An image of Ty performing a drop tip aerial in recent snows from Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing in powder from Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty cranks a turn in some of the plentiful Winter Storm Iggy powder out there today at Bolton Valley as the Wilderness Chair made its season debut.

In a discussion with my colleague Stephen at work yesterday, I learned that plans were in place to open the Wilderness Chair for the first time this season on Saturday, so Ty and I headed up this morning for a session.  We didn’t really rush out to the mountain, arriving at about 9:30 A.M. for the scheduled 10:00 A.M. opening of the Wilderness Chair, but it turns out that was a bit too late with respect to optimal parking.  People were already having to park down at Timberline because the upper parking lots were full, and since the Timberline Quad isn’t running yet, you had to take the shuttle bus up to the main mountain.  Being the first notable weekend day with fresh snow in at least a couple of weeks, it seemed like everyone in the state was excited to get out for some skiing.

An image of Ty skiing in the trees near Snow Hole at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We spent a lot of our time today in areas between Snow Hole and the Backcountry Network, and the tree skiing was quite ready to go thanks to all the recent snow.

I learned that the Wilderness Chair had actually halted operations for a bit this morning due to a mechanical issue, but that timing worked out pretty well for us – by the time we took one run on Vista to get us over toward Wilderness, the lift was running.  We spent much of our time today on Wilderness, exploring various off piste lines between Snow Hole and the Nordic/backcountry network, and the powder skiing was great.  We could still use a couple more feet of base to cover up some of the usual obstacles and really get the off piste skiing into prime time, but everywhere we went it was pretty much good to go.

An image of Ty jumping over a log while tree skiing in the Snow Hole area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
While we could still use a couple more feet of snow to really get the tree skiing into midwinter form, the recent snows have been more than adequate to put down a decent base and powder on top for some great off piste turns just about everywhere at the resort.

We wrapped up today’s session in the midafternoon with a run back to our car at the base of Timberline, and while having to shuttle up to the main mountain at the start of the day wasn’t our first choice, the run back to the car through endless powder was more than worth it.  It doesn’t look like the Timberline Uphill Route is officially open yet, but we’d seen a number of skiers ascending there when we were waiting for the shuttle.  Practically speaking, the snow at Timberline is ready with respect to ski touring, so it will be interesting to see if the resort officially opens that uphill route soon.  The resort is making snow down at Timberline to presumably open it up for lift-served skiing before long, and if these next couple of winter storms deliver like Winter Storm Iggy did, they’ll probably be able to open it up even before all the snowmaking is done.  The next system coming into the area has earned the name Winter Storm Jimenez due to its anticipated impacts, so we’ll see what it delivers over the next couple of days.

An image of Ty and ski tracks in the Timberline area after Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Although we did have to park down at Timberline today due to the lots filling up in the Village, we did get some great turns when we had to ski back to the car.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 29DEC2022

An image of one of the glades in the Holden's Hollow area on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a frozen river while on a ski tour of the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A frozen river view out on my tour of the Bolton Nordic and Backcountry Network today

I wasn’t exactly sure where on Bolton’s backcountry network today’s ski tour was going to take me, but my plan was to start with an ascent up to the start of the C Bear Woods, and then go from there.  I haven’t toured in that part of the Network yet this season, but the ridgeline there tops out around 2,400’, so starting in the lower Village, it would give me a good sampling of the snowpack in the 2,000’ to 2,400’ elevation range.

For my tour back on Monday on some of the lower sections of the Network I topped out around 1,800’ and generally found 6 to 12 inches of powder, and the tenor of the powder skiing was that something with a bit more pitch would be appropriate for the snow depth.  With continued rounds of snow accumulation over the past couple of days (and an additional 2 to 3 inches reported in the past 24 hours at Bolton as of this morning’s update), I figured the powder might even be a notch up from where it had been at that point.

It was midmorning by the time I arrived at the Village, and temperatures were very comfortable in the lower 30s F.  Being the big holiday week, the resort was really humming, and they were already parking folks in the lower Nordic Center parking lot.  That worked out well for me though, since it’s right on the Broadway Trail that links in nicely with the heart of the Backcountry Network.

