Bolton Valley, VT 12MAY2020

An image of a motorcycle covered in fresh snow from a mid-May snowstorm in the village parking lot at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow after a mid-May snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Close to a foot of fresh powder fell in the higher elevations around Northern Vermont thanks to this latest mid-May snowstorm.

This latest winter storm sort of snuck up on us.  Our local forecast at home did indicate the chance for a touch of snow during the overnight, but I was well into the wee hours before we’d expected to see anything. Yesterday afternoon though, it was pouring rain down here in the Winooski Valley, and with temperatures in the 30s F, it seemed suspiciously cool.  Around 5:00 P.M. I decided to check on a couple of the local webcams at the resorts, and was surprised to see that it wasn’t just snowing at elevation, but in line with the pouring rain down in the valleys, intense snowfall was occurring in the mountains.  It looked like the snow line was somewhere around 2,000’.

Within an hour the snow line had dropped all the way down to our house at 500’.  It went from pouring rain to pounding flakes very quickly, and it was obvious that the intensity of the precipitation hadn’t changed; there was still a lot of liquid falling from the sky.  When stepping out on the back deck into the snowfall to get accumulation measurements, I was immediately soaked if I didn’t put on some sort of waterproof coat.  Over the next couple of hours, I saw a number of reports and images of lower elevations snows from around the area in the New England forum at the American Weather discussion board, including Jericho, Barre, Stowe, and Hyde Park, which had already picked up 3.5 inches.  Up near the top of Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush, their snow cam showed that they’d already picked up 8 inchesEven Powderfreak seemed to be caught off guard by the impressive accumulations.

“I’d say fat skis were the way to go today, and indeed turns up high were bottomless and smooth, with little need to worry about hitting the base.”

By 8:00 P.M. we’d picked up about an inch of snow at the house, and with continued snowfall in the valleys, it seemed very likely that the mountains were going to have a solid new accumulation by the time the night was over.

In the Bolton Valley area this morning, there were accumulations all the way down to the base of the access road at 340’, and the accumulations slowly increased as one headed up to the resort.  The snow depths started to increase more rapidly around the elevation of the resort Village, with 3 to 4 inches there, and those totals doubled by the 2,500’ elevation.  Essentially all the snow above 1,500’ was winter-dry, and temperatures were still in the 20s F this morning from probably 1,500’ on up.  I’ll have to look back at all the April and May storms we’ve had this season, but this was some of the driest/wintriest snow I can recall in the past few storms.

An image showing a skin track through fresh snow along snow-covered evergreens after a mid-May snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A skin track heads up along powder-covered evergreens at Bolton Valley after this recent May snowstorm.

I’ve got the elevation profile for new snow accumulations below, and as you can see, the largest increases in depths indeed came from a bit below 2,000’ up to about the 2,500’ range before the rate of increase tapered down:

340’:  0.5”
1,000’:  1”
1,500’:  2”
2,000’:  3-4”
2,500’:  7-8”
2,800’:  8-9”
3,100’:  9-10”

The storm was probably mostly snow above 2,500’, and with 1.21” of L.E. down here at the house, it was a decent resurfacing above 2,000’, and a very solid, “no worries” type of resurfacing above 2,500’.  I’d say fat skis were the way to go today, and indeed turns up high were bottomless and smooth, with little need to worry about hitting the base.  Indeed, midwinter-style powder is always appreciated in May.

Bolton Valley, VT 24MAR2020

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm Quincy in the Fanny Hill area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm Quincy at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan out today getting some much needed exercise as we enjoy the fresh powder delivered by Winter Storm Quincy

Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of us have witnessed a dramatic change in daily life here in Northern Vermont as varying levels of social distancing and self-isolation are being practiced to slow the pandemic associated with COVID-19.  Measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 have been ramping up in the form of people doing extensive telecommuting, a state of emergency declared for Vermont back on the 13th,  the closing of bars and restaurants on the 17th, and beginning tomorrow at 5:00 P.M. an executive order to stay home/stay safe.

As of last week, the ski areas in the state had ceased operations, which obviously has the potential to be a blow to many employees and ancillary businesses.  All things considered, this timing hasn’t been too bad for the resorts, since they would all be tapering down winter services and staffing in the next few weeks to some degree anyway.  From the skier’s perspective, the timing of these resorts hasn’t been horrible either – weather has been in that spring doldrums stage for the past couple of weeks.  The usual thaw-freeze cycles that we get at this time of year have taken place, and we haven’t had any big storm cycles to resurface the slopes nor beautiful warm days with copious sunshine to soften them up.  We last skied back on the 8th for the BJAMS ski program at Stowe, and regardless of the ski area closings, there hasn’t been much to entice us out since then.

