairs.  The crew did some shooting on Alta Vista and Cobrass, including what sounded like a fun time up at the Cobrass Café with the kids playing around in some of the deep snow.  It wasn’t 100% sunny, but there was great sun at times among puffy white clouds, and that made for some decent lighting.  I also heard everyone went for some off piste fun in the Cobrass Woods.  Ty dropped a pretty big rock in there, although it wasn’t caught on film.

An image of Dylan watching photographer Justin Cash as he takes pictures of a skier on the Cobrass trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Media work on Cobrass Today

I arrived at the mountain around midday, and as I was putting on my skis at the base of the Vista Quad, I ran into Daniel shooting video with his Canon EOS 60D.  He took advantage of my appearance and captured a tight video shot of me clicking into my alpine skis.  I made a run on Cobrass to catch up with the group, but didn’t quite overtake them until they’d already headed in for lunch.  I did need to eat as well, so that worked out for me, and E and the boys got to tell me all about their morning.  There was of course a lot of stopping during that morning session with all the photography and videography, but they’re somewhat used to that from hanging around with me all the time.  All the children (who ranged from roughly age two to teens) seemed to be handle the waiting, although fortunately that’s a lot easier to do when you’re out in the fresh air.  It was good that temperatures were very comfortable being right around the freezing mark, so nobody got too cold hanging around.

The crew reassembled for a couple more runs in the afternoon.  We headed over to Timberline and Justin took a number of shots of pairs of skiers skiing together and buzzing the camera.  Families were often mixed up for variety, but our family did get to ski together for some shots where the four of us were in a row and Justin skied right behind us.  The boys did a great job of holding their position, and Justin was appreciative.  Ty got into some powder on one of his runs along the edge of the trail, making some impressive turns tight to the trees.  Justin had to get along to Burlington by mid afternoon, but as we got toward that point we were starting to lose the sunshine anyway as clouds became more numerous.

Even though it wasn’t perfectly sunny at all times today, it was definitely a great one with a bit of spring in the air.  The freezing level rose up pretty high – the Bolton Valley Weather Station at 2,100’ got just above it to 33.4 F, and judging by the look and feel I bet that freezing line got up to ~2,500’.  There was a bit of a previous melt crust off piste below the 2,000’ mark in exposed areas, but powder was nice (albeit dense) above that level, and the groomed slopes were just beautiful everywhere.  There was even a bit of a spring corn feel to the snow down near 1,500’ on west-facing terrain at Timberline.  In any event, it was great getting some sun after being socked in yesterday:  That sunny window is closed now though – those afternoon clouds were harbingers of the next storm coming into the area.  It looks like it’s going to show some strong elevation dependence, but totals could be good up in the higher elevations were temperatures remain cool.

Josh didn’t waste any time employing his new media on the Bolton Valley website, because within a couple days of the photo shoot we saw a picture of E and the boys appearing in the slide show on the main page:

A screen shot from the homepage of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont showing an image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan skiing in a line.
Bolton Valley’s new material from this week’s photo and video shoot is already being put to good use!

We’re hoping Josh gets plenty of great images and video from the session!

Bolton Valley, VT 23FEB2013

An image of Dylan skiing in powder in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan drops into a powdery line in the Villager Trees today.

Snow from our current storm was just starting up when he headed up to Bolton Valley today – at roughly 11:00 A.M. we went from scattered flakes down the house at 500’ to a steadier light snow up at 1,500’.  After my quick trip to the resort on Thursday to check out the snow from our midweek upslope dump, I made note of several places to go to get E and the boys some powder turns.  So, after stowing our lunch in the Timberline Lodge, we hopped right on the Timberline Quad and got to the Timberline Summit.  The intensity of the snowfall increased as we headed up in elevation, and as we headed over to the Village we could feel how the groomed slopes were already taking on that coating of fresh snow.

Dylan said “That was
heaven!” and Ty insisted
“I could ski that all day!”

We rode the Vista Quad for the next leg of our trip, and indeed the intensity of the snowfall increased again as we headed still higher in elevation.  We had to hunker down against a somewhat easterly wind that was blowing in our faces as we rode the lift, but we knew we’d be into the protection of the trees soon enough.  We found the snow surface on Cobrass to be very impressive – the mountain presumably made some snow on the headwall and has been able to keep things in very good condition ever since through grooming etc.  E said that it was some of the best conditions she could remember seeing there.

We worked our way into the Villager Trees and found some excellent snow conditions, then we headed up to “The Knob” for some additional turns.  The boys were in very good spirits, and demonstrated some excellent teamwork as they got the gear up through “The Crack”.  We hit a nice steep line bringing us back down to the main thoroughfare in the area, and the boys were extremely enamored with the skiing.  Dylan said “That was heaven!” and Ty insisted “I could ski that all day!”  Anyway, they were very impressed with the snow.  We were still skiing in areas that hadn’t seen traffic since the last storm, so there were some deep turns to be had.  The settling of that snow plus the new synoptic snow falling on top of it meant that it wasn’t the ultra fluff that was available right after that upslope dump, but it was soft, bottomless, and only getting deeper as the snow continued to fall.  We finished off the long run all the way back to the Timberline Base, catching some good turns on Lower Tattle Tale and Spur.

That had been a long circuit, and the boys were ready for lunch by the time we got to the lodge, but their spirits were high.  They had enjoyed it some much that they requested doing the same run again.  That was really impressive because it’s the first time I can recall them wanting to head to “The Knob” a second time.  But, the snow was really good, and they had the fever for that fresh powder, so we did the same circuit again as soon as we were done with lunch.  The snowfall intensified as the afternoon wore on, reaching up to an inch an hour at times, but it was typically in the moderate range.  At the end of that run, Dylan fell right near the lift and hurt his thumb, so he went inside with E to take a quick breather, while Ty and I went for a run off the Timberline Mid Station.