A winter image from the Joiner Brook bridge area on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view during today’s tour down by the Joiner Brook bridge showing the snowpack from recent storms

Around 2,000’ in the open areas of the Village, the depth of the surface snow was quite variable between the effects of the wind and sun, but in general I found 5 to 6 inches of powder over a consolidated base.  There wasn’t any obvious rain crust, but there was a denser layer below the powder.  That layer generally wasn’t present in the trees, so I assume it was from wind and sun.  Up at 2,400’ I’d say powder depths were about the same as what I found in the 1,500’ to 1,800’ elevation range on Monday, so between additional accumulations and settling, I guess things roughly held pat at that level.  The pitches near the top of the ridge there are up in the black diamond range, and I think the uppermost parts of the ridgeline were a bit windswept because the snowpack wasn’t sufficient for confident turns in that area.  Noticing that, I headed southward to the right of the main C Bear Woods entrance into some other areas of glades to shallow out my overall run.  Intermediate pitches offered nice turns, and the snowpack easily supported that type of skiing.  The best turns of that descent were in the lower slopes among the moderate and lower angle pitches as I got back toward Brook Run.

I’d left the option open to extend my tour up toward some of the Bryant Trail terrain, but it was approaching midday and the powder was already started to get denser and a bit sticky as the temperatures pushed above freezing.  As I headed to the main base area, it was turning into a fantastic day with breaks of sun and temperatures moving into the 30s F.  That’s a pretty nice combination for the holiday visitors to have comfortable temperatures and some decent snowpack, and it will be interesting to see how this holiday week plays out overall for visitation at the local resorts.  It’s been pretty sweet to have some daily refresher snowfalls recently to bolster the snowpack, and the snow reports I’ve seen from the resorts around here have indicated that it’s been allowing them to continue to open new terrain and expand the trail count.  Visitors to the slopes should generally be treated to some comfortable temperatures for the remained of the holiday week, which I think many would take over the subzero spells that can often occur around the start of the new year.  It looks like anyone going out on Sunday might have to dodge a bit of rain though based on the current forecast.

This may be one of the nicer holiday week’s we’ve had recently in terms of the quality of the skiing.  Looking at my notes, I’ve had a half dozen backcountry ski tours in about the past ten days, and that’s pretty decent because sometimes the backcountry doesn’t even get rolling until January or February.  On average, it should get going (at least on low and moderate angle terrain) in mid-December here in the Northern Greens, but the past three seasons haven’t hit 24 inches at the Mt. Mansfield Stake until January.  Technically, the stake only hit the 24-inch mark for the first time this season on Tuesday, but it’s been hovering in the 20-inch range since mid-month when Winter Storm Diaz hit, and the snowpack came together in such a way that those 20-ish inches were sufficient to put a lot of the local backcountry terrain in play for quality turns.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s ski tour out on Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 26DEC2022

An image of the Mt. Mansfield State Forest sign on the Broadway trail entering the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow on evergreens during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the snow on the evergreens along the route of my backcountry tour today

I hadn’t been out to the mountain since Winter Storm Elliot finished up, and although it was a mixed system in terms of precipitation, I was encouraged by how it played out for the local snowpack.  The storm brought roughly 8 inches of snow to our place down in the valley, and represented a net gain in both snowpack depth and snowpack liquid equivalent.  Bolton Valley was reporting 12 inches of new snow from the system, so the mountains must have fared at least as well as the valleys.

With some rain during the middle part of the system, I was wondering about the condition of the snow surfaces, so today I decided on a relatively low angle tour on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network to get a feel for how the new snow had settled in.  I started at the Catamount Trail access point on the Bolton Valley Access Road, which is down around 1,200’, and toured up to around the 1,800’ elevation a bit above Caribou Corner.  Those are relatively low elevations overall, and 1,200’ is below even the Timberline Base, so it would certainly be a challenging stress test to speak to the quality and utility of the snowpack.

