Yesterday delivered some decent lift-served turns, as well as a quick Wilderness tour with some powder, so today I headed back up to the mountain for a ski tour with Dylan. With more time than I’d had yesterday afternoon, we went a bit farther afield in the Wilderness area in search of untracked powder. The untouched snow was definitely harder to come by this afternoon, because there has been heavy ski touring traffic this weekend. The amount of traffic is relative of course, and nothing like you’d get with lift-served skiing, but after an entire holiday weekend worth of people touring, the untracked snow on the trails of Wilderness had been just about picked clean. One factor in the apparently heavy traffic is that folks aren’t yet using all the acreage of tree skiing; the trees were generally untouched because people know that it’s still just a bit too thin in there for the skiing to be practical. I saw an occasional track of people who had headed into the trees, but you could tell they weren’t quite ready. If we get one more good snowstorm with an inch of liquid, then the low-angle trees will be in play.
We picked up some take-out from Fireside Flatbread for the first time this season, and the process is similar to what the resort is doing at the Village Deli and The Mad Taco – they’re not taking orders in person. In this case it looks like the preferred method is to go through the Toast online ordering service. I actually found this approach to be quite quick though; I was easily able to put in my order on my phone, and they accept Apple Pay, so all I had to do was authorize that with my fingerprint, and we were good to go!
The weather looks generally quiet this coming week, but by the early to middle part of next week we could get back into a more typical Northern Greens bread-and-butter pattern of modest systems to freshen up the slopes. We still need a solid synoptic storm with an inch of liquid equivalent (or something similar from a series of smaller systems) to really get the base depths to more respectable levels, but Winter Storm John was a godsend to at least get a bit of base down and have some snow to see us through the next week.
This latest winter storm sort of snuck up on us. Our local forecast at home did indicate the chance for a touch of snow during the overnight, but I was well into the wee hours before we’d expected to see anything. Yesterday afternoon though, it was pouring rain down here in the Winooski Valley, and with temperatures in the 30s F, it seemed suspiciously cool. Around 5:00 P.M. I decided to check on a couple of the local webcams at the resorts, and was surprised to see that it wasn’t just snowing at elevation, but in line with the pouring rain down in the valleys, intense snowfall was occurring in the mountains. It looked like the snow line was somewhere around 2,000’.
“I’d say fat skis were the way to go today, and indeed turns up high were bottomless and smooth, with little need to worry about hitting the base.”
By 8:00 P.M. we’d picked up about an inch of snow at the house, and with continued snowfall in the valleys, it seemed very likely that the mountains were going to have a solid new accumulation by the time the night was over.
In the Bolton Valley area this morning, there were accumulations all the way down to the base of the access road at 340’, and the accumulations slowly increased as one headed up to the resort. The snow depths started to increase more rapidly around the elevation of the resort Village, with 3 to 4 inches there, and those totals doubled by the 2,500’ elevation. Essentially all the snow above 1,500’ was winter-dry, and temperatures were still in the 20s F this morning from probably 1,500’ on up. I’ll have to look back at all the April and May storms we’ve had this season, but this was some of the driest/wintriest snow I can recall in the past few storms.
I’ve got the elevation profile for new snow accumulations below, and as you can see, the largest increases in depths indeed came from a bit below 2,000’ up to about the 2,500’ range before the rate of increase tapered down:
The storm was probably mostly snow above 2,500’, and with 1.21” of L.E. down here at the house, it was a decent resurfacing above 2,000’, and a very solid, “no worries” type of resurfacing above 2,500’. I’d say fat skis were the way to go today, and indeed turns up high were bottomless and smooth, with little need to worry about hitting the base. Indeed, midwinter-style powder is always appreciated in May.
