Bolton Valley, VT 12MAR2011

Tracks in the Villager Trees
There was some decent powder in the Villager Trees

I headed up to Bolton Valley today to catch some afternoon turns, and the sking was pretty nice. There were a couple of fresh inches, and conditions varied from wintry up top with the surfaces helped out by the new powder, to borderline spring-like down low with the surfaces helped out by the warmer temperatures. The powder off piste was certainly vairable, but there were nice turns depending on elevation and aspect.  More details and images are in my Bolton Valley, VT 12MAR2011 report.

Bolton Valley, VT 07MAR2011

Image of Dylan getting a face shot in deep powder
Dylan taking a face shot in deep powder on Secret Solitude

We spent the morning around at the house playing in the snow and taking care of snow removal, and then we headed up to Bolton Valley at some point after 1:00 P.M. to check out the new powder and get in some storm day turns.  Bolton’s Vista Quad was on wind hold, but Timberline was running well and we spent the afternoon there.  I did several depth checks in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range and got measurement of 26 to 31 inches for the depth of the new snow.  There were some gusty winds at times, but Timberline is fairly protected and wind wasn’t bad except on the ridgelines.  The new powder was just medium-density snow at ~10% H2O, and I guess the only thing that might made it better would be if it had been topped off with a bit of our Champlain Powder™ fulff, but let’s just say that it was quite a day to be out there.  It was certainly not one to be missed, but in case you did, you can check out all the details and the powdery images in the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 06MAR2011

An image of snowy evergreen branches
Snow was quickly turning the area into a wintry scene both up on the mountain and down in the valley.

E and her co-director decided to cancel ski program at Stowe today due to so many parents being concerned about the large incoming storm, so I popped up to Bolton Valley for a bit this afternoon to see how some of the new snow was taking hold.  The conditions were actually quite nice, as the new snow is dense and it seems to be bonding to the old snow as it cools down.  I skied Hard Luck, which is fairly steep, and although I was certainly touching down on the old snow at times, even that was reasonably pliable and the new dense stuff was providing quite a ride even on pitches in the 30-degree range.  I followed up with Beech Seal, smiling the whole way as I ripped fresh snow down the deserted slopes.  I didn’t get any images of the new snow from up on the mountain, but I grabbed a shot out back at the house when I was making my weather observations at 4:30 P.M., and the snowy branches were representative of how the trees were starting to look up on the mountain.  For all the details, check out the full report from up at Bolton today.

Bolton Valley, VT 26FEB2011

Image of Dylan skiing powder
Dylan blasting the powder in Doug's Solitude

After earning turns and skiing with Stephen and Johannes in the early morning, I headed back to the house for a bit after that session, picked up E and the boys, and we caught up with Stephen and Johannes later in the morning to hit the powder for the rest of the day.  We had some light snow and sunshowers in the later morning and early afternoon from yet another small weather system that was pushing through, and then more sunshine as the afternoon wore on.  We got into plenty of that famous Vermont fluff, and all the boys seemed to have a good time.  Click through to see all the picture and read the full report from today at Bolton.

Bolton Valley, VT (Timberline) 26FEB2011

Image of Stephen skiing on Spell Binder
Stephen getting some earned turns on Spell Binder

I headed up for an early, pre lift-service session at Bolton this morning with Stephen and Johannes.  We ascended Twice as Nice and hit Spell Binder for first tracks.  On the headwall the snow was a little tricky due to some mid-storm skier traffic yesterday, as well as the wind that had picked up in the evening.

The skiing was still decent, even if not entirely bottomless on the headwall.  Once we were lower down and out of the wind, the snow quality took a big jump up and anything untracked was just what one would expect.  It wasn’t the lightest of the light in terms of Northern Vermont Champlain Powder™, but my analyses from yesterday indicated 5-6% H2O at our place down in the valley, and I’d say it easily skied like that as long as the wind hadn’t gotten to it.  Click through to read the full report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 25FEB2011

Image of Dylan skiing powder
Dylan blasting down Tattle Tale

It was back on Wednesday when our current winter storm started coming into focus, but at that point the snow totals were still somewhat in question.  However, by the yesterday/today timeframe it was looking like the local mountains could see a good foot of snow, so prospects for getting some powder on the slopes were promising.  It actually hadn’t even started snowing when I left the house this morning around 6:45 A.M., but by the time I left Burlington sometime after 11:00 A.M. they’d picked up about 4 inches, and here at the house I found 6.3 inches at noontime.  That meant that the snow was coming down at over an inch an hour in the valley, so up on the mountain they were likely getting blasted.