Ty and I headed out on the traverse toward Doug’s Solitude, and found some good turns, but that area still needs a bit more snow since it’s fairly low elevation and it’s south facing.  The Solitude traverse was really fun though, Ty enjoyed that best as he sent himself off every jump and bump he could find.  When we got back to the lodge and found that Dylan was fine but calling it a day, we decided on one more run.  Ty wanted to get back to the Solitude traverse, so I introduced him to some of the lines in the Intro Woods and then we eventually worked out way back down to the Solitude traverse.  It’s still weird how the traverse has been modified to accommodate the off road driving school, but at least most of it is still intact.

At our car at 1,500’ I’d say there was about an inch or so when we left, but there was some wind so it was difficult to get a good read on it.  The temperature at that elevation was 30 F around 4:00 P.M., so we were curious to see how warm it was in the valley and if any snow was accumulating.  Indeed we found that snow had accumulated all the way to the bottom of the access road (340’) even though the temperature appeared to be in the 34-35 F range.  It seemed like there was a new inch or so at the base of the road, but it was even colder and snowier when we got to our house (~500’).  I found a temperature of 32.5 F and 1.8” on the snowboard.  Since that point the snowfall has been of lower intensity, with 0.8” additional as of 10:00 P.M.  The snow continues to fall tonight; it’s probably not going to be heavy, but it should make for some fresh surfaces tomorrow and we’re going to try to get in some early turns at Stowe before our BJAMS ski program if we can.  There’s also another potential storm coming to the area during the midweek period, so we’ll be watching for that one.

Bolton Valley, VT 21FEB2013

An image of a ski track in powder in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the bottomless Champlain Powder this afternoon

People have been talking about the potential for upslope snow on the back side of our current storm cycle for days, and indeed it delivered.  Just as the National Weather Service Office in Burlington predicted a few days ago, Jay Peak was the jackpot for this one, pulling in 27” of snow for the storm.  From there, it was just an easy walk down the spine of the Green Mountains with the snow totals falling in line:  24” at Smuggler’s Notch, 18” at Stowe, 16” at Bolton Valley, and on downward into the Central and Southern Greens.  The early morning pictures from Jay Peak were impressive, as parked cars already began to disappear in the snow, and although I was busy in the morning at work, if I found the time I was going to have to hit the slopes in the afternoon.  Since I’m writing this, you can guess that I found some time.

“It wasn’t just good,
it was really good
– even by Northern
Vermont standards.”

I got up to Timberline in the mid afternoon and caught a ride on the Timberline Quad with a bartender on his way up to work at the James Moore Tavern.  He lives at the Bear Run Condos, which are slopeside along the Timberline trails, so technically this was his “commute” to work.  There was hardly anyone around on the lift since it was getting pretty late in the day, but because he was with me he decided that he’d count it as car pooling.  In order to ski home, he often catches a ride to the top of the resort with one of the groomers late in the night when he’s done his shift at the bar, and he said that last night during his nightly excursion, the snow was coming down like mad.  It sounds like he had a fun “commute” home last night.

Snow surfaces had been pounded pretty flat by the wind when I’d last visited the resort on Monday, so I figured that it was really going to take a good dump to invigorate the surfaces.  I was somewhat skeptical that this storm would be enough… until I took that first turn in the powder off to the side of Villager.  It wasn’t just good, it was really good – even by Northern Vermont standards.  It was somehow really dry, while still being bottomless.  What I’d forgotten was that the resort had picked up some denser snow yesterday morning, and that was sitting down below this latest Champlain Powder™ fluff.  That sequence created a beautiful right-side up combination of snow layers.  Powderfreak found the quality worthy of comment as well on the American Weather Forum, so indeed it was some impressive powder in which to make turns.

An image of fluffy powder snow sitting on evergreen boughs in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontSince it was mid afternoon and people had been out skiing the fresh snow all day, I didn’t really have the run of the resort so to speak with respect to powder.  The wind was also having its way in some exposed areas, but I knew where to go.  From the Vista Summit I made my way down into the Villager Trees, where the snow was protected and there was plenty of untracked powder.  The trees in the there were glorious to behold with all the delicate powder layered on them.  I got into some good lines off The Knob, farther skier’s left than I’ve been this season.  I probed the powder in various places during my travels, and the measurements all came back in the 15-19” range for settled depth.  I don’t believe that was all from this storm in areas that hadn’t seen much traffic, but things start to get deep when it’s powder on top of powder.

An image of snow sitting on dead branches on an evergreen in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The fluff was everywhere today.

Since my car was down at Timberline, I was able to finish off my day there, and I caught some nice turns upon traversing over to Lower Tattle Tale.  The Tattle Tale headwall was scoured, but boy was there some deep, well-protected powder on the lower half.  I had the trails to myself since it was the end of the day, and Spur was particularly enjoyable as I followed the main track and skirted in and out of the powder on the sides to check my speed.  I caught a little bit of powder on the bottom of Spell Binder, and I’m sure it was nice getting fresh tracks there this morning.

The bulk of this storm was really focused on the Northern Greens, and the skiing has definitely stepped back up a notch after getting pretty flat and beaten down over the weekend.  This was a much needed dump of snow with so many of the big synoptic systems missing off to the south of the area, and the snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake has reached 65”; it’s finally gotten back above average after being below for a month and a half.  We’ve got the potential for a modest snowstorm this weekend, and then another next week, so those could really help to keep building the snowpack if their tracks are halfway decent.

Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 18FEB2013

An image of a ski track in powder snow in the drainage heading down to Goose Pond behind Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Getting in some nice turns on the way down to Goose Pond today

The weather was quite nice on Saturday, so we had a good family backcountry outing at Bolton Valley, but the weather yesterday was simply nasty.  I contemplated heading up for a quick tour, but when I saw that the Bolton Valley Village temperature was at 3 F around midday, I wasn’t all that inspired.  When I checked again in the afternoon, I saw that it had actually dropped a degree to 2 F.  As if the cold temperatures weren’t enough, there was a hefty wind for good measure, and it was strong enough that the Vista Quad seemed to be closed for much of the day.  With that going on outside, it was extremely nice spending much of the day getting things done inside instead.

“…the powder was very
much like what we found
on Saturday – a general
8 to 12 inches, and there
was no internal melt layer
up at that elevation.”

