Although E and the boys weren’t out at the mountain with me yesterday, this afternoon the whole family had a bit of time to head up to Bolton Valley together to hopefully catch some of the weekend’s remaining powder. Temperatures were much warmer today, nearing the freezing mark in the valleys, and up into the 20s F in the higher elevations.
We got up to the mountain in the midafternoon as the ski resort’s day was winding down, so skier traffic was very light. The Snowflake Chair wasn’t running, but there was still decent access to a lot of the Snowflake terrain, and plenty of powder was available. We did a couple of runs on Cobrass, working our way down through the Five Corners/Cobrass Run area followed by connections to the Snowflake area. There were a couple of additional inches of fluffy snow overnight, but indeed the powder was very much like we found yesterday.
Temperatures are expected to stay cool all through the upcoming week, so the snow that’s out there should stay quite nice.
The biggest concern on the slopes today certainly wasn’t the snow quality, but the temperatures. We had below zero readings overnight, and single digits F were the rule this morning at opening time. Even with plenty of powder available, I didn’t tempt anyone from the family to head up to the mountain, but I knew Stephen and Johannes would be out there right from opening bell. I planned to catch up with them as soon as I could, so I sent out a text when I arrived to hopefully synch up.
Fora first run I rode the Vista Quad and headed over to Wilderness to check out some powder. I stuck mostly to Wilderness Woods,which had seen some traffic in the main lines, but it was pretty much untracked beyond that. I measured settled snow depths of roughly a foot just about everywhere I went, so even though the resort was only reporting 14 inches, they must have had a bit more than that to still have a foot after the settling of what was very much dry Champlain Powder™. For any terrain with a black pitch or greater, you would still be touching down on the subsurface at times, but moderate angle terrain and below was typically bottomless and smooth.
I measured settled snow depths of roughly a foot just about everywhere I went…
I got the word from Stephen that they were taking a warm-up break in the lodge,so I caught up with them there and we spent the rest of the morning together. We toured around over in the Wilderness area, hooking up from the Vista Quad at first, and then riding the Wilderness Chair once it opened. Powder turns were very easy to come by, and we hit some great spots like Wilderness Woods, Wilderness Lift Line,and Snow Hole. We had to break trail through the powder to get to Snow Hole,and the exit needs a bit of negotiating because one stream bed crossing isn’t fully filled in, but the effort was definitely worth it for some fantastically fluffy turns.
Temperatures were up into the teens F by the time we left at midday, and they’re expected to be much warmer tomorrow for those that are thinking of heading out to enjoy all the new snow.
Yesterday, the last vestiges of Winter Storm Bruce wound down in our area, so today was a great day to take advantage of all the new snow on the slopes with relatively benign weather. Due to the prodigious November snowfall we’re had around here, Bolton Valley is running the lifts again this weekend for another pre-season session. Ty and I had some time in the morning, so we headed up to the mountain for a bit of lift-served skiing.
“We caught a ton of untracked lines today, but the powder has settled even more than what I found on my Thursday morning tour, so it was very much a PNW/Sierra-style snow experience.”
We got to the Village in the mid- to late-morning period and were amazed to find that all the parking lots, even the Nordic Center lots, were packed. It was a struggle to find a spot, but we finally got one in the very lowest Nordic lot. We assumed the lifts would be packed, but there were no lines at Vista, Mid Mountain, or Snowflake. We were stunned, and couldn’t figure out where everyone was, but we happily hopped on for our first Vista ride of the season.
Although the Wilderness Lift isn’t running yet, the usual Vista Quad-served access to Wilderness is available, so after a great run down Alta Vista, Ty and I headed that way and made a run through Snow Hole. There was an old track or two around, but we essentially had first tracks through there. Another spot on today’s hit list was Maria’s, where we traversed far left and were well clear of any tracks from other skiers.
