Bolton Valley, VT 21MAR2013

An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Still reaping the benefits of this week’s nor’easter at Bolton Valley

Today felt like a blast from the past… well at least the somewhat recent past of the 2012-2013 ski season.  With a silent Timberline Quad, luxurious untracked powder on the slopes, and fat skis on the feet, it was just like being back in December.  That second half of December was one of the best stretches for ski conditions this season, and it was the early date combined with some mechanical issues on the Timberline Quad that left the Timberline area the realm of those earning their powder turns.  Now we’re on the other end of season, and as it begins to wind down we find that the Timberline Quad isn’t running every day.  So it’s back to earning Timberline turns, but with a more established base of snow, and a lot more sunshine.

At some point earlier this week I realized that the Timberline Quad wasn’t running, so with some extra time this morning, I made my way up to Timberline in search of powder.  Our storm earlier in the week produced a nice resurfacing dump with about a foot of synoptic density snow, and it’s been followed up over the past couple of days by some dry fluff to really top that off for some primo powder skiing conditions.  Skies were clear this morning, with temperatures in the mid teens as I pulled into the Timberline lot, and the sun was just trying to break the ridge that marks the top of the resort to the east.  There were a couple cars in the parking lot and I could see tracks on the trails indicating that people had certainly been out taking advantage of the snow.  Depth checks at the Timberline Base elevations revealed anywhere from 12 to 15 inches of powder above the subsurface, although I tended to get reading in the 10 to 12-inch range higher up where the wind may have pushed the snow around at some point.  The main skin track today was up Showtime, and it took a somewhat unconventional route right up the gut of the trail because it was made in someone’s descent track.  It was quite a good track though, well packed and devoid of any footprints.  I saw about a dozen tracks from other skiers that had descended in the Showtime area, but untracked lines were still quite plentiful.

All was quiet when I arrived at the Timberline Mid Station, although I eventually saw a couple of snowboarders and skier getting on with their descents.  One of the lift operators showed up and began to prep the mid station area for use, and when I asked him about the upcoming schedule for Timberline, he said that it was opening back up tomorrow.  That is of course a bittersweet occurrence – it means that we can get lots of Timberline runs, but gone are the runs of endless powder day after day.  I figured that at least I’d made it in time to catch “Club Timberline” mode.

I poked around over at Spell Binder, and it looked good, but I ultimately chose Showtime for the descent because that seems to be a bit harder to come by.  Another aspect of the day that reminded me of December was the fact that all the west-facing headwalls appeared to be filled in nicely, without the usual scouring that can accompany a westerly wind – there must have been some easterly component to the wind during our most recent nor’easter.  The Showtime Headwall looked like it had been treated nicely by the storm, so I dropped in with the confidence that I wasn’t going to hit anything below the snow.  I pushed hard into those steep turns on the headwall, and the powder pushed right back, cushioning each movement of my skis with a snowpack of ever increasing density.  The turns were so silky smooth and buoyant that I have to give the conditions at least a 9 out of 10.  It really was utter perfection in terms of snow quality; with the only thing one could ask being perhaps some deeper champagne and a bunch of face shots.  After one quick stop I rattled off turns down the rest of the run, with a cadence that lingered in my head long after I was done.

I really wished that E and the boys could have been there, because the scene reminded me exactly of an outing we had back on December 28th.  The sun was out and the snow was great, and I know that they would have loved it.  I drove away thinking about how I was going to describe the skiing to E.  It turned out that it wasn’t going to be that difficult; because little did I know at time, I was actually going to be right back on those slopes again at the end of the day…

Bolton Valley, VT 16MAR2013

A black and white image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder on the Wilderness Lift Line trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Back to reality today with some good powder at Bolton Valley

Since we had some warm weather at the beginning of the week that brought all elevations above freezing, and a return to more wintry temperatures by midweek, I wasn’t even sure that we were going to ski today.  The snow surfaces were simply going to be hard, the only way around that would be fresh snow, and there were no notable storms in the forecast.  Because the weather pattern has been relatively prosaic over the past month or so, there hasn’t really been much of need for refresher storms, but they were definitely needed this week.  The only winter weather events in the forecast were a couple of small, upper level low pressure systems that were expected to pass through the area.  Each one looked like it would be a 1-3” type of event, which would hardly be enough to get past “dust on crust” conditions.  The Green Mountains came through though, working their magic to pull out up to 10” of snow from the first event, and another 6” from the second in the north central areas.  Even areas father north that didn’t jackpot with those two storms were well on their way to some nice conditions.

