Although today really was the President’s Day holiday, it didn’t feel like it to me because everyone seemed to have to go to school or work anyway. My plan was to head to the office as well, but being a holiday, it seemed silly to miss out on the fantastic ski conditions that are out there, so I had to stop in at Bolton Valley for a few runs en route.
Today was the third in a string of really nice ski days featuring soft, midwinter snow conditions and temperatures in the upper 20s F at elevation. You really couldn’t ask for much better timing for all the visitors to the resort over this long holiday weekend. Figuring that the powder from our recent storms would be pretty tracked out by the plentiful skier traffic from the big weekend, my plan was to just work the legs a bit with a few on piste Telemark runs.
“…Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”
But, as soon as I started down Vermont 200 I started began to look off piste and saw that there was simply too much good snow out there to resist. Once I got into the trees I was finding untracked lines everywhere, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my ski session today.
I visited a number of spots that I hadn’t been in quite a while, including places like Glades Right, Snow Hole, and White Rabbit, and the skiing was so good that I had to visit some of them more than once. I was amazed at how little traffic those places had seen as I glided my way through the powder and thought, “Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.” That’s of course one of the things that makes the mountain so great.
After the good conditions I experienced yesterday on my tour of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, I knew today had some great potential depending on how Winter Storm Noah performed. It wouldn’t take much to produce some really excellent skiing, and when the numbers finally came in this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow. That was more than enough for the whole family to get together for a tour.
“The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.”
Although it’s already mid-February, today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family would have a chance to ski together. It really looked like a beauty though, with close to 10 inches of snow in the past couple of days, temperatures in the upper 20s F, and snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon. Arriving up at the mountain in the mid-morning timeframe, the resort was really humming with visitors once again. We were able to get a prime parking spot right along the edge of Broadway, geared up, and we were on our way.
Since I’d like what I found on my tour yesterday, I brought E and the boys on a variation of that trip. We headed up to Bryant Cabin, stopped for a quick break among about a dozen other backcountry travelers, and then headed on above Gardiner’s Lane as I’d done yesterday. My skin tracks had just about disappeared with all the new snow overnight, but there were just enough vestiges of my passage to allow me to use my old track as a guide.
We descended through a lot of glades I knew well, in addition to a few different lines that we found in our explorations. There were definitely plenty of good crashes in the powder, especially by Ty who seemed to enjoy the crashes as much as any aspect of the tour. The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.
We stopped in for some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery after the tour, and I got a great shot of Ty grappling with his huge sub. It was great to finally get the whole family out together, and what a day for great ski conditions!
We had some great ski conditions in the area last weekend thanks to a couple of winter storms putting down a solid resurfacing of the slopes. Ty and I hit some beautiful powder on Saturday at Bolton Valley, and the good snow conditions carried right over to our BJAMS ski program session on Sunday at Stowe. Some mixed precipitation moved in as the weekend closed out though, potentially setting up some dicey conditions as temperatures cooled back down during the week. Some new snow would likely be needed to soften up the slopes, but the only real possibility in the forecast was a cold front coming through the area on Friday. It was only expected to drop an inch or two, but true to form, the resorts along the spine of the Northern Greens managed to reel in a solid four inches. A subtle but important aspect of the snow that fell was that it started out dense and wet, then gradually dried out. That held the potential to really bond it to the old snow and actually create a rather soft subsurface that would be great under the new powder. You never know exactly how the layers are going to come together, but the potential definitely piqued my interest enough for a trip to the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.
“In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.”
We had a morning of blue skies and bright sun, but it was dimming just a bit ahead of incoming Winter Storm Noah as I headed up to the mountain around midday. Arriving up in the Village, there was no doubt that it was President’s Day weekend – it took me several minutes to get a parking spot even down by the Sport Center and Nordic area because the lots were just jam packed. Hopefully that’s a great sign that the resort is going to have a great weekend of visitors. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out today though – it was simply spectacular out there with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20s F.
“Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.”
My first real sign that there might be some great snow on the hill came as soon as I walked to the back of the car to gear up. I’d backed into my parking spot and was pleasantly surprised when I had to remove almost a foot of powder to clear a spot so I could get my ski boots on. The snow had clearly drifted some, but it was obvious that the resort had picked up a good shot of accumulation and I was eager to see what the protected environs of the trees held.
Starting my ascent I generally found about four inches atop the old base, very consistent with what the resort had mentioned in the snow report. It was actually tough to gauge the depth of the new snow at times though, because indeed the new snow had bonded so well to the old snow that it was hard to find the interface. In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.