At 1,200’ at the parking area I found about 4 to 5 inches of powder above the base snow, and most notably, I couldn’t really find a rain crust.  There was a clear demarcation between the consolidated base and the surface snow, at least around the parking area where the snowpack is a bit more exposed to snow maintenance and sunshine.  The depth of the powder quickly increased as I ascended, and by about 1,500’ I was easily finding 6 to 12 inches of powder.  It became hard to judge the depth of the surface snow though, because I typically couldn’t even find an interface between the new snow and the underlying snowpack; the wetter precipitation from the storm must have either drained well or transitioned smoothly to snow.  I’d say total snowpack depth was probably around 10 to 12 inches at 1,200’ and 12 to 16 inches at 1,800’, but there’s plenty of substance to it, so it’s quite skiable up to moderate angles in maintained areas, and obviously it’s going to be notably deeper up above 2,000’.

An image of a cabin during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy view of a cozy cabin along the route of my ski tour today

In terms of the skiing, the powder was actually too deep for the lowest angle sections on the tour, and I’d have to use existing skin tracks or other skier tracks to maintain or pick up speed.  The next tier of pitches skied great with the snow though.  I typically like that tour up to Caribou Corner when there’s about 4 to 6 inches of powder over a consolidated base, so this really was a bit deeper than that, and I’d say folks should move on up to moderate angle terrain for the best backcountry turns, especially with additional snow falling over the next couple of days.  There was light snow falling during my tour in the form of those big fluffy flakes, and I see that the resort reported an inch of new this morning.

The season snowfall seems roughly on track at our house observations site as of Christmas.  Snowfall to date on the 25th was 40.1” vs. a mean of 40.4”, and snowpack depth at 10.5” was a few inches above average.  The SDD for the season were a little behind average pace at 146.5 SDD vs. the 162.2 SDD average.  I can see in the data that the SDD deficiency is largely due to that slow first half of December, because we were still ahead of average SDD as of the end of November, and then the pace started to fall off before picking up again in the second half of the month.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data of a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s ski tour out on Bolton Valley’s Nordic and Backcountry Network

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 21DEC2022

An image of signs for the Bryant Trail, Bryant Cabin, and Bolton Backcountry at the start of a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a snowcat covered with snow during the Christmas holiday period in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the holiday sights at dusk in the Bolton Valley Village after my backcountry ski tour today

Today I went for another solo tour on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, and I decided to check out the Gotham City area since I hadn’t been there yet this season.  Prior to this point we’ve been pretty spoiled with fresh snow every day since the start of Winter Storm Diaz, so you could detect just the subtlest bit of settling/aging to the powder and snowpack in general.  That’s splitting hairs of course because the powder was still deep and bottomless, and you’d probably only notice if you’d been paying very close attention to the feel of the snowpack over the preceding days.  There were also a few more tracks around since there hadn’t been that fresh dose of powder to cover them up.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont on December 21st, 2022
A Google Earth Map with GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 20DEC2022

An image showing recent December snow covering tree branches and structures in the Bryant Cabin area of the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing powder from Winter Storm Diaz in some of the glades on the Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty out in some of Bolton’s Backcountry Network glades today enjoying the powder from Winter Storm Diaz and the additional rounds since then

It’s continued to snow over the past couple of days, and we’ve had another 3 to 4 inches of snow down here at the house that’s come in with an average density of around 4% H2O.  The back end of Winter Storm Diaz had already topped off the snowpack with some dry upslope, so we expected that these additional rounds of snow should just represent more quality stuff that’s topping off the upper layers of powder that are already present.  Ty and I headed out for a tour this afternoon that took us a bit above Bryant Cabin, and we skied a good variety of different glades that really solidified just how good the skiing was.  The shallowest slopes are still a bit slow with the depth of the powder, but very nice if you want a gentler pace that lets you work in and out among tighter trees.  As we’d already experienced back on Saturday at Wilderness though, the steep and moderate slopes are skiing great.