“I did numerous depth checks
on the powder up there in the
3,000’ range, and was getting
readings from 6 to 9 inches in
areas that didn’t have drifting.”

With the storms delivering, it was time to make a plan for some Saturday turns at Bolton Valley.  I expected that the 7” they’re reported in the past couple of days was a bit conservative, but with the new snow being split between Thursday and Friday, the best turns were going to be found on terrain that hadn’t been touched at all.  I decided that some moderate angle terrain on the backcountry network would be the way to go, and it seemed that one of the glades we’ve been skiing the past couple of weeks would fit the bill nicely.  With some sidecountry laps off the Wilderness Lift, we could get good access there.  That plan actually went by the wayside when I saw that the Wilderness Lift wasn’t running, but of course that opened up a whole new realm of untracked terrain in the Wilderness area itself, and we could certainly make use of that.

“The three of us packed
our bags with skins and
snacks, and headed up to
the mountain in the late
morning.”

E was dead set that she wanted to do a bunch of cleaning in the house today, so I couldn’t convince her to head out for turns, but she did insist that I get the boys out of the way.  No problem.  The three of us packed our bags with skins and snacks, and headed up to the mountain in the late morning.  Temperatures had been hanging in the low 20s F all morning in the valleys, and even colder in the higher elevations, so we knew that powder would be staying light and dry.  The on and off sun that we’d had in the lower elevations much of the morning was quickly replaced by light snowfall as we hit the 1,000’ elevation mark on the Bolton Valley Access Road – the mountains just didn’t seem to want to let go of that moisture.  The resort looked like it was doing a brisk business, with the fourth tier of parking in the Village lots just about full.  I chatted with the parking attendants about potential spots higher up from people that had already left, and ended up getting a good parking location right along the south edge of the lot.

There was lots of activity at the main base area as we boarded the Vista Quad, because the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge was taking place.  It would have been fun to hang out and join some of the festivities, but there was powder to be skied.  Our first test of the day’s conditions was Alta Vista, and indeed one could see that surfaces were much firmer than last weekend.  The grooming had definitely tilled the new snow into the base, but traffic had also made its mark on the terrain.  I’d hit some areas of excellent packed powder where my skis could bite soft and deep, but plenty of others where it was quite firm, and at 115 underfoot, the fat skis certainly weren’t the tool for the job there.  The skier’s left offered up its usual supply of powder, but it wasn’t quite the effortless, soft flow that it sometimes is; the powder hadn’t quite hit that threshold depth to really let you crank hard in there while totally avoiding the old base snow.

At the base of Upper Crossover, we began strapping on the skins to head upward.  Josh, who had found time for a break from his day’s duties, was out taking a run and spotted us in preparation for the ascent.  We chatted for a bit about the festivities going on with the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, and he brought up the fact that part of the event was a race.  I think they boys might have fun with that, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled if they do it again next season.  We bid Josh adieu as he continued with his run, and we finished preparing for our ascent.  I finished with Dylan’s skins first, and let him go to get a head start, then followed up with Ty and let him go.  They’re definitely becoming faster ascenders, but I knew I’d be able to catch them pretty quickly.  We found that there was a skin track in place, but it looked like only one other person had used it at that point, and that bode well for encountering lots of untracked terrain.  The weather was just perfect – wintry and moderately cold, with no wind.  I did numerous depth checks on the powder up there in the 3,000’ range, and was getting readings from 6 to 9 inches in areas that didn’t have drifting.  That’s after some settling over the past couple of days, but the 7 inches reported for the past two events certainly seems to be in the ballpark.  The crux of the ascent was actually right at the top of Bolton Outlaw.  New snow hadn’t settled in well there, and previous scouring left a lot of ice.  We really had to work our edges and do some side stepping and pole work to pass through that area.  Dylan muscled his way through a challenging slick spot that Ty and I staunchly avoided, and it was quite impressive to see him stick it out.  The boys recharged with some GU at the Wilderness Summit, and then we headed in the direction of Peggy Dow’s.

