The first part of this storm had some mixed precipitation, so we were really in no rush to jump out on the slopes early, instead deciding to let some of the new snow build up during the day. Today’s snow here at the house was quite dense, coming in in the 10-13% H2O range based on my analyses, so while it wasn’t going to be the ultimate in fluffy powder, it certainly had the potential to further resurface the slopes.
“I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches.”
While working today, I watched the Bolton Valley Live Webcam, and saw that the Vista Quad stopped running at some point around midday. I figured it was on wind hold, but Mid Mountain and Snowflake were still running, so we still headed up for a few lower mountain runs. The wind was certainly whipping around up there, but most of the lower mountain areas were reasonably sheltered, and the trees were especially nice because it seemed like a lot of snow had settled in there. I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches. I’m sure some of that is from a previous storm or two, but as their afternoon report, the resort was indicating 7 inches of snow and overall there have been some healthy, dense accumulations from these past couple events. Indeed we found the new snow on the mountain to be dense as my analyses had suggested, but boy did it constitute a resurfacing of the slopes. If you were on the new snow there was no touching the subsurface, and you typically sunk into the powder just a few inches anyway because of the density.
As of about 9:30 P.M. this evening, the flakes falling have become much larger down here at the house, so the snow is getting fluffier. This drier snow on top of the dense stuff from earlier today is just what we like – the perfect right-side-up deposition for those powder turns.
Today was our first BJAMS ski program day of the season at Stowe, and I was assigned a snowboarding group consisting of Dylan and Molly. Molly has been riding for a couple of seasons, and Dylan has been snowboarding before, but it looks like the plan is to have him work on it more this year. He’s used Erica’s snowboard in the past, but this fall at the Waitsfield ski swap we got him his own brand new board, a Rome Mini Agent Rocker. It’s a bit smaller and lighter than E’s board, it’s got a softer flex, and it has some rocker as well, so we expected it to be a much better fit for him. He could already feel the differences when we were installing the bindings yesterday and he put on the board – he could flex it easily and said it felt great.
He confirmed those impressions today after his first run on Spruce Peak. I was still getting on my gear in the lodge, but he took an early run with Ty in the Meadows area and said he loved the feel of the board. He also indicated that the overall riding was fantastic with all the new powder out there, and that can’t help but make any appropriate board feel sweet.
“Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session.”
Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session. There have been some rounds of fluffy snow with this system, but overall I’d say the snow settled in to produce some medium-weight powder, and it did a great job of resurfacing the slopes from what we experienced in the Meadows area. We stuck to the Meadows Quad all afternoon because there really wasn’t a need to go anywhere else. There’s a top-to-bottom continuous fall line with no significant flat areas to deal with on the boards, there’s a gradient of pitches to use across the big open face, and we were essentially getting free refills on powder each run.
“The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder.”
The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder. Most of Dylan’s previous snowboard experience was in rather marginal/firmer conditions, so he really hadn’t experienced a day like this. Today he was on a new board with appropriate size and flex, and he was floating on powder. So as you can imagine, the snowboarding experiences of the past compared to today were like night and day for him. He was blow away by how much fun it was, and said he would love to snowboard a lot more if the experience was like today. I let both the kids know that this was the kind of riding that snowboards were initially designed for, so these are indeed great days to pull out the board.
Molly and Dylan are very competent making turns in both directions on their boards, and they can handle slopes up to black diamond pitch – especially with quality snow like we had today. You could see the confidence in their turns knowing that they wouldn’t have to deal with the hard subsurface. They’re at the stage where they’re just trying to smooth out their transitions and remove any jerky movements, so I discussed that with them and simply let them ride. Smoothing out those transitions will come with time on snow, and there’s no better time to enjoy that than with some good powder.
As noted, the snow conditions really were fantastic at the mountain, so the only weather-related issue we really had to combat today was the wind. It was strong, and blowing right at us as we rode the Meadows Quad. Dylan and I had brought our new Anon MFI balaclavas today to use with our M2 goggles, and I simply can’t overemphasize how great they were during each lift ride. Having that magnetic seal between the balaclava and the bottom of the goggles seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread as the wind washed over us. If you hate having to fiddle with your facemask or neck gaiter on every lift ride as you try to seal up those crevices where the biting wind gets in, definitely check out one the MFI-type magnetic systems.
