Light snow fell yesterday during the daylight hours while we were at Stowe, but the snowfall intensified after dark and we picked up more substantial amounts of snow in the evening. Knowing that the same thing was going on at the local resorts, it seemed like this morning would be an excellent time to catch some turns in the fresh powder. So, I decided to head up for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley.
When I’d left the house the temperature was still right around freezing, but by Bolton Flats I hit winds associated with the cold air moving in, and by the time I got up to Timberline the temperature was down around 20 F. I found several cars in the usual parking spots off to the right, and they belonged to various skiers and riders coming and going from trips in the new snow.
“Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.”
On my ascent I found a nice skin track in place on Twice as Nice, and I frequently checked the depths of the powder. Wind had pushed the snow around a bit, but I generally found depths of 5 to 8 inches with spot amounts up to 10 inches near the Timberline Mid Station. I opted for Spell Binder on the descent, and even though the headwall had seen a lot of its snow blow around, the usual spots that hold the snow yielded excellent turns. Throughout the trail, turns were bottomless aside from a few contacts with the subsurface here and there, and I found protected spots with depths of over a foot.
Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.
Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day. I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in. Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour. I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City. I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical. I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches. The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area. The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.
Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more. We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.
Ski conditions have been in sort of a holding pattern here in Northern Vermont. We just haven’t had any big snowstorms in the past couple of weeks, and that’s what we need to get the off piste terrain back in prime shape. With that said, there’s certainly some decent off piste skiing out there in various spots. Powderfreak highlighted how good some of the tree skiing was at Stowe today, despite the fact that Winter Storm Jaxon had a substantial amount of mixed precipitation. It was just one of those storms that finished off with some dense sleet to snow that really resurfaced whatever lay beneath.
I was sort of curious about the conditions up in the mountains today, and when temperatures rose up into the 30s F even at elevation, I decided that there would certainly be some soft snow out there. I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon timeframe and parked at the Timberline Base to start my outing. With the main base of the resort at 2,100’ up into the 30s F, I knew it would have warmed down there at 1,500’. The scene at Timberline was quite mellow, with generally calm winds under cloudy skies, and just a sprinkling of skiers visible.
“As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.”
As I rode the Timberline Quad, the conditions below me on Showtime looked, and even more importantly, sounded very good. I couldn’t hear a thing from the turns of the skiers below me, so I hopped right off at the mid station and went for a run. Indeed the snow on Showtime was great, probably softened a bit by the moderate temperatures, but it was immediately obvious that a major portion of the snow quality came from the fact that the resort had just blown a ton of snow on it.
“…it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.”
That snow on Showtime was worthy of being lapped for quite a while, but I still wanted to find out what the snow was like in the higher elevations, so I headed all the way to the Timberline Summit. As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all. I hadn’t seen Powderfreak’s post and photos about the snow at Stowe at that point, and I really wasn’t expecting much, so it was indeed sort of a pleasant surprise. It did make me think back to something I’d read in the Bolton Valley snow report earlier in the day:
“Updated Saturday, January 27th at 7:57 AM – News and Notes: Come and get it folks. The sun will make an appearance today and the trails have a pleasant surprise feel to them making for a fun combination. If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
The report literally had “pleasant surprise” in it, and I can absolutely see what they were getting at. With that commentary, and what I’d encountered off piste, I decided to head off to check out the powder over at Wilderness. What I found was that even areas that had seen some skier traffic over there were offering up some nice soft turns, but untracked areas with that coating of a couple inches of powder were very nice. It’s really the dense, yet soft, material underneath that is providing the good turns vs. the couple inches of powder on top, but hey, the combination really comes together.
I gradually worked my way back to the Timberline Base to complete my tour of the resort’s terrain, and it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder. Despite the good conditions I found in many spots, high-traffic and windblown areas are definitely in need of a resurfacing. The worst spots will need a couple inches of liquid equivalent, but good base is in place in most areas, so all we really need is a decent storm with about an inch of liquid equivalent and we’ll really be back to more typical on and off piste conditions. We’re expected to get into a more active wintry pattern in February, so we’ll see if any storms swing through to bring what we need.