Morning revealed some additional snow accumulation at our house at 500’ in the Winooski Valley, and as we climbed the road up toward Bolton Valley we could see that the snow levels had indeed come down compared to what I’d seen on my tour yesterday. After whatever settling occurred since that point, total accumulations at 2,000’ in the Village were now up to roughly 8”. We topped out at around 2,800’ on today’s tour, and accumulations are a foot plus from there on up. The elevation profile from yesterday’s tour is updated below with the addition of today’s total new snow depth numbers, which are in bold below:
So with depths of new snow hitting a foot or more in the higher elevations, and snow continued to fall during our tour as well, the skiing was of course even better than yesterday. Indeed, the snow was deeper and drier, and the turns were even more bottomless and effortless. We saw a few other skiers out there on the slopes, but traffic was quite light and fresh tracks were in great supply. I gave Dylan my Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens, so we had a couple of cameras available to document the outing, and it was great to be out with the family. Ty was working in the morning, but he would definitely had been there if he was free.
As of last week, the ski areas in the state had ceased operations, which obviously has the potential to be a blow to many employees and ancillary businesses. All things considered, this timing hasn’t been too bad for the resorts, since they would all be tapering down winter services and staffing in the next few weeks to some degree anyway. From the skier’s perspective, the timing of these resorts hasn’t been horrible either – weather has been in that spring doldrums stage for the past couple of weeks. The usual thaw-freeze cycles that we get at this time of year have taken place, and we haven’t had any big storm cycles to resurface the slopes nor beautiful warm days with copious sunshine to soften them up. We last skied back on the 8th for the BJAMS ski program at Stowe, and regardless of the ski area closings, there hasn’t been much to entice us out since then.
“Our initial forecast called for a total of 2 to 4 inches of accumulation, but after we picked up 2.6 inches of snow in just a half hour (an impressive snowfall rate of over 5 inches per hour) yesterday evening, it was obvious that we were going to get more.”
Since the resort is not posting snow reports now that they’re closed, we didn’t have a sense for how much snow Bolton Valley picked up in the storm, but Dylan and I finally had time around late morning to head up for a ski tour. On the way up the access road we stopped in at Timberline to check on the snow depth, and found about 7 inches of settled new accumulation at the base. We also noted that there were a couple dozen cars in the parking lot from folks that were out ski touring.
I was unsure of the base depths at Timberline, and figured they would be more substantial at the main mountain, so we continued on up to the Village. New snow depths were similar there, and indeed fairly similar all the way up to the Vista Summit. So overall, there really didn’t seem to be much change in accumulation with respect to elevations – from what we saw today, even up above 3,000’ the storm totals looked about the same as what we picked up in the valley at 500’
The turns we had today were very nice. The powder was of medium to perhaps slightly higher density, and temperatures were well below freezing even in the Village at 2,000’. The snow had a nice surfy consistency, with enough buoyancy for bottomless turns on even steep pitches in the black diamond range. You could certainly hit bottom on the very steepest pitches, but we focused on medium-angle terrain and it was bottomless all the way.
“Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing. As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.”
With many people not going to work right now as the state strives to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and a fresh dump of powder on the slopes, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how many people were out for turns. The number of people touring seemed notable though – between Timberline and the Village, there were at least several dozen cars out there. Where we really noticed that ski touring traffic was up was by the number of tracks on the trails. D and I definitely had to work a bit to find trails that had only seen a few tracks, but we just poked around until we found them. Fanny Hill delivered pretty nicely with only about four or five tracks on it and plenty of untouched snow. Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing. As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.
There are a few early signs of another potential storm about a week out, but there’s nothing notable in the more immediate term, so we’ll be watching that timeframe to see if anything pops up.
After Winter Storm Goliath last week, we moved into a pattern of snow showers with minor accumulations here and there ahead of a cold front that passed through the area yesterday. The approach of the cold front intensified the snowfall, resulting in snow totals of up to a foot in the Northern Greens. Unlike the dense snow from Winter Storm Goliath, these latest rounds of snow have been light and dry, with densities of 3-6% H2O based on my analyses. With this fluff on top of the dense snow, it was actually a setup for some great powder skiing. The temperature drop with the arctic cold front was notable, with highs expected to be only in the single digits F today, but I still wanted to get out for some turns and exercise, so I decided to go for a ski tour up at Bolton Valley this morning.