“Our initial forecast called for a total of 2 to 4 inches of accumulation, but after we picked up 2.6 inches of snow in just a half hour (an impressive snowfall rate of over 5 inches per hour) yesterday evening, it was obvious that we were going to get more.”

That situation began to change yesterday though, as Winter Storm Quincy moved into the area and began dropping snow.  I was returning from a meeting at work in the late afternoon, and the roads were already taking on some fresh accumulations.  As of my 6:00 P.M. snow observations at the house we’d already picked up a couple of inches of snow.  Our initial forecast called for a total of 2 to 4 inches of accumulation, but after we picked up 2.6 inches of snow in just a half hour (an impressive snowfall rate of over 5 inches per hour) yesterday evening, it was obvious that we were going to get more.  I got a text alert around 7:30 P.M. that we’ve been put under a Winter Storm Warning here in Washington County, no doubt due to the continued heavy snowfall.  By midnight, we’d picked up over 8 inches of snow at the house, composed of 0.65 inches of liquid equivalent.  This storm was definitely entering the realm of a decent resurfacing for the slopes.

Since the resort is not posting snow reports now that they’re closed, we didn’t have a sense for how much snow Bolton Valley picked up in the storm, but Dylan and I finally had time around late morning to head up for a ski tour.  On the way up the access road we stopped in at Timberline to check on the snow depth, and found about 7 inches of settled new accumulation at the base.  We also noted that there were a couple dozen cars in the parking lot from folks that were out ski touring.

I was unsure of the base depths at Timberline, and figured they would be more substantial at the main mountain, so we continued on up to the Village.  New snow depths were similar there, and indeed fairly similar all the way up to the Vista Summit.  So overall, there really didn’t seem to be much change in accumulation with respect to elevations – from what we saw today, even up above 3,000’ the storm totals looked about the same as what we picked up in the valley at 500’

A wide-angle image of Dylan skiing in powder from Winter Storm Quincy out on a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan floats down through some of the powder today during our ski tour at Bolton Valley.

The turns we had today were very nice.  The powder was of medium to perhaps slightly higher density, and temperatures were well below freezing even in the Village at 2,000’.  The snow had a nice surfy consistency, with enough buoyancy for bottomless turns on even steep pitches in the black diamond range.  You could certainly hit bottom on the very steepest pitches, but we focused on medium-angle terrain and it was bottomless all the way.

“Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing. As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.”

With many people not going to work right now as the state strives to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and a fresh dump of powder on the slopes, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how many people were out for turns.  The number of people touring seemed notable though – between Timberline and the Village, there were at least several dozen cars out there.  Where we really noticed that ski touring traffic was up was by the number of tracks on the trails.  D and I definitely had to work a bit to find trails that had only seen a few tracks, but we just poked around until we found them.  Fanny Hill delivered pretty nicely with only about four or five tracks on it and plenty of untouched snow.  Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing.  As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.

An image of Jay from behind as he Telemark skis in powder from Winter Storm Quincy at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan was behind the lens of one of the cameras today as well, getting some shots of Dad when he had the chance.

There are a few early signs of another potential storm about a week out, but there’s nothing notable in the more immediate term, so we’ll be watching that timeframe to see if anything pops up.

Bolton Valley, VT 20APR2018

An image of Erica skiing the Alta Vista trail in fresh April powder at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in fresh powder on the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Our latest April storm brought another heaping helping of midwinter powder to the slopes of Bolton Valley.

April temperatures have been running several degrees below average here in Northern Vermont, and for those awaiting warmth, the winter weather must feel simply interminable.  Some of us don’t have a whisper of complaint though, since we know when we’ve got a good thing going.  While average April temperatures around here can bring snow, below average temperatures typically bring more snow, drier snow, and preserve the snowpack.  With the approach of the current storm, the National Weather Service in Burlington was already talking about the potential for the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake to get back up to 100 inches, and as of this evening’s co-op report, indeed it’s there.  The snowpack is essentially wall-to-wall everywhere in the local mountains here, so topping that off with fresh powder is a recipe for some awesome skiing and riding.

“Well let’s just say, the turns were fantastic – we had medium to moderately dense midwinter powder covering everything, temperatures near 30 F, and an almost fully untracked resort to ski.”

