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.
There’s a frontal boundary spread across New England right now, and up here in Northern Vermont we’re on the cold side. That’s given us a decent amount of fresh snow today, especially in the mountains where more than a half foot has fallen in some cases. Bolton Valley was already reporting 4 to 6 inches of new snow as of mid-afternoon, so Ty and I decided to head up to check it out and grab some dinner for the family.
“…the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it.”
It was surprisingly quiet for such a spectacular night skiing evening, but I suspect concerns about the roads kept a lot of people home. There’s definitely been some mixed precipitation around, but the precipitation was mostly snow while we were up at the mountain. Flakes varied from granular types all the way up to massive 1” aggregates, and the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it. Tonight looked like it was one of those evenings where weather conditions were coming together to make for some great turns under the lights, and indeed that was the case – the temperature was right around 32, there was no wind, and there was lots of fresh snow.
Ty and I focused on Spillway, and it was great letting those steep turns fall away in the dense powder. I brought my Tele midfats, but I definitely could have gone with the full fats and had a blast. It’s no wonder the skiing felt like there had been such a solid resurfacing; we’re already past ¾” of liquid equivalent with today’s snow down in the valley at our house, and up high they’ve certainly had more.
I was home this afternoon with enough time to head up to the mountain for a couple of runs before dark, with the incentive being a bit of snow that we picked up today from a small Alberta Clipper-type system. Although the snowfall had generally been quite light in intensity today, it had been snowing continuously, and reports of 3 to 5 inches were coming in from the mountains. I didn’t know if anyone else would be interested, so I figured it would just be a solo outing for me to scope out how the new snow was setting things up for coming days. But, before I knew it, the whole family was interested in getting some turns, and once we confirmed that night skiing was on, up to the hill we went!
“…combined with the weather, the overall ski conditions were so good that we ended up staying a lot longer than I’d thought we would.”
The temperature at Village elevation (~2,100’) was right around freezing, and while we were at the mountain the cloud deck fluctuated between there and Mid Mountain (~2,500’). There was light snow falling the entire evening, and although we never went higher than Mid Mountain, there was no wind to speak of. So overall, it was an incredibly nice time to be out skiing under the lights. I measured 3” of snow in the Village parking lot, and generally found 3-4” on the hill, which jives perfectly with the 3-4” that I see this evening in the Bolton Valley snow report. My liquid analyses down here at the house (500’) revealed a very mid-weight 10% H2O snow, and while we may have had a touch of compaction due to being slightly above the freezing mark at our elevation, I’d say that 10% density is fairly consistent with what the mountain received. So the new snow has got a bit of girth to it and can float you pretty well on low- to moderate-angle terrain as long as there’s a smooth subsurface.
One thing that got Ty excited to head to the mountain this evening was the chance to do some snowboarding. He’s big enough to use my snowboard now, so E said that she’d give him some instruction to get him started. We all started off at the Mighty Mite to ensure that Ty was set on the board, and then spent the rest of our time on the Mid Mountain Chair so that Ty could work on his snowboard turns with E, while I worked with Dylan on his Telemark skiing.
There was plenty of powder available this evening off to the sides of the main runs and on the easily accessible side trails, and combined with the weather, the overall ski conditions were so good that we ended up staying a lot longer than I’d thought we would. There obviously hasn’t been enough liquid added atop the snowpack to keep folks from touching down to the old surface on steep terrain yet, but lower-angle to moderate terrain is skiing beautifully. I suspect the groomed terrain could have been pretty loud before this new snow, but turns were very silent and peaceful tonight. And, there’s the aesthetic quality of all the new snow. Folks coming up for the holiday weekend should be pretty psyched, especially if Mother Nature tops this current snow off with a bit more from the system potentially affecting the area on Saturday.
We capped off the evening with a trip to Fireside Flatbread for the first time this season. It was a quiet midweek evening, and service was really quick – we sent the boys downstairs to the cafeteria to get a couple of appetizers and the pizza arrived before they even got back! Anyway, tonight’s experience with the soft conditions has got everyone in the family interested in getting more turns this weekend, so hopefully we’ll have another chance to get out and enjoy the new snow.