Despite temperatures running in the low single digits as expected, I was happy to find that there wasn’t much wind as I ascended the Bolton Valley Access Road. I swung into the Timberline parking lot at 1,500’ on my way up the road, and measured 4-5” of powder over the old base. Although likely serviceable for some turns on appropriate terrain, I know that the base snow is a bit thinner down at that elevation, so I continued on up to the Village at 2,100’ to start my tour. It was right around 0 F up at the Village, and there was the occasional bit of breeze blowing things around, but it was nothing like that wind from last Tuesday during Winter Storm Goliath. I ascended via the designated Wilderness route, and for the first time this season it felt like it was worth a trip all the way to the Wilderness Summit. Indeed that was the case, as the new snow kept getting deeper and deeper, eventually reaching a point where even black diamond terrain was quite skiable. The person before me who had set the skin track up to the summit had descended via Bolton Outlaw, and the turns looked quite nice.
Here’s the summary of the snow depths atop the old base up to the Wilderness Summit at various elevations, with the 500’ value being from our house:
I can’t say that all the snow up on the mountain was necessarily from the past 24 hours, but it’s very easy to distinguish the new powder from the dense base snow that we picked up from Winter Storm Goliath.
Wanting to go for something with a bit more pitch lower down, I passed by Bolton Outlaw and headed to Upper Fanny Hill so that I could also ski its lower portion. Upper Fanny Hill has a healthy black diamond pitch, and in terms of coverage it’s easily good to go now with the dense base covering up everything but the obvious major obstacles. I did find a good representative spot from which I could assess total snowpack depth at around 2,700’, and found it to be 14-15”. There’s a lot of single-black terrain at appropriate elevations that I suspect is good to go for at least the touring crowd, although I’d say one more good shot of liquid equivalent (an inch or so) would be needed to get things going for lift-serviced levels of traffic. I’m sure the mountain could open some natural terrain consisting of mellow pitches at this point if they chose to.
“Upper Fanny Hill has a healthy black diamond pitch, and in terms of coverage it’s easily good to go now with the dense base covering up everything but the obvious major obstacles”
In any event, the powder turns were excellent this morning, with my only complaint being that it was “slow snow” due to the very cold temperatures. Even with 115 mm fat skis keeping me afloat, I had to go steeper than the pitch of typical green terrain for a good ride – in that respect, Fanny Hill was a better choice than Lower Turnpike as I suspected. We’ve got a couple of potential storms coming up this weekend that may deliver something more like Winter Storm Goliath in terms of liquid equivalent. They probably won’t deliver the type of Champlain Powder™ we had with this event, but if they play out well they could set up the base to open a good amount of natural snow terrain.
“I did a check on the new accumulation there at the Vista Summit and found 5-6″, which was right in line with the snow report.”
We hadn’t made definite plans to head up to the mountain today based on the uncertainty of the results from any mixed precipitation, but it sounded like crust wasn’t an issue, so by mid morning we’d made our way up to the Bolton Valley Village. A few rain showers on the way up the Bolton Valley Access Road had us concerned about the appearance of mixed precipitation on the mountain, but as I dropped E and the boys off at the Village Circle, it appeared as though we were just dealing with passing showers.
“…this storm has covered up a lot of the old base and should be a good shot in the arm for the overall state of the subsurface going forward.”
We headed up the Vista Quad and found a good shot of dense snow up there. I did a check on the new accumulation there at the Vista Summit and found 5-6″, which was right in line with the snow report. Winds were generally light aside from the summit, and temperatures were relatively mild at somewhere around the freezing mark. We worked our way down to Hard Luck to check out some steep, on piste terrain, and found that the mountain had received a decent resurfacing. Packed terrain skied well, with a little stickiness in spots, and the off piste held dense powder that gave you a bit more of that stickiness to deal with. On the lower half of the mountain we skied Glades, which had good coverage among skier packed snow and snow that was a little wetter than it had been up higher on the mountain.