Today’s temperatures were definitely expected to improve though, so after I took care of some work in the morning, I planned on a short tour up at Bolton Valley in the afternoon when the day’s warmth would be at its peak.  Under a cloudless sky, temperatures were up into the mid 20s F in the valleys, and close to 20 F even up at 2,000’ when I arrived in the Village in the early afternoon.  There was still plenty of wind though, so Mother Nature didn’t seem to want to let that go for some reason.  Fortunately, the winds weren’t strong enough to shut down the Vista Quad (yet), and that let me proceed with my planned tour.

For today, my goal was to explore the drainage that dropped off behind the Bolton Valley Wind Turbine and led down to Goose Pond.  From the pond, I planned to hook up with the Woodward Mountain Trail, connect back to the Vista Summit, and make a front side run back to the Village.  The wind was a little brisk as I prepared my gear at the car, so I went with my thicker fleece layer in anticipation of what might be going on up above 3,000’.  The resort was definitely winding down in activity from the holiday weekend, and there were only a few people around as I boarded the Vista Quad.  It was my first time on the Vista Quad this weekend, and the lift ride was certainly enlightening, albeit somewhat discouraging.  The combination of holiday traffic, but probably even more so the strong westerly winds, left the snow surfaces pounded flat, flat, flat.  Everything looked packed out; even the trees along the Vista Quad Lift Line seemed to have lost a good part of their fluffy disposition.  The resort had that look of an “old snow” scene, with the trails stripped of loose snow, the tree branches devoid of fluff, and even slick patches visible here and there.  I was thankful that I was heading to the leeward side of the mountain, but the snow seemed so beaten down it seemed hard to imagine that I’d find fluff even there.  The lift slowed down and even stopped a few times on my trip up, presumably because of the wind, and I was thankful that I was only planning one ride because I wondered how long they’d be able to keep it turning.

Once at the Vista Summit I headed over to the wind turbine, then passed underneath it into one of the openings in the forest.  Above the noise of the wind itself, the turbine was cranking away with its own sound of spinning blades.  It was really moving in winds that had to be 25 to 30 MPH, and I was happy to see it free of rime and actually doing its job.  The noise of the turbine blades in the wind was substantial enough that it actually took a while to fade as I dropped into the drainage and began my descent, but after a few minutes of navigating downward the noise diminished to just the wind itself.  Finding a route through the gully was actually quite easy, as there were obvious open areas that could be connected.  I can’t say that I found one continuous line for skiing, but there were enough open areas to make it enjoyable.  A little trimming to connect those areas would make for an even better descent.  At first I was concerned about the scoured and wind-packed snow that presented itself on the initial drop from the turbine, but that dissipated and only reappeared in a few exposed spots lower down.  Other than that, the powder was very much like what we found on Saturday – a general 8 to 12 inches, and there was no internal melt layer up at that elevation.  The forest I encountered was a mixture of evergreens with a few hardwoods and a touch of brush here and there, and as I approached the pond down at around 2,800’ it became one of those dark spruce groves that permit little understory growth.

An image looking down the Woodward Mountain ski trail in the Bolton Valley backcountry in Vermont
Checking out the Woodward Mountain trail as I continue my ascent

Down in the open area of the pond, I found myself exposed to the wind, and it was really ripping.  What I observed was a rather austere, winter scene, but not quite the peaceful place it might have been without the incessant wind.  I stayed just long enough for a couple of pictures before I retreated into the shelter of the spruce forest.  I put on my skins for the ascent, and found an easy route through the spruce; the trees were tall and the only hindrance was the occasional presence of dead lower limbs that hadn’t yet fallen off.  With the help of my GPS, I hit the Woodward Mountain Trail in about 10 minutes, and my pace accelerated at that point because I found that there was a skin track that others had used for ascent.  There were a few ski tracks on the trail itself as well, but it hadn’t been used too heavily.  It was easy to see that the trail was designed well though, because it was often just on the leeward side of the ridge and held a lot of powder.  The trail is rather wide in spots, up to 50 feet or more, so I’m sure the turns through there are a great way to start off a tour of the entire trail down to Waterbury Reservoir.

Just before finishing my ascent and emerging back out at the Vista Summit, I hit the fire tower and headed up to take in the view.  The wind was intense up top, probably 40-50 MPH, but I was able to get a few photos of the great views in every direction.  I quickly got down, took my skins off my skis for the front side descent, and to my surprise (although I guess with those winds not too surprising) when I emerged at the Vista Summit I saw that the Vista Quad was entirely shut down.  It was almost spooky how deserted the summit looked for that time of day, but I basically had the whole upper mountain to myself at that point.  I headed over toward Cobrass for my descent, and I’m not sure how long the lift had been closed, but the trails had already received a resurfacing due to snow sifting in on the wind.  The surface of Cobrass was actually quite nice; it was very easy to dig with my edges, even on my fat skis, and I enjoyed my solo descent.

I headed into the Villager Trees and up “The Crack” to the top of “The Knob” to get in some additional powder turns on my way back to the Village.  Folks have been busy in that area in the off season, because I could see some new lines in there that looked like fun.  I stuck to a line that I knew, and nobody had been in that area yet so the tracks were fresh.  The powder was generally good, although there were some spots where the wind had gotten to it, and I could really feel the assistance I got from the rocker and width of my AMPerages in handling that crust.  Down in the lower sections of the trees there had been a lot more traffic, and combined with the wind I had to do a little more work to find the best untracked snow.  Those lower sections seemed to fly by though, as I found myself going fast through areas with packed snow and less powder.

A Google Earth map showing the GPS track for a ski tour of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont and the nearby backcountry on February 18th, 2013
GPS track of today’s ski tour mapped onto Google Earth – click for full size image

I finished off my run, stopped in the main base lodge briefly, and then headed to the car.  I was surprised to find that the wind had virtually disappeared down at the Village level, despite the way it was cranking along up high.  The lower mountain lifts were running, but many folks seemed to be winding down their day as it was getting toward that 4:00 P.M hour.  It was in the low to mid 20s F at the base – warmer than it had been when I arrived, and it felt very nice without the wind.  It had definitely been cold up high though – my cheeks could still feel that bite that comes along with cold winter air.  In terms of upcoming weather, we’ve still got a good chance for some upslope snow during the midweek period.  That’s good, because the lift-served slopes could really use a freshening based on what I saw today.

Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 16FEB2013

An image of Erica skiing powder in one of the glades in the Nordic and Backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E enjoying the powder in one of the glades today

Although the recent midweek storm gave a decent shot of snow to the Northern Greens, with Stowe picking up a foot of snow, and Jay Peak picking up a foot and a half, it’s still been fairly dry in general.  Because of the rather high Froude Numbers for that storm, the more west-side locations of Smuggler’s Notch and Bolton Valley saw them picking up just a half foot of snow during that event, and that’s what Bolton was reporting for their seven-day total as of today.  The dearth of snow and a holiday weekend had me thinking a tour on the Nordic/backcountry network was in order, because there’s some excellent snow out there, but there’s been enough time since if fell for lift-served traffic to pack it down pretty well by this point.

“Depths of powder above whatever
firmer subsurface lay below were in
the 8-12” range, with a bit of that melt
layer in there in the lower elevations
or on south facing terrain.”

I devised a somewhat ambitious tour for today, at least with respect to what the boys might be willing to accommodate.  It would be an opportunity to show E and the boys the two glades that I discovered last month on the 19th and the 27th.  The plan was to skin up Bryant to the Bryant Cabin, descend through the first glade, then connect over to the alpine trail network, catch an assist from the Wilderness Lift to the Wilderness Summit, traverse out on Heavenly Highway, ski the second glade, and return to the car via the Nordic/backcountry network.  If we couldn’t complete the whole tour we’d have some opportunities to truncate it as needed.  The forecast called for some sun and temperatures in the 20s F today, so it looked like we wouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting cold too quickly.

An image of our car parked along the edge of the Broadway trail in Bolton Valley's Nordic skiing area with Erica unloading backcountry ski gear in preparation for a ski tour
Unloading and preparing the gear along Broadway

We arrived up in the Bolton Valley Village in the late morning period, and the main parking lots were getting pretty full, but we were able to get a trailside spot right on World Cup in the lower tennis court lot.  There were plenty of people about as we began our ascent, including a number participating in the “Bolton to the Barns” event.  We ran into Alex, one of my former students on his descent with the event group, and learned that he is now at Tufts Medical School, although he seemed very happy to be back in Vermont visiting Bolton Valley. Dylan asked for just one break on the ascent, and we pulled over into the sunshine along the top section of World Cup and had a snack.

An image of the World Cup Nordic Trail at the Bolton Valley Cross Country Ski Center in Vermont
Admiring the beautiful conditions in the World Cup Nordic trail as we pause for a snack on our way up to Bryant Cabin

Near the start of our tour when we’d passed by the Courtside 1 Condos on Broadway, we ran into a Nordic skier who was pausing there.  She inquired about the substantial width of E’s fat skis, and E indicated that they were for powder skiing.  The woman seemed puzzled because as far as she could tell there was no powder around.  She wished us luck on finding powder, but you could tell she figured it was a lost cause.  It was very interesting to hear her speak that way when just a few feet away from her off the side of the trail, you could see the powder sitting there.  People certainly have some unique perspectives on snow conditions.  As a Nordic skier, perhaps she’s got a totally different idea of what powder snow actually is, or she may have just been oblivious to what conditions were like off the groomed runs of the Nordic trails.  Anyway, in terms of the actual snow conditions, out near the car a bit above the 2,000’ mark there were 2 to 3 inches of fluffy snow above a bit of a melt/sun crust, but I suspected that crust would disappear as we got out of exposed areas and headed up in elevation.  Indeed, pretty quickly in shaded areas I found that the powder was deeper and the melt crust underneath was disappearing, and after a few hundred feet of ascent it was essentially gone.  Depths of powder above whatever firmer subsurface lay below were in the 8-12” range, with a bit of that melt layer in there in the lower elevations or on south facing terrain.

An image of Bryant Cabin in the Bolton Valley backcountry showing the snow depth outside reaching halfway up the windows
Snowy Bryant Cabin

An image of a thermos and cup sitting in powder snow outside the Bryant Lodge on the backcountry trail network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe found the Bryant Cabin in use with the woodstove pushing a fragrant plume of smoke out the chimney.  When we talked to one of the guys using the cabin, he said that the resort is no longer renting it or regulating the usage; you can just use it on a first come, first serve basis.  I’m guessing that also means that they aren’t supplying wood, which is why we frequently saw him browsing around for dead stuff to throw on the fire.  We sat down and had lunch off to the side of the cabin clearing, and enjoyed hot soup, cocoa, and other items we’d brought.  Various groups of skiers made their way past while we were there; it was probably one of the busier days I’ve seen out there on the backcountry network, and it was nice that all the people were out supporting the use of the trail system.  Hopefully the initiative to buy the land with the help of Vermont Land Trust will go through and people will be able to continue enjoying it as public land.

An image of Black Diamond AMPerage, Black Diamond Element, and two pairs of Volkl Gotama Junior skis mounted with Telemark bindings and sitting in the snow near the Bryant Cabin on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network in Vermont
The Tele powder boards hanging out at lunch

“We found the Bryant Cabin
in use with the woodstove
pushing a fragrant plume
of smoke out the chimney.”

Our first descent was in the North Slope and Gardiner’s Lane areas, and the powder was very good in the upper elevations.  On our first pitch dropping from North Slope, conditions were just right so that both Ty and Dylan made some nice Telemark turns.  Later, Ty dropped a nice Telemark-style jump turn launching off one of the steeper pitches, and he was very proud of that.  The boys threw in a good amount of alpine turns, especially when they wanted to go faster, but it was all around great practice for them.  Like I’d noticed on our ascent, the last couple hundred vertical of the descent featured some of that melt crust below the powder.  We were on a south-facing slope, so that certainly wasn’t surprising.  I found my fat AMPerages to be really helpful in that terrain, and E had some nice turns on her Elements, but she’s still finding them hard to get up on edge in packed snow due to their width.  We’re wondering if the play in her boots is just too much and it’s ruining the ability to convey the necessary pressure into the ski.