It’s been a slow start to the season, but Bolton Valley has finally started running the Vista Quad to offer lift-served skiing from the Vista Summit, so on the way back from some errands in Williston, we stopped in for some turns. We had a bit of new snow in the area this morning, but it was just cloudy when we arrived at the mountain. Temperatures were quite comfortable, sitting in the low 30s F in the Village.
“I thought conditions might be a bit spring-like with temperatures near freezing, but it was immediately evident that surfaces were full on wintry at all elevations.”
We were in that sort of transition time between the day and night skiing, so we caught a great spot right at the top of the main parking area, suited up, and headed right for the Vista Quad. The night skiing lights were just coming on as the daylight was fading, which is always a fun time to be out on the mountain. I thought conditions might be a bit spring-like with temperatures near freezing, but it was immediately evident that surfaces were full on wintry at all elevations. The areas with snowmaking and high traffic were somewhat scratchy as one would expect, but boy was there great snow off to the side of the trails and on natural snow terrain. I was surprised to find that that there was even powder off piste, just like I’d experienced on Monday, albeit with a bit more settling. Down at our house in the valley the powder has gone through a number of thaw-freeze cycles and become crusty, but clearly that hasn’t been the case up at elevation. I had some fantastic turns along the skiers left of that first long stretch of Sherman’s Pass – between the natural snow and what the day’s skier’s had thrown there on top of it, it was really soft. There was a lot of contour as well, with all sorts of dips and rolls in which to play with your turns.
Everyone but Dylan was on Tele gear, and Ty is still in E’s boots since we haven’t picked up any larger ones for him yet. It was evident today that he needs something with softer flex though, because despite his foot size, he really doesn’t have the weight to properly flex E’s boots. As we’ve often seen before, there were a lot of skiers in military attire, one of the local mountain divisions etc., but what we noticed was that they were on some sort of alpine touring gear now. That makes total sense as far as I’m concerned, because they shouldn’t have to try to learn to ski in free-heel equipment with the modern types of bindings that are out there. A lot of those guys aren’t hard-core skiers, so working with fixed heel bindings is hard enough.
The Vista Quad seemed to go on wind hold for a bit, so we did a run on the Mid Mountain Lift and then headed up to Fireside Flatbread for some dinner. The football playoffs were on the big screen, and they were running a special with $2 slices and $2 drinks. The boys renewed their love affair with Fireside’s great crust, and it was three rounds of slices before they were finally satiated. Terrain is still somewhat limited on the mountain at this point, but it was great to finally get back for a lift-served session and some food. It looks like we’ve got a reasonably cold week coming up with the potential for some natural snow, so I’d expect to see some terrain expansion coming by next weekend.
We’re getting another reprieve from the arctic air this weekend, but last night was still quite cold with temperatures well down into the negative Fahrenheit numbers. We gave the day some time to warm up, and then headed up to Bolton Valley’sTimberline area in the afternoon. The snow from our next system, Winter Storm Pandora, was slated to start up at some point in the afternoon today, and indeed the flakes began to fly right around 2:00 P.M. There’s nothing like riding the lift into the higher elevations just as a storm is ramping up, because it can really make the snowfall intensity jump up quite rapidly.
“You could still tell that the powder wasn’t absolutely pristine fresh stuff, since it had that settled look and didn’t explode like fresh champagne, but it was quite excellent in general. The boys checked the surface snow depth in the KP Glades and were getting back numbers in the 30″ range.”
Temperatures were in the middle teens F in the lower elevations of Timberline, but it definitely got colder as we headed up in elevation. For a warm up we hit Tattle Tale from the Timberline Summit, and the center of the headwall is still quite wind scoured as usual, but the sides held some great snow. You know the weather pattern has been good when even a steep, windswept slope like the top of Tattle Tale has that good snow that you can sink and edge into. It was actually nice to see Bolton Valley top all the Vermont ski areas and pull off a rogue foot of snow on Thursday, but there had definitely been a bit of wind since then that packed it down in exposed areas. Noticing that, we headed for the trees, and the settling and wind effects were notably less. You could still tell that the powder wasn’t absolutely pristine fresh stuff, since it had that settled look and didn’t explode like fresh champagne, but it was quite excellent in general. The boys checked the surface snow depth in the KP Glades and were getting back numbers in the 30″ range.
