Bolton Valley, VT 29APR2022

An image showing a view westward toward The Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondack Mountains of New York during a spring ski tour at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Sherman's Pass trail area near the end of the ski season at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of Sherman’s Pass out on my ski tour at Bolton Valley today – snow coverage is still decent with a few breaks here and there.

As it’s been for the past few days, it was quite windy today in the Champlain Valley, but with partly cloudy skies providing some sun, and the temperatures getting into the 50s F, it seemed like there might be enough warmth to make the slopes worth a visit.  That thought was tempered somewhat as I headed into the mountains on the way home; the skies became notably cloudier, and the temperatures felt several degrees cooler, even at valley level.  At that point I was definitely questioning if there was sufficient warmth at elevation for softening the snow, but it still felt like it was worth the quick trip up to Bolton for some turns.

On the way up the Bolton Valley Access Road, first signs of old snow snowpack were at ~1,400’, and first signs of the new snow left from our most recent storm appeared in the 1,800’ – 1,900’ elevation range.  I’d contemplated skiing at Timberline if the snowpack was continuous enough, but it’s too broken up down at those elevations to be worth it.

As expected up at the main mountain, there’s still plenty of snow for top-to-bottom turns on the main routes like Beech Seal and SpillwaySherman’s Pass seems close to continuous, but there’s at least a break or two in the snowpack there.  While the quantity of the snow is looking quite good, we’re still going to need some more warmth and temperature cycling to get the snowpack to some quality corn.  Even with Bolton’s western exposure and afternoon sun, a lot of terrain still needs some rounds of softening.  The combination of temperatures, which I guess were somewhere in the 40s F, and the cooling breeze that we’ve had the past few days, just isn’t enough to really soften the snowpack.  Granted, I was out on the mountain in the later afternoon period when the sun angle is getting lower and temperatures are starting to drop off, but it was obvious that only areas in direct sun had seen much cycling of the snow to get to appropriate quality corn, and even those areas still need work.  Heck, most of terrain above 2,000’ that was not in the direct sun, still had snow from our most recent storm earlier this week.  I toured up to about 2,500’, but didn’t push above that elevation that because it was only getting cooler and windier as I ascended, and the quality of the snow just didn’t seem to be worth it.

So while spring snow conditions weren’t quite there today, the recent snows and good preservation we’ve been seeing do bode well as we head into the next several weeks of the season.  Tomorrow’s forecast around here seems sort of similar to today’s, so I wouldn’t expect primo ski conditions, but Sunday is supposed to kick things up a notch with temperatures around 60 F and more sun.  That might be enough to get some of that south-facing terrain into good shape.

Bolton Valley, VT 19APR2022

An image of fresh snow from an April snowstorm in the Timberline area parking lots at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Our most recent April snowstorm brought some solid accumulations even down to the base of Timberline at 1,500′.

I wasn’t able to get out for a ski tour this morning, but I did have enough time to head out to Bolton later in the afternoon and check out what this most recent storm had to offer.  As we know, a great feature of the March through June portion of the ski season is the long lasting daylight, and that makes late afternoon and even evening ski sessions very practical.

It kept snowing right through the day today, but it did warm up enough to melt back the earlier snow a bit, especially the lower one went in elevation.  There was still a solid coating of snow in place even in the late afternoon at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road, and here’s the storm accumulations profile I found at that point:

340’: T-1”
1,000’: 1-2”
1,500’: 3-4”
2,000’: 7-8”
2,500’: 8-10”
3,000’: 10-12”

This storm was unquestionably another solid resurfacing of the snowpack at elevation.  The mountains must have had at least an inch and a half of liquid equivalent as snow, and combined with the density of that snow, it was enough to resurface slopes of just about any angle, right up to the steepest of the steep.  The density of the snow meant that it covered, and stayed stuck to, just about every slope out there.  It’s easy for snow to be too dense to enable quality turns though, and this storm didn’t just flirt with that line, it flew way past it.  Even the folks out in the west coast ranges that routinely deal with Sierra Cement and Cascade Concrete would have cried after dealing with this stuff.