The descent featured some great snow, with generally that 6+ inches of untracked powder unless the wind had played around with it.  The best part of the descent was that the boys had plenty of time to work on their Telemark turns in powder, which is something they only get to do so often because they’re typically using their alpine equipment.  Today, with the quality of the snow and the very even subsurface, they were really making strides on those turns.  Time and time again I’d hear them hooting about how they’d just made “their best powder Telemark turn ever”.  Naturally the powder skiing wasn’t 100% bottomless everywhere, but you could definitely get a good percentage of bottomless turns on most pitches.  Since we’d all pulled out the fat skis to help in that regard, we were enjoying the fact that they were clearly doing their part to keep us off the subsurface.  Lower Turnpike was mostly groomed and had seen a little traffic coming over from Vista, but the edges held a lot of untracked snow, and powder turns were plentiful for essentially the entire descent.  It wasn’t going to be too hard to get the boys to do another lap if it seemed like that was the way to go.

Ty was raring to go again, but Dylan was calling for lunch after that lap, and the choice was made to head up to Fireside Flatbread.  The upstairs of the base lodge was full of people taking part in the various festivities of the day, so we sat at the bar and had our slices while we soaked up the scene.  My pizza was a fun combination of vodka sauce, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, and red onions, and Ty and I joked about how my slice was almost half of a large pizza.  That was Ty’s estimate, and I’d say it was more like 1/3 of a pizza, but it was a monster.  We enjoyed watching the pizza guys doing their quick and masterful assemblies of various pies.  I overheard them talking with one of the managers about the potential Fireside Flatbread schedule midweek next week, discussing the options for what they’d do it if dumps.  There’s the potential for a significant synoptic storm in the Tuesday timeframe, and that’s something we really haven’t seen much of in Northern Vermont so far this season.  We’ll be watching the forecast with anticipation just like them.

A black and white image of Ty and Dylan at the Fireside Flatbread restaurant at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Pizza boys

After lunch we hit the lower half of Wilderness and worked our way over to Snow Hole.  The boys had already asked about it on their first run, and it seemed like a great idea.  The snow was quite good in there, with just a couple of other tracks.  The light snowfall that had been with us during the morning had tapered off after a couple of hours, but clouds were generally around and the snow was still staying wintry all the way down to the Village.  We also did a run on Snowflake to work in some of the powder on Snowflake Bentley, and it really was still sitting there along the edges even as we were moving past mid afternoon.  The boys worked in some additional excellent Telemark turns on those pitches.  Conditions really only get marked down today because of the subsurface that is firmer than usual due to the warmth, and some spots being closed because coverage was a bit thin, but if this next storm is substantial enough, those issues could be remedied quite well.

Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 09MAR2013

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder of the back side of  Bolton Valley Resort
Heading up in elevation today to find that powder

Josh has been waiting for a while to get that perfectly clear day to finish up some media work at Bolton Valley, and today it finally came.  With the anticipated forecast, he set up for a 7:30 A.M. meeting today in his office, with the plan to catch an early ride on the Vista with the ski patrol.  Along with Josh and our family today, we had Leslie from ski school with her girls Alice and Laura, Vince on video, Shem on stills, and Brad from sales as another skier.  After catching that early Vista ride, the guys shot stills and video on Alta Vista, Sherman’s Pass, Sleepy Hollow, and then Fanny Hill.  They were using the early morning light well, and it seemed like they got some nice material  From there we caught another early ride, this time on the Wilderness Chair, much to the chagrin of people who kept coming by the chair thinking it had already opened.  A bunch of material was shot on Peggy Dow’s with some views of the Vista trails in the background.  All the kids were really patient with the work, which even required hiking back up some of the trails to shoot scenes again and ensure that they would be plenty of good material.  We all gathered in the base lodge for some lunch to finish off the session.