The four of us made our way over to the main mountain and headed up Vista. It got colder and colder as we headed up, and it had to be down in the single digits F up there with wind from the incoming storm to boot. Looking for something that would get the blood pumping and keep us out of the wind, we linked Buena Vista to Dynamite. The snow was excellent, but by the time we’d finished Dynamite, E was thinking of heading back to Timberline. She’s got a big toe that she tweaked a couple of weeks back when Tina’s family came up for skiing, and then she stressed it more when she was snowboarding on Sunday at BJAMS ski program. Between that and the cold, she said she just wasn’t grooving enough to ski the steep trees, and was thinking of warming up at the Timberline Base Lodge and then maybe doing some groomed skiing. Using the Deer Run route, we delivered her over to the top of Snowflake, where she headed down toward Timberline and the boys and I headed to the main base lodge to warm up for a bit before another Vista run. On the way we caught some nice powder in the Bonus Woods, fortunately finding that any issues from wind had been minimal.
The boys and I stopped up at Fireside Flatbread for some slices, and Dylan really had fun watching the cooks as they worked with dozens of balls of dough to turn them into those thin crusts. As we watched their slick routine, we made some mental notes for our next homemade pizza night. They let us know that $2 slices were starting at 4:00 P.M., which definitely got us thinking about grabbing some takeout on the way home.
The boys and I headed back out into the storm, and Pandora’s snowfall was definitely intensifying. Visibility had certainly been down to ¼ mile at times earlier on in the afternoon, but now it was pretty consistently in that range and we were dealing with some heavy snow. We headed up Vista and worked our way into the Villager Trees for some powder. The boys took a break during the run and bombed off one of the cliffs into the deep fluff below. It was a pretty good height of probably ten feet or so, and I was surprised that they both wanted to go jumping. But when the powder’s deep like it is now, it doesn’t really matter; any hard snow is way down there out of reach. They’d typically land and end up with just their head sticking out of the snow.
“We’ve had inch per hour snows much of the night since then, and if the mountains are getting hit even harder than we are down here, then it should be a good day of skiing tomorrow.”
We skied some nice powder lines back toward Timberline, and by the time we caught back up with E it was after 4:00 P.M. The staff was cleaning up the Timberline Base Lodge, so she’d headed to the car and was all set to meet us. It turns out that she just relaxed in the lodge and stayed warm instead of putting any additional stress on her toe. We’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow for skiing at Stowe.
While we were loading up the car it was really dumping. We ordered a couple of pizzas from Fireside Flatbread, and it was good that the plows were out because the road needed the attention. The intensity of the snowfall certainly lightened up as we headed back down into the valley, but there was two inches on the snowboards at the house when I did an analysis at 5:00 P.M. We’ve had inch per hour snows much of the night since then, and if the mountains are getting hit even harder than we are down here, then it should be a good day of skiing tomorrow.
Since we had some warm weather at the beginning of the week that brought all elevations above freezing, and a return to more wintry temperatures by midweek, I wasn’t even sure that we were going to ski today. The snow surfaces were simply going to be hard, the only way around that would be fresh snow, and there were no notable storms in the forecast. Because the weather pattern has been relatively prosaic over the past month or so, there hasn’t really been much of need for refresher storms, but they were definitely needed this week. The only winter weather events in the forecast were a couple of small, upper level low pressure systems that were expected to pass through the area. Each one looked like it would be a 1-3” type of event, which would hardly be enough to get past “dust on crust” conditions. The Green Mountains came through though, working their magic to pull out up to 10” of snow from the first event, and another 6” from the second in the north central areas. Even areas father north that didn’t jackpot with those two storms were well on their way to some nice conditions.