An image of new snow from an April snowstorm at the base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some of the dense accumulations of new snow at the main base area today

There are times when you’re ski touring, and you can’t quite tell what the quality of the turns is going to be like until you really rip off the skins and start your descent; this was not one of those times.  Right from the start of my tour, I could tell that the skiing was going to be disastrous.  On the lower half of the mountain from say 2,000’ on up to ~2,500’, the snow was super dense, with a bit of melting going on to increase the density just a bit more for good measure.  I held out a little hope that the quality of the snow in the higher elevations would improve, as it often does with lower temperatures producing drier snow that skis better.  “Ha”, not this time.  As I continued to ascend, the snow conditions only got worse.  The snow went from something that was super dense and a bit wet, that you really didn’t sink into much… to an even worse version of that.  As temperatures dipped below freezing on the upper mountain, the top couple of inches of snow has become a solid mass that produced the most horrible, upside-down snowpack you could imagine.  The skiing was challenging, dangerous, disgusting, and everything in between.

An image of snow from an April snowstorm curling off a roof at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Spring snow doing what it does out at the resort today

So the snowfall from this storm was indeed a great resurfacing, and a solid addition to the mountain snowpack, but it would have taken another good half foot or so of drier snow to really get the immediate quality of the ski surfaces up to snuff in the Bolton Valley area.  It was snowing while I was out there today, with some nice steady snow at times, but there was probably only another inch or two of additional snow above the dense stuff, so not enough to really bring up the snow quality to something more respectable.

Every spring snowstorm is different though, and that’s part of the fun of experiencing them, and we’ll just have to see what the next one does.

Bolton Valley, VT 03APR2022

An image showing the trails of Whiteface Mountain in New York viewed from the Wilderness are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the mid station area for the Wilderness Double Chairlift after an early April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the drifted snow at the Wilderness Mid Station while I was out on today’s ski tour at Bolton Valley

After skiing yesterday’s fresh powder out on the hill, I hadn’t really planned to ski today, since the forecast called for gray skies and temperatures heading above the freezing mark.  We were thinking we might have left one of our water bottles up around 2,800’ on Wilderness during yesterday’s ski tour though, so that was incentive enough to get me out for another go.  If in doubt, it’s generally good to get out and get some exercise anyway.

I made my way up to Bolton Valley around midday, and whereas temperatures yesterday were in the upper 20s F when we’d arrived, today they were in the upper 30s F.  Some of the new Friday/Saturday snow had definitely melted back, and that effect decreased with increasing elevation, but the freezing line was still somewhere above the 3,000’ mark.  So, I never encountered any snow yesterday that had been fully preserved below freezing.  With that said, the snow skied really well.  On the upper mountain, the new snow had seen little settling, and untracked areas skied like dense powder vs. any sort of mush.  At all elevations, even where the snow was transitioning due to the above freezing temperatures, it seemed to be doing it in a subtle way.  It wasn’t sticky, just dense, and perhaps that slow change was due to the cold overnight temperatures and the overcast keeping away dramatic warming from direct sunlight.  In thinner areas where the new snow had melted back, the skiing typically transitioned right to the underlying corn snow, and that skied really well.  It was sort of strange to move from areas of dense powder skiing, right to spring corn snow, but somehow it worked.

An image of a roof with snow in the Bolton Valley Village after and early April snowstorm hit Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A scene from the Bolton Valley Village showing some of the recent snow while I was up at the resort today.

In any event, the water bottle ended up being right where we thought it was, so that part of the tour was quite successful!  I of course used the opportunity of being up at the resort to grab another Spicy Tuna onigiri from the Miso Toh Kome stand, and I brought some onigiri home for the boys as well.

Bolton Valley, VT 02APR2022

An image of Erica and Ty on the Wilderness Lift line after a spring snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in some powder on the Wilderness Lift Line area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty was out with us for some Telemark skiing today, and reported that he was making some of his best Tele turns that he could recall!