“For the best powder, you
had to stay above, or at
least close to, the 3,000’
level and stick to aspects
with a fair bit of northerly
component.”

E and Dylan had to leave after lunch because of a birthday party that Dylan was attending, but Ty and I hung around with the intention of getting in a backcountry tour.  With the way the temperatures were rising, I would have liked to do that tour in the morning to ensure the best powder, but the temperatures weren’t too bad up at elevation.  After switching out of our alpine gear and into our Telemark gear, we caught a ride on the Wilderness Chair, and headed off the backside just like I’d done on my tour last Saturday.  I had initially contemplated skinning up to the top of Ricker Mountain and starting the tour from there, but I decided to make it a bit easier on Ty since he’d already hiked a lot during the media session.

The backcountry snow conditions were certainly variable today, with the snow on south-facing or open terrain taking on a more spring like consistency, but higher elevation, protected aspects held winter snow.  For the best powder, you had to stay above, or at least close to, the 3,000’ level and stick to aspects with a fair bit of northerly component.    There was some mighty fine snow out there though.  The dry powder skied the easiest of course, but even the stuff that was getting a bit sun baked was skiing reasonably well.  Based on my observations from last Saturday, we traversed a bit more to the north before making our descent.  We caught some nice new lines, and even managed to get right back to the spot where I’d stopped my descent last time.  It had settled somewhat, but my skin track from last weekend was still there, so we made use of that until we merged into the upper areas where another main skin track took over.

To get to our front side descent, I changed up our route a bit, using Paradise Pass in the southerly direction to hook up with Heavenly Highway.  We then used Moose Glen to get us into position for the descent.  I think this option might be easier than what I did last time.  We took a break before we started out final descent, making use of the hot soup and cocoa that I was carrying.  They weren’t quite as necessary in terms of the cold relative to a tour in colder weather, but they hit the spot after using all that energy to tour around.  For our front side descent we used the route that drops us down to Snow Hole, and even when the snow had warmed, it was actually quite easy to ski.  Ty had a blast, and our route back to the base area was quite smooth – since I’d explored it already, I know just where to go for the best lines.  One of the best parts of the day was that Ty had a great attitude throughout – he was really positive about the whole experience and seemed to be having a blast.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a front and backcountry ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont on March 9th, 2013
Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from today’s tour – Click for full size image

It certainly did get above freezing up there at some point today though, as the high temperature at 2,100’ today was 44.2F, but there were very nice turns to be had up high.  The weather is expected to be warm and sunny again tomorrow, but hopefully we’ll be back into some snow during the midweek period to keep building the base.

Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 02MAR2013

An image of a ski track in powder in the terrain off the back side of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the substantial powder of the back side of Bolton Valley

Since the storm that came through in the midweek period, we’ve moved under the influence of an upper level low pressure system that is off to our northeast.  It’s keeping snow showers in the area, but as of this morning the Northern Vermont ski Resorts had only picked up 1 to 3 inches of snow.  Without much in the way of new powder, it was a little hard to get the boys motivated to head up to the mountain today, but E thought that they might be excited by some swimming at the Bolton Valley Sports Center.  Indeed that was enough to get them excited, so while E and the boys spent time at the pool, I planned to get in a quick sidecountry and backcountry ski tour.  My plan was to head off the back side of the Wilderness Summit to explore a line that I’d seen before, and then connect back onto the trails of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network and return to the village via a front side run.  Dylan had to get to a birthday party at 3:30 P.M., so I had to fit my tour into a two to three hour window.