An image of some of the snow accumulations up around 2,800 feet in elevation on December 20th, 2022 on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontIt’s amazing how one storm simply brought the backcountry conditions from very early season stuff that I hadn’t even contemplated skiing, to something that skis like a top notch midwinter snowpack.  And it’s not as if this last storm cycle was a 3 to 4 foot monster.  The snowpack we were skiing today is only in the range of about 20 inches, but apparently it’s just laid down so well that it does the job.  I’m sure there are steep slopes out there with lots of big obstacles that are nowhere near ready, but the typical glades we skied on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network today were in great shape.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on December 20th, 2022 on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour out on the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 18DEC2022

An image showing snow on one of the buildings near the start of the Nordic and Backcountry Network with a covering of fresh snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Things were looking nice and snowy as I passed the old ticket booth near the start of my tour today on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley

After discovering such impressive snow coverage when touring at Wilderness yesterday, today I actually headed out onto the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.  Part of the afternoon was spent clearing out a tree that had come down in our yard during Winter Storm Diaz, and after that was done I had just enough time to hit the backcountry network for a quick exploratory tour.  I wasn’t absolutely sure what to expect, but I was going to be touring entirely above 2,000’, and unless the conditions over at Wilderness were a fluke or something due to aspect, the adjoining backcountry was likely in similar shape.  The backcountry snow report didn’t even have any notifications about poor coverage or closures, it just indicated that coverage was variable.

I was still planning to be conservative in my initial explorations, and my time was limited with dusk approaching, so I opted for a quick tour with a descent of the Telemark Practice Slope.  On my ascent though, it was immediately obvious how good the coverage was in the surrounding glades, and with just a few tracks here and there in the relatively deep powder, it was too good to pass up.  I ended up skiing some of the glades to the skier’s right of the Telemark Practice Slope, and they skied beautifully.  I was initially not expecting such a sublime ride, since we’d really needed at least black diamond pitches yesterday to avoid getting bogged down, but there must have been a bit more settling of the snowpack, and the addition of the upslope fluff that’s been falling was really just icing on the cake that added a little cushioning with minimal resistance.  The resulting snowpack came together to provide just the right speed for the glades, and it was obvious at that point that a lot more of the gentle and moderate terrain is going to be in play for some excellent powder turns.

A Google Earth map of a backcountry ski tour on December 18th, 2022 with GPS tracking data on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of today’s quick tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network mapped onto Google Earth

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 19FEB2022

An image of Ty Telemark skiing by the Bolton Lodge on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of snowy evergreens by a cabin on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Evergreens adorned with some of the recent snow near a cabin along the Catamount Trail

We picked up a few inches of snow from the back side of Winter Storm Miles as of yesterday, and a clipper system passing north of the area this morning dropped a couple more, so Ty and I decided to head up to the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network for a tour this afternoon.  We were looking for something fairly low angle and mellow to fit the amount of new snow, so we chose to tour from the Catamount Trail parking lot along the access road up to the Caribou Corner and beaver pond areas.

We had comfortable temperatures in the 20s F, and found about 3 inches of new snow starting at the 1,200’ elevation.  My initial plan was to head up to at least the Caribou Corner intersection, and then see how we felt at that point in terms of snow conditions and timing.  Even at a casual, conversational pace, Ty and I were quickly at Caribou Corner, and I figured we could go on past to see what the snow looked like beyond the beaver ponds.  Surface snow depths were generally in the 3-4” range, but we did find a few spots of up to 7” by the beaver ponds.  We finally stopped our ascent around the Moose-ski trail on a local rise that set us up with an initial descent of relatively low angle pitches.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont - February 19th, 2022
The Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

Even on low-angle terrain, we were still touching down to the base with any substantial edging, and only occasionally would be find just the right combination of snow depth and pitch where we could get in some bottomless turns.  Those spots where you could make a gentle turn without much angulation were the ones that delivered.

An image of Ty and a husky by the Bolton Lodge on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty and his furry friend out by the Bolton Lodge on today’s ski tour

A fun aspect of the day was interacting with the Husky that seems to live at that house/cabin that’s about 10 minutes up the hill along the Catamount Trail.  It’s a really well-behaved dog that seems to interact nicely with most people who are out on that area of the network.  On our ascent, we parted company with the Husky a few minutes after passing the house, when it joined a group of children who were sledding in a spot just below the Catamount Trail.  On our descent, the Husky was right at the Bolton Lodge, and joined us for the rest of the descent back to the cabin, where we met the owner.  What a great back yard that Husky has!  With the Catamount Trail and Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network right there, I bet there’s hardly even a shortage of people to play with.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 05FEB2022

An image of some glades with powder snow to the west of the Holden's Hollow area during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing some of the recent snow accumulations from Winter Storm Landon on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Now that the back side of Winter Storm Landon has passed through the area, the local backcountry is loaded with beautiful accumulations of feathery powder that provides some fantastic skiing

With today’s high temperatures expected to be in the single digits F at elevation, touring seemed like the far better ski option, so I paid a visit to the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network.  Overall ski conditions remain excellent thanks to the 1½ to 2 feet of snow that the local mountains just picked up from Winter Storm Landon, so despite the chilly temperatures, it’s time to get out there and make use of that great snow.

