Tag Archives: Bolton Valley

Bolton Valley, VT 22DEC2017

An image of Quinn skinning up in the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Quinn heads up on his ascent of Timberline this afternoon to enjoy the fresh snow from Winter Storm Dylan.

We’re currently under the influence of Winter Storm Dylan, which started dropping snow on the area early this morning.  The snow started out slowly for the first couple of hours, but by 10:00 A.M. or so it had ramped up to very heavy intensity – at one point it was coming down at a rate of roughly 4 inches per hour.  It continued at a steady pace, and by midafternoon we’d already picked up 6 to 8 inches of snow at the house.  By that point it was obvious that there was going to be enough fresh snow for a ski tour, so I headed up to Bolton Valley while I still had light.

I pulled into the Timberline lot amidst heavy snow, and chatted with another gentleman who was just skinning up his skis for an ascent.  Within a couple of minutes, Quinn appeared out of his truck, and we sort of laughed amongst ourselves how everyone sort of had the same idea.  Well, great minds think alike, and know to get to the powder while the getting’s good.

An image of Quinn preparing his skis with climbing skins for a ski tour during Winter Storm Dylan at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There’s definitely some excitement out there for what Winter Storm Dylan was delivering today!

As I began my tour, my checks near the Timberline Base Lodge revealed that roughly 8 inches of new snow had fallen.  That number was growing by the minute though, and the snowfall during my ascent was quite heavy.  At times, visibility was down to a tenth of a mile, which equates to very heavy snowfall.  Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.

“Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.”

There were few if any tracks on Twice as Nice, so I decided to make use of its fairly consistent pitch and make my descent there.  I was on my 115 mm Black Diamond AMPerages, even with accumulations only topping out around a foot, the snow was mostly bottomless.  My legs got cooked pretty quickly from making Tele turns, but it gave me time to stop and soak in the scene with the storm, the snowfall, and the solitude.  It was a great outing, and there’s nothing like getting some of these productive winter storms during the holiday period when one’s schedule is a bit more relaxed.

Winter Storm Dylan is supposed to continue through tomorrow, but we’re going to have to watch out for some mixed precipitation and see how that plays out before everything changes back to snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16DEC2017

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder on the Snowflake Bentley trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
10 to 12 inches of powder greeted us on the slopes of Bolton’s Snowflake area this afternoon.

It’s been a great week for snow in the Northern Greens.  Last weekend we had some lake-effect snow that dropped several inches in the mountains, and when that was followed up by the larger storm we had in the first half of the workweek, the local resorts were looking at snow totals of roughly two feet.  Since then, we’ve had additional rounds of light snow to keep the surfaces fresh, and the result has been some simply fantastic skiing.

“The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.”

Light snow continued on and off today at the house to the tune of an inch or two of accumulation, but Powderfreak said that Stowe had seen a few inches, and the skiing looked really good.  One can only watch the flakes fall out there for so long before you want to take advantage and get in some powder skiing, so taking a trip up to the mountain was inevitable.  Dylan had a friend visiting today, but Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon to catch a few runs.  Temperatures had started in the 20s F, but they were definitely falling as the back side of this latest event came through.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty working on turns in some of the fresh powder out there today

As we were gearing up, Ty decided that he needed to hit the restroom in the main lodge, and when he came back he could not stop raving about the pizza smell inside.  With that, we knew where we were heading as soon as we were done skiing.  Ty had brought his Tele skis today, and we ended up just doing runs off Snowflake to let him work on his turns.  Actually, Snowflake was an excellent choice in general today because thanks to its generally lower amounts of skier traffic, it held some fabulous snow.  Ty had his pick of working on his turns in powder, chowder, or packed snow.  The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.

“There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic.”

We finished off the day with a ski down through the fresh powder on Timberline, and of course that was a highlight.  There’s been at least a little skier traffic down at Timberline from folks earning turns, but fresh turns are essentially everywhere.  Ty had no choice but to work on powder turns for that run… oh well.  There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic.  We’d called ahead to let E know that we were heading down, and she was right there at the Timberline Base to pick us up and bring us back up to the main base.

