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!

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 03APR2021

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica standing by some snowy evergreens after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A shot of Erica and some of the beautiful fresh snow hanging around at the resort today as we head out toward Wilderness to ski some powder

After finding such nice conditions yesterday, E and I headed up for another session at Bolton this morning.  Based on the forecasts I saw, those temperatures and humidity should have preserved the powder beautifully – and they definitely did; the powder was just as good as yesterday.  It seemed to have settled a touch, but all the liquid equivalent was all still there, so it kept you off the subsurface and skied just as nicely.

The groomed terrain on the upper mountain that had been blasted by the wind yesterday was much improved today, I guess due to another round of the groomers pulverizing it with the new snow mixed in, and this time without the winds scouring it away.

We were talking about how the resort’s essentially come full circle on the season as it often does, and we’re back to the way it can be in November and early December when the focus is on the main mountain, but the other pods that aren’t open have enough snow to ski.  All you have to do is traverse out to the powder.

An image of the Vista Peak area of Bolton Valley Resort after an April snowstorm
A sunny view toward Vista Peak from Bolton’s Wilderness area

We both remarked at what a fantastic late winter day it was, with the powder, the Colorado blue skies, and humidity to match.  We were just starting to find a few spots in the direct sun where the powder was beginning to get sun-affected around midday when we were leaving, but it really was holding up quite well with these low humidity levels.

Bolton Valley, VT 02APR2021

An image of ski tracks in powder after an April snowstorm in the Wilderness terrain area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of fresh snow from an April snowstorm in the Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow fell at all elevations in the area today, with a fresh blanket covering everything up in the Bolton Valley Village to kick off the month of April.

Another winter storm was expected to move into the area for the late week period into the weekend, and Winter Storm Watches went up for the Adirondacks starting on Tuesday.  Those watches were eventually extended into Northern Vermont, and finally converted over to Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings on Wednesday as the storm became more imminent.  Frozen precipitation began to mix in at our house in the valley not too long after midnight last night, and it was obvious because I could hear the sleet hitting off the windows and checked outside to see what was up.  I suspect it stayed mixed like that much of the night because there was nothing more than a trace of frozen accumulation this morning at our CoCoRaHS observations time.  The mountains were easily accumulating snow though, and looking up into the local hills, the accumulating snow line seemed to be around 1,000’ or so.

The precipitation changed fully over to snow today not long after my morning CoCoRaHS observations at the house.  I headed up to Bolton for some turns, and found the following storm accumulations starting from near the Bottom of the Bolton Valley Access Road:

500’:  0.5”
1,000’:  2”
1,500’:  5”
2,000’:  7”
2,500’:  8”
3.000’:  9”

An image of snow on evergreens after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The sights out on the mountain today were beautiful, with up to 9 inches of fresh snow in the higher elevations.

The biggest jumps in accumulation certainly appeared to be in the 1,000’ to 2,000’ elevation band.  The resort is reporting 9” in the past 48 hours on their snow report, so that seems in synch with what I found up at the main mountain.

When I was out today at Bolton I saw that the front face trails on Vista had been absolutely hammered by the wind, which is not surprising with the way they face west, but apparently even areas of the east side of the Green Mountains got hit pretty hard as well.  Timberline is usually a nice place to go to get away from the wind, but it’s not open right now because coverage just isn’t great down that low, but lower Wilderness is another good option for sheltered terrain, and that was serving up some great powder.

I started skiing not too long after opening today, and it was really dumping when I arrived thanks to a fresh push of moisture that hit in the morning.  The old base snow is just so consolidated and hard after a couple weeks of spring weather and no new snow, that I didn’t really find any of the steep groomed terrain that had really improved.  Either the wind had blown everything away, or it was exposed enough to the wind that the groomers couldn’t do much with it.  Low and moderate angle groomers on the bottom half of the mountain seemed to have incorporated the snow nicely though – turns were nice and quiet, so the new snow must have stayed put and been churned in by the groomers.

Low and moderate angle powder terrain was the way to go though.  I’d thrown both fats and midfats on the car today, and ended up using the midfats and found they had plenty of float.  There’s was definitely enough L.E. in the snow to set up everything below black diamond pitch.

An image of the Wilderness lift after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some of the beautiful wintry view from Wilderness today.

After skiing, I found that it continued to snow all the way in to Burlington.  The snowfall intensity actually kept increasing as I headed into the Champlain Valley, but temperatures were a few degrees above freezing so the roads just stayed wet.  During the day today in Burlington we had some periods of heavy snow with huge flakes during that banding, and it accumulated to an inch or two.  At our house in Waterbury it continued to snow, but outside that heavy snowfall band off to our west, the snowfall intensity was just too light to accumulate to more than a tenth of an inch at valley elevations in our area.