Today I toured over in the Holden’s Hollow area of the network, approaching from the back side of the ridge using the Telemark trail, and then sampling some descents on both the west and east sides.  Today’s tour had me in the 2,000’ – 2,500’ elevation band, and I’d say total snowpack depths at those elevations are in the 2 to 3 foot range.  In terms of surface snow, we’ve got enough different layers in the snowpack now, and they’re blending together enough, that it’s getting a bit tricky to actually decide what constitutes surface and subsurface snow/base.  If you’re very delicate with your measuring, you can find a bit of a dense layer about 16 inches down.  I think it’s safe to say that top section of the snowpack is the settled powder from Winter Storm Landon.  The dense layer below that is presumably some denser precipitation, perhaps from the start of the storm when temperatures were coming down and there was a mix of rain and snow.  Based on Powderfreak’s observations from Thursday, it doesn’t sound like there was too much rain at elevation, and since that layer is rather subtle, that would argue for that and/or a very good transition/blending with the drier snow above.

An image showing the depth of the powder after Winter Storm Landon in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Even down near 2,000′ in elevation the depths of powder in the backcountry are in excess of 20 inches, requiring slopes with decent pitch for good turns in the untracked snow

Past that denser band, you’re into another 6 to 8 inches of powder before you hit something more solid that can really serve as a potential base.  That’s typically where I’d find that my poles could finally gain purchase, and it sounds like that’s similar over at Bretton Woods based on Alex’s comment yesterday here in the thread.  Having backcountry baskets would probably help a little bit in that regard.

There are a couple of other dense bands down in the snow there that I could detect when probing carefully, but I’d say the solid base is down there in the 22 to 24-inch range for those low to mid elevations, and I’ve got an image of my pole hitting that approximate depth with this report.  So if you’re first on an ascent and breaking in the skin track, plan on a good workout.  Thankfully, most of the route for my tour had seen some previous traffic, and I only had to break one section with perhaps 100’ of vertical, but it was a good deal of extra work.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data of today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

Right now in terms of the backcountry skiing around here, I’d argue that you really need black pitches or greater to have a reasonable descent without getting too bogged down or simply having to straight-line it too much.  I was on 115 mm skis that I’d just waxed, and I still had to seek out those pitches if the snow was untracked.  As long as you get the right pitch though, the powder skiing is excellent as one would imagine.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 22JAN2022

An image of Ty getting in some Telemark ski turns in powder near the Bolton Lodge on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan riding powder snow on his snowboard during a tour of the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan surfing some powder near the Bolton Lodge during today’s backcountry tour

Today is Ty’s birthday, and the whole family was around with time to do something together.  Ty’s broken collarbone has healed to the point where he doesn’t have to wear a sling, and light activities that don’t put stress on it are fine.  On Sunday, Ty and E and I went for a snowshoe tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network, and after some discussion today, we decided that some ski touring on mellow terrain would be fine.

A nice, gently-sloped section of Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network is the part where the Catamount Trail heads upward to Caribou’s Corner from the parking area at ~1,200’ on the Bolton Valley Access Road.  We’ve been on this part of the network a couple of times, and  E and I visited this section last February as part of a tour up to the Buchanan Shelter.  The approach trails up to Caribou’s Corner have just enough pitch to cruise along and make some powder turns on fat skis, and you can detour off the sides of the main descent at areas like the Bolton Lodge for terrain that’s a bit steeper.