“I did numerous depth checks on the powder up there in the 3,000’ range, and was getting readings from 6 to 9 inches in areas that didn’t have drifting.”
With the storms delivering, it was time to make a plan for some Saturday turns at Bolton Valley. I expected that the 7” they’re reported in the past couple of days was a bit conservative, but with the new snow being split between Thursday and Friday, the best turns were going to be found on terrain that hadn’t been touched at all. I decided that some moderate angle terrain on the backcountry network would be the way to go, and it seemed that one of the glades we’ve been skiing the past couple of weeks would fit the bill nicely. With some sidecountry laps off the Wilderness Lift, we could get good access there. That plan actually went by the wayside when I saw that the Wilderness Lift wasn’t running, but of course that opened up a whole new realm of untracked terrain in the Wilderness area itself, and we could certainly make use of that.
“The three of us packed our bags with skins and snacks, and headed up to the mountain in the late morning.”
E was dead set that she wanted to do a bunch of cleaning in the house today, so I couldn’t convince her to head out for turns, but she did insist that I get the boys out of the way. No problem. The three of us packed our bags with skins and snacks, and headed up to the mountain in the late morning. Temperatures had been hanging in the low 20s F all morning in the valleys, and even colder in the higher elevations, so we knew that powder would be staying light and dry. The on and off sun that we’d had in the lower elevations much of the morning was quickly replaced by light snowfall as we hit the 1,000’ elevation mark on the Bolton Valley Access Road – the mountains just didn’t seem to want to let go of that moisture. The resort looked like it was doing a brisk business, with the fourth tier of parking in the Village lots just about full. I chatted with the parking attendants about potential spots higher up from people that had already left, and ended up getting a good parking location right along the south edge of the lot.
There was lots of activity at the main base area as we boarded the Vista Quad, because the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge was taking place. It would have been fun to hang out and join some of the festivities, but there was powder to be skied. Our first test of the day’s conditions was Alta Vista, and indeed one could see that surfaces were much firmer than last weekend. The grooming had definitely tilled the new snow into the base, but traffic had also made its mark on the terrain. I’d hit some areas of excellent packed powder where my skis could bite soft and deep, but plenty of others where it was quite firm, and at 115 underfoot, the fat skis certainly weren’t the tool for the job there. The skier’s left offered up its usual supply of powder, but it wasn’t quite the effortless, soft flow that it sometimes is; the powder hadn’t quite hit that threshold depth to really let you crank hard in there while totally avoiding the old base snow.
At the base of Upper Crossover, we began strapping on the skins to head upward. Josh, who had found time for a break from his day’s duties, was out taking a run and spotted us in preparation for the ascent. We chatted for a bit about the festivities going on with the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, and he brought up the fact that part of the event was a race. I think they boys might have fun with that, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled if they do it again next season. We bid Josh adieu as he continued with his run, and we finished preparing for our ascent. I finished with Dylan’s skins first, and let him go to get a head start, then followed up with Ty and let him go. They’re definitely becoming faster ascenders, but I knew I’d be able to catch them pretty quickly. We found that there was a skin track in place, but it looked like only one other person had used it at that point, and that bode well for encountering lots of untracked terrain. The weather was just perfect – wintry and moderately cold, with no wind. I did numerous depth checks on the powder up there in the 3,000’ range, and was getting readings from 6 to 9 inches in areas that didn’t have drifting. That’s after some settling over the past couple of days, but the 7 inches reported for the past two events certainly seems to be in the ballpark. The crux of the ascent was actually right at the top of Bolton Outlaw. New snow hadn’t settled in well there, and previous scouring left a lot of ice. We really had to work our edges and do some side stepping and pole work to pass through that area. Dylan muscled his way through a challenging slick spot that Ty and I staunchly avoided, and it was quite impressive to see him stick it out. The boys recharged with some GU at the Wilderness Summit, and then we headed in the direction of Peggy Dow’s.