E and the boys didn’t have school, so around 1:00 P.M. once we were sure that the powder was building, we headed up to Bolton to get in some storm day skiing.   When we first arrived at Timberline, the snowfall was moderate and the flakes were fairly small, but flake size and snowfall intensity were picking up.  We started off with some Spell Binder, and the boys were clearly enjoying the powder with the enthusiastic comments coming out of them such as Ty’ “Beautiful Beauty”, and Dylan’s “That’s Talking Powder”; they were certainly original if not extremely descriptive.  I did my first depth check on the new snow about halfway down Spell Binder, where the tally was 11 inches.  For more pictures and the full story, click through to the full report from today at Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 21FEB2011

Image of Ty skinning on the Bryant Trail
Ty skins up the Bryant Trail and checks out the powder

Temperatures warmed up above freezing at all elevations in Northern Vermont at the end of last week, so we waited for the powder to build up over the long weekend before finally heading out this afternoon for turns.  We had three small systems that dropped snow over the holiday weekend; down at the house we picked up 3.7 inches of snow in the form of 0.21 inches of liquid, and Bolton was reporting 5 inches of snow in the higher elevations.  The new powder at the house had settled down to about 2 to 3 inches over the old base, so we knew there would be at least that much up on the mountain.  Temperatures wound up being colder than we thought, but the powder was nice – we found 3 to 4 inches of settled powder in the lower village portion of the network at around 2,000’, and up at the Bryant Cabin elevation (~2,700’) the depths of new snow were 4 to 5 inches.  It turned out to be plenty of fluff for the low and moderate angle pitches, so many nice powder turns were had, and it was also the first time that the boys had skinned all the way up to the cabin.  Dylan had some binding issues near the bottom of the run, so I had to help him through and he got quite a ride.  Read about the entire adventure in the full backcountry trip report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 12FEB2011

Image of Dylan dropping a cliff into the powder
Dylan drops in on "Dylan's Drop-Off" in the KP Glades area today at Bolton Valley

It hasn’t been an extremely snowy week, but we did have at least a modest storm in the Tuesday timeframe that dropped 3.6 inches of snow at the house and close to a foot of snow on Bolton Valley.  Still, that was back on Tuesday, and things would be getting somewhat tracked up by the weekend, so our plan was to head up to Bolton’s backcountry network with the boys to get in some easy access powder.  That idea changed quickly though, when we got a call from James, who was planning to head up to Bolton with Tom and Amy.  We still found plenty of powder on terrain serviced by the lifts, and it even snowed and squalled at times to keep surfaces fresh, so a good time was had by all.  For all the details and pictures, click through to the full report from Bolton Valley today.

Bolton Valley, VT 05FEB2011

A picture of Ty skiing powder in the trees around Bolton Outlaw
Ty playing in the powdery trees around Bolton Outlaw

I got in some fantastic turns on Thursday at Bolton Valley after our first big synoptic snowstorm of the season dropped a couple feet of snow in the mountains, and today we followed it up with more powder skiing as we made the most of the storm’s bounty.  We spent a good amount of time over at Wilderness, catching a fun run in the Bolton Outlaw area, and doing a couple runs to explore the powder in Snow Hole.  In the evening we were in the Burlington area for a birthday party, and we were getting pounded with snow that was falling at rates up to 2 inches/hr as our second big synoptic storm of the season rolled in.  Later in the evening when we were back at the house, we even got to witness some thunder snow with the event.  To read all the details and check out the pictures from the day, click through to the full Bolton Valley trip report from February 5th, 2011.

Bolton Valley, VT 03FEB2011

An image of skier in powder on Bolton Valley's Tattle Tale trail
The recent round of powder had really fired up the skiing at Bolton Valley on steep trails like Upper Tattle Tale.

While the ski conditions in Northern Vermont had been decent, and certainly consistent through January with some nice powder days, the snowpack depth still wasn’t all that great.  In fact, as February approached, the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake had been below average for a good portion of the season, and consistent with that trend, the snow depths and coverage on the trails seemed to be lagging behind as well.  The potential snowpack increases associated with large synoptic storms and cold air in the La Niña weather pattern weren’t quite being realized in the far north.  Snowfall numbers had been decent (as of January 31st we’d picked up 104.9 inches of snow at the house and were running at 113.7% of normal), but the liquid associated with a lot of that snow was paltry.  We were living off the upslope magic of the Greens, with mostly the fluffy Champlain Powder™ to survive on.  While it was loads of fun to ski, the fluff wasn’t preceded by dense snow, the snowpack depth was stagnating, and it just wasn’t possible to finish off the coverage on the steepest and most windswept areas at the local resorts.  A real hit of moisture from a big synoptic storm was needed, yet systems of that caliber had simply continued to focus on Southern New England, leaving Northern New England on the fringe.  Finally though, it looked the weather pattern was going to shift… a big synoptic storm was crossing the country and seemed poised to really kick the Northern Vermont ski season into high gear with an inch or two of liquid equivalent in the form of snow.

The colossal storm was setting up to hit us during the midweek period, and because it was affecting so many people across the country, it was getting plenty of national media coverage.  The storm was coming through as a one-two punch, with an initial surge on Tuesday, and then a larger batch of moisture for yesterday into today. 

By Tuesday evening we’d picked up 2.5 inches of 6.0% H2O snow at the house from the first round of the storm, and we awaited the heavy stuff associated with the main course that was scheduled to come into the area on Wednesday.  By 6:00 A.M. yesterday morning when I sent in my CoCoRaHS report, the second punch of snow was already coming down with some fervor.  I’d found a couple new inches on the snowboard, and it continued to snow at close to an inch an hour.  To see all the pictures and read the rest of the story, head to the full trip report from Bolton Valley today.