With the snow from this latest storm, E and I headed up to Bolton for a session today with Ty, who’s back from school on spring break.  We got to the mountain reasonably early, with some concern about how the powder was going to hold up as the day warmed, but even as of midday that wasn’t a concern at elevation.  It was probably in the 20s F when we arrived, and combined with the breeze, it was chilly.  It was excellent touring weather, and the powder stayed cold and dry.  Even at midday, the higher elevation snow was dry, although snow in the mid to lower elevations in directly sunlight was starting to be affected by the sun.

An image of Ty out on a ski tour after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThe mountain was reporting 4 inches of new snow, but I’d say that was a fairly conservative report – I was finding 5-6” new at the 2,000’ elevation, and as much as 8” up above 3,000’.  We started our session with a tour at Wilderness up to ~2,800’ or so.  Wilderness is 100% natural snow, so the decent amount of base in many spots was impressive, but the usual windswept or sunny spots were lean on coverage.  Those areas of lean coverage were fine for grassy and/or low angle slopes, but you wouldn’t have wanted to tackle anything steep that didn’t have existing base.

I’d say the very best snow we encountered yesterday was on Alta Vista – the ridgeline and skier’s right of the headwall were windswept as usual, but the protected left side of the headwall held some nice, semi-packed snow.  Below that though was the real gold mine.  They had groomed the skier’s left of the trail, but the skier’s right held about 8 inches of chowder that was mostly bottomless, and we couldn’t believe how good the skiing was there.  We were wishing they hadn’t groomed anywhere if it could have meant the snow would have been like that.  The Vista Quad was on wind hold until about midday though, so we were up on Alta Vista not too long after the lift started running, and I think that helped set up the incredible snow quality there.

An image of ski tracks in fresh snow from an early April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We found some great areas of midwinter snow out the mountain today in areas of the main mountain where good base was still in place.

It was great to catch a day of skiing with Ty while he was back.  Although he’s got plenty of breaks between Thanksgiving, the long holiday break, sinter break, and spring break, you still never know when schedules and good snow might line up.  Ty said today was probably his best Telemark day ever in terms of comfort level and confidence with his turns, so that was exciting to hear.  He’s still learning and improving, even at this age.  He also finally got to visit the Miso Toh Kome stand for the first time, and he’s a total sushi fiend, so he loved it.  I’ve been sending him pictures every time I’ve gotten food from there over the past few weeks to build it up… and maybe give him a bit of a hard time about missing out as well!

Bolton Valley, VT 22APR2021

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow after a late April storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow accumulations from a late April snowstorm in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Our latest April storm brought 8 to 10 inches of snow to the Bolton Valley Village, with as much as a foot of snow higher on the mountain.

Since daylight lingers so long into the evening now, I stopped off at Bolton on the way home from work today for a ski tour.  I hadn’t had the time to get out yesterday, but it kept snowing much of the day today as well, so this gave me the chance to see how all the snow had accumulated from this most recent April storm.  Valley temperatures had edged a bit above freezing in the afternoon, but on the mountain the temperatures were down in the 20s F.

Accumulations from this storm went right down to the lowest valleys, and even the broad, low valleys down near sea level like the Champlain Valley had accumulations that stuck around.  At the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road at ~340’ there were a couple inches of accumulation, and naturally, the depths just went up from there.  The wind had kicked up by this afternoon on the back side of the system, and that really pushed the snow around a lot, but using the typical calmer, unaffected spots, here’s the accumulations profile I observed during today’s outing:

340’: 2”
500’: 2-3”
1,000’: 3-4”
1,500’: 5-6”
2,000’: 8-10”
2,500’: 10-12”
3,000’: ~12”

“So, while not the 2”+ of liquid that some areas saw in the last storm, this snow offered plenty of substance for solid turns on most terrain, and it was easily bottomless on moderate-angle pitches.”