The descent featured some great snow, with generally that 6+ inches of untracked powder unless the wind had played around with it. The best part of the descent was that the boys had plenty of time to work on their Telemark turns in powder, which is something they only get to do so often because they’re typically using their alpine equipment. Today, with the quality of the snow and the very even subsurface, they were really making strides on those turns. Time and time again I’d hear them hooting about how they’d just made “their best powder Telemark turn ever”. Naturally the powder skiing wasn’t 100% bottomless everywhere, but you could definitely get a good percentage of bottomless turns on most pitches. Since we’d all pulled out the fat skis to help in that regard, we were enjoying the fact that they were clearly doing their part to keep us off the subsurface. Lower Turnpike was mostly groomed and had seen a little traffic coming over from Vista, but the edges held a lot of untracked snow, and powder turns were plentiful for essentially the entire descent. It wasn’t going to be too hard to get the boys to do another lap if it seemed like that was the way to go.
Ty was raring to go again, but Dylan was calling for lunch after that lap, and the choice was made to head up to Fireside Flatbread. The upstairs of the base lodge was full of people taking part in the various festivities of the day, so we sat at the bar and had our slices while we soaked up the scene. My pizza was a fun combination of vodka sauce, broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, and red onions, and Ty and I joked about how my slice was almost half of a large pizza. That was Ty’s estimate, and I’d say it was more like 1/3 of a pizza, but it was a monster. We enjoyed watching the pizza guys doing their quick and masterful assemblies of various pies. I overheard them talking with one of the managers about the potential Fireside Flatbread schedule midweek next week, discussing the options for what they’d do it if dumps. There’s the potential for a significant synoptic storm in the Tuesday timeframe, and that’s something we really haven’t seen much of in Northern Vermont so far this season. We’ll be watching the forecast with anticipation just like them.
After lunch we hit the lower half of Wilderness and worked our way over to Snow Hole. The boys had already asked about it on their first run, and it seemed like a great idea. The snow was quite good in there, with just a couple of other tracks. The light snowfall that had been with us during the morning had tapered off after a couple of hours, but clouds were generally around and the snow was still staying wintry all the way down to the Village. We also did a run on Snowflake to work in some of the powder on Snowflake Bentley, and it really was still sitting there along the edges even as we were moving past mid afternoon. The boys worked in some additional excellent Telemark turns on those pitches. Conditions really only get marked down today because of the subsurface that is firmer than usual due to the warmth, and some spots being closed because coverage was a bit thin, but if this next storm is substantial enough, those issues could be remedied quite well.
Our most recent storm brought up to 18 inches of snow to the Green Mountains, and while it was certainly much denser than Champlain Powder™, it provided a solid resurfacing to most areas. Based on the conditions we’ve had in the Northern Greens, it was hardly necessary, but a slope refresher is usually good, and this stuff is going to keep that mountain snowpack growing. I was busy in the morning, but with E and the boys still on break they came and picked me up in Burlington so that we could get in some skiing in the new snow. E and Ty had been tossing around the idea of working on a report that Ty had to do for school, and they ultimately decided that they had to use some of the afternoon to get a jump on that. So, it was just Dylan and I that initially headed up to Bolton Valley for some afternoon turns, while E and Ty planned to join us later if the work went smoothly.
In this area, snow has been falling all the way to the valley floors with the current storm cycle, but it’s still been fairly warm and the lowest elevations haven’t been accumulating snow except when temperatures drop overnight. Today it was fairly warm as well, with temperatures around 40 F or so at our house when we headed up to Timberline. We found that the snow there was already wet and spring-like, and I knew we’d be heading to the upper mountain to get to the best powder for turns. Indeed the snow was much better up high – at the Vista Summit above 3,000’ it was still somewhat dense, but dry and ready to support some good powder turns.
Being well into the afternoon, I decided to show Dylan some terrain off Ricker Mountain; we’d explored it before, but I doubt he’d remember that. The snow did get somewhat thick as we headed down in elevation, even just down to 2,800’. Dylan didn’t seem to have a problem, but if I stopped for extended periods I’d have snow starting to stick to the bottom of my skis. Fortunately, it would be cleaned off as soon as I started moving. We continued our run by making our way over to Wilderness, and that’s where we found some of our best powder of the day. Although we were lower in elevation than we’d been before, the snow Wilderness Lift Line was holding up quite well.