We’ve got what looks like a snowy week coming for the mountains, so barring some drastic changes to the forecast, we should be looking at some great skiing and riding in the coming days.
With help from our most recent winter storm, Bolton Valley is reporting 6 to 9 inches of new snow over the past several days, so Ty and I decided to head up today to ski a bit of that powder. We got to the Village in the late morning, and were surprised to find the upper parking lots were hitting capacity. We poked around in the lots for a bit though, and eventually got a spot from someone who was leaving. Parking at the main base was at an unusual premium today because there was a big Nordic race taking place. They certainly had a really fantastic day for the event – the sky was a mix of sun and clouds, and temperatures were just edging above freezing at the 2,000’ level.
With temperatures expected to rise a few degrees above freezing, Ty and I quickly got on our way over to Wilderness to make sure we could get in some powder turns before any potential temperature effects on the snow. We started off with a warm up on Bolton Outlaw, connecting down to the Wilderness Woods area and Lower Turnpike, where we found plenty of powder along the edges of the runs. I was definitely leery of the subsurface on Bolton Outlaw based on my experience over at Timberline on Thursday, but I ended up being really impressed with the overall conditions we found. The new snow has settled some and it’s now had a chance to form a much better bond to the underlying surface. In addition, there’s definitely been some additional liquid equivalent added to the surface snow relative to what I found earlier in the week. There was plenty of loose snow on Bolton Outlaw, but even when you got down to the subsurface there was substantial grip. Steep, natural snow trails like Bolton Outlaw being in good shape bodes well for the overall surface conditions on the mountain, so it’s not surprising that most terrain has been reopened now.
“There was a good half foot or more of powder in there in general, and a nice subsurface that made for some excellent overall turns.”
Ty and I also visited White Rabbit, where we found just a couple of tracks and acres of fresh powder. The freezing level was rising, so we had to start paying attention to aspect and sun protection, but the effects on the powder were still fairly minimal overall. There was a good half foot or more of powder in there in general, and a nice subsurface that made for some excellent overall turns.
The forecast suggests we’ve got a small system coming in to the area tonight, and then another couple of larger systems in the coming week, so folks should be alert for more potential powder turns in the near future.
Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley for a few runs this evening to catch up with my friend James and his kids Jack and Lizi. James is one of the chaperones for their school’s ski program, which has their sessions on Thursday nights at the resort. They’ve actually had some great Thursday nights so far with respect to conditions. They had a couple of nice days before the holidays, and they scored again tonight as well with the resort reporting 6 inches of new snow as of this evening.
Up at the mountain we quickly caught up with James and made a run off the Vista Quad. Like my tour at Timberline this morning, the overall weather was quite nice. Temperatures were well up into the 20s F, and another bout of snow had come in for the evening to further freshen up the slopes. Wind was pretty minimal as well, except for up near the Vista Summit where it was howling at times. The off piste was actually a bit better than what I found this morning, presumably due to some additional snow, but the groomed areas were really what I found to be impressive. You could still find scratchy areas, but a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs. The steepest slopes like Spillway weren’t open, which is probably a good idea with respect to safety, since that very firm subsurface is still sitting there lurking under the new snow.
“…a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs.”
We caught up with Jack and Lizi for a final run off the Mid Mountain Chair, and I was surprised to see that they headed right down Beech Seal vs, the easier Bear Run route. They get an hour of ski lessons on each of their program days, and it’s obvious that they’re really coming along in the way they easily tackled Beech Seal. I could tell that Jack was clearly comfortable by the way he flashed me a peace sign as he buzzed the camera while I was shooting photos.
James and the kids had to head out around 8:00 P.M., but Ty and I went for one more run off the Vista Quad before retiring to Fireside Flatbread for some pizza. We’d snacked at home a bit earlier, but we’d definitely been saving space all evening for some of their great pie.