We picked up most of our snow at the house with a subsequent round of precipitation that came through in the afternoon, and we’ve been having another round of that around here this evening as well.

Bolton Valley, VT 21MAR2021

An image of a ski trail off reflective goggles while on the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing down the Showtime trail with spring snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty ripping it up and tossing around some spring snow during our ski session at Timberline this afternoon

We popped back up to the mountain for another sunny ski session at Timberline on Sunday, and the boys were both off work so they were able to join us.  Temperatures were about 10 F warmer than Saturday, but I didn’t notice too much change in the variety of ski surfaces that we’d seen – the direct, west-facing trails were decent corn snow, but there were still some sticky spots on other aspects, and some firmer snow on terrain well out of the sun.

We sampled most of the available terrain off Timberline, and folks had some different favorite runs.  E liked Twice as Nice the most, while I liked Spell Binder the best because it seemed to have seen less traffic and offered some of the smoothest corn snow surfaces below the headwall.  All in all it was yet another great day of spring skiing though, topped off with a little takeout from Mad Taco Bolton for dinner.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in spring snow on a sunny day at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E was back out on the slopes today for more Telemark turns under the warm March sun.

Bolton Valley, VT 20MAR2021

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in spring snow on the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of skis stuck in the snow outside the Timberline Base Lodge on a sunny spring day at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Skis in the spring snow outside the Timberline Base Lodge as folks enjoy another day of warm spring skiing

It was a fantastic out there today for some spring skiing.  E and I headed up for an afternoon session at Timberline with its classic western-facing afternoon sun.

The temperatures were quite pleasant, but despite the decent warmth with temperatures in the 40s to around 50 F, there were still different types of ski surfaces out there.  Terrain right in the sun on the main part of Timberline was mostly good corn snow, but up around 2,500’ or so, snow that was not in the sun was still in a more frozen, winter-like state.  In some lower elevation areas that were only partially in the sun, there were also some areas of mushy/sticky snow because it had not been cycled enough yet for complete corn.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in spring snow in March at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E out on the slope today enjoying the spring snow with some Telemark turns

I think we’re planning to head out for another afternoon session tomorrow – it’s supposed to be even warmer, and we should get another freeze-thaw cycle overnight, so that might change the dynamics of which areas have which types of snow surfaces.

An image of a man napping in the sun in the back of his pickup truck at the Timberline Base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We saw this guy taking a sunny nap in the back of his truck – a definite sign of the nice weather up at the resort today.

Bolton Valley, VT 14MAR2021

An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Wilderness Chair Lift Line after a couple of March snowstorms at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of glades with powder after a couple of March storms at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Fresh powder in the glades today as I enjoyed some turns in the lower-angle areas of Wilderness

Seeing Scott Braaten’s nice powder shots from Stowe and catching Bolton’s report of 4-6” in the past 48 hours was definitely enough to convince me to head out for some turns today.  And of course, watching it snow huge flakes down at the house and on the Bolton Valley Webcam reinforced that sentiment.

I wanted to head up before that colder air was supposed to move in later in the afternoon, so I hit the mountain in the late morning.  With those strong winds blowing from the northwest, it wasn’t at all surprising to see in the snow report that the Vista Quad and Wilderness Double, being the highest elevation lifts, were on wind hold.  With that in mind, I decided to make it a hybrid outing of both riding the lifts and skinning to get efficient access to the fresh powder.  The Mid Mountain Chair was running, so I ended up using that for a quick elevation assist over to the Wilderness area.  I followed some folks that were using a nifty access route around the mid-mountain snowmaking pond to get to Wilderness.

An image of snowy evergreen branches due to snow from a couple of March storms at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontI generally found powder depths topping out around 6” just like the snow report indicated, aside from wind scoured or drifted areas, or trails that had been groomed during the storm.  Low angle terrain on fat boards was what I’d been planning to hit, and that definitely delivered.  The lift assist from the Mid Mountain Chair was just right for cycling the bottom half of the Wilderness terrain, which had the kind of pitch this snow called for.  Anything with moderate pitch or above was just too steep for the available snow, and you’d be hitting the scratchy subsurface unless you were in a drifted area.

An image of ski gear in the snow on a porch outside a condominium during a March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ski gear and powder outside one of the condos in the Village on a snowy Bolton Valley Sunday

The BTV NWS forecast discussion said that the precipitation would be somewhat cellular during the day, and indeed that’s just what I experienced out on the mountain.  At times it would be whiteout conditions with near-zero visibility, and at other times that snowfall would wane and it would almost look like the sun wanted to break through.  Temperatures started out in the 20s F, but were down into the teens F by the time I was leaving, so that colder air was moving in as scheduled.