It’s spring vacation week for E and the boys, so E was able to join me this morning for a tour in the new snow up at Bolton Valley.  We’ve had substantial accumulations of snow all the way to the valley floors with this latest storm, so I knew the potential was there for some dry, winter-style snow up at elevation.  We headed out this morning amidst light snow at the house, and arrived in the Bolton Valley Village to steady snow and temperatures in the upper 20s F.  A quick check on the new snow in the parking lot around 2,000’ revealed accumulations of 5 to 6 inches.

We started skinning right from the car up the Lower Turnpike ascent route, and found a decent skin track in place with just a couple inches of additional snow in it.  We eventually worked our way over toward Vista and the depth of the new snow continued to steadily increase with elevation.  By the time we topped out above 3,000’ on Alta Vista, my depth checks on the powder were revealing 10 to 11 inches.  We de-skinned by the trees out of the wind, and E was pretty slick with her ski-on skin removal.

An image looking up the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont with a fresh coating of April powder
Looking up Alta Vista with a fresh blanket of white
An image of Erica skiing powder near the Vista Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E throwing around some of today’s powder at Bolton Valley.

On the entire ascent the snow quality was looking really good, but you never quite know how things are going to ski until you drop.  Well let’s just say, the turns were fantastic – we had medium to moderately dense midwinter powder covering everything, temperatures near 30 F, and an almost fully untracked resort to ski.  Wind effects were pretty minimal on much of the mountain so it really was a dense, velvety resurfacing that skied like a dream.  It’s definitely a good time to get out there and enjoy those uncrowded slopes with all this new snow.

An image of a Sonar Blue lens for Anon M2 GoglesWith the continuing snowfall during today’s tour, I went with our Sonar Blue lenses for my Anon M2 Goggles.  They’ve got 46% visible light transmission and are recommended for graybird days and tree skiing, but they were definitely a good fit for today even with snowfall since we’re talking late-April light.

In an update from this afternoon, eyewall noted that he encountered about 7 inches of new snow at the Bolton Valley Village elevation, so it sounds like they’d picked up another inch or two with the additional snow since E and I had left.  That would put accumulations near the summits around a foot, so it’s definitely been a nice April event for the mountains around here.

An image of a tractor with snow in Richmond Vermont after an April snowstorm
Enjoying the snowy April views from the valley – cool temperatures have brought snow accumulations all the way to the valley bottoms with this latest storm.

Bolton Valley, VT 07APR2018

An image of Ty skiing in the Wilderness Woods area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing the Cougar trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A bit of snow fell yesterday and overnight to freshen up the slopes at Bolton Valley.

A modest winter storm came into the area on Friday and left up to 8 inches of new snow at the Vermont ski areasBolton Valley was reporting 3 inches up top, which seemed like a fairly minimal covering over the base snow that’s seen plenty of spring cycling, but we figured it was worth heading up for a couple of runs to see how the accumulations had settled in.  Sometimes 3 inches can ski like 3 inches, or sometimes it can ski like more, depending on how it was distributed and how densely it settled.

Ty and I headed up fairly early to find bright April sun among some on and off clouds, and temperatures in the upper 20s F.  We took an initial run on the Snowflake Chair to make our way over to the Vista Quad, and while we found the groomed terrain was skiing nicely, we didn’t really find that the snow was enough to get the skiing shaped up off piste, at least down there below the 2,500’ mark.

An image from the base of the Snowflake Chair at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Base of the Snowflake Chair

We still wanted to check out how accumulations had played out at the Vista Summit up above 3,000’, and Alta Vista revealed a few good turns off the usual protected left side, but they were in the minority.  We headed over toward Wilderness and did find some nice turns in the Wilderness Woods, but as Ty nicely put it, “You just couldn’t trust it on every turn”.  Indeed you could get a few nice turns on low angle terrain, but then you’d run into a spot that had been hit by the wind and you’d be back to contacting the hard spring surface below.

“I actually had some of my best turns of the day on the left side of Cougar, where several inches of new snow had settled in.”

The opening of the Wilderness Lift had been delayed a bit due to winds, but it had recently opened as we approached the bottom, so we figured it was worth at least one trip.  It was running slow due to winds though, so we dropped off at the mid station and headed down Cougar.  I actually had some of my best turns of the day on the left side of Cougar, where several inches of new snow had settled in.  We had first tracks on the lower part of Cougar as well, and where the snow was undisturbed by the wind the turns were quite nice.  We finished off dropping in and out of the Wilderness Woods, and for some reason, (perhaps the bright sunlight, or perhaps the deep spring snowpack?) they just seemed very open and smooth everywhere.  There were very few tracks in there, so we had our pick of fresh lines.  You still couldn’t “trust” every turn, just as Ty had said earlier, but we definitely had some good smooth lines through the trees in many spots.