E couldn’t stay, but Ty and I headed up to Fireside Flatbread as planned, and had a couple of slices at the bar.  Since E and Dylan hadn’t been able to join us, the natural course of action was to get a couple of pies to take home.  Man that crust was good. 

The base depths at Timberline aren’t quite there for lift-served traffic yet, but we’re definitely OK with that.  There’s more snow in the forecast in the coming week, so surfaces and powder availability should remain in good shape.

Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2017

An image of Ty skiing powder during a December storm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty catching a few Telemark turns on today’s ski tour at Bolton Valley

Due to the winter storm coming through the area today, school was cancelled for Ty, and since I had contemplated working from home due to the weather, Ty being home for the day sealed the deal.  The storm had only started up in the morning, so it would take some time before there was much new snow down for skiing.  So, I got a bunch of work done, and finally in the midafternoon, we headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick ski tour in the new snow.

“We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent.”

On the way up to the Village, we noted the state of the snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and one could certainly have made some turns there if they wanted to, but some of the taller brush was still showing so I’d say it wasn’t quite ready for prime time at that point.  We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent.  I’d say the accumulations up there at that point weren’t all that different than what we had down at the house, although the flakes were pretty small, and the powder a reasonable middle-weight variety, so I’d say they’d picked up more liquid equivalent.

An image of snow drifts forming in the Bolton Valley Village
Drifts beginning to form in the Village

In terms of the powder skiing, although it certainly wasn’t champagne dry snow, the moderate heft to it was decent for keeping you up off the base.  At this stage of the season we can of course use some snow with plenty of liquid in it to build the snowpack, and if what’s up there gets topped with fluff form the back side of the storm, it should produce some excellent powder skiing.

“There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.”

We’re into some of the shortest days of the year now, so light it as a premium, especially during a snowstorm.  I brought my brightest lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, and it was definitely sufficient, but there was still a lot of snow in the air making action shots a challenge.  There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.

Bolton Valley, VT 28NOV2017

An image of ski tracks in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A couple of quick storms over the past couple of days brought the Northern Greens some of their best skiing of the season.

Sunday into Monday we had a couple of small systems that combined to deliver some respectable amounts of snow to the Northern GreensBy Monday morning, resorts were already reporting roughly a foot of snow, and the snow continued to fall.  The usual suspects had been out at Stowe throwing up big clouds of powder, and by midday Monday, the resort was reporting 14” of new snow, and the power skiing was looking quite good.  Mother Nature was putting a little extra effort into the event up at Jay Peak, producing some great turns, and a reported storm total near two feet as of this morning.

“The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season.”

While I didn’t have time to head out for any turns yesterday, I was able to find a little time for a ski tour at Bolton Valley this morning.  Overnight low temperatures were down in the teens F, pretty chilly by November standards, but the air was calm so it was quite comfortable, especially while skinning.  I headed up the Lower Turnpike ascent route, which had a well-established skin track.  There had been a decent amount of traffic on Turnpike itself, so when I got up to the final corner of Peggy Dow’s, I headed toward the Wilderness Lift Line where skier traffic had been rather light.

As usual, I made an effort to monitor snow depths throughout the ascent, and what I found should represent the state of the snow with yesterday’s additional snowfall, plus settling through this morning.  It was a bit tough to discriminate between the newest snow and what was below, so the numbers I’m reporting below represent what I found for total snowpack depth starting at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road.

340’: 2”
1,500’: 8-9”
2,100’: 10-12”
2,500’: 12-16”
3,000’: 12-18”

An image showing the snow depth at 2,500' elevation at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont

Although it was hard to get an idea of where the base snow stopped and where the surface snow began, I do have some info.  Down at 1,500’ it seemed like there was maybe an inch or so of base, so most of that was new.  Up at 2,100’ there were a couple of inches down, and probably around four inches at 2,500’.  I’d guess six inches of base at the 3,000’ level.  The wind in the higher elevations made for a larger range of depths, but I didn’t find a huge increase relative to 2,500’.  Now that the resort has reported in with 10 inches, that seems like it makes reasonable sense.  There may have been a bit of settling, but I’d say snowfall of 10-12” was probably what they picked up.