Our next run was a trip to the Villager Trees, and I gave Dylan his choice of line – he wanted the “Heaven” chute that he’d enjoyed the other day, so Dylan got first tracks through there. His run wasn’t without some adventure though – at one point he caught an edge and went flying head over heels. He was OK, but it took him a couple of minutes to realize that. Dylan wanted to catch a run on Adam’s Solitude, but once we got down to the lowest Timberline elevations and saw how sticky the snow was getting, I decided that we could hold off and catch it another time.
While we were in the lodge getting a snack for Dylan, I saw that I had a new phone message. It was from E, and she said that they had finished Ty’s work and were thinking of coming up for some night skiing. She also recalled that because it was Family Week at the resort, they had No Strings Marionette Company putting on a show up at the main lodge. We all planned to meet up, watch the show, and then get in some evening skiing under the lights.
The marionette show was excellent as expected – No Strings Marionette Company had spent a week in residence at Ty and Dylan’s school, so we knew their work. Ty had brought his Telemark skis and Dylan switched over to his, so they spent the evening working on their Telemark turns. After a couple runs, we snuck in dinner at Fireside Flatbread, and I was really surprised that the boys hadn’t had enough skiing after that. There was some really nice snow out there though, with the very best of it in the highest elevations. Dylan and I had noticed that the line of transition to notably wetter snow was about 200’ above the main base. The snow below that level was still OK, especially with skier traffic, but it was above that level that the new snow was driest and skiing really well. We started out with a typical training run on the Sherman’s Pass route, but Ty was eyeballing the impressively steep expanse of Spillway as we went by. I commented that Spillway was too steep for him to be working on Telemark turns, but of course Ty would have none of that logic. I acquiesced with the insistence that Ty practice Telemark turns even on the steep terrain, and by the next run we were dropping our way down the steeps of Spillway. The snow was somewhat packed in the center of the trail, and even starting to develop a few moguls. However, the sides, especially the skier’s right where the terrain is somewhat invisible as it falls away from view, held a lot of deep loose snow that was either still sitting there from the storm or thrown their by the work of other skiers. That terrain falling away from view also equates to it falling away from the assistance of the night skiing lights, and that adds quite a different dimension to the experience. With only the marginal assistance of the lights from the other side of the trail, it was quite a hoot making steep Telemark turns in down Spillway amidst copious chopped up powder. I found some beautifully soft lines of there, and it was a reminder of how even semi-packed snow can be a lot of fun. The boys were clearly having enough fun as well, because they wanted to keep doing more runs – we kept going until the lifts shut down.
The roads were snow covered, and snow was falling at a good clip, but the drive went smoothly, even on the Bolton Valley Access Road. Of course having put some new Nokian WRG2 tires on the Subaru a couple weeks back probably helped out the cause. We’ve had previous iterations of the WRG2 on other Subarus, and they have been fantastic. They’re essentially a winter tire made to run all year round (i.e. no dealing with the hassle of changing over tires each spring and fall) and since we started using them on our vehicles several years back, we’ve never gone back to winter/summer only tires. E has driven in the snow a number of times with the new tires, but today was my first chance to really test them out. Let’s just say that they devoured the Bolton Valley Access Road today without even a slip, and the road must have been at least a bit challenging because there were plenty of cars that had to remain parked at the bottom due to not making it up the road. I even saw a guy at the bottom of the road that appeared to be putting his chains on his tires
“…Dylan got a nice steep, untracked line. He really ripped that up, including the roll over at the end that dropped right out of sight.”
Snowfall was running in the inch per hour range up in the village, and there was some wind of probably 10-15 MPH, but it must have been well down from what was out there earlier – the Vista and Snowflake lifts had been down on wind hold in the early morning, but by mid morning the winds had let up enough to get them going. Since it was mid afternoon by the time of our visit, we grabbed a vacant spot in the top tier of the village parking lots, but it still only looked like three tiers had been filled anyway.