We caught a ton of untracked lines today, but the powder has settled even more than what I found on my Thursday morning tour, so it was very much a PNW/Sierra-style snow experience. In most spots now, you really only sink a few inches into the powder, so you’re very much staying on top of the snowpack. It’s been interesting to watch the powder slowly transform to this dense state from our ski session on Tuesday, to my Thursday outing, to today. It’s really hard to complain about such fantastic early season conditions, but in terms of powder we could use a freshening at some point. The groomed terrain is skiing superbly right now though – with such a huge resurfacing it’s just packed powder and more packed powder. One very cool weather-related feature out there today was the hoarfrost covering everything – we found areas where the delicate, feathery needles were as much as three inches long.
Our next winter storm is moving into the area tonight with snow, then some mixed precipitation, and potentially more snow on the back side.
I had some time this morning, so I headed up to the Bolton Valley Village for a ski tour from the main base. Temperatures that were a degree or two above freezing in the valley with easy driving conditions gave way to temperatures in the upper 20s F, snowfall, and wind at 2,000’. The main skin track on Lower Turnpike was in great shape, so the going was easy on my ascent. Although there’s been more snow since my Tuesday outing with Ty, it’s settled now, so the overall feel is definitely denser. The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits. There’s also been more wind over the past couple of days, so protected areas definitely offer the best turns. The skiing definitely has a Pacific Northwest feel – that feeling that you can basically go anywhere you want and you’re not going to hit anything below because the dense snow is going to protect you. The feel in the valleys fits right in as well, with temperatures right around freezing, and dense, dripping snow caked on all the trees – and any other objects upon which is sits.
“The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits.”
Today our area has been under the influence of Winter Storm Bruce, a low pressure system that’s crossing through New England and bringing copious amounts of moisture with it. School was cancelled for Ty due to the storm, so I came home a bit early in the afternoon with the hopes of getting together for a ski tour up at Bolton Valley. There was some very heavy snowfall in the early afternoon period that was easily putting down an inch or two of snow an hour, so I was a bit leery about trying to negotiate the Bolton Valley Access Road under such conditions. But, the heavy snow let up a bit in the midafternoon timeframe, and we figured the plows would be able to keep up with it so we headed out.
The Bolton Valley website indicates that the Timberline area is strictly closed to traffic right now (perhaps due to chairlift work) so we headed up to the main base for our tour, and that turned out to be a great starting point. The amount of snow that the Village picked up from this storm was quite impressive – we both did numerous depth checks and found 18 to 20 inches of snow at 2,000’. The depth of the new snow was essentially the same all the way up above 3,000’, so I’d say that everything from this storm fell as snow at least down to the Village level.
There was a great skin track set on Lower Turnpike, which was a godsend with so much fresh snow. Temperatures were in the upper 20s at 2,000’, so all the snow up there was quite dry. It certainly wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluff, but it was medium-weight powder with a right-side-up distribution and the skiing was fantastic – definitely a day for the fat boards. Ty was on E’s 115 mm Black Diamond ElementTelemark boards, and he really likes the way they handle the powder. I knew we’d need some steep pitches to handle this snow, so that’s what we sought out, and the skiing was simply fantastic. This storm brought plenty of liquid equivalent in the snow (1.5 inches of total liquid form the storm even down at our house in the valley) so it’s covered everything really well and there’s not much to worry about with such a substantial base already in place ahead of this storm.
The actual action photography was quite a challenge today because we’re talking fairly late afternoon, late November light, and snowfall, but I used my brightest lens (Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM) and we did our best with the light we had. Bolton Valley is now reporting 66 inches of snow on the season, which is a great way to get rolling in November.
With the great run of November snowfall we’ve had, Bolton Valley decided to run some of its lifts today as an early kick off to the season. In addition to running the lifts, they had a number of events taking place, such as special discounts and lunch specials for pass holders, as well as roasting marshmallows outside by an open fire.
“The powder from Thanksgiving has settled somewhat, but I still found a general 12 to 24 inches in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range.”