With respect to the descent, the skiing was great!  The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season.  The upper mountain had that substantial base with close to a foot of powder on it, and while overall depths were a bit less on the lower mountain, it was fine on the lower angle terrain there.  The snow was definitely on the dry side, so the fat skis were certainly in order for maximizing floatation, minimizing contact with the base, and planing on the lower-angle terrain.

Bolton Valley, VT 21NOV2017

An image of ski tracks in powder snow and snowflakes in the air at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Thanks to a surprise storm yesterday afternoon, Bolton Valley offered up some fluffy powder turns this morning.

I certainly hadn’t anticipated skiing today, but yesterday afternoon into the evening, Mother Nature dropped a surprise storm on us that really put a fresh coating down on the slopes.  Things began looking a bit suspicious yesterday in the late morning hours, and by midday it was snowing in the Champlain ValleyEven the National Weather Service in Burlington was caught off guard, and before we knew it, it was snowing 1 to 2 inches per hour out in the mountains, and travel on I-89 was getting tricky.  By the time the storm was tapering down in the evening, we had a new half foot of snow at the house, with more in the mountains.

“Even with fat skis, it can be a challenge to float in snow that dry unless you’ve got a lot of it.”

I wanted to see how the storm played out on the slopes, so I stopped for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley this morning.  My calculations had revealed that the snow was very dry, down around 2% H2O, so fat skis seemed to be in order this time around.  Arriving up at the Bolton Valley Village, I’d describe the weather as having a very Colorado-esque vibe.  The ground was covered with desert-dry, champagne powder and temperatures were in the mid-20s F.  Even before the sunshine hit you, the air just had that comfortable feel, and with the clear skies, the day just held that promise of being sunny, dry, and warm.  I guess it also reminded me of a March ski day to some degree.

An image of fresh snow in a streambed at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontI haven’t seen an official report on snow accumulations from the resort, which is not too surprising since they’re still in pre-season, but based on settled depths of the new powder and the rate of settling I’d seen at the house, I’d guess the Village elevations around 2,000’ picked up a half foot of snow.  That’s similar to what we picked up down at the house.  I’d tack on another couple of inches higher in the mountain, which would put accumulations there similar to the 7” reported at elevation for Stowe.  With the 7-8” of fluff, the total snowpack depth I was finding on the upper half of the mountain was in the 10-12” range.  I see that the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake came in at 11” as of tonight’s reading.  The high temperature up there was only 32 F, so that snow probably didn’t undergo much melting and is likely comparable to what I found at Bolton this morning.

An image of fat Telemark skis in snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Changing over for the descent at around 2,800′

The skiing was good, although the powder certainly wasn’t bottomless on every turn.  Even with fat skis, it can be a challenge to float in snow that dry unless you’ve got a lot of it.

Bolton Valley, VT 18NOV2017

An image of a skin track on the Cougar trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ski touring up at Bolton Valley this morning, I found some great turns and more snow than I’d expected.

I was attending the BJAMS Thanksgiving lunch with Dylan on Thursday, and that gave me a chance to check out how the snow was doing in some of the local mountains.  From what I saw at both Stowe and Bolton Valley, the natural snow was just a bit too thin for skiing, but it was getting close.  As of Friday morning though, the mountains had picked up a few more inches, and today I had a chance to head back up to Bolton Valley to see if the slopes were ready for some turns.

“…with the snowpack I found, I just kept going right on up to 3,000’.”

I headed up for a ski tour at the mountain this morning because it seemed the best part of the day to catch some winter snow before warming temperatures affected it.  At the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) the snow depth is similar to what we’ve got here at the house – generally 1 to 2 inches.  As the recent snow reports from the local ski resorts suggested, there wasn’t a massive increase in snowfall amounts with elevation from our storm earlier this week.  Snow depths increased slowly as I headed up the access road, with about 2” at the Bolton Valley Welcome Sign (1,000’), 2-3” at the Timberline Base (1,500’), and then 3-4” around 2,000’ in the Bolton Valley Village.