“My 6:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. analyses down in the valley indicated that this snow was coming in in the 7 to 8% H2O range, but it seemed to ski heavier than that…”
Since Dylan saw that the Snowflake Lift was finally open for the season, he immediately requested a run on that to start things off. We decided on a route through the Butterscotch Terrain Park, which isn’t actually a park yet, but it’s open for skiing. Today’s update on the Bolton Valley website was letting folks know that the park was open even without the features, and that it was offering up some nice powder skiing. Today featured a somewhat uncommon east wind, so it was at our backs on the descent. We still found a couple of wind scoured spots in the terrain park, but in general it was smoothly resurfaced by the dump of new snow, so I think the easterly wind was a plus in that regard. My 6:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. analyses down in the valley indicated that this snow was settling down in the 7 to 8% H2O range, but it seemed to ski heavier than that – possibly due to the wind. It also may have seemed a bit heavy due to the super dry Champlain Powder™ that we skied on Sunday. This snow is definitely substantiating the base though, so it’s a big win in that regard. Like he’d done on Sunday, Dylan decided to closely follow my tracks in the powder, and it really worked out well for him in areas where he might otherwise bog down and lose speed. He seems to be having a lot of fun with the technique, and I think he’s learning a lot about line choice and all that.
For the next run it was my choice of lift and trail, and I chose the Vista Quad. For my trail I wanted to check out Devil’s Bowl, one of the areas that we worked on this summer with the glade crew. It took a bit of re-orienting and thinking to get myself there, but I found it just as I’d remembered. The snow was wind protected, but still skiing more like medium weight powder than I’d expect. The turns were very nice though, and it’s going to be fun exploring that terrain this season. On the lower mountain we got into the Enchanted Forest – coverage is decent but they could still use a bit more to cover up brush and roots. The latest snow is stacking up with some loft though – as we pulled out of one line in the woods and hit an open area, we found ourselves behind a huge boulder with a cap of snow that made it look like a mushroom. Dylan thought it was pretty cool, so I snapped a photo of him with his arms stretched out around it.
Dylan went with the Mid Mountain Lift for his next run, and I introduced him to Glades Right, which he approved of since he wanted to go that way anyway. Traffic had actually been pretty light in there, so Dylan got a nice steep, untracked line. He really ripped that up, including the roll over at the end that dropped right out of sight. We headed through Nixon’s and at the bottom of the mountain we took a powdery Lower Fanny Hill, dropping us right out at Wilderness.
We’d hit everything but the Wilderness Lift by that point, so it was the obvious choice for my run. On the lift ride, Dylan was definitely starting to get cold, so we made it a short run by getting off at the mid station. We checked out Andy’s, which has seen a similar level of traffic to Glades Right. The snow was good, the coverage was good, and it was fine way to end the afternoon on the slopes.
Dylan had been a trooper out there in the blowing snow, so we headed into the base lodge and I said that we could get something to eat. He was up for some pizza at Fireside Flatbread, and they’ve currently got it isolated from the rest of the upstairs lodge seating, so it made a great place to have a slice and relax as we talked about the afternoon. I’m not sure when the last time was that I’d had their pizza up there, but the crust was really good – definitely some quality flatbread crust, probably right up there with The Blue Stone, which is the new pizza place right in the center of Waterbury.
We had an interesting chance encounter at the end of the day when we gave a ride to a couple visiting from Minnesota. They had parked their car down at the Smilie Memorial School because they hadn’t been able to make it up the hill. It turns out that the woman, Ruby, had worked in one of our labs in the Biochemistry department at UVM a couple of summers back, so the rest of the ride I was able to catch her up on people she knew. She’s obviously got ties in the area, but it still made it feel like small world.
Overall it was a fun afternoon ripping up the powder with Dylan – all the lifts were walk on, probably due to the storm and the fact that the general message was to stay off the roads unless it was important. We didn’t quite adhere to that, but a few miles of driving isn’t too bad, even if the roads are a little snowy. It’s great to be back on the slopes after a few days off for the holiday, hopefully the snow gets freshened in the coming days and we can get some more good outings.