Since my everyday RT-86 Telemark skis are currently at the Nordic Barn to get a broken binding repaired, I decided to pull out new my Rossignol Sin 7 alpine setup for the very first time. I’d been expecting to get the Sin 7 setup out when an appropriate day arose during our school ski program at Stowe, but this storm seemed like the perfect opportunity to put the skis into action with my midfat Teles sidelined. I’d already tested out the Sin 7 (128/98/118) at the end of last season, so I knew what to expect. Their width was definitely nice in that dense fresh snow, and I at ~100 mm at the waist, I could certainly feel that width on the groomed snow relative to my 108/70/101 Salomon Scream 10 Pilot Hots. But, I know they would still be quite spritely on the quick turns despite that width, and they were a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get them out in some lighter snow and put them through a good school program day with all the kids at Stowe.
“Their width was definitely nice in that dense fresh snow, and I at ~100 mm at the waist, I could certainly feel that width on the groomed snow relative to my 108/70/101 Salomon Scream 10 Pilot Hots.”
We took an Alta Vista/Schuss/Fanny Hill run next, finding plenty of good turns, but some sticky snow as well. Knowing that the snow was only going to be getting wetter as time went on, we skied down to the car after that. It was definitely worth getting out for turns today though; this storm has covered up a lot of the old base and should be a good shot in the arm for the overall state of the subsurface going forward. We’ve got a number of opportunities for snow this coming week that should continue to enhance the conditions.
It started snowing last night on the front end of our current storm system, and although we only had about a half inch of snow here at the house, the mountains picked up a good 3 to 4 inches containing some real substance. I hadn’t prepared much of our gear ahead of time since I was unsure whether or not this storm was going to deliver, but everyone got up and rolling pretty quickly once we’d made the decision to hit the mountain. I checked the Bolton Valley website for the latest on the lifts and trails, and our timing was looking good because lifts didn’t start running until 9:00 A.M. It really feels like it’s a holiday today because we’re so close to Christmas and school is out for E and the boys, but at for the resort it was just a standard midweek day. We don’t get to ski a lot of those though, so we were excited for that.
Precipitation had been a light mix of snow and rain, but it had generally tapered off by the time we arrived up at the Bolton Valley Village. I dropped E and the boys off at the Village circle and was able to easily grab a parking spot right in the top lot because there were only a couple dozen cars in total. Apparently today really was just another midweek day. I met E and the boys near the back of the base lodge and we headed up to Vista for a run.
As we rode the lift you could immediately see that the resort had been plastered with snow overnight. The evergreens had a fresh coat of white that added yet another layer on top of all the rime and snow they already held, the groomed slopes looked great, and even the off piste was supplying quiet turns. It wasn’t until we got near Spillway that we could hear skiers contacting the subsurface, so we knew that the new snow wasn’t quite enough to support bottomless turns on the steepest pitches. Temperatures were comfortable at just a few degrees below freezing, but there was a stiff wind as we got into the higher elevations.
I’d read that Schuss was the run of the day, so for our first run we headed down Alta Vista to make our way toward Schuss. There was a bit of scouring at the very top of Alta Vista, but below that the groomed snow was excellent. Of to the skier’s left we found several inches of fresh powder, with as much as a foot in some spots. We’d been prepared to just take a run or two if the conditions weren’t that great, but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen; the conditions were simply fantastic. Down on Schuss we did come in contact with the base in some spots since it’s quite a steep trail, but fresh snow was plentiful as there was only a track or two or two before we got there. On the lower mountain we caught Bull run to Moose Run to Glades, and the trails were either totally untracked or had a track or two on them. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what those midweek days are like. As we hit the last hundred or so feet of vertical above the base lodge, you could really feel the snow starting to get a bit wet, so the freezing level must have been rising.