An image of the ski patrol headquarters at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontE and the boys dropped me off at the base of the Wilderness Lift as they headed down to the pool, and light snow was already breaking out after a morning lull.  Temperatures were comfortable in the low 20s F, and winds were fairly minimal.  Rime still coated the trees all over the mountain, and clouds shrouded the upper elevations, leaving the overall views very white.  As I approached the Wilderness Summit, the chairs ahead of me began to disappear into the clouds, but visibility at the summit itself would up not being all that bad.

I followed the main route off the back of the Wilderness Chair that I’d taken before, and found a skin track ascending as I began my descent.  I initially followed the main drainage right below Ricker Mountain, but continued to head off to the north because I kept finding the terrain much more open.  The skiing was quite good, even if the powder was a rather dense, Pacific Northwest style snow, but it covered everything below the snow with such effectiveness that it really proved its worth.  There were numerous and continuous open areas, allowing for some big turns.  I’d pulled my fat skis out after a couple weeks on skinnier gear, and they were absolutely the call today.  The dense snow was accommodated well with girth and rocker, and there were minimal worries about catching a ski under the snow.  I continued to descend, heading generally northward when the appropriate opportunities arose, until I’d hit the 2,500’ elevation mark after descending close to 700’.  The snow was getting a bit of crust on it down at that elevation, and the terrain was flattening out, so it was the perfect place to stop.  I found myself in an area that I knew fairly well from previous tours, and with a little GPS guidance I was able to plot a course up toward Paradise Pass.

As I’d done on the descent, I continued to check the depth of the snow as I skinned up.  I generally measured depths between 20 and 30 inches before reaching a real solid subsurface, and although I was only skiing on the top several inches due to its density, it was still quite impressive.  All that wind that I mentioned in my Bolton report from February 18th had to put the snow somewhere, and plenty of it got thrown to the leeward slopes.  Combined with all the recent snowfall from various storms, it’s mighty deep out there.  The Mt. Mansfield Stake is at 63” as of yesterday evening, which is actually about a half foot below average, but at this time of year even being a bit below average means a pretty deep snowpack.  The intensity of the snowfall had picked up quite a bit since my tour began, I just about had to wear my goggles even while ascending because of the snow intensity at times.

I got myself up to Paradise Pass, and had to pull out my map a few times and I wound my way over to the section of Heavenly Highway where I planned to make my front side descent.  After a couple direction changes, I met my goal, and hit a glade I’d found that brought me right down to Snow Hole.  I couldn’t believe that the front side snow in the high elevations was even slightly better than I’d found on the back side.  I think that a little more of the recent snow had fallen there, creating a thicker coating atop the denser snow.  Whatever the case, it was sweet and allowed me to rip my way down through the terrain. Once down to Snow Hole I called E to check on their status – they were done swimming and were having lunch at the Village Deli.  With that info I was able to head toward the base of the Wilderness Lift, and then onward to the deli for some lunch of my own.  I was pretty bushed from keeping such a high pace on the tour to ensure that I got back to the village in time, and boy did I devour that sandwich.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a front and backcountry ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont on March 2nd, 2013
Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from today’s tour – Click for full size image

Later in the evening we went for a snowshoe tour around the neighborhood and across the Winooski, and the snowfall picked up, providing an excellent wintry scene.  We’ve already had more snow tonight than last night, and all these small rounds of snow are going to really help in keeping the slopes fresh.

Bolton Valley, VT 28FEB2013

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Wilderness Lift Line trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dad and Dylan leaving their mark as they get in some afternoon powder turns today up at Bolton

Our most recent storm brought up to 18 inches of snow to the Green Mountains, and while it was certainly much denser than Champlain Powder™, it provided a solid resurfacing to most areas.  Based on the conditions we’ve had in the Northern Greens, it was hardly necessary, but a slope refresher is usually good, and this stuff is going to keep that mountain snowpack growing.  I was busy in the morning, but with E and the boys still on break they came and picked me up in Burlington so that we could get in some skiing in the new snow.  E and Ty had been tossing around the idea of working on a report that Ty had to do for school, and they ultimately decided that they had to use some of the afternoon to get a jump on that.  So, it was just Dylan and I that initially headed up to Bolton Valley for some afternoon turns, while E and Ty planned to join us later if the work went smoothly.