An image showing a Sonar Silver lens for Anon's M2 gogglesIn line with the bright April sun, Ty and I both had a chance to try out the Sonar Silver lens for the Anon M2 Goggles.  It only lets through 6% of the visible light, so it’s even darker than the Sonar Red lens that we’d used last weekend at Magic Mountain, which lets through 14% of the visible light.  We swapped between the two actually, but you could definitely notice the difference – you could easily look toward the sun with the Sonar Silver lens and not be too strained, and I can see it’s going to be another great one for these types of bright, late season days.

“…Bolton Valley is going to open back up for a couple more bonus days of skiing.”

We finished off with a trip to the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery to grab some subs, and it was around lunchtime, so a crowd was building.  Although temperatures were wintry today, and there was some wind, that April sunshine easily warmed you up and you could see that folks were generally quite comfortable out there on the slopes.  It looks like temperatures will be warming up next week for some spring skiing, and Bolton Valley is going to open back up for a couple more bonus days of skiing.  From what I can see in some of the weather models, we may not be quite done with snowfall in the mountains yet either.

Bolton Valley, VT 15JAN2018

An image of Ty's Anon M2 ski goggles with the photographer Jay in the reflection at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of tree branches with ice on them from Winter Storm Hunter at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Remnants of Winter Storm Hunter were seen today at Bolton Valley in the form of a little ice glistening on tree branches in the sun

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.

A sign announcing an upcoming music performance at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont 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!

Bolton Valley, VT 20FEB2016

An image of Erica and Dylan near the top of the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing powder on the Wilderness Liftline trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Mother Nature delivered a bit of powder to hungry Bolton Valley skiers today

Temperatures hovered below zero Fahrenheit for highs in the mountains last weekend, and without any major storms or ski program obligations due to the President’s Day holiday, there wasn’t much incentive to get out and ski; so we didn’t. This weekend though, things have been a bit more hospitable. An Alberta Clipper system has been moving along north of the international border since yesterday, and it dropped 4 to 6 inches of new snow for the Northern Vermont resorts overnight. Fresh snow and comfortable temperatures up in the 30s F certainly sounded appealing, so Dylan, E, and I headed up to Bolton Valley for some midday runs today.

A quick check of the Bolton Valley snow report revealed that even the Timberline area was open, and it would be our first chance to visit it for lift-served turns this season. We even thought of basing ourselves out of there, but ultimately decided to head all the way up to the main base to facilitate picking up some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery afterwards. Parking was fairly easy; even though it was 11:00 A.M. we only had to go down to the third tier in the main Village lot because there was only a moderate number of skiers at the resort.

An image of Dylan skiing the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Showtime was one of the highlights today with some excellent soft snow.

We decided to check out as many sections of the mountain as possible to assess conditions, so we started with a quick trip up Snowflake to make our way toward Timberline. Timberline Lane and Timberline Run didn’t really inspire us with regard to conditions – it wasn’t great either on or off piste. Despite the mild weather, the groomed terrain was strangely hard, sort of that like that hard but wet surface that you can encounter on the lower slopes of Whistler Blackcomb. There was fresh powder off piste, but unfortunately below ~2,000’ it was just a bit too sticky to be fun. I was hoping that the surface conditions we’d encountered there were not going to be all the mountain had to offer today, and fortunately what we’d experienced was the worst we were going to see. We did a Timberline Mid Station run on Showtime because we could immediately tell as we rode the lift that the conditions looked nice. Indeed the turns were awesome on Showtime, because if featured soft packed snow that wasn’t at all sticky. I’m not sure what combination of grooming, timing, or skier traffic led to such disparate conditions on routes at equivalent elevations, but whatever the case, Showtime was great fun.

“Indeed Wilderness Lift Line held several inches of fresh powder in spots protected from the wind, and there were perhaps a dozen tracks on Lower Turnpike.”

We continued our tour by heading back to the main base and riding up the Vista Quad. Temperatures were below freezing up high and the powder was very much in midwinter form up there. We headed toward Alta Vista, and Dylan and I jumped into some of the dense trees off to the skier’s left to explore some lines. There’s not really much there because the evergreens are really dense, but with E spotting from the trail we found a couple of open spots to catch a few turns and there were 4 to 5 inches of protected powder in there that made the experience quite fun. Back on piste, skier’s left of Alta Vista before the first turn was filled in with 8 to 10 inches of soft snow, so we all enjoyed that.