The weather has been a real roller coaster ride over the past two to three weeks. We were in the deep freeze over the holiday week and the first week of January, so while the snow quality was great, air temperatures and wind chill values just didn’t make for comfortable skiing. Winter Storm Grayson hit the area in the January 4th through 6th timeframe and dropped roughly 10 inches of snow here at the house, but the temperatures that followed were still too frigid to make great use of all the snow. Temperatures finally moderated this past week in association with Winter Storm Hunter, but the early part of the storm brought a mix of precipitation, so the skiing wasn’t great at that point. Frigid air once again came in right after that storm, but mountain temperatures finally moderated into the teens today, so Ty and I made a quick trip up to Bolton Valley in the afternoon to check out the ski conditions.
Bolton picked up about 5 inches of dense snow on the back side of Winter Storm Hunter, and that actually did a pretty decent job of resurfacing the slopes, but the snow and sleet were still dense enough that the resort wasn’t comfortable opening ungroomed terrain. From the Vista Summit, Ty and I tried out Alta Vista, which of course was fairly scratchy in its steep upper section being the end of the ski day, but the snow that had accumulated on skier’s left from traffic was quite nice. We actually helped a gentleman who was in well over his head and stepping down that first steep section of the trail. Although Alta Vista is listed as an intermediate trail, that first section is clearly a black diamond pitch, and even more challenging than that when it’s been scraped down after a day’s worth of skier traffic. We ventured off into the lower part of the Vista Glades, and low to moderate angle terrain that was untracked was really quite smooth. In general the off piste turns were beautiful with that dense covering of a couple of inches, as long as the pitch didn’t get too steep. We considered heading over to check out the lower parts of Wilderness, which are loaded with that sort of terrain, but just didn’t have enough time before the lifts closed. All in all though, if you didn’t get out this weekend, you weren’t really missing anything too spectacular – conditions are well below average. Temperatures are remaining nice and wintry, so freshly groomed terrain I’m sure is making for some fantastic carves, but we’ll need another nice shot of snow to get the off piste back in prime form.
“Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal.”
One extra fun aspect of today was that Ty finally got to try out the combination of his Anon M2 Goggles and Anon MFI Tech Balaclava that he got for Christmas. For those unfamiliar with the goggles in this system, a unique aspect is that the lenses are held in with magnets. So, you can pop them out with a quick pinch of the frame and change them in seconds, but the magnets are quite strong, so the lenses never pop out unless you want them to. Another part of the system that is ridiculously slick and ingenious is the balaclava. You know that gap you always have between the bottom of your goggles and your balaclava or neck warmer? Well, you don’t have it with this system, thanks to more magnets. Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal. Ty had been asking for a balaclava will full face coverage, so this system was literally perfect for him. Today’s benign, but reasonably cold conditions were a great chance for him to test out the system to see how it performed for him, and he loved it. Hopefully it will serve him just as well on his next chilly, storm day. And hopefully, we’ll get the weather to stabilize into a more typical pattern and have some of those days soon!
I last got out for a ski tour at Bolton Valley on Tuesday, with the plan of getting in some turns ahead of the very cold weather that was forecast for the rest of the holiday week. Indeed the cold came into the area as expected, and while the low temperatures were far from anything that would set records, high temperatures that were staying below zero F and wind chills on top of that meant that it was going to be brutal out there. Today marked a bit of a respite from those temperatures though, with highs expected to be well up into the single digits F, no winds, and sunshine. I figured that today was my window to get back out for a ski tour before temperatures dip back down in the coming days.
The warmest part of the day was expected to be in the afternoon, with a southerly flow of air thanks to the remnants of Winter Storm Frankie passing through the area. I went with two base layers (lights under heavies) just to ensure that I’d be comfortable, and headed up to the mountain around 2:30 P.M. There was still some dim, arctic-looking sun pushing through the clouds off to the south as I arrived at the Village and parked right along the edge of Broadway. Temperatures were in the in the 5 to 10 F range, and with no wind it was actually quite comfortable – within a few minutes of starting my ascent of Bryant I was skinning without a hat in order to cool off.
“Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns.”
We’ve had perhaps an inch or two of snow since my last outing on Tuesday, and at Village elevations I was finding about 5 inches of powder atop a thick layer. That surface snow depth definitely increased a bit with elevation, and if you punched through the thick layer in the snowpack you’d be looking at 18 to 24 inches of snow before getting to whatever base snow was below that. Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns. Some of the best sections were Girl’s and Telemark Glade, where the terrain and snow really flowed well.
The middle of Winter Storm Dylan at the end of last week had some mixed precipitation that put a thick layer into the snowpack, but since then we’ve had the backside snow from that storm, the snow from Winter Storm Ethan, and some additional snow from a localized streamer that was affecting the area yesterday. It was certainly enough new powder to entice me out to the mountain for a quick tour today, especially with some very cold air coming into the area later this week.
I arrived at Timberline in the mid-afternoon period, just as a some snow was moving into the valley. The snow was steady during my whole tour, although visibility was generally in the 1 to 2-mile range, so it wasn’t especially heavy. In terms of the powder, I found roughly 4 to 6 inches at the 1,500’ level, and probably 5 to 7 inches at the 2,500’ level.
Although I did ascend all the way to the Timberline Summit, my main goal was a trip down Brandywine, which had some great snow and just a couple of previous ski tracks. The powder was deep enough for plenty of good turns on Brandywine, although I think it would have been better with some wider skis vs. just my midfats. I also think some slightly lower angle would be good to really stay away from that crust.
At the end of my tour I spoke with one of the crew that was working on grooming Timberline Run, and it sounds like they’re planning to open the Timberline area tomorrow for lift-served skiing.
We’re currently under the influence of Winter Storm Dylan, which started dropping snow on the area early this morning. The snow started out slowly for the first couple of hours, but by 10:00 A.M. or so it had ramped up to very heavy intensity – at one point it was coming down at a rate of roughly 4 inches per hour. It continued at a steady pace, and by midafternoon we’d already picked up 6 to 8 inches of snow at the house. By that point it was obvious that there was going to be enough fresh snow for a ski tour, so I headed up to Bolton Valley while I still had light.
I pulled into the Timberline lot amidst heavy snow, and chatted with another gentleman who was just skinning up his skis for an ascent. Within a couple of minutes, Quinn appeared out of his truck, and we sort of laughed amongst ourselves how everyone sort of had the same idea. Well, great minds think alike, and know to get to the powder while the getting’s good.
As I began my tour, my checks near the Timberline Base Lodge revealed that roughly 8 inches of new snow had fallen. That number was growing by the minute though, and the snowfall during my ascent was quite heavy. At times, visibility was down to a tenth of a mile, which equates to very heavy snowfall. Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.
“Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.”
There were few if any tracks on Twice as Nice, so I decided to make use of its fairly consistent pitch and make my descent there. I was on my 115 mm Black Diamond AMPerages, even with accumulations only topping out around a foot, the snow was mostly bottomless. My legs got cooked pretty quickly from making Tele turns, but it gave me time to stop and soak in the scene with the storm, the snowfall, and the solitude. It was a great outing, and there’s nothing like getting some of these productive winter storms during the holiday period when one’s schedule is a bit more relaxed.
Winter Storm Dylan is supposed to continue through tomorrow, but we’re going to have to watch out for some mixed precipitation and see how that plays out before everything changes back to snow.
“The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.”
Light snow continued on and off today at the house to the tune of an inch or two of accumulation, but Powderfreak said that Stowe had seen a few inches, and the skiing looked really good. One can only watch the flakes fall out there for so long before you want to take advantage and get in some powder skiing, so taking a trip up to the mountain was inevitable. Dylan had a friend visiting today, but Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon to catch a few runs. Temperatures had started in the 20s F, but they were definitely falling as the back side of this latest event came through.