On our next ride up the Vista Quad, Dylan proposed that we each take turns picking a route to ski, so Ty went next. He followed up with another trip down Alta Vista, taking us through the lower parts of Vista Glades, and then finally over to Fanny Hill. We really got to rip up the powder there along the skier’s right, dodging in and out of the trees. I stuck with Ty in that powder right along the edge, and by the bottom of the run my legs were definitely getting cooked from Telemark turns.
Dylan’s run choice was next, and he stuck with an Alta Vista start, eventually brining us to Sleepy Hollow. He’d wanted to get in there on our first run, but now that everyone was warmed up, we were ready to rip through those trees. If anyone had been in there up to that point, they must have been few and far between, because it looked like the whole glade was untracked. I directed the group to some lines I know off to the left, and some seriously good turns were had by all. There was no problem with the new snow keeping us off the base on those pitches. Kudos go out to Dylan for a great run choice.
The fourth run was E’s selection, and she really didn’t have much of a preference aside from visiting the Glades run again; she’d really started to connect with her Tele turns there and wanted to get more of that type of terrain. So, for the upper mountain we dropped into Show Off, and we got images of the boys skiing around the rock with the big smiley face on it. On the upper half of Snow Off, the pitch was steep enough that we were making contact with the base snow, but on the bottom half of the run, the pitch had mellowed just enough to let us float through our turns quite well. Glades was nice and still held plenty of untracked snow, although the snow on the bottom half was starting to get a bit wet as the freezing level seemed to have risen.
It was approaching midday after that run and we broke for lunch at the James Moore Tavern next. The bar was hopping, but there were only a few tables with people at them. I had their grilled tuna sandwich, which was nicely done, although I’d probably opt out of the Dijon mustard-style sauce next time since it’s not one of my favorite flavors. Dylan got the homemade macaroni and cheese, and in his case he definitely had to get it with the optional bacon. I tried some and it was really good… and really rich. We had enough extra that I even had to run leftovers down to the car.
We decided to take a final run after lunch to see how the Wilderness area was doing. We took the Vista route over, but were surprised to see that the Wilderness lift was actually running. That meant that the terrain wasn’t quite as untracked as it might have been with just Vista access, but there was we caught some good lines on Work Road and in Wilderness Woods. The freezing line had continued to creep upward though, so the quality of turns in the lowest elevations had dropped a bit more.
There’s no doubt that the morning offered the best turns of the day today, and that was the time to be out because they were really good. Temperatures are going to be warm with this system for the next couple of day before they cool down, so some snow will be required at the point to get surfaces back to something soft. There are some chances for snow though over the next week, so we’ll see what falls.
Last night a storm began to affect the Northeast, and it was very similar to the type of storm we had Wednesday. Snow was anticipated on the front end, with some mixed precipitation in the middle, and then more snow on the back end. This time however, we remained on the cold side of the storm for the entire time, so there was little if any mixed precipitation among the snow. It snowed lightly all day today at the house in Waterbury, and later in the afternoon we headed up to Bolton Valley to see what the storm had done and hopefully make some turns. Everybody in the family was able to go today, so that meant E would get her first turns of the season. We were also thinking of picking up our season’s passes, but we were heading out a bit too late to really have a chance at that.
Temperatures down in the Winooski Valley were a few degrees above freezing, but it was right around the freezing mark up in the Bolton Valley Village at 2,100′ and there was some very light snow still falling. After gearing up at the base of Wilderness, E began to lead the ascent, and hopped onto a track taking her up Lower Fanny Hill. I was actually thinking we’d take our usual route up Lower Turnpike, but E’s selection gave us the perfect opportunity to mix it up a bit. We began the ascent with 3-4″ of powder above just a bit of old base at the elevation of the Village. The snow had some heft to it, so I suspected that it would do a decent job of keeping us from touching down too much, especially with some help from our fat skis. We continued on up Fanny Hill, and the depth of the snow increased pretty quickly. By 2,500′ the depth was about 5-6″, and when we finally called the ascent at around 2,700′ on Lower Crossover due to fading light, the powder was roughly 8″ deep. I’d say that snow depth is actually due to the past couple of storms combined, but the weather has been cool enough in the past few days to keep all the snow in good shape.