In this area, snow has been falling all the way to the valley floors with the current storm cycle, but it’s still been fairly warm and the lowest elevations haven’t been accumulating snow except when temperatures drop overnight.  Today it was fairly warm as well, with temperatures around 40 F or so at our house when we headed up to Timberline.  We found that the snow there was already wet and spring-like, and I knew we’d be heading to the upper mountain to get to the best powder for turns.  Indeed the snow was much better up high – at the Vista Summit above 3,000’ it was still somewhat dense, but dry and ready to support some good powder turns.

An image of Dylan buzzing the camera as he skis by in some powder on the Wilderness Lift Line trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontBeing well into the afternoon, I decided to show Dylan some terrain off Ricker Mountain; we’d explored it before, but I doubt he’d remember that.  The snow did get somewhat thick as we headed down in elevation, even just down to 2,800’.  Dylan didn’t seem to have a problem, but if I stopped for extended periods I’d have snow starting to stick to the bottom of my skis.  Fortunately, it would be cleaned off as soon as I started moving.  We continued our run by making our way over to Wilderness, and that’s where we found some of our best powder of the day.  Although we were lower in elevation  than we’d been before, the snow Wilderness Lift Line was holding up quite well.

Our next run was a trip to the Villager Trees, and I gave Dylan his choice of line – he wanted the “Heaven” chute that he’d enjoyed the other day, so Dylan got first tracks through there.   His run wasn’t without some adventure though – at one point he caught an edge and went flying head over heels.  He was OK, but it took him a couple of minutes to realize that.  Dylan wanted to catch a run on Adam’s Solitude, but once we got down to the lowest Timberline elevations and saw how sticky the snow was getting, I decided that we could hold off and catch it another time.

While we were in the lodge getting a snack for Dylan, I saw that I had a new phone message.  It was from E, and she said that they had finished Ty’s work and were thinking of coming up for some night skiing.  She also recalled that because it was Family Week at the resort, they had No Strings Marionette Company putting on a show up at the main lodge.  We all planned to meet up, watch the show, and then get in some evening skiing under the lights.

The marionette show was excellent as expected – No Strings Marionette Company had spent a week in residence at Ty and Dylan’s school, so we knew their work.  Ty had brought his Telemark skis and Dylan switched over to his, so they spent the evening working on their Telemark turns.  After a couple runs, we snuck in dinner at Fireside Flatbread, and I was really surprised that the boys hadn’t had enough skiing after that.  There was some really nice snow out there though, with the very best of it in the highest elevations.  Dylan and I had noticed that the line of transition to notably wetter snow was about 200’ above the main base.  The snow below that level was still OK, especially with skier traffic, but it was above that level that the new snow was driest and skiing really well.  We started out with a typical training run on the Sherman’s Pass route, but Ty was eyeballing the impressively steep expanse of Spillway as we went by.  I commented that Spillway was too steep for him to be working on Telemark turns, but of course Ty would have none of that logic.  I acquiesced with the insistence that Ty practice Telemark turns even on the steep terrain, and by the next run we were dropping our way down the steeps of Spillway.  The snow was somewhat packed in the center of the trail, and even starting to develop a few moguls.  However, the sides, especially the skier’s right where the terrain is somewhat invisible as it falls away from view, held a lot of deep loose snow that was either still sitting there from the storm or thrown their by the work of other skiers.  That terrain falling away from view also equates to it falling away from the assistance of the night skiing lights, and that adds quite a different dimension to the experience.  With only the marginal assistance of the lights from the other side of the trail, it was quite a hoot making steep Telemark turns in down Spillway amidst copious chopped up powder.  I found some beautifully soft lines of there, and it was a reminder of how even semi-packed snow can be a lot of fun.  The boys were clearly having enough fun as well, because they wanted to keep doing more runs – we kept going until the lifts shut down.

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.