Bolton Valley, VT 06MAR2021

An image from a parking area in the Village on a typical ski day in March at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Hotel in the Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The snow atop the Bolton Valley Hotel reveals the layers upon layers of snow in the snowpack from the past couple months of winter storms in the area.

It would have been great if the  upslope system we’ve had in the area over the past couple of days delivered more than an inch or two of new snow, but putting that on top of the 9” from the midweek event has definitely kept the off piste conditions respectable at Bolton Valley.  The resorts is reporting 11” new in the past week, and the bulk of that must be the sum of those two events.  Not surprisingly, that powder has settled a bit over the past few days, and that actually helps out somewhat with respect to how it skis.  When that first round had fallen on Wednesday, it really was so incredibly dry that you sank right through it and got down to that relatively firm subsurface, but the settling, and the addition of a couple more inches that wasn’t quite as dry, gives you a bit more underfoot to cushion things.

I was hearing noise from skiers and riders even on low angle groomed terrain today, and it wasn’t as if it was horribly icy, but the noise revealed that there was at least something firm there.  It could just be a traffic issue on the groomed slopes – I’m not sure how much liquid equivalent the mountain ultimately got from the two rounds of snow, but it probably wasn’t more than a quarter of an inch, and that’s only going to hold up so long with on piste skier traffic.

I focused my time in the trees today, and I found the conditions there were far superior to the groomed terrain.  I spent my time exploring more of the sidecountry off Wilderness that I’d visited last Saturday.  There was plenty of snow for good powder turns on low-angle terrain, and even moderate and steep terrain weren’t too bad where people had skied and sort of packed the new snow into the base.  The trees were the place to be though – the snow was protected from the wind in there, and I’d say there was plenty that had been blow off the trails as well.

An image showing the view from the Wilderness at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A northward view from the Wilderness Summit looking out toward Mt. Mansfield that’s just barely visible though the gray clouds and light snow that covered the sky much of the afternoon

Temperatures were in the mid-teens F when I was out this afternoon, which is certainly nothing to complain about in terms of cold, but there was plenty of wind around, especially up high.  We had some peeks of sun, but in general it was cloudy with some light flakes in the air, and it just sort of had the feel of a hum drum midwinter day.  Being in the trees meant that I was out of the wind, but as I’ve heard other folks around here expressing, I could certainly use some warmth.  I definitely found myself missing the nice temperatures up around the freezing mark that I encountered last Saturday, even if that storm did bring a touch of mixed precipitation.

Bolton Valley, VT 03MAR2021

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow below the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of fresh powder snow in front of our house in Waterbury, Vermont after a quick overnight dump of nearly half a foot
We picked up a quick half foot of champagne powder at our house last night, with water content in the 1.5 to 3.0% H2O range, prompting a quick trip up to the mountain today to make a few turns.

I had just a bit of time to stop in at Bolton Valley for some turns on my way in to Burlington today, so I visited Timberline to see how the conditions were faring with the addition of the fresh powder.  We expected to get at least an inch or two, but when we picked up roughly 3 inches at the house last night in less than an hour, and had close to a half foot by this morning, it seemed it was worth a trip to the hill.

My plan was to hit some low-angle stuff on my fat skis, and that was indeed about the only terrain that offered up bottomless turns today.  Anything above that angle and you were hitting the subsurface – and that subsurface snow on anything that hadn’t been groomed is indeed loud.  Moderate angle turns were still decent with that new snow to push back on, but the low-angle powder was the best.  I had some nice turns on the mellow inclines of Villager and Spur in the fresh snow.  Groomed terrain was also pretty nice where they’d been able to till up the old stuff and get some new snow into it, although that depended on the time they’d groomed.  Some spots were groomed before the new snow fell, so it was powder on top of that.  The resort was being cautious and hadn’t even open the ungroomed terrain today, and that was probably wise, since the powder made it dangerous in some cases by simply hiding the moonscape below.

“I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range. I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.”

I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range.  I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.

My boys headed up for some turns in the afternoon, and my younger son said it was pretty hilarious in that “It was like skiing powder, but still skiing on the base.”  We were talking tonight at dinner about how what they skied was literally the antithesis of “bottomless powder”.  I guess one could call that “bottomful powder” in that line of terminology.  “Dust on crust” also gets that point across, although I typically don’t think of 6-8” of snow when I think of dust.  With those snow ratios in the range of 30 to 1 or even 70 to 1, and the temperature cycling that the existing snow had seen, I knew it was going to be pretty much a “dust on crust” setup.  But with a half foot of snow, at least it’s more of a “Northern Greens” sort of dust on crust experience.

In any event, it was a good aesthetic refresher for the pack both down at the house and up on the hill, and hopefully we’ll have a bit more to add in the next couple of days.