It looks like we might have another small system coming through on Saturday night into Sunday, and then there’s the potential for another couple of larger systems midweek, so conditions may improve even further over the next several days.
An Alberta Clipper system came through the area overnight, dropping a half foot of snow at some of the local resorts by morning, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for a morning ski tour this morning. With roughly 5 inches of new snow found at the house this morning, and the resort reporting the same, it didn’t seem like there was a huge elevation dependence with this event. Plus, now that the bullwheel replacement on the Timberline Quad and associated operations are finally done, Timberline is back open for ski touring, so I figured I’d get to check out the conditions there for the first time in a while.
“…I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).”
Temperatures were in the mid to upper 20s F with light snow falling and zero wind, so we’re talking super friendly conditions to be out on the hill. Since wind was pretty minimal during this event, I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).
The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible. It’s rock hard, and in a few exposed places that had presumably seen flowing water, there was simply clear ice as the top layer of base. There was a nice established skin track in place on the Twice as Nice ascent route, but the ascent was definitely the most challenging part of the tour. Slightly steeper spots with just powder on ice provided little grip, and you could see that in those areas some people had to diverge out from the main skin track and take shallower routes due to lack of grip with their skins. Fortunately there were only a handful of spots like that, but navigating them was a definite challenge. It’s good that there wasn’t much wind with this event because scoured areas would be a nightmare.
“The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible.”
After seeing the conditions on my ascent, it was obvious that the best bet for a descent was going to be something that had previously groomed, and had a fairly shallow angle. So, I headed down Villager from the Timberline Summit, and that was an appropriate pitch. I still had to hit a couple of blue/black pitches on Sure Shot on my route, and there was no way to avoid touching the hard subsurface there, even on 115 mm boards.
The Lower Turnpike area with its nice mellow pitch would probably have offered up the most consistent bottomless turns today, but it was nice to get a chance to get out on Timberline again. I can’t imagine there was any point to skiing ungroomed terrain before this latest storm, and this snow isn’t going to be able to hold up to much traffic, but there are definitely some nice powder turns to be had on terrain of the appropriate pitch.
Last night’s storm marked the fourth bout of snow we’ve had since our warm system leading up to the weekend. Although none of these recent snowfall events have been very large, the rounds and rounds of snow from these smaller systems have piled up, and today seemed like a great opportunity to check on how the holiday week powder has been building.
With Bolton Valley reporting 7 inches of new snow during the period, I decided that a backcountry day was in order. Knowing the way snow accumulates on their Nordic and Backcountry Network, I figured there were be plenty of fresh powder for the low to moderate-angle terrain. Today was actually the first day this season that I’ve headed out onto the Backcountry Network. With all the snow we’ve had, the backcountry terrain has been ready for skiing since well back in November, but there’s been so much good skiing in bounds that I’ve just been touring there.
“Once I got on trail, I made some depth checks around the 2,000’ elevation and found 5 to 6 inches of settled powder atop the old base.”
I arrived at the resort around noontime and parked in the lower Nordic Center lot – it was just about filling up while I put on my gear, and the parking attendants were getting ready to start the shuttle bus for Timberline parking. That’s good news for the resort in terms of holiday visitors. Once I got on trail, I made some depth checks around the 2,000’ elevation and found 5 to 6 inches of settled powder atop the old base. The depth of the powder didn’t really increase substantially with elevation, and I found roughly 6 inches at 2,700’ by the Bryant Cabin.
“The snow had been quite nice, with probably 70-80% bottomless turns on my 115 mm skis, so I strapped the skins back on and headed up for another descent.”
From what I’d seen, there was plenty of snow for the tour I’d planned, which involved some new terrain and some area I’d not visited in quite a while. I started my descent in the trees below the Bryant Cabin (Bryant Woods) and worked my way though there until I reached JJ’s. Then I crossed the Bryant Trail and hung close to it for a few hundred feet until I got into the lines on the west side (Possum Woods). None of that terrain has much in the way of actual manicured glades, but the natural tree spacing is just fine for its pitch, and today’s conditions, featuring about a half foot of delicate Champlain Powder™ fluff, were exactly what you needed for it. Lower down, I merged onto Cup Runneth Over and various trees in that area until I got to the lower loops of World Cup.