I was inspired to try a couple of new areas on my tour today. First, I ascended up the Bryant Trail, then past Bryant Cabin to Gardiner’s Lane. I then ascended up above Gardiner’s Lane at an angle until I hit the evergreen line, and then contoured across at that elevation until I reached the North Slope area. I stopped where I could catch a nice line all the way back down to Gardiner’s Lane, and got in some great turns. Then, instead of continuing along Gardiner’s Lane, I dropped off into one of the glades and skied fresh lines down to the next bench. I contoured on the bench until I found myself entering Gotham City, where I caught a series of various glades back down to Bryant.
Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring. I headed back up Bryant, and ascended back up to the bench near the bottom of A1A. I worked back toward Gotham City and then ascended into some lines above. I finished off my descent heading down Alchemist and back toward the Village for a stop in at the deli for some subs.
The Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery was really hoppin’, but I definitely have to give a shout out to Gus and his crew for some great work managing all the holiday visitors. Thanks Gus, the sandwiches were great!
With the combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo over the past few days, Bolton Valley is reporting 16 inches of new snow and the ski conditions are taking off. E and Dylan were off to Lake Elmore to do a polar plunge today, but Ty and I headed up to the mountain to make use of all the new powder.
“Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.”
We had snow falling at the house in the morning, and were surprised to see what looked like some brief sleet or rain as we passed through ~1,000’ elevation band on the Bolton Valley Access Road, but as we got to the switchbacks below 1,500’ near the Timberline Base we were hit with a wall of steady light snow. We arrived at Timberline in the 9:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. range when the Timberline Quad was just opening, and had light snow falling with a cloud ceiling around 2,200’.
We kicked things off with a quick run through Wood’s Hole and the Corner Pocket Glades. The powder was good, although you could feel that the freezing level had rise to just about the Timberline base elevations. We found that total snowpack and coverage is OK below 2,000’, but those elevations could use one more solid storm to cover up some obstacles that still remain.
We spent time over at the main mountain after that, with a couple of great runs connecting from Hard Luck to Show Off, which hadn’t seen much traffic and had excellent snow. The main mountain was well above the freezing level and base depths are plentiful up there. We had a quick break with some slices at Fireside Flatbread, and then we finished off at the main mountain with a trip through the Villager Trees before heading back to Timberline. Eventually we took a lunch break at the Timberline Lodge before we finished off the day skiing over there, and it was definitely disappointing to see that South of Solitude isn’t running in the lodge – we were really amped to have some burritos!
There was light snowfall when we first arrived, and it ramped up to moderate intensity at times, but the flakes were fairly small early on. We had a period of heavier snow with big flakes near midday, but snowfall was typically on and off through the day. The freezing line was climbing during the day, and at least based on the temperature’s effect on snow surface consistency, I’d say it was around 1,700’ around midday, and 2,000’ by the time we were leaving near 3:00 P.M.
Overall the skiing is excellent right now as one would expect, but I’d say the biggest improvements have been on piste. The groomed terrain is skiing very nicely. Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there. There really wasn’t a lot of champagne to top it off with this last storm, so I can’t put it up there with those primo dumps where you get that amazing density gradient of powder, but the powder skiing was still great.
It’s nice to have some more typical Northern Greens conditions back in the house. We’ve got some big flakes falling here at our place this evening, so hopefully we’ll get a nice addition for more fun on the slopes tomorrow!
Light snow fell yesterday during the daylight hours while we were at Stowe, but the snowfall intensified after dark and we picked up more substantial amounts of snow in the evening. Knowing that the same thing was going on at the local resorts, it seemed like this morning would be an excellent time to catch some turns in the fresh powder. So, I decided to head up for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley.
When I’d left the house the temperature was still right around freezing, but by Bolton Flats I hit winds associated with the cold air moving in, and by the time I got up to Timberline the temperature was down around 20 F. I found several cars in the usual parking spots off to the right, and they belonged to various skiers and riders coming and going from trips in the new snow.
“Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.”
On my ascent I found a nice skin track in place on Twice as Nice, and I frequently checked the depths of the powder. Wind had pushed the snow around a bit, but I generally found depths of 5 to 8 inches with spot amounts up to 10 inches near the Timberline Mid Station. I opted for Spell Binder on the descent, and even though the headwall had seen a lot of its snow blow around, the usual spots that hold the snow yielded excellent turns. Throughout the trail, turns were bottomless aside from a few contacts with the subsurface here and there, and I found protected spots with depths of over a foot.
Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.
Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day. I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in. Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour. I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City. I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical. I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches. The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area. The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.
Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more. We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.
Ski conditions have been in sort of a holding pattern here in Northern Vermont. We just haven’t had any big snowstorms in the past couple of weeks, and that’s what we need to get the off piste terrain back in prime shape. With that said, there’s certainly some decent off piste skiing out there in various spots. Powderfreak highlighted how good some of the tree skiing was at Stowe today, despite the fact that Winter Storm Jaxon had a substantial amount of mixed precipitation. It was just one of those storms that finished off with some dense sleet to snow that really resurfaced whatever lay beneath.
I was sort of curious about the conditions up in the mountains today, and when temperatures rose up into the 30s F even at elevation, I decided that there would certainly be some soft snow out there. I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon timeframe and parked at the Timberline Base to start my outing. With the main base of the resort at 2,100’ up into the 30s F, I knew it would have warmed down there at 1,500’. The scene at Timberline was quite mellow, with generally calm winds under cloudy skies, and just a sprinkling of skiers visible.
“As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.”
As I rode the Timberline Quad, the conditions below me on Showtime looked, and even more importantly, sounded very good. I couldn’t hear a thing from the turns of the skiers below me, so I hopped right off at the mid station and went for a run. Indeed the snow on Showtime was great, probably softened a bit by the moderate temperatures, but it was immediately obvious that a major portion of the snow quality came from the fact that the resort had just blown a ton of snow on it.
“…it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.”
That snow on Showtime was worthy of being lapped for quite a while, but I still wanted to find out what the snow was like in the higher elevations, so I headed all the way to the Timberline Summit. As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all. I hadn’t seen Powderfreak’s post and photos about the snow at Stowe at that point, and I really wasn’t expecting much, so it was indeed sort of a pleasant surprise. It did make me think back to something I’d read in the Bolton Valley snow report earlier in the day:
“Updated Saturday, January 27th at 7:57 AM – News and Notes: Come and get it folks. The sun will make an appearance today and the trails have a pleasant surprise feel to them making for a fun combination. If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
The report literally had “pleasant surprise” in it, and I can absolutely see what they were getting at. With that commentary, and what I’d encountered off piste, I decided to head off to check out the powder over at Wilderness. What I found was that even areas that had seen some skier traffic over there were offering up some nice soft turns, but untracked areas with that coating of a couple inches of powder were very nice. It’s really the dense, yet soft, material underneath that is providing the good turns vs. the couple inches of powder on top, but hey, the combination really comes together.
I gradually worked my way back to the Timberline Base to complete my tour of the resort’s terrain, and it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder. Despite the good conditions I found in many spots, high-traffic and windblown areas are definitely in need of a resurfacing. The worst spots will need a couple inches of liquid equivalent, but good base is in place in most areas, so all we really need is a decent storm with about an inch of liquid equivalent and we’ll really be back to more typical on and off piste conditions. We’re expected to get into a more active wintry pattern in February, so we’ll see if any storms swing through to bring what we need.
The weather has been a real roller coaster ride over the past two to three weeks. We were in the deep freeze over the holiday week and the first week of January, so while the snow quality was great, air temperatures and wind chill values just didn’t make for comfortable skiing. Winter Storm Grayson hit the area in the January 4th through 6th timeframe and dropped roughly 10 inches of snow here at the house, but the temperatures that followed were still too frigid to make great use of all the snow. Temperatures finally moderated this past week in association with Winter Storm Hunter, but the early part of the storm brought a mix of precipitation, so the skiing wasn’t great at that point. Frigid air once again came in right after that storm, but mountain temperatures finally moderated into the teens today, so Ty and I made a quick trip up to Bolton Valley in the afternoon to check out the ski conditions.