The snow from this storm was certainly not as dense as what last week’s storm delivered, but the initial accumulations were substantial enough to set up a good base, and then in typical Northern Greens style, the upslope came in after to boost the depth and polish things off.  Overall, the snow put down by this storm cycle was right side up, just as PF noted in his post at the American Weather Forum.  We picked up roughly ¾” of liquid equivalent at our site, and I’d say they’d had at least 1” of liquid in the snow on the mountain.  So, while not the 2”+ of liquid that some areas saw in the last storm, this snow offered plenty of substance for solid turns on most terrain, and it was easily bottomless on moderate-angle pitches.  There was also still some snow left from the previous storm in spots, so that bolstered up the base a bit more.

An image of low clouds and whisps of falling snow looking west toward the Champlain Valley during a late-April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The low cloud deck and wisps of falling snow from an incoming burst of precipitation were visible as I looked back westward toward the Champlain Valley.

Anyway, turns were great with the right-side-up deposition, with midwinter consistency all the way down to the Village areas at ~2,000’ this afternoon.  I didn’t tour down to 1,500’, but even there at the base of Timberline the snow was still powder as of early evening.

Pico, VT 17APR2021

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in 18 inches of new snow that fell from an April snowstorm at Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing snow from an April snowstorm at the base of Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
The snow accumulations we encountered today at the base of Pico Mountain as we began our ski tour

Since the snow totals from our latest storm were a bit higher to the south of our area, E and I decided to mix things up a little and head down to Pico for some turns today. The accumulating snow levels for this storm in our part of the Winooski Valley were generally around 1,000’ or so, and you could tell that the snow line was a bit lower as you headed south.  The lowest elevations of the White River Valley were still generally devoid of snow though.

Pico certainly got a nice shot of snow from this system.  With temperatures above freezing at around 2,000’ in the base area, it wasn’t surprising that we were seeing a bit of melting and consolidation there.  In general, settled new snow depths we found around the base this morning were in the 9-12” range.  There were about 40 to 50 cars in the main parking lot this morning, and some were from people who were staying in the lodging areas there at the base, but many were also from folks who were there for some skiing.

An image of skiers skinning up the Pike trail after an April snowstorm at Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading up on the ascent – it was quickly apparent that a LOT of new snow had fallen, especially higher on the mountain.

During our ascent we found that the new snow depth increased quite quickly on the bottom half of the mountain, and at times it felt like every 100’ of vertical we’d climb we’d find another inch of depth.  It wasn’t quite that quick, but by the time we’d hit the 3,000’ elevation range the depth was in the 15-17” range.  The snow depth didn’t increase nearly as quickly on the upper half of the mountain, and it topped out around 18” up around 4,000’.  Here’s the rough snow depth profile with respect to elevation:

2,000’:  9-12”
3,000’:  15-17”
4,000’:  18”

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in snow from an April snowstorm at Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
E on the descent today enjoying Telemark turns in some of that April snow

As the elevation profile data suggest, you’re essentially looking at a foot and a half of new snow on the upper half of the mountain – and it is certainly not fluff.  There’s got to be at least two inches of liquid equivalent in that new snow, so there’s been a full resurfacing up there (or in places that didn’t have existing snowpack, a full recovering).

Up on the mountain it also snowed during the entire time we were out on our tour from mid-morning onward.  The snowfall was generally light in intensity, but increased with elevation and was borderline moderate at times up near the 4,000’ level.  You could see that the new snow, and/or other recent snow from the later part of the storm was helping to take a bit of the density out of the topmost layer of snow up high.  The best turns were unquestionably up in the 3,500’ to 4,000’ elevation range, where you had a few inches of drier snow atop the rest of what the storm left.  I’d say that may have been where the freezing line was located at that point, so you had dense, but dry powder for the top few to several inches.  Below that, there was an increasing density gradient, but it went pretty quickly to snow that was 10%+ H2O in the vein of typical winter-style Sierra Cement/Cascade Concrete.  It was still quite skiable though, and you’d certainly sink in several inches, so it wasn’t that super dense stuff that has your just riding on the surface.