We made our way over to Wilderness after that, figuring that traffic would be fairly light over there. Indeed Wilderness Lift Line held several inches of fresh powder in spots protected from the wind, and there were perhaps a dozen tracks on Lower Turnpike. The powder turns on Lower Turnpike were smooth and creamy, until about the last couple hundred feet above the Village where the temperature had risen enough to cause the powder to become sticky.

An image of Erica skiing powder snow along the edge of the Liftline Trail in the Wilderness are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Fresh powder along the edge of the Wilderness Lift Line

Our run led us right down to the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery where we picked up some sandwiches to bring home for lunch. With temperatures above freezing down in the Village, it felt more like a March or April day vs. February, but it was really nice to be able to change out of our ski boots at the car in comfort – unlike what it would have been last weekend (or the way things were much of last season). It looks like there are a couple more potential storms in the pipeline for this coming week, so we’ll see how they play out with respect to snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2014

A picture of Erica skiing in fresh snow on the Show Off trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A few inches of dense snow at Bolton Valley today produced some great skiing

It started snowing last night on the front end of our current storm system, and although we only had about a half inch of snow here at the house, the mountains picked up a good 3 to 4 inches containing some real substance. I hadn’t prepared much of our gear ahead of time since I was unsure whether or not this storm was going to deliver, but everyone got up and rolling pretty quickly once we’d made the decision to hit the mountain. I checked the Bolton Valley website for the latest on the lifts and trails, and our timing was looking good because lifts didn’t start running until 9:00 A.M. It really feels like it’s a holiday today because we’re so close to Christmas and school is out for E and the boys, but at for the resort it was just a standard midweek day. We don’t get to ski a lot of those though, so we were excited for that.

Precipitation had been a light mix of snow and rain, but it had generally tapered off by the time we arrived up at the Bolton Valley Village. I dropped E and the boys off at the Village circle and was able to easily grab a parking spot right in the top lot because there were only a couple dozen cars in total. Apparently today really was just another midweek day. I met E and the boys near the back of the base lodge and we headed up to Vista for a run.

As we rode the lift you could immediately see that the resort had been plastered with snow overnight. The evergreens had a fresh coat of white that added yet another layer on top of all the rime and snow they already held, the groomed slopes looked great, and even the off piste was supplying quiet turns. It wasn’t until we got near Spillway that we could hear skiers contacting the subsurface, so we knew that the new snow wasn’t quite enough to support bottomless turns on the steepest pitches. Temperatures were comfortable at just a few degrees below freezing, but there was a stiff wind as we got into the higher elevations.

I’d read that Schuss was the run of the day, so for our first run we headed down Alta Vista to make our way toward Schuss. There was a bit of scouring at the very top of Alta Vista, but below that the groomed snow was excellent. Of to the skier’s left we found several inches of fresh powder, with as much as a foot in some spots. We’d been prepared to just take a run or two if the conditions weren’t that great, but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen; the conditions were simply fantastic. Down on Schuss we did come in contact with the base in some spots since it’s quite a steep trail, but fresh snow was plentiful as there was only a track or two or two before we got there. On the lower mountain we caught Bull run to Moose Run to Glades, and the trails were either totally untracked or had a track or two on them. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what those midweek days are like. As we hit the last hundred or so feet of vertical above the base lodge, you could really feel the snow starting to get a bit wet, so the freezing level must have been rising.

On our next ride up the Vista Quad, Dylan proposed that we each take turns picking a route to ski, so Ty went next. He followed up with another trip down Alta Vista, taking us through the lower parts of Vista Glades, and then finally over to Fanny Hill. We really got to rip up the powder there along the skier’s right, dodging in and out of the trees. I stuck with Ty in that powder right along the edge, and by the bottom of the run my legs were definitely getting cooked from Telemark turns.

An image of Dylan with powder snow on his face and helmet at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontDylan’s run choice was next, and he stuck with an Alta Vista start, eventually brining us to Sleepy Hollow. He’d wanted to get in there on our first run, but now that everyone was warmed up, we were ready to rip through those trees. If anyone had been in there up to that point, they must have been few and far between, because it looked like the whole glade was untracked. I directed the group to some lines I know off to the left, and some seriously good turns were had by all. There was no problem with the new snow keeping us off the base on those pitches. Kudos go out to Dylan for a great run choice.