An image of a Bolton Valley shuttle bus with a coating of snow in the Bolton Valley Village

There were a few other skiers in the Village who were coming and going on tours, so that seemed like a good sign that the snow was decent.  Indeed, as I headed up Lower Turnpike, the snow depth increased to a half foot at the 2,500’ level.  I had actually planned for a quick tour up to ~2,500’ if the snow wasn’t that good, but with the snowpack I found, I just kept going right on up to 3,000’. 

Below I’ve got a summary of what I saw for snow depths today with respect to elevation:

340’: 1-2”
1,000’: 2”
1,500’: 2-3”
2,000’: 3-4”
2,500’: 6-7”
3,000’: 7”

An image of the snow depth at 2,500' elevation at Bolton ValleyThere was a crust on the snow in places, and I couldn’t figure out the trend in its distribution for a while, but I eventually figured out that areas with the most northwest exposure has the most crust.  The crust wasn’t actually too thick, so it was still fairly easy to ski the snow there, but there’s no doubt that the very best turns were in the crust-free zones – the snow was smooth, mid-weight powder in those areas.  I had some really nice turns on parts of Sherman’s Pass, and probably the day’s best on Work Road, but Lower Turnpike offered the longest consistent lines.

First October snow for the Green Mountains of Vermont

An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont with a bit of October snow atop the Chin
Today you can still see a bit of snow atop Mt. Mansfield above 3,500′ or so.

It hasn’t been an especially cool fall thus far in Vermont, and in fact we had some rather warm days with temperatures up to 90 degrees F for the Champlain Valley last month.  It’s hard to think of potential snow with temperatures like that!  Due to the heat, we actually delayed our September apple picking trip to Boyer’s Orchard with the Bennetts and the Burseys for one week to wait for a more autumnal feel.  The temperatures and generally fair weather have certainly made for some fantastic outdoor activities, but the warmth may have altered the timeline for the development of the fall foliage color.  In any event, by the beginning of last week I could already see that we were past peak color in the Winooski Valley.  Bare trees were numerous throughout the hillsides, leaving at least small gaps in the colorful views.

It’s funny, but despite the warm weather in recent weeks, we actually had some September snowfall on Mt. Mansfield and other peaks in the region.  We don’t get September snow every year, so it’s quite interesting that things came together to put some white on the peaks so early during a warm period.

With the fall foliage around and especially with the colors now beginning to wind down, more snow usually isn’t far behind, and indeed today’s dramatic drop in temperatures from the 70s F we had just yesterday evening made it really feel like we were transitioning further into fall.  We never got out of the 40s F in the valleys, so there was definitely a bit of a bite out there with wind on top of those temperatures.  While heading to a class today here on the UVM campus, it absolutely felt like one of those days where it could easily be snowing along the spine.  And, lo and behold, when I later checked in on the Northern New England fall thread on the American Weather Forums, Powderfreak was already reporting accumulating snow down to 2,700’ on Mt. Mansfield.  He posted some additional pictures later, showing how the snow had a hard time accumulating on the warm ground in most areas and was typically found on the trees.  He did report snowfall down as low as 1,500’ in elevation though, probably via help from the orographics of the Green Mountain Spine.  The Bolton Valley Facebook page also posted an image of flakes getting down to the Village, and I’m sure many of the local mountains saw flakes as well.

I hear Killington also took advantage of the cooler temperatures to test the snow guns, so we’re certainly on our way.  The longer range forecasts suggest a possible stretch of colder weather near the end of the month into November, so we’ll see what potential that brings with regard to manmade or natural snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 29APR2017

An image of the Spillway trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Northern Vermont at the end of April
Spillway at Bolton Valley still has a decent amount of snow for getting in some late-season turns.

I was in Montreal yesterday, generally doing more eating that exercising, so I definitely wanted to fit a ski tour into the day today if possible.  The weather was good much of the day, with some sun, but plenty of clouds to keep it cool as well, and I made my way up to the mountain in the midafternoon timeframe.

My initial views from the Bolton Valley Village area didn’t reveal much snow, but one I got moving up the mountainside I could see that there were some good areas of snow around.  The Butterscotch Terrain Park has probably the most snow on the lower mountain, but I found Bear Run actually has some decent areas with snow as well.  The biggest surprise on the upper mountain was actually Spillway, which had initially looked like it only had a strip of snow left along the skier’s right.  Once I got above mid mountain I could see that there was substantial coverage on a lot of the trail.