We connected over to the Wilderness Double Chair and took it to the Wilderness Summit as planned, but Ty was pretty insistent on a quick descent without additional skinning.  So instead of heading across on Heavenly Highway to drop through the second glade I’d chosen for the day, we opted to descend on Peggy Dow’s to quickly get to Snow Hole.  There was decent powder in Snow Hole, although it was certainly more tracked and packed than what we’d seen in the backcountry glades.  I got off to the sides of the main route a good deal though and got a number of fresh lines, and at times the boys would follow me.  We did make a good connection back onto the Nordic network and caught a few final turns on the Telemark Practice Slope and other lower mountain glade areas before heading back to the car.  We’ll be planning another tour at some point to catch that second glade; I still want to show it to E and the boys.

An image of a Google Earth map showing the GPS track of a ski tour on the alpine, Nordic, and backcountry areas at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont on February 16th, 2013
A map of today’s combined alpine, Nordic, and backcountry tour at Bolton Valley – click for full-size image

Our next shot at snow appears to be coming into the area in the Tuesday timeframe.  It looks like it’s going to be a pretty standard frontal passage at face value without much fanfare in terms of snowfall, but there is definitely the potential for some upslope snow.  The crew at the National Weather Service Office in Burlington has had their eyes on the potential, and Powderfreak has been watching as well.  We’re hoping for that snowfall boost from the upslope snow, because there isn’t much forecast in terms of synoptic snowstorms in the immediate future.

Bolton Valley, VT 09FEB2013

An image of Ty skiing waist deeppowder in the KP Glades at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont thanks to winter storm Nemo
Ty, finding Nemo quite rewarding today.

Winter storm “Nemo” dropped up to 40 inches of snow on parts of Southern New England, and the effects were much less dramatic up here in Northern Vermont, but we did pick up over a foot of snow at the house, and Bolton Valley’s snow report came in at 14 inches this morning.  Being far enough away from the core of the storm, winds weren’t a big problem, but the forecast called for fairly cold temperatures with a high of around 10 F in the mountains.  Today’s skiing held a little too much potential to let a bit of cold get in the way though, so we brought along some hand and foot warmers for the boys, and headed up to Timberline.

“As for the skiing, it was
a decent day with plenty
of powder, but certainly
nothing epic.”

Today was actually the first time this season that we had a chance to get in a Timberline-based day, and there was a surprising amount of activity at the base area when we arrived.  There was even a couple minute lift queue present at the Timberline Quad not too long after lift opening.  Ty commented that he’d seen a sign indicating that the Vista Quad was down, and it turned out that it was down all day due to electrical issues.  That made for some substantial queues of several minutes at the Timberline Quad in the late morning period, but they dissipated in the afternoon.

An image of Dylan skiing powder in the KP Glades at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont after winter storm Nemo hit the areaAs for the skiing, it was a decent day with plenty of powder, but certainly nothing epic.  We checked out Spell Binder, which had some coverage issues on the headwall outside the center strip where they’d made some snow.  There were also some massive death chunks, some that were the size of basketballs, which were left over from the snowmaking in the transition zone between the natural and manmade snow.  They had groomed most of the lower part of the run, so powder really wasn’t as plentiful there as it usually is.  We did find some very nice powder turns in the Corner Pocket Glades though, with first tracks through a good part of that area.  We also found some great fresh snow in the KP Glades and the Sure Shot TreesTwice as Nice really needs one more round of base building, and that’s the case with a lot of natural snow terrain down in the lower Timberline elevations.  The turns are generally fine, but you need to be on your guard to avoid any spots where coverage is a little low.  The off piste is skiing well because it gets more minimal traffic, but it would be nice to have another couple feet of base there to better cover up underlying objects.  We’d occasionally bump something under the snow today where we typically wouldn’t expect to find anything.  We never ventured over to the main mountain with the Vista Quad not operating, but the base depths there generally seem sufficient to avoid those types of issues.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder in the Corner Pocket Glades at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E glides through some of today’s fluff deposited by Nemo.

It was definitely fun being back in the Timberline groove today, we had an early lunch and the lodge was moderately busy, but there was still ample space.  Some of us did a little rating of the overall skiing when we were discussing things at the end of the day – Dad gave it a 5 out of 10, and Ty gave it a 6 out of 10.  A couple more decent storms will get those lower elevation Timberline trails fixed up, and it looks like the next one could be coming in Monday.  February is becoming a lot more active in terms of winter storms, which is a nice change from the relatively dry January period that we went through.  We’re looking forward to the upcoming stretch of skiing at Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley, VT 29JAN2013

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Finding good turns today in 8-10″ of powder

The Northern Greens picked up roughly a half foot of new snow thanks to the storm that came through yesterday.  There was actually a general 3-6” of accumulation up and down the spine, with the southern resorts catching the lower end of that range.  Although this was a rather modest storm, the past couple of weeks have been pretty lean on snowfall, so it was a nice way to put an end to the bout of dry, arctic air that had been hanging out in the area.  We picked up 4.5 inches of snow at our place in the valley, and that actual turned out be our largest storm so far in 2013.  The snow quality was certainly good; my analyses revealed water content of 5% H2O for the snow that fell through the afternoon, and then 4.3% H2O for the additional snow in the evening.

“Since there hasn’t been much
traffic in a while, the combination
of the most recent snow and lighter
events from last week provided
8-10 inches of beautiful powder
over a smooth base.”

With the conditions already quite good based on observations from my outing on Sunday, and Bolton Valley reporting 5” of new snow up top, it was definitely a morning to hit the slopes.  I contemplated heading up to the main base to get the most snow, but as I drove past Timberline it looked pretty good so I decided to check it out.  I went back and forth for a few moments about which base to visit, and eventually decided to stay where I was because it was generally quiet and I was hoping I could keep out of the way of any grooming equipment.  There were a couple of other cars were parked below the center island below the lodge, which meant that there might be a skin track already in place.  It was a nice morning – it was cloudy, but there was no wind and the temperature there at 1,500’ elevation was 22 F.  That was very pleasant after the arctic temperatures we’ve recently seen.