The fourth run was E’s selection, and she really didn’t have much of a preference aside from visiting the Glades run again; she’d really started to connect with her Tele turns there and wanted to get more of that type of terrain. So, for the upper mountain we dropped into Show Off, and we got images of the boys skiing around the rock with the big smiley face on it. On the upper half of Snow Off, the pitch was steep enough that we were making contact with the base snow, but on the bottom half of the run, the pitch had mellowed just enough to let us float through our turns quite well. Glades was nice and still held plenty of untracked snow, although the snow on the bottom half was starting to get a bit wet as the freezing level seemed to have risen.

It was approaching midday after that run and we broke for lunch at the James Moore Tavern next. The bar was hopping, but there were only a few tables with people at them. I had their grilled tuna sandwich, which was nicely done, although I’d probably opt out of the Dijon mustard-style sauce next time since it’s not one of my favorite flavors. Dylan got the homemade macaroni and cheese, and in his case he definitely had to get it with the optional bacon. I tried some and it was really good… and really rich. We had enough extra that I even had to run leftovers down to the car.

We decided to take a final run after lunch to see how the Wilderness area was doing. We took the Vista route over, but were surprised to see that the Wilderness lift was actually running. That meant that the terrain wasn’t quite as untracked as it might have been with just Vista access, but there was we caught some good lines on Work Road and in Wilderness Woods. The freezing line had continued to creep upward though, so the quality of turns in the lowest elevations had dropped a bit more.

There’s no doubt that the morning offered the best turns of the day today, and that was the time to be out because they were really good. Temperatures are going to be warm with this system for the next couple of day before they cool down, so some snow will be required at the point to get surfaces back to something soft. There are some chances for snow though over the next week, so we’ll see what falls.

Bolton Valley, VT 27APR2014

An image of the Alta Vista trail with a ski track in late April at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
We got a bit of fresh snow and some fun turns in the higher elevations from our latest April storm.

Our latest April storm brought with it the potential for some mountain snow, and as the forecast from the National Weather Service Office in Burlington suggested, snow levels came down last night, and the snow started to accumulate.  Precipitation was just a mix of rain and snow at our house down here at 500’ this morning as I checked on some of the local mountain web cams, but I began to get a sense for how the snow had accumulated up high.  There was no accumulation visible at Stowe’s base elevations, and it looked like the snow line was up above 2,000’ on the east slope of Mt. Mansfield based on the accumulations seen on the trees.  Bolton Valley appeared to have picked up a reasonable accumulation of snow at roughly 2,000’, and when Powderfreak showed accumulations down to roughly the 800’ elevation along the western slopes, that sealed the deal on Bolton Valley as my tour destination.

“The skiing was actually far
better than I’d expected – it
was three inches of dense
snow atop what, even up at
that elevation, was a soft
spring base.”

Temperatures were in the upper 30s F down in the Winooski Valley with light rain/mist, and as I headed westward through Bolton Flats, the intensity of the precipitation picked up.  The rain changed over to snow at ~1,200’ on the Bolton Valley Access Road, and first signs of new snow accumulation were at the Timberline Base at 1,500’.  I suspect that accumulations had reached lower based on that image that PF showed earlier from 800’ in Nashville, but it seemed like the snow line had already risen a bit by the time I was up there.  As I continued to ascend the road beyond the Timberline Base, the deciduous trees took on a picturesque coating of white, and gradually the ground began to fill in with white as well.

The Village was quiet as is typical for late April, and as I pulled into the upper lot near the base lodge, I saw a skier just returning to his car after a run.  We chatted for a bit, and he said that he’d just come down Cobrass and that the skiing was great.  I looked around and saw what looked to be about an inch of fresh snow atop all surfaces, and even the base snow appeared to be soft.  Unsure of exactly what I was going to find, I’d brought both fat and mid fat Tele skis, and after finding out how soft the subsurfaces were, I felt confident that going with the fatter AMPerages was the call.  I strapped on skins and headed upward, just as another car with three skiers arrived to take the place of the lone skier that had just left.

An image of one of the snowmaking pump houses with fresh April snow at the mid mountain elevation of the main mountain at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontLight snow continued to fall as I began skinning up above the lodge, and I could see that skier traffic had been very light.  There were signs of just a couple of skiers that had skinned up in the new snow, and a couple of addition sets of footprints from people that had hiked.  As I was ascending near the top of Beech Seal, a skier passed me on his descent, and I definitely liked the sound of his turns… or more appropriately, the lack of sound as he came by.  That quiet schuss was a good sign regarding the subsurface below the new snow, and I with the good coverage I saw, I made a note to consider Beech Seal on that part of the descent.  At Mid Mountain the depth of the new snow was about 2”, and I continued over toward Cobrass on my ascent to see what that other skier had experienced.  I don’t think I’ve ascended Cobrass yet this spring, so it also gave me a chance to use that route.  I could see the other skier’s descent track, and pretty quickly I knew that descending Cobrass was not going to be the call for me.  With its southern and western exposures, there was just too little base in various spots.  I suspected things would be much better on a trail with northern exposure.  I could see that the Cobrass Café picnic table had reappeared from its winter burial; it’s been looking a bit worse for wear over the past couple of seasons, but it’s hanging in there.