An imager of Jay Telemark skiing in some deep powder after an April snowstorm at Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Although it certainly wasn’t midwinter champagne powder, the upper mountain held some light snow atop the snowpack, and in general you could get right down into the snow for some very enjoyable turns.

All told though, since there’s a foot and a half of that snow, you’ve got a bomber subsurface in place.  We spoke with a guy who told us that the 49er and Pike were the routes with the best snowmaking base before this storm, so they were good options in terms of coverage, but it really didn’t matter.  With 2+ inches of liquid equivalent in place, you could pretty much ski anything you wanted.  There were water bars to watch out for the lower you went, but even all the way back down to the base elevations, you could ski just about anything, whether it had existing base or not.  The challenging part was handling the denser/wetter snow down low, and fat skis or a snowboard were unquestionably your tool of choice.  Width was the best bet in general for the most fun riding, but especially down low where temperatures were above freezing and the snow was getting a bit wetter.

An image of Erica skiing some powder on the lower mountain after an April snowstorm at Pico Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
The snow was wetter on the lower half of the mountain, and a little more challenging to ski than the drier snow up high, but the turns ended up being quite enjoyable throughout today’s tour.

For the best quality turns today, laps on the upper half of the mountain would have been a good bet if you had the time, but experienced skiers and riders would be able to handle the lower mountain conditions.  We skied the bottom half of the mountain with a couple of older guys on fat Telemark gear like us, and it was well past manageable; the turns were definitely fun even in that wetter snow.

As I mentioned, it was snowing most of the time above the base elevations, and to further reduce the visibility we were often well up in the clouds on the upper mountain.  This of course made the ski photography a fun challenge up high, but I’d say we still got some nice images to document the experience.

Bolton Valley, VT 11APR2021

An image of the Vista Summit area on a partly cloudy day in April at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing part of the Hard Luck ski trail on an April day at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the great coverage in the middle section of Hard Luck today

Today our plan was to play Tennis with Dylan in the afternoon, but that plan fell through once he realized that he had to work.  So, moving on from that option I decided to get some exercise by heading back up to Bolton to catch that run on Hard Luck that I’d missed on Friday.

Temperatures were definitely a bit cooler today than yesterday, with more clouds around, but it was still plenty warm to keep the snow soft.  Hard Luck is nearly continuous except for a small area near the top, but from there on down it has solid coverage that runs right into Sherman’s.  There’s still top-to-bottom coverage on the main mountain via the usual Sherman’s route to Beech Seal, but it’s getting close to a gap near the middle of Beech Seal.  So, I don’t think coverage on the main mountain will be continuous through next weekend with these reasonably warm temperatures in the forecast over the next few days, unless we get a substantial spring snowstorm down the road to cover up the bare areas.

An image of the sign for "The Mad Taco" restaurant in Waitsfield, VermontOn a whim, I put in a call to The Mad Taco Bolton to place an order when I was done with my tour.  I figured they would be closed, since lift-service at the resort ended last weekend, but they were open!  I talked with the associate for a while when I placed my order, and this was their last day of business for a few weeks while they do some remodeling, but they’ll be opening back up in May for the summer season.  So, it looks like they’re planning to run year-round up in the Village supplying great Mexican food for the area!

Stowe, VT 10APR2021

An image from the Meadows are looking across to Mt. Mansfield on an April day at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image looking up from the Mountain Mansfield Ski Academy lodge parking lot toward the Main Street trail on Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
A view up from the MMSC lot today toward Spruce Peak and the snowy Main Street trail

Today I headed to Stowe to go for a tour on Spruce Peak, and again the weather was simply sunny and fabulous.  I hadn’t been to the resort in a while since we didn’t have our school’s ski program this season due to COVID-19, so I poked around the Spruce Peak Village for a bit first.  There’s a huge new building going up where the ski patrol building was at the base of the Sunny Spruce Quad, so that’s another substantial addition to the village area.  I’m not sure what’s going to be going in there, or if it’s more lodging?  As usual, the crowd of folks earning turns was in the MMSC lot, and I found about a dozen cars or so there and ran into Shalagh, who was there skiing with some of her friends.  You almost can’t help but run into someone you know on these days.