The snow had been quite nice, with probably 70-80% bottomless turns on my 115 mm skis, so I strapped the skins back on and headed up for another descent. This time I went for a run in the Coyote area and made my way back toward the Village to hit the deli. At the Village Deli I discovered something excellent – they are back to making custom made sandwiches! I immediately texted E and the boys and Stephen the good news, and got myself a maple latte and some sandwiches to take home.
We’ve got a more substantial system coming into the area tonight. It’s supposed to pass to our west, so we’re expecting some warmth, but this one’s expected to have more snow and much less rain than the last one, so we could get some bolstering of the snowpack out of it.
This week, the pace of winter storms and snowfall has slowed down a bit here in the Green Mountains compared to what we were seeing at the beginning of the month, but the weather models have been suggesting the chance for some of our classic upslope snow on the back side of this latest system. Scott put together a nice summary of the event’s potential at Braatencast, and it certainly looked like we’d have a chance for some decent powder turns today.
I was actually planing to earn some turns and ski tour a bit before the lifts opened at 9:00 A.M., but I was up there later than I’d hoped and it was right around opening time. That didn’t matter too much though, because winds were fierce and the Vista Quad wasn’t even running, so I just headed off to Wilderness for a tour as I’d initially planned.
With those harsh winds, you’d be hard pressed to know that much snow fell at all from just looking around the base area parking lots. The accumulations were really patchy on a lot of snowbanks because the new snow had been ripped away and sent elsewhere. Once I got onto the skin track on Lower Turnpike and out of the wind though, the actual snow accumulations became apparent. Indeed I’d say that the 4 inches reported was a safe way to go in terms of being conservative, but aside from scoured areas, that definitely represented the low end of accumulations I encountered. Omitting the extremes of drifts and scoured areas, my checks revealed settled snow depths of 4 to 10 inches throughout my tour. That wasn’t really elevation dependent, it seemed to just be a factor of how the snow sifted down in various areas. Drifts I found up around the 3,000’ elevation were generally in the 2 to 3-foot range, though there were some bigger ones as well of course.
“Omitting the extremes of drifts and scoured areas, my checks revealed settled snow depths of 4 to 10 inches throughout my tour.”
The skiing was obviously much different than what you would get from just four inches of fluff. With a number like that I’d be expecting to get good turns on only low angle terrain, but bottomless turns were pretty standard all the way up to about single black diamond pitch as long as the subsurface was smooth. I was on my 115 mm boards, but one could certainly still float on something skinnier. I’d say the storm must have put down a half inch of liquid or so on the mountain based on what I was skiing.
Upon reaching the Wilderness Summit on my tour, I started down Bolton Outlaw, thinking it would be pretty smooth from minimal early season traffic. It wasn’t long before I realized that the Wilderness Lift has indeed run this season (I actually rode it with Stephen on opening day), so there’s been enough skier traffic to produce some moguls. I was definitely hitting the subsurface with the steep pitch and moguls, so I quickly dove off into the Outlaw Woods, and the turns in there with a smooth subsurface turned out to be just about perfect. I was also able to get first tracks in the lower Wilderness Woods, and they were excellent as well. Getting into the trees was generally a great option because the snow had settled in there very nicely thanks to protection from the wind. I hung around for a couple of lift-served runs off the Snowflake Lift, and with the typical low traffic there I found plenty of untracked snow.
This was definitely an upslope snowfall event that was focused on the mountains. When I left the resort and headed west toward the Champlain Valley, snow accumulations really tapered off. There was just a bit of accumulation in the Richmond Village area and it seems like just a trace to nil in the Burlington area.
We’ve got a warmer weather system expected to affect the area at the end of the week, so the next chance for snow won’t be until Saturday afternoon into the evening on the back side of that storm.
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.