An image looking down a long spine of man made snow atop the headwall of the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont with trees visible in the background below
Snowmaking spine on Spell Binder

I began my ascent and followed the skin track that people had established on Twice as Nice.  My depth checks on the powder consistently revealed 4” new, which is what Bolton reported for the base elevations.  For the descent I headed over to Spell Binder, since a groomer was working on Showtime, and there were already a couple of tracks and a groomed strip on Twice as Nice.  I’d forgotten that the mountain could make snow on Spell Binder, but they’d made some snow on the upper headwall area.  There were some huge snow whales there, which they’ll have to spread around at some point.  The approach to skiing the steep terrain on the headwall was a toss up.  One option was to ski on some of the manmade snow, but there were some tricky snow formations made by the guns, and the 4-5 inches of snow wasn’t enough to keep you from touching down on that dense manmade surface.  The other option was to ski the sides of the trial that had not seen snowmaking.  The base snow was of higher quality, and there had been additional round of powder on top of it, but there were spots of poor coverage where snow had been swept away by winds.  I ultimately made use of both options, going where my line took me.

I was a bit conservative in my skiing of the headwall since I didn’t want to hit any rocks that might be lurking under the snow, but once I was below that, the rest of the trail was in another league in terms of snow quality.  Since there hasn’t been much traffic in a while, the combination of the most recent snow and lighter events from last week provided 8-10 inches of beautiful powder over a smooth base.  Sunday’s turns were certainly good, but with the addition of this latest storm, these were the deepest turns I’d had in a couple of weeks.  The top levels of the snow were in that 4-5% range of H2O content, and there was a nice gradient of more dense snow below.  It was that combination that powder skiers seek for great turns.

The addition of this latest storm has certainly helped the meager snow totals that we’ve seen this January.  We’ve now had almost 22” of snow at the house this month, however, that’s still only about half the average I have in my records.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a warm day, so this latest round of powder is going to settle down, but the forecast says we’re back into the cold tomorrow night into Thursday, with some chances for snow.  No large systems are expected, but some Clipper systems may come through in the next several days, and the Greens can usually do something nice with that moisture and often pull out totals just like we saw today.

Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry, VT 27JAN2013

An image of ski tracks in powder on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Making tracks in the Bolton Valley backcountry today

We’ve had arctic air in the Northeast all week, which has made it one of the coldest and driest periods of the season.  With the lack of moisture there’s been only an inch of snow at the house in the past seven days, and although Bolton Valley was reporting a similar accumulation, they had picked up a few inches since I was last there for my backcountry outing on the 19th.  I also suspect they’ve picked up various small accumulations of dry arctic snow similar to what we’ve seen down here at the house, but they haven’t hit that one inch threshold for the snow report.  Although still rather cold this weekend, temperatures have definitely moderated somewhat from the beginning of the week… when high temperatures actually remained below zero in many locations.  Yesterday we topped out around 15 F down here at the house (495’), and the afternoon temperature was sitting around 4 F up in the Bolton Valley Village (2,100’).  Today we actually got up around 20 F at the house, and when I arrived at the Village in the mid afternoon, the temperature was a reasonable 12 F.  The arctic air is definitely waning.  Although I wasn’t planning on doing too much skiing this weekend with the combination of air temperature and minimal new snow, I at least wanted to get out one day for a tour.  I almost got one in yesterday, but ran out of time since we were having James and the kids over for the evening.  However, E and Claire cancelled our BJAMS ski program at Stowe today due to the forecast temperatures, so it gave me the opportunity to get in an afternoon tour.  I think today actually worked out to be the better ski day of the weekend, since it was almost 10 F warmer up on the mountain, and we had sunny skies in contrast to a bit of gray yesterday afternoon.

“It was surprising to think
that the snow was holding
pat after such a dry week,
let alone improving.”

Last weekend’s outing on the backcountry network was fun, since the powder was decent, but also fruitful in that I discovered a nice new glade in an area I hadn’t previously visited.  That discovery really wasn’t planned, but since it worked out well I figured I’d go with a similar theme today; my goal was to check out a descent off Heavenly Highway in the Moose Glen area.  It’s an area that E and the boys and I have wanted to explore for a while.  Since the boys were a bit under the weather and they weren’t going to head out in the cold temperatures, it was another solo outing for me.  I find these solo outings work well for reconnaissance though, because I can move quickly and efficiently and explore a lot of terrain relative to when we’ve got the boys along.

“As I slid through that last run in
the powder, my feet felt really quick.
I guess that’s the best way to describe
it; the pitch of the slope, the depth of
the powder, and the length and width of
my skis all just came together to make
everything work for Telemark turns.”

Once again, despite the chilly temperatures and dearth of fresh snow, the main parking lots up in the Village were pretty full, so the resort was getting a lot of visitors.  On piste conditions are actually pretty good based on what I’ve seen though, as the arctic air appears to be preserving packed powder surfaces very nicely.  I’ve been sort of down on the arctic air that’s been hanging around because it doesn’t bring fresh powder for skiing, but boy does it do a heck of a job on snow preservation.  Even though new snow has been minimal in the past week, I could tell that the quality of the snow on the ground had improved as soon as I began my ascent today.  I saw a bunch of Telemark skiers working on turns on the Telemark Practice Slope, and even though that was a tracked area and they were often on the subsurface below the powder, the turns were very quiet.  As I probed around and checked depths during my trip up the Bryant Trail, I could tell first hand that the subsurface had improved since last weekend.  Presumably that ultra dry arctic air has been working on it, because it was even more crumbly and Styrofoam-like than last weekend.  The conditions also seemed to be bolstered by additional powder.  Whereas last weekend I found 3 to 4 inches at the 2,100’ level and 6” up at 2,700 at the Bryant Cabin, today I found roughly 5 inches at the base elevations and 7 to 8 inches at the cabin.  It was surprising to think that the snow was holding pat after such a dry week, let alone improving.