For the descent we started off down Work Road, finding some excellent turns in the dense, but fairly dry snow. We would occasionally hit a rock here and there, but really that was in those windswept spots like the junction with the Wilderness Lift Line that just didn’t have the snow depth. Keeping to the well-covered portions of the trails yielded some excellent turns, and after dealing with the wet snow last Saturday, Ty definitely enjoyed the chance to try out his new Telemark gear on this higher quality powder. He was looking extremely confident and comfortable with his Telemark turns, and even Dylan was making some excellent turns. They both made sure to work on those turns on their weak sides to keep improving them. E said that she had some great turns, but did take it easy at times with some alpine turns in tricky spots just to make sure she didn’t stress her back; it had been giving her trouble last week and she didn’t want to go back to that state. For the last 200-300 vertical feet of the descent, the snow was starting to get a bit wet and wasn’t offering quite the same quality of turns as higher up, but it was still quite decent and much drier than what Ty and I skied last weekend. The biggest challenge during the descent was the fading light and the fact that some fog had just come in. The fog at dusk made for a surreal experience, especially was we arrived back down to the lights of the Village. There had been enough snow and minimal plowing that E felt we could ski right back to the car in the parking lot, and she was right. Cars were actually having trouble getting around the Village due to the new snow and minimal plowing. It was a great day to finally get the whole family out skiing together, and due to the good conditions and snow making temperatures, the mountain is actually planning to open on Friday, which is ahead of schedule.
Winter storm “Pax” affected Northern Vermont on Thursday and Friday this week, dropping up to 29 inches of snow on the ski resorts along the spine of the Green Mountains. We haven’t had much in the way of large storm cycles up in the Northern Greens this season, so this was our largest to date, and it showed some interesting distributions with respect to snowfall density. Some areas received extensive periods of large, fluffy flakes, and other locales had some very fine flakes that fell as very dense snow. For instance, the first round of the storm at our location on Thursday night delivered some very dense, 13% H2O snow. That’s actually just what the snowpack needed for building. Whether the snow was dense or not, in the end, the mountains received well over an inch of liquid, and that liquid equivalent was really what was necessary to bolster the natural snowpack. It was enough snow that Bolton Valley had finally opened all the terrain at Timberline, and we were psyched because that had been an inordinately long time coming this season.
“Winter storm “Pax” affected Northern Vermont on Thursday and Friday this week, dropping up to 29 inches of snow on the ski resorts along the spine of the Green Mountains.”
We decided to get a relatively early start on the mountain today, and even though we weren’t expecting the Timberline Quad to open until 10:00 A.M., when we drove by at 9:30 A.M. it was already running, so we pulled right in and parked. There were a couple of dozen cars in the lot, but it was still fairly quiet. That was good, because being a holiday weekend, having the biggest storm of the season just hit, and then having great weather to enjoy it, we were worried about how many people were going to be out. It was business as usual though at Timberline, with no lift queue and just a small group of people out to hit the terrain.
During our first lift ride we could see that the snow looked quite good, and there had definitely been a major resurfacing of the slopes. People had skied the area yesterday, so it wasn’t entirely fresh snow, but there were plenty of untracked areas, and a few more inches had fallen last night to cover even areas that had seen traffic. With almost two feet of new snow having fallen at Bolton Valley, we planned on hitting a lot of the steep off piste terrain that we’d yet to ski this season, so E decided to go with her fat alpine skis instead of Telemark skis. The boys had their powder skis, and I had my fat Teles, so we were ready to tackle whatever Pax had delivered. We had really great weather to enjoy the snow too – the temperatures were in the upper 20s F, there was no wind, and a little snow associated with our next storm system was floating through the air and adding a fresh coating to the slopes.