E and the boys and I headed up to catch a few runs, and I decided to skin up from Timberline and meet the rest of the family up at the Village. Since our last visit to the mountain on Wednesday, the Thanksgiving cold front snows had definitely freshened up the powder on the slopes. Some skiers had been out since then, but overall traffic was much lighter than what it had been at the beginning of the holiday week. The powder from Thanksgiving has settled somewhat, but I still found a general 12 to 24 inches in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range. Temperatures were right around 30 F when I arrived, and were even climbing a bit above freezing as I made my ascent to the Village.
Only the lower mountain lifts were in operation today, so there were lift queues of about 10 minutes, but it was such a nice day that nobody seemed to mind hanging out as they kicked off the season. E and the boys had done a couple runs before I arrived, and once we caught up, Dylan and I headed for a little tree skiing in the powder while Ty worked on some snowboarding with E. We then stopped in for the lunch special at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery, which has been remodeled a bit to provide more seating.
After lunch I headed back to my car at Timberline via the Timberline Summit, and snow in the sunny areas was getting a bit thicker, but I found some excellent dry powder by sticking to north-facing and sheltered terrain. We’ve got a Winter Weather Advisory in effect overnight into tomorrow, but that’s for mixed precipitation. This system should add a bit of liquid to the snowpack, but there’s not really any snow associated with it. There’s another storm coming in the midweek period however that appears to have much more snow potential.
The big synoptic snowstorms from last week put down a lot of base on the slopes, and this week has followed up with some modest refresher storms to keep the powder fresh. Today’s feather weather event was the passage of an arctic cold front with very impressive snow squalls that reduced visibility to near zero at times – and we were on a ski tour at Bolton Valley just as the first barrage of heavy snow hit the mountains.
Stephen and I had been talking about getting out together for a ski tour at the mountain during this holiday week, and things lined up today so that Johannes and Dylan could join us. I planned on a tour that would bring us from Timberline up to the trails of the main mountain, shooting for some of those lesser used routes to get everyone some fresh tracks. We began mid-morning with light flakes falling, and the snowfall gradually ramped up to a steady, heavy level of intensity with big flakes as we made our way toward Cobrass. While we were switching over our gear for the descent, a big squall enveloped the mountain. Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times. It was the kind of snowfall where you put your gear down for a few moments, and small stuff could be easily lost because of how fast it became covered.
“Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times.”
The descent portion of the tour brought us some great fresh powder on routes like Five Corners, Sure Shot, and Tattle Tale. It’s getting hard to tell exactly how much base is down now after so many recent storms, but I was generally getting depths of 15 to 20 inches, with much of that powder. Everything was also topped off with a couple more inches that fell during the tour itself due to the intense snowfall.
Tomorrow is going to be an impressively cold Thanksgiving day, with highs in the mountains around here in the single digits F, so I think it will be nice being inside enjoying some holiday food. Bolton Valley is actually planning to run the lifts on Saturday, at which point it should be much warmer.
By Friday morning, I already knew this was going to be a big weekend for skiing at Bolton Valley. The initial round of snow from Winter Storm Avery had just finished up, and Emma, one of my undergraduate students rushed in just a few minutes before the start of class. She’d been out on a ski tour at Bolton Valley’s Timberline area earlier that morning, and being the dedicated student that she is, she was back right on time for our class session. That good school-life balance if you ask me.
Naturally I had to give her some ribbing about stealing my powder, but I got a good rundown on the conditions, and there was indeed a ton of new snow even down at the Timberline elevations. Combining our third significant winter storm cycle in a week with the start of the Thanksgiving break, and what appeared to be some excellent winter-like temperatures coming on the weekend, sounded like a recipe for a lot of people getting out to enjoy the powdery terrain at Bolton Valley. Indeed, when we were on our ski tour at Timberline yesterday morning, we found that there had been substantial skier traffic on all the trails.