An image of drifted snow along the edge of the Bryant Trail on the Nordic/Backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Along the Bryant Trail

My ascent went smoothly, and I saw a few other groups of skiers here and there having fun in the good snow.  After reaching the Bryant Cabin, I continued on up to Heavenly Highway, and once I got up to around the 3,000’ elevation I could really see just how well preserved things were at those elevations.  In protected areas, the evergreens were still coated in white like snow had just fallen.  I finally switched to descent mode in the Moose Glen area, where below me sat a nice open, untracked line powder line.  The pitch looked perfect for the 6 to 8 inches of medium-weight arctic fluff that it held, and I could see the exact line I wanted to take.  As I sat there contemplating those first turns, there was an almost tangible excitement in seeing if the snow was going to deliver.  As good as the snow can seem on the ascent, making those turns is really where the rubber meets the road.

I dropped in and the turns were smooth and effortless; there was still the occasional touch on the subsurface, but indeed the conditions had taken quite a leap since last weekend.  There were a couple old tracks from previous skiers to give me an idea of where to go on the descent, but I also let the lay of the land dictate the route.  A number of clear areas offering nice turns, but I could tell that many more shots would be available if the snowpack was bumped up a foot or two.  After some consolidation and this dry January spell, snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is about a foot below average, so typically some of those areas with brush would be covered by now.  Hopefully we can do some catching up on snow depth in the next couple of months.

An image looking down at an untracked powder line from Heavenly Highway in the Moose Glen area on the Nordic & Backcountry Ski Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Getting ready to drop in

I continued downward in a general southerly direction and entered an area of flat terrain among evergreens.  I could tell that it was a bit of a shelf with land sloping off to the south.  There was a clearly cut route that entered the area, but the ski tracks that had led me there disappeared.  After a few minutes of poking around, I was happy to find that my instincts had led me in the right direction.  There was a nicely made glade dropping down the initial steep slope, and then in mellowed out into a large, sparsely treed area with lines everywhere.  I enjoyed a lot of good turns in there, and I eventually found that it had led me right down in Snow Hole, which without the Wilderness Lift running, didn’t have many ski tracks.  I was really appreciating the consistency of the snow in Snow Hole – the powder was just perfect for the pitch; it was dry, but somewhere just on the dry side of medium in density, and the floatation was great.

When I came to the fork indicating the route over to the Wilderness Lift, I opted to check out the right option instead, and quickly found myself on Gardiner’s Lane.  I was really liking the overall setup of this descent, gaining that extra elevation above the Bryant Cabin had already given it that extra boost of vertical, and I knew I still had some good turns to go.  On World Cup I headed past the glades adjacent to the Telemark Practice Slope, since I could see that they had seen a number of skiers, and continued on until I got to some additional untracked lines.  The woods are pretty open there, so there was no need for a specific glade to get some really nice turns.

As I slid through that last run in the powder, my feet felt really quick. I guess that’s the best way to describe it; the pitch of the slope, the depth of the powder, and the length and width of my skis all just came together to make everything work for Telemark turns.  I’d say that was really just the pinnacle in terms of that feeling, but all day today I felt good on the AMPerages.  After the way they’d felt slow at times last weekend when I hit the Bruce Trail, I was tempted to switch to my narrower-waisted RT-86s today for a faster feel with a potentially firmer base.  In the end I decided that I wanted the float of the AMPerages, and I’m glad I went that route.  Whether it was that improvement in the powder, the subsurface, the snow density, or just the lines I hit today, they were the tool of choice.

This is a Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the Nordic/Backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
GPS tracking data for today’s Bolton Valley Nordic/backcountry tour – click for full size map

It was getting close to 5:00 P.M. before I was done with my tour, and now that we’re over a month past the solstice, I’m definitely noticing (and thankful for) that longer light.  We’ve also got some warmer temperatures coming in the next few days, with a dramatic change in the weather pattern this week.  A storm is coming in tomorrow that is forecast to deliver a modest 2-4” type of snowfall, but that is going to feel like a lot after only arctic dustings over the past week or so.  We’re also expected to go above freezing with the next round of the storm as it cuts to the west, but hopefully we’ll get some additional snow on the back side.  We could be into a more active pattern going into next weekend, which would be nice to build the snowpack after these January doldrums.  With that said, I’ve certainly got a new found respect for what these arctic weather conditions can do for the snowpack, so if we do get another round of that weather, the skiing could be good as long as we can get at least some snow to go with it.

Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry 19JAN2013

An image of ski tracks in powder descending from the North Slope trail on the Nordic & Backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Heading off into the powder below North Slope today

It was a lot of fun skiing in the soft snow and warm temperatures last weekend, but winter is definitely back now.  Temperatures dropped down closer to seasonable levels at the beginning of the week, and then the bottom fell out toward the end of the week as we dropped below zero F Thursday night with an arctic frontal passage.  Fortunately, we’ve also had some modest shots of snow to start freshening the snowpack, and temperatures were back up to around 30 F in the mountains today, so it did seem like a good opportunity to get out for some turns and exercise.  Stowe is reporting 8” of snow since Wednesday, and the skiing looks great based on the pictures that Powderfreak posted in the ski thread and the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forum today. Bolton Valley is also reporting 5” of new snow during the period.  Although I’m thinking of waiting until we hit roughly the one foot mark before checking out the lift served terrain, it did seem like we’d seen enough new snow in the past few days to provide some decent backcountry turns.

“…I found 3 to 4 inches of fluff
down at the Village level, and
that gradually increased to the
4 to 6 inch range by the time I
got up to the Bryant Cabin at
around 2,700’.”

With all that in mind, I decided to hit the mountain for a quick tour up to the Bryant Cabin and back through whatever terrain seemed fitting for the conditions.  We’d reached the mid 30s F down at the house (495’) when I headed out around 2:00 P.M., but up in the Village at 2,100’ it was just 31 F.  There certainly hasn’t been enough snowfall yet to really resurface the slopes and get the on piste conditions back to normal, so I couldn’t believe how the Village parking lots were virtually full.  I wasn’t even able to get a parking spot in the upper tennis court lot like I usually do because it was full, but the lower tennis court lot had a decent number of spaces, and I was still able to park trailside along Broadway.  The resort was hopping though, so I guess the holiday weekend and the comfortable weather are enough to make people really want to get out there.  Overall that’s great for the resort of course.