An image of evergreen boughs covered with snow from a late April, snowstorm up at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow accumulations increased gradually with elevation today, eventually revealing more substantial accumulations.

At the Vista Summit, I checked the depth of new snow again, and it was right around 3”.  There were actually no tracks of any kind over near the patrol house or the top of the Vista Quad, and it was just pristine snow, so I suspected that whatever trail I chose, I’d be able to get first tracks.  I downed a GU and some water, switched over to descent mode, and headed down Alta Vista.  Aside from the wind scoured section along the skier’s right at the top, the base coverage was wall to wall, and the new snow on top was wholly untracked.  The skiing was actually far better than I’d expected – it was three inches of dense snow atop what, even up at that elevation, was a soft spring base.  I was very happy with my ski choice, as the AMPerages were in their element – I was planing pretty quickly atop the dense snow, and had a lot of fun drifting some of my turns.  The new snow was only partially bonded to the subsurface, so you could easily let it slide as much as you wanted as you sloughed the snow away.

I thought about a number of options once I was down to Sherman’s Pass, but stuck with Sherman’s because I was sure of the base snow.  It also meant that I could catch Beech Seal, which I knew was a sure thing.  The turns on the lower half of the mountain were good, and certainly soft, but the upper half of the mountain took the prize for conditions.  The temperature had risen at the base since I’d started my tour, and I could see that much of the snow had melted out of the deciduous trees down at the Village elevations as I departed.   The snow line had risen another few hundred feet as I was heading back down the mountain, so it was definitely one of those days to get at it sooner rather than later.  It’s actually continued to be a slow April in terms of snowfall, but the forecast does show the potential for additional shots of snow in the midweek period and then next weekend, so we’ll see if we get anything like this event in the next several days.

Bolton Valley, VT 17APR2014

An image of ski tracks in the Mid Mountain area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont after an April snowstorm
Although the lifts have stopped running for the season, the powder skiing rolls on at Bolton Valley thanks to a recent April storm.

Yesterday was quite a cold April day, cold enough that the temperature in the Bolton Valley Village never got anywhere near the freezing mark – it never even reached 25 F.  Anticipating that the cold temperatures would mean maintenance of the dry, wintry powder that the area received from the recent snowstorm, I grabbed the fat skis and headed up to Bolton Valley this morning to see how the snow was faring.  Based on the fact that we’d picked up over four inches of new snow down at the house from the storm, I figured that Bolton must have done at least that well.

“Indeed the sun or warmth
had not appeared to be
issues of any sort for snow
– the real enemy in terms
of  snow quality was the
wind.”

The temperature was still in the low 20s F when I rolled into the Bolton Valley Village this morning, and it looked like midwinter as much as it did mid April.  I began skinning right up the well established skin track on Beech Seal, and as one might expect from a well consolidated skin track, it meant that the surrounding slopes had seen plenty of ski traffic.  There were some nice looking turns out there though – I saw some beautiful, smooth looking powder turns in the low-angle terrain coming out of the Jungle Jib terrain park.  New snow depths and ski conditions were fairly similar to what we found yesterday at Stowe – I found 3 to 5 inches of new snow on the lower half of the mountain, and around a half foot up top near Vista Peak.  Indeed the sun or warmth had not appeared to be issues of any sort for snow – the real enemy in terms of snow quality was the wind.  In the usual spots, the new powder was scoured down to the crusty surface below, so I could see that it was going to be one of those days where choosing aspect, trail, and trail side, was going to be extremely important in seeking out the best powder turns.

An image of a ski track in the Jungle Jib terrain park at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A picturesque track in the powder coming out of the Jungle Jib terrain park

“Turnpike delivered as usual,
with just a few spots that
had been affected by the
wind, but a lot of smooth,
silky turns in the slightly
settled powder.”