D is still trying to find some new Telemark boots that fit better, so he just hiked in with his snowboard – most of the approach is either road, or packed trails, so it didn’t turn out to be a problem.  Ty did give D a ride on the backs of his skis at times, which was sort of neat.  Ty said it was a lot of work, but D could help out the process a lot by using his poles.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

I’d found total snowpack depths of ~18” at the 1,500’ elevation when I toured in the Timberline area on Tuesday, and even starting down at an elevation of 1,200’ today there were no major issues with the base.  The powder out there in the backcountry is still in excellent shape – depth checks I did today in the 1,200’ – 1,700’ elevation range revealed powder depths of 12-13”.  That’s actually a bit deep for some of the lower angle spots on today’s tour, but the descent was still nice.  We also hit some of those slightly steeper shots around the Bolton Lodge, and those pitches offered up some great powder turns.

Big Jay Basin, VT 21FEB2021

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in deep powder from Winter Storm Viola in the Big Jay Basin backcountry near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan dropping into a Telemark turn in powder during a backcountry ski tour out in the Big Jay Basin area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
Dylan dropping into a Telemark turn in the powder during our ski tour out in Big Jay Basin today.

When I headed up to Jay Peak yesterday and found that quality subsurface base snow with up to 16” of new Champlain Powder™ on top, it was hard not to think about going back for another visit.  The snow just kept accumulating throughout the time I was there yesterday, but that wasn’t the end of it.  Here at the house, the snowfall really ramped up overnight, and I figured it had to really be unloading up there in Big Jay Basin.  So, I told the family all about it, and we all headed out for a tour today.

The weather was quite a contrast between yesterday and today – yesterday was relatively low visibility with constant snowfall, but today there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  The basin area had definitely picked up more snow since I’d left yesterday, but it was most notable above the road elevation (~1,500’).  Yesterday I found powder in the 8-12” range down in that elevation range, and we found something closer to a consistent 12” today.  Up higher, I’d found 12-16” in the 2,500’ range, but my measurements show that the powder depth had increased to roughly 20” when we were there today.  If one considers how dry that snow was, and whatever settling occurred, that was obviously another impressive shot of snow overnight.

An image of Ty skiing powder in the Big Jay Basin backcountry area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
Ty drops into another turn in the powder on today’s Big Jay Basin tour, while E looks on from above.

Based on my adventures yesterday, I had no plans to bring E and the boys way up toward the east face of Big Jay; the terrain is really too steep for efficient skinning, and there’s so much great ski terrain in Big Jay Basin itself, that there was little point anyway.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s report, during the approach, it was somewhere above 2,000’ when I found the first obvious split in the main skin track – I literally came to a “T” junction with a skin track to the left, and the other option to the right.  It was interesting guiding the family around today though, as the situation with visible routes was quite different.  There had been a lot more skier traffic, so there were skin tracks and descent tracks all over the place, and the obvious distinction of those skin track routes had been obliterated.  There were so many ski tracks and descent tracks around that the most efficient one’s I’d taken yesterday got missed in a couple of places, but they were all generally leading to where we wanted to go.

“Yesterday I found powder in the 8-12” range down in that elevation range, and we found something closer to a consistent 12” today. Up higher, I’d found 12-16” in the 2,500’ range, but my measurements show that the powder depth had increased to roughly 20” when we were there today”

The skiing, as expected, was excellent.  We topped out at an elevation of roughly 2,700’ in the basin, and worked our way generally back toward the parking area following the typical routes.  There was plenty of powder, although since the area had seen additional skier traffic, we didn’t quite have the run of the place like I did yesterday, and we had to move around a bit more for fresh lines.  I brought up the idea of just skiing straight down the basin to Route 242 and making the short walk back to the car on the road, because I saw some people that seemed to have taken that approach on my outing yesterday.  E and the boys wanted to hit some of that open terrain that’s available near the bottom of the approach though, so we headed that way.  Heading straight down out of the basin will be something I’ll have to try on a future trip, but it could be a nice way to avoid having to traverse to the right as much during the ascent and get a more direct fall line run.

A map showing GPS data on Google Earth for a backcountry ski tour in the Big Jay Basin area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
A map of our backcountry ski tour in the Big Jay Basin area today with GPS data mapped onto Google Earth

Since the trip is an hour or so from home, we used it as an opportunity to get Dylan some of his required driving hours, and that was a win-win.  There was still some snow to navigate on the roads so that he could work on dealing with slushy areas, but it was probably good that he wasn’t dealing with the heavy snowfall and low visibility that I had frequently encountered yesterday.