“The only complaint I’d add about the snow is that it was bit upside down, with some dry stuff underneath a layer of denser snow on top.”
Everyone took turns choosing trails, and E kicked things off with Twice as Nice. That turned out be a great idea for a warm up. The trail was generally tracked, with some untracked snow off to the sides, but there had been such a thorough resurfacing with all the dense snow that it hardly mattered where you went. I was really feeling my AMPerages bust through the heavy snow with gusto, yet at the same time they were light and quick – I was really happy with the combination of skis and snow because everything just seemed to flow. On our next ride up the quad, E commented on how we’d had the entire trail to ourselves for the whole run, except for a ski patroller who seemed to enjoy watching us from the side and generally surveilling the lay of the land in a very casual way. Next up was Dylan’s choice, which was Adam’s Solitude. I’m glad Dylan chose that early, because while the snow was quite good, a few bare spots were already starting to make their presence known. It was easy to see that once the trail received a bunch of traffic, the skiing wasn’t going to be quite as free and easy as what we were experiencing. With the rugged terrain present on Adam’s Solitude, it’s going to take another couple synoptic storms to really get it in shape for lots of skier traffic. The roller coaster section that the boys love at the bottom is already in great shape though, and they had a blast. I really enjoyed mixing in Telemark and alpine turns as the terrain dictated, and today was one of those days where mixing both techniques on the fly just came rather easily.
It was off to the main mountain next, where in order to add some fun in getting over to the base of Wilderness, we did a run off the Mid Mountain Chair. I treated E and the boys to a run through Glades Right and Nixon’s; both areas had great snow and coverage, and the boys were impressed. Wilderness was finally running today, and I led E and the boys on an attempted run through Super Snow Hole, but it was tough to find the entrance and we had to settle for regular Snow Hole. There had been very little traffic on Snow Hole, and it could actually use a bit more people venturing in to pack it down a bit with the generous depths of the recent snows. Ty called for a run on Turnpike, with an entry via Cougar, which the boys said they always seem to ski during the Olympics. They made sure to practice their Olympic victory “raising of the arms” at the bottom.
Since the boys had really earned some lunch after the morning’s adventures, especially the off piste venturing around in the deep powder in the Snow Hole area, we got a pie from Fireside Flatbread and some appetizers from the downstairs cafeteria. The lodge was definitely packed, and that’s not surprising on a Saturday of a holiday weekend.
The afternoon started with a run through the “trifecta” of Buena Vista, Dynamite, and Sleepy Hollow. The snow was excellent, and traffic had been fairly light. Dylan requested a run through the Progression Park, and then we headed back toward Timberline to finish off the day. I was amazed that we’d seen Upper Tattle Tale open, and from below it looked somewhat scoured, but Lower Tattle Tale was really good. The Twice as Nice Glades were OK, but still a bit bony, and I’d actually say that they are due for a round of brush clearing. I took everyone down Quintessential, but it definitely needs a couple more storms to really be ready.
You really couldn’t ask for a much better day today, with such great fresh snow and weather. The only complaint I’d add about the snow is that it was bit upside down, with some dry stuff underneath a layer of denser snow on top. At some point there was some dry fluff in there, and then some snow with smaller flake fell on top. You’d sometimes find areas of untracked powder where you could drop right through that middle layer. The fat skis were definitely the tools to help with that though, doing a great job of keeping you floating vs. sinking under the topmost layers of dense snow. In terms of base, essentially everything is skiable, but I’d like to see a couple more synoptic storms to get the base wall to wall on all the steepest and most rugged natural terrain. Being mid February, that should really be expected by this point, but when snowfall is somewhere south of 80% relative to average, and January has multiple warm storms, that steep, natural terrain in the lower elevations just isn’t going to be flawless yet. We’ve actually got some nice fluffy upslope snow falling tonight in association with the next winter storm called “Quintus”; we’ll have to see how much the mountains can pull of the sky to top off what’s out there.