All I can say is that Main Street delivered what were unquestionably the best turns of the weekend, and probably the best corn snow I’ve skied the entire spring season so far.  I’m not sure what it is about Main Street, but year after year after year, it just seems to deliver superior corn snow.  Maybe it’s because it faces south and really starts its corn snow cycling early, or maybe it’s because they blow that massive amount of dense snow for the racers, or maybe it’s because it gets so much less traffic than the trails on Mansfield.  Perhaps it’s a combination of all these factors, but it just delivered ridiculously smooth, perfect peel-away corn snow turns when I was there.

An image looking down the Main Street Trail on an April ski day at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A view of Main Street during my descent today, with Mt. Mansfield and its trails visible across the valley

In terms of the ascent route, Main Street is really the best option with respect to continuous coverage for skinning, but those steep pitches are rough.  Despite the tough ascent, my legs felt great making Telemark turns on the way down.  Everything just seemed to flow, and I’m sure a lot of it was the quality of the snow.  The snowpack there seems quite deep, and it’s definitely worth more trips while that snow is around.

Bolton Valley, VT 09APR2021

An image of a couple of skiers ascending on skins through the Hide Away Terrain Park on an April day at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Beech Seal trail with a couple of people ascending on a warm April dat at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Beech Seal still has pretty decent, continuous cover despite the very warm temperatures of the past several days.

The weather over the past several days has been great, and I guess we sort of lose perspective in how we can often be battling marginal temperatures and cloud cover to even get these nice warm spring days in April.  We’ll certainly take them when we can get them.

With this continued run of pleasant weather, I headed up to Bolton this afternoon to check out the spring snow and get in a few turns.  I wanted to take a run on Hard Luck since I knew the snow there was fairly deep and probably just about continuous to make for a nice steep run.  It’s funny, but Spillway, which is a usual the big spring holdout with snow in terms of steep terrain on the main mountain, isn’t really an option at this point.  Mother Nature covered it up enough on her own this season that I guess the resort decided to save the money and skip the snowmaking there.  Hard Luck did look good as I passed by on my way up Sherman’s Pass, but I was a little too tight on time to fit it in my tour, so I ended up skiing a moderate descent on Sherman’s and Bear Run.

It was a nice run, but I’ll have to see if I can get up for another trip to try out Hard Luck!

Bolton Valley, VT 04APR2021

An image of a person sitting by one of the firepits at the main base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont looking out on the lower mountain during the last day of lift-served skiing for the 2020-2021 ski season.
An image showing a group of skiers celebrating the last day of the 2020-2021 ski season in one of the parking lots at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With nice spring weather today, tailgating was in full effect as resort visitors enjoyed Bolton’s last scheduled day of lift-served skiing for the 2020-2021 ski season.

Today was Bolton Valley’s last scheduled day of lift-served skiing for the 2020-2021 season, so with some nice spring weather and a bit of time, I stopped up for some turns this afternoon.

Today we’ve definitely transitioned from the wintry, powder conditions of Friday and Saturday, back to spring snow conditions.  On untouched terrain, the snow from our recent storm was a bit sticky, but on terrain that had seen skier traffic, I actually found some of the best corn snow of the season.  I had good turns on Hard Luck and Beech Seal, and there seemed to be some additional trails opened up today after ski patrol had assessed the combination of new snow and softening that came together.  I did traverse out to the Snowflake area to see what opportunities it held, and ended up taking Sprig O’ Pine back toward the main base – it had seen some grooming and seemed to offer the best turns.

In the parking lots, the warm weather meant that spring tailgating was in full effect, and folks seemed to be trying to practice their social distancing and stay with their specific groups.  Around the base area, you could hear lots of conversations related to the final day of lift-served skiing, and I’m sure the employees are ready for a nice break after the extra stress of dealing with COVID-19 restrictions and precautions all winter.