I hiked up Spillway to where the continuous snow ran out, which was just a bit below the 3,000’ mark, and started my descent from there.  Spillway held some of the best areas of corn I found today.  There were some sun-cupped areas and a few spots where the snow remained coalesced like ice, but in general the turns were nice in the corn snow.  I was actually able to continue all the way down to mid-mountain on snow, and then even a bit farther on Beech Seal before I had to throw the skis back on my pack and hike down.

Based on my initial sights, I was thinking this was likely the last weekend for reasonably plentiful skiing at Bolton Valley, but based on what I saw, I think there might be some snow around next weekend depending on how the temperatures run this week.

Bolton Valley, VT 08APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
We were treated to another winter storm and more powder today at Bolton Valley.

Just like last Saturday, another storm came through the area over the past couple of days and dropped a round of fresh snow to give us some great April powder.  For the first time in quite a while, the whole family was available to ski, so we headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for some turns.

Down at the house, snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain.  There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIn terms of the snow we found, I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range.  More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations, although I did find up to two feet in spots.  The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry.  It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures – it was well below freezing at all elevations of the resort this morning.  It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session.

An image o Dylan Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, and this Saturday was even more extreme.  For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it.  It was hard to pull ourselves away.  While we were finishing up back at the main base area and getting ready to hit the Village Deli to grab some lunch, we were able to watch some of the snowmobilers in the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb.  The Village parking lots were full of snowmobile trailers, so the resort got a great additional influx of visitors.

Bolton Valley, VT 01APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today we got out in the powder at Bolton Valley thanks to Winter Storm Theseus.

The latest weather system to come into the area has been named Winter Storm Theseus.  Snow associated with the storm started up on Friday and left nearly a foot of at some of the local ski resorts, so Dylan and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for what we hoped would be some great powder skiing, and we weren’t disappointed.

An image of skiers on the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley ski resort on Vermont
Everyone who as at the mountain today got treated to one of those low-key late-season powder days.

Temperatures edged above freezing down in the valley, but the freezing line really stayed below 1,500’ this morning from what we saw, so that kept surfaces wintry at all elevations of the resort.  The snow was certainly less dense the higher you went, but it wasn’t until probably below 1,800’ that the quality of the powder skiing started to fall off a bit – it was just getting a bit too dense for optimal turns.  Really though, that’s just last few hundred feet of vertical at Timberline, and everything at the main mountain was well above that.  It snowed all morning to keep the wintry appeal going and keep things fresh.  The flakes were small so additional accumulations weren’t too hefty, but it was definitely coming down at times – we had to pull out the lens hoods for some photography sessions because of the intensity of the snow.

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan having fun after catching the rope drop for Upper Tattle Tale

We started off on the morning on the main mountain with a trip up the Vista Quad, but we knew that by the time we’d worked our way down the trails we’d be able to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad.  We had a good time down there, catching the rope drop on Upper Tattle Tale, just after we’d skied the lower half from the crossover.  We did some exploring and found the entrance to House Line, a shot I’ve been looking to ski for a while.     Dylan decided to go Telemark again today, and he was definitely ripping up that powder.  We eventually made our way back to the main base and finished off the ski day on Wilderness, then grabbed some food at the main cafeteria and the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.

An image of the central circle in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
In the Bolton Valley Village today

Bolton’s got their 48-hour total at 9 inches for the higher elevations, and I’d say 9 to 10 was where we found things topping out with the addition of this morning’s snow.  Anyway, it was a great way to start off this month’s skiing, and of course another perk of the day was the fact that we’re in April, and visitation at the resorts really starts to fall off.  There were certainly visitors, but there were still a number of trails with just a few tracks on them when we were leaving around midday, so folks who were out really got treated to one of those kind of powder days. 

Dylan was anxious to do some photography with one of the DSLRs today, so I had the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, and he had the Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM  lens.  Toward the end of the morning, we swapped lenses to mix things up a bit.  Dylan got some great images, so enjoy the gallery!