“Indeed the turns in the powder
were silky, especially when
aided by the width of my
AMPerages, and it was nice
to feel that float again.”

In terms of unconsolidated snow above the old base, I found 3 to 4 inches of fluff down at the Village level, and that gradually increased to the 4 to 6 inch range by the time I got up to the Bryant Cabin at around 2,700’.  Coverage on the Bryant Trail was generally fine, although a couple of the stream crossings had only recently filled back in after presumably being blown out a bit with running water during the warm spell.  Traffic out in the Bryant area was pretty light once I was up above the Nordic trails – I saw a couple of skiers descending and a couple groups coming down on snowshoes.  The air was generally calm, although you could occasionally hear some gentle gusts of wind up in the peaks.  We’ve got another system and arctic frontal boundary coming through tomorrow, so there was that feeling of being between systems.

An image of Bryant Cabin on the Bolton Vally Nordic & Backcountry network at Bolton Vally ski resort in Vermont
Bryant Cabin

There was nobody in the Bryant Cabin area when I arrived there, and it was very quiet as I made my way past and stopped at the top of Gardiner’s Lane.  I could see some of the glades above me, and the look of the powder up there was very appealing, but I could tell by the tracks of a couple of other skiers up there that the new snow wasn’t quite deep enough to really make the turns bottomless.  As I was stripping off my skins, I heard a little noise coming from above me in the Birch Loop direction, and soon another backcountry skier passed by and headed down Gardiner’s Lane.  I’m not sure what he’d been skiing up above, but he probably had a similar plan to mine for the terrain below – there are a lot of nice mellow options off Gardiner’s Lane that would work really well with the conditions.

An image showing a measurement of the powder snow depth atop the base outside the Bryant Cabin on the backcountry ski trail network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The powder is building.

Conditions on Gardiner’s Lane were packed, and a little bumpy in spots.  At the junction with North Slope, I headed up a bit to catch a nice mellow line that I knew, and I’m glad that I did.  I could see that another skier had taken in before me, and the tracks left behind suggested some nice turns.  Indeed the turns in the powder were silky, especially when aided by the width of my AMPerages, and it was nice to feel that float again.  Back on Gardiner’s Lane, I had a feeling that I was in the zone of another glade I knew, and figuring that Gardiner’s Lane itself would have seen a fair share of traffic, I decided to head on that lesser used route.  Only one other skier had passed through there, and the snow was good, but the pitch was too steep to avoid contacting the base snow.  Below there I followed a set of tracks to an area I’d never been, and found a nice long glade that brought me all the way back down to World Cup.  It’s got to be one of the longest glades I’ve seen out there.  I’m not sure how new it is in the grand scheme of the backcountry network, but it’s new to me; I can’t wait to show it to E and the boys – especially with deeper powder.  Someone did some nice work in there.  The glade starts off with some mellow terrain that was great for today’s conditions, and then it steepens out to more of an intermediate pitch.  I was even able to finish off with a run on the Telemark Practice Slope, which did have some irregularities in the subsurface snow due to previous skier traffic, but still delivered some nice turns – even a few in which I was able to stay floating in the powder.

A GPS map on Google Earth showing a ski tour taken on January 19th, 2013 using the Nordic and backcountry ski network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
GPS Track of today’s tour on Google Earth

Overall I’d say that that part of the run in the new glade was a good description of the general conditions out there – you can get some bottomless turns (especially with the help of fat powder boards) on the mellower green-style terrain, but on intermediate pitches and above you’re going to be touching bottom a lot.  It was definitely worth a tour out there today though, and if we get a few more inches as the next system passes through tomorrow, it’s going to be even better.

Bolton Valley, VT 12JAN2013

An image of Ty Telemark skiing on a warm January day in soft snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Soft turns in the sun today at Bolton

Repairs on the Timberline Quad at Bolton Valley are complete, and although I heard that it actually started running yesterday, today was our first chance to check out the Timberline area and make some turns.  Forecast temperatures in the 40s F are more like March or April than January this weekend, and with no need to head out early for powder, we opted for a warm, afternoon session.  When we headed up to the mountain around 1:30 P.M. or so, temperatures both at the house (495’) and up at the Timberline Base (1,500’) were in the low 40s F, and although I thought we’d have generally cloudy conditions, it was actually mostly sunny.  It’s great to have Timberline and that Timberline vibe back though, we pulled in and found probably a couple dozen cars present, and I was able to drop off E and the boys and park right below the lodge.  With the sun shining and mild temperatures, it was easy to think it was one of those spring Timberline outings.

An image showing ski tracks on the Showtime trail at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Leftover tracks at Timberline

The Timberline trails were looking really sweet in the sunshine, and you could see that areas that hadn’t been groomed hadn’t even been tracked out.  There were a couple of spots here and there where snow coverage was low, but they were pretty minor (aside from where a snow cat seemed to dig some holes on Showtime).  I think the resort has got to be pretty happy that even the low elevation areas of Timberline are looking good with mostly natural snow.  I know some snow was blown on parts of Timberline Run, but I’m sure that money has been saved on snowmaking for some runs like Showtime.  I guess they could make snow in some areas going forward if they want to beef up the base for the spring.  In the snow report they mentioned that there were a couple of trails closed for various reasons, but with Timberline in operation, the mountain is running at just shy of 100% open.

As they’ve often done in the spring, the boys went with their Telemark skis today to get in some practice, and the soft conditions were perfect for working on their turns.  We did a couple laps on the Villager/Timberline Run route, with Sure Shot thrown in as well.  Both boys went without the cables on their bindings, and while it worked well for Ty, perhaps because his new Telemark boots are stiff and supportive enough, it seemed a little sloppy for Dylan.  I think his boots are worn in enough that he might need that extra tension from the cables.  We ran into Luke and Claire and we were able get in some fun turns with them – Claire was definitely enjoying the ease of the Timberline logistics today as well.  Everyone made plenty of soft carves in the snow today, and it looks like we’ll continue with these conditions tomorrow until things start to cool down at some point Monday.  After that we’ll be looking for new snow to hopefully get back to powder conditions; it’s going to be fun to get back into some powder with Timberline in operation.