The ski tour we took yesterday was certainly considered a success, since both E and Ty were saying positive things today, and Ty was expressing to Dylan that he missed out on some fun. With the prospects for a little more snow today from a passing Alberta Clipper, I figured another visit to the mountain was in order, and I decided to make it at the end of the day once the new snow had started to accumulate and top off the powder. I couldn’t quite convince anyone else to come with me since they were having too much fun sledding or doing other stuff, so it was another solo outing.
I wasn’t exactly sure when the snow was supposed to start, but eventually it looked like I was going to run out of light, so around 3:00 P.M. I finally headed out. Fortunately, flakes had just started falling in the valley, so I knew the snow would already be well underway up on the hill. Up at Bolton Valley, the temperature in the Village at 2,100’ was 30 F and a steady light snow was coming down. The flakes weren’t huge, but it was accumulating on my equipment quickly enough that gear left out took on a coating within a minute or two.
“Fanny Hill ultimately lost out to Work Road because the snow was just too good – 6 to 8 inches of fluff and hardly a track.”
After using Turnpike for the past couple of ascents, and seeing that skier traffic there had been decent, I decided to go for an alternative ascent route up through the Fanny Hill area. It would give me a chance to check out the skiing in that area, and still head over toward the Wilderness Lift Line if I didn’t find anything that seemed to top what we skied yesterday. My first interesting sight was right as I was starting my ascent on Lower Fanny Hill – on one of the small cross trails there was a group of folks hanging out in a protected nook in the trees, just sitting in a circle of chairs and chatting. I suspect they were from the Liftline Condos that were just beyond. There was no wind, so with the light snow falling and temperatures around 30 F, it was indeed a fun time to be outside; it just seemed like a fitting thing to be doing on a dark Sunday afternoon in December.
Upon reaching Fanny Hill, the snow looked good, so I decided to continue my ascent there and explore the surfaces further. In general there were the same several inches of powder above the base snow that we’d encountered on the Wilderness Lift Lineyesterday, and only when I got into the steeper sections of terrain near the top did the pitch seem to be too much for the snowpack. In a nice undisturbed spot along the edge of the trail at 2,600’, I was able to check the full snowpack at that elevation, and that came in at 13”. I’d say that consisted of a 6” base, and the rest was powder on top
I continued up toward Upper Fanny Hill, generally staying away from the Sherman’s Pass area where I could hear the snow guns running. Those higher trails like Coyote, Work Road, Lower Crossover, and Swing, held deeper snow and had seen much less traffic. They were definitely going to be on my descent route. I stopped my ascent around 2,900’ on Upper Fanny Hill just before the steepest pitches, because I could see that they were somewhat windswept and just didn’t have the coverage they needed yet.
I played it by ear on the descent, just watching for those trails with deep snow that had seen minimal traffic. Fanny Hill ultimately lost out to Work Road because the snow was just too good – 6 to 8 inches of fluff and hardly a track. That brought me over to the Wilderness Lift Line, and since we’d skied the skier’s right yesterday, I took the skier’s left today and found the same type of good snow. I’m sure Fanny Hill would have been fine as well, but after committing to Work Road I went where gravity took me. The rest of the descent back to the Village was just like yesterday, good soft snow, so no complaints.
It was getting pretty dark when I was leaving, but the group of folks was still hanging out in their little alcove in the trees – it was a good spot. As I made my way along some of the Liftline Condos, I saw a woman pushing something along through the snow – she made her way through some of the deeper snow around the back of the condos, and then was out of view for a bit before she got onto the street and I could get a picture I didn’t know if it was a stroller, or just some other sort of vehicle for moving things, but whatever the case, the fact that it was on skis was intriguing. Clearly it seemed to be somebody who knows the Bolton Valley environment.
It snowed all the way down to the valley when I was heading back to the house around 5:00 P.M., and the temperatures had fallen below the freezing mark even at the bottom of the access road down at 340’. It looks like the next opportunities for snow are some light stuff in the early week, and then a frontal system later in the week.