“My depth checks found 16-20” of snow at Bolton’s main base area, and it went up from there with elevation.”
Yesterday’s tour also revealed that the freezing line on Saturday had crept up to around 2,000’, so for today’s tour I decided to head up to the main base and start my ascent from there. The mountain picked up another 2-3” of fluff overnight, and with all the snow at elevation avoiding any warmth and remaining well preserved, the snow surfaces were simply excellent. My depth checks found 16-20” of snow at Bolton’s main base area, and it went up from there with elevation. The resort is reporting 36 inches of snow in the past week, so those depths really shouldn’t be that surprising
“The resort is reporting 36 inches of snow in the past week…”
I toured in the Cobrass/Cobrass Run/Five Corners area today, and found lots of fresh tracks still available. With all the visitors that the resort has seen this weekend, there are literally skin tracks all over the place to get you wherever you want to go – it’s almost like having a skin track highway system. I even checked out some of the tree skiing as I was coming back from the Five Corners area, and you’d almost think it was midwinter with the depths that are available in the woods.
We’ve had some great snow in the Northern Green Mountains over the past week. Three coastal storms have affected the area: a double barrel low pressure system last weekend, a low pressure system hugging the coast in the midweek period, and now Winter Storm Avery this weekend. All told, the local mountains have picked up two to three feet of snow in the past seven days, with Bolton Valley reporting 32 inches during the period as of today. That’s a good pace of snowfall for any week during the winter, but it’s an excellent pace for November. This is when the mountains should be building that natural snowpack, so this is an especially good time to be getting these substantial storms.
“Snow depths were generally 1 to 2 feet throughout the tour…”
Timberline had already seen lots of visitors as of late this morning, so there was a well-established skin track on the usual Twice as Nice route. Snow depths were generally 1 to 2 feet throughout the tour, and temperatures were just creeping above freezing down at the base, so the powder down in the lower elevations was starting to get just a bit wet. In the higher elevations the snow was fairly dry, middle-weight powder, so the skiing was quite good. I’d say starting at the main base up above 2,000’ would be a good move to optimize the best snow, so I might think about that for my next tour, but even touring down to the 1,500’ elevation is still quite reasonable.
After our tour we headed up to the main base to pick up our season passes, and learned that there’s talk of starting the lift served season a week or two early. I’d say we’re happy either way, since there’s still plenty of touring to do even if the lift-served skiing hasn’t started.
Temperatures in the higher elevations stayed well below freezing overnight, and indeed they weren’t even going to rise above freezing during the day today. So as expected, whatever state the snow was in by the end of the day yesterday was essentially how it was going to stay. I found very nice powder conditions on the upper half of the main mountain when I was at Bolton Valley yesterday, and with that in mind, we got the family out for a ski tour today.
“So that meant some nice powder turns on the upper half of the mountain, and a melt crust under a little fluff on the lower mountain.”
The temperatures we found today were very much like what I’d encountered yesterday, with uppers 20s in the Bolton Valley Village, and 19 F up around 3,000 feet. This afternoon featured nearly cloudless skies however, so we had much more sunshine today, and that made it at least feel a bit warmer to me, even if the thermometer didn’t have much to say about it.
I took E and the boys on essentially the same tour I did yesterday, and the snow depths and conditions we found really were unchanged today. So that meant some nice powder turns on the upper half of the mountain, and a melt crust under a little fluff on the lower mountain. E and the boys were definitely leery of the conditions on the lower half of the mountain when we began our ascent, but I told them to stick with it and we’d get up into the good snow. We did just that, and I’d say everyone had a lot of fun working on their first turns of the season in the powder. We got back to the car just as the sun was beginning to set, and all in all it was a great first family ski outing of the season.
We’ve actually got a couple more storms on the way over the next several days that hold the potential for additional snow. There’s one on the way for Tuesday which could be similar to this past one, and then another one near the end of the week that bears watching as well.