The skin track took me up Sherman’s, Schuss, and finally Alta Vista, to where I stopped just below the top of the Vista Quad beneath where the snow was all scoured away.  The skier’s left of Alta Vista offered up some nice powder turns, although I still encountered some areas of wind-packed snow.  I ventured off into the lower reaches of Vista Glades, and found some smooth turns there, since the snow was generally protected.  Having seen so many tracks and plenty of wind affecting the trails above the base lodge, I headed over toward Wilderness for the bottom part of my run.  Turnpike delivered as usual, with just a few spots that had been affected by the wind, but a lot of smooth, silky turns in the slightly settled powder.  Like yesterday, the turns weren’t completely bottomless, but there were still a lot of them, and I was happy to have the AMPerages and their floatation to help out.  The Village was still incredibly quiet as I was heading back to my car, but I did run into Josh as he was heading into the office.  He’s already getting ready for next season, enjoying a quieter scene now that the lifts have stopped.  Based on the snow that’s up there though, there’s still plenty of skiing to be done this season.

An image of a ski track in the bottom of the Vista Glades area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some protected snow at the bottom of Vista Glades

Bolton Valley, VT 30MAR2014

An image of a ski track in powder snow beneath the Wilderness Lift at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Getting out for some fresh turns this morning thanks to our latest storm

Our latest winter storm to come into the area was lean on cold air, bringing the potential for mixed precipitation into the picture.  The northern Vermont resorts managed to get some snow accumulations though, with 5 inches reported by Bolton Valley in the morning.  Well ahead of opening, they announced that the Vista Quad was starting on wind hold, and that Mid Mountain would be the early lift.  So, I threw my skins in my pack before heading up to the mountain.

The temperature was around 35 F in the valley, and only dropped a degree or two as I headed up the Bolton Valley Access Road.  Accumulations of snow on the road naturally increased with elevation, and by the time I got up to the Village, you could see that the plows had cleared away some dense, wet material.  The precipitation at the base was a mist of light rain with occasionally heavier bouts.

As I approached the base of the mid mountain chair, I ran into Quinn, who was just coming down from a run.  Our conversation noted the wet weather, and you could tell by the state of Quinn’s outerwear that he’d been out working in it.  He said that skiing was lots of fun though, and that was a good sign.  The state of the skiing on the lower mountain was quickly confirmed during my ride on the mid mountain chair; beneath my feet, I watched a couple of ski instructors on Beech Seal cut beautiful arcs through the fresh layer of dense snow.  The chairs of the mid mountain chair were in quite a state – they had icicles all over them from freezing rain, and it seemed like the icicles were enhanced as the chairs went through repeated cycles of freezing and thawing on their circuit up and down through various elevations.

At mid mountain, I’d just strapped on my skins and started upward, when I heard a sled approaching.  It was Quinn, and he gave me a quick lift to the Vista Summit on his way to check things out.  The temperature dropped below freezing, and the depths of new snow increased as we headed upward.  My depth checks revealed as much as 6” of new snow up top, with the caveat that it was a bit tough to tell where the new dense snow ended, and the old snow began.  The only downside, and unfortunately it was big one, was that a fairly thick crust had formed on the snow in the higher elevations due to some rain falling into the colder temperatures.  Because of this, I stuck to the groomed Alta Vista for the first part of the descent.  The groomed snow was much easier to manage, but it was still firm with a layer of ice on it.

I next followed Swing over to Wilderness, and ran into Quinn again as he was making his way about the mountain.  I filled him in on the conditions I’d experienced on my descent from Vista, letting him know that ski condition in the lower elevations were actually much better because of the lack of crust.  I made a depth check of the new snow at that Wilderness Mid Station (~2,800’) and found roughly 4 to 5 inches.  Below the Wilderness Mid Station was where the turns really started to get nice.  I got into that beautiful snow that I’d seen the instructors and others skiing on Beech Seal, and cut some nice arcs.  It was really interesting to have the skiing improve with every turn I took downward in elevation, because it’s often the reverse due to deeper snow accumulations up high.  Since I’d found that some areas in the trees on the upper mountain had been protected from the freezing rain, I dipped into the Wilderness Woods briefly to see how they were skiing.  Down at that elevation, it really didn’t make much of a difference, so I quickly ended up back out on the trails since they had large expanses of untracked snow.

I rode the Mid Mountain Chair again, this time heading out on Deer Run and over to the Butterscotch Terrain Park.  I ended up just skiing the park, since it wasn’t open and had plenty of fresh snow.  Usually, with the more limited terrain, it’s not great when the Vista Quad is down and the main option is the Mid Mountain Chair, but with the way the new snow was set up today, it was almost the perfect option.  I didn’t stick around too long this morning because I wanted to get home and dry my gear to get ready for Stowe in the afternoon – I was certainly eager to see how Mt. Mansfield fared in this latest storm.