As we were gearing up, Ty decided that he needed to hit the restroom in the main lodge, and when he came back he could not stop raving about the pizza smell inside. With that, we knew where we were heading as soon as we were done skiing. Ty had brought his Tele skis today, and we ended up just doing runs off Snowflake to let him work on his turns. Actually, Snowflake was an excellent choice in general today because thanks to its generally lower amounts of skier traffic, it held some fabulous snow. Ty had his pick of working on his turns in powder, chowder, or packed snow. The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.
“There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic.”
We finished off the day with a ski down through the fresh powder on Timberline, and of course that was a highlight. There’s been at least a little skier traffic down at Timberline from folks earning turns, but fresh turns are essentially everywhere. Ty had no choice but to work on powder turns for that run… oh well. There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic. We’d called ahead to let E know that we were heading down, and she was right there at the Timberline Base to pick us up and bring us back up to the main base.
E couldn’t stay, but Ty and I headed up to Fireside Flatbread as planned, and had a couple of slices at the bar. Since E and Dylan hadn’t been able to join us, the natural course of action was to get a couple of pies to take home. Man that crust was good.
The base depths at Timberline aren’t quite there for lift-served traffic yet, but we’re definitely OK with that. There’s more snow in the forecast in the coming week, so surfaces and powder availability should remain in good shape.
Due to the winter storm coming through the area today, school was cancelled for Ty, and since I had contemplated working from home due to the weather, Ty being home for the day sealed the deal. The storm had only started up in the morning, so it would take some time before there was much new snow down for skiing. So, I got a bunch of work done, and finally in the midafternoon, we headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick ski tour in the new snow.
“We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent.”
On the way up to the Village, we noted the state of the snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and one could certainly have made some turns there if they wanted to, but some of the taller brush was still showing so I’d say it wasn’t quite ready for prime time at that point. We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent. I’d say the accumulations up there at that point weren’t all that different than what we had down at the house, although the flakes were pretty small, and the powder a reasonable middle-weight variety, so I’d say they’d picked up more liquid equivalent.
In terms of the powder skiing, although it certainly wasn’t champagne dry snow, the moderate heft to it was decent for keeping you up off the base. At this stage of the season we can of course use some snow with plenty of liquid in it to build the snowpack, and if what’s up there gets topped with fluff form the back side of the storm, it should produce some excellent powder skiing.
“There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.”
We’re into some of the shortest days of the year now, so light it as a premium, especially during a snowstorm. I brought my brightest lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, and it was definitely sufficient, but there was still a lot of snow in the air making action shots a challenge. There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.
“The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season.”
While I didn’t have time to head out for any turns yesterday, I was able to find a little time for a ski tour at Bolton Valley this morning. Overnight low temperatures were down in the teens F, pretty chilly by November standards, but the air was calm so it was quite comfortable, especially while skinning. I headed up the Lower Turnpike ascent route, which had a well-established skin track. There had been a decent amount of traffic on Turnpike itself, so when I got up to the final corner of Peggy Dow’s, I headed toward the Wilderness Lift Line where skier traffic had been rather light.
As usual, I made an effort to monitor snow depths throughout the ascent, and what I found should represent the state of the snow with yesterday’s additional snowfall, plus settling through this morning. It was a bit tough to discriminate between the newest snow and what was below, so the numbers I’m reporting below represent what I found for total snowpack depth starting at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road.
Although it was hard to get an idea of where the base snow stopped and where the surface snow began, I do have some info. Down at 1,500’ it seemed like there was maybe an inch or so of base, so most of that was new. Up at 2,100’ there were a couple of inches down, and probably around four inches at 2,500’. I’d guess six inches of base at the 3,000’ level. The wind in the higher elevations made for a larger range of depths, but I didn’t find a huge increase relative to 2,500’. Now that the resort has reported in with 10 inches, that seems like it makes reasonable sense. There may have been a bit of settling, but I’d say snowfall of 10-12” was probably what they picked up.
With respect to the descent, the skiing was great! The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season. The upper mountain had that substantial base with close to a foot of powder on it, and while overall depths were a bit less on the lower mountain, it was fine on the lower angle terrain there. The snow was definitely on the dry side, so the fat skis were certainly in order for maximizing floatation, minimizing contact with the base, and planing on the lower-angle terrain.