Bolton picked up about 5 inches of dense snow on the back side of Winter Storm Hunter, and that actually did a pretty decent job of resurfacing the slopes, but the snow and sleet were still dense enough that the resort wasn’t comfortable opening ungroomed terrain. From the Vista Summit, Ty and I tried out Alta Vista, which of course was fairly scratchy in its steep upper section being the end of the ski day, but the snow that had accumulated on skier’s left from traffic was quite nice. We actually helped a gentleman who was in well over his head and stepping down that first steep section of the trail. Although Alta Vista is listed as an intermediate trail, that first section is clearly a black diamond pitch, and even more challenging than that when it’s been scraped down after a day’s worth of skier traffic. We ventured off into the lower part of the Vista Glades, and low to moderate angle terrain that was untracked was really quite smooth. In general the off piste turns were beautiful with that dense covering of a couple of inches, as long as the pitch didn’t get too steep. We considered heading over to check out the lower parts of Wilderness, which are loaded with that sort of terrain, but just didn’t have enough time before the lifts closed. All in all though, if you didn’t get out this weekend, you weren’t really missing anything too spectacular – conditions are well below average. Temperatures are remaining nice and wintry, so freshly groomed terrain I’m sure is making for some fantastic carves, but we’ll need another nice shot of snow to get the off piste back in prime form.
“Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal.”
One extra fun aspect of today was that Ty finally got to try out the combination of his Anon M2 Goggles and Anon MFI Tech Balaclava that he got for Christmas. For those unfamiliar with the goggles in this system, a unique aspect is that the lenses are held in with magnets. So, you can pop them out with a quick pinch of the frame and change them in seconds, but the magnets are quite strong, so the lenses never pop out unless you want them to. Another part of the system that is ridiculously slick and ingenious is the balaclava. You know that gap you always have between the bottom of your goggles and your balaclava or neck warmer? Well, you don’t have it with this system, thanks to more magnets. Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal. Ty had been asking for a balaclava will full face coverage, so this system was literally perfect for him. Today’s benign, but reasonably cold conditions were a great chance for him to test out the system to see how it performed for him, and he loved it. Hopefully it will serve him just as well on his next chilly, storm day. And hopefully, we’ll get the weather to stabilize into a more typical pattern and have some of those days soon!
I last got out for a ski tour at Bolton Valley on Tuesday, with the plan of getting in some turns ahead of the very cold weather that was forecast for the rest of the holiday week. Indeed the cold came into the area as expected, and while the low temperatures were far from anything that would set records, high temperatures that were staying below zero F and wind chills on top of that meant that it was going to be brutal out there. Today marked a bit of a respite from those temperatures though, with highs expected to be well up into the single digits F, no winds, and sunshine. I figured that today was my window to get back out for a ski tour before temperatures dip back down in the coming days.
The warmest part of the day was expected to be in the afternoon, with a southerly flow of air thanks to the remnants of Winter Storm Frankie passing through the area. I went with two base layers (lights under heavies) just to ensure that I’d be comfortable, and headed up to the mountain around 2:30 P.M. There was still some dim, arctic-looking sun pushing through the clouds off to the south as I arrived at the Village and parked right along the edge of Broadway. Temperatures were in the in the 5 to 10 F range, and with no wind it was actually quite comfortable – within a few minutes of starting my ascent of Bryant I was skinning without a hat in order to cool off.
“Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns.”
We’ve had perhaps an inch or two of snow since my last outing on Tuesday, and at Village elevations I was finding about 5 inches of powder atop a thick layer. That surface snow depth definitely increased a bit with elevation, and if you punched through the thick layer in the snowpack you’d be looking at 18 to 24 inches of snow before getting to whatever base snow was below that. Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns. Some of the best sections were Girl’s and Telemark Glade, where the terrain and snow really flowed well.
The middle of Winter Storm Dylan at the end of last week had some mixed precipitation that put a thick layer into the snowpack, but since then we’ve had the backside snow from that storm, the snow from Winter Storm Ethan, and some additional snow from a localized streamer that was affecting the area yesterday. It was certainly enough new powder to entice me out to the mountain for a quick tour today, especially with some very cold air coming into the area later this week.
I arrived at Timberline in the mid-afternoon period, just as a some snow was moving into the valley. The snow was steady during my whole tour, although visibility was generally in the 1 to 2-mile range, so it wasn’t especially heavy. In terms of the powder, I found roughly 4 to 6 inches at the 1,500’ level, and probably 5 to 7 inches at the 2,500’ level.
Although I did ascend all the way to the Timberline Summit, my main goal was a trip down Brandywine, which had some great snow and just a couple of previous ski tracks. The powder was deep enough for plenty of good turns on Brandywine, although I think it would have been better with some wider skis vs. just my midfats. I also think some slightly lower angle would be good to really stay away from that crust.
At the end of my tour I spoke with one of the crew that was working on grooming Timberline Run, and it sounds like they’re planning to open the Timberline area tomorrow for lift-served skiing.