Bolton Valley, VT 19JAN2020

An image of Erica getting some powder turns and Dylan looking on from behind during Winter Storm Jacob at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan skiing powder from Winter Storm Jacob in January 2020 at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Thanks to Winter Storm Jacob, the whole family got out today for skiing in the fresh snow. We got to the mountain just as the Vista Quad was starting up, and Dylan loved all the fresh tracks!!

The snow from Winter Storm Jacob began yesterday while Dylan and I were out on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, and the intensity continued to ramp up while we finished our tour.  The winds increased and flakes were flying while we packed up our gear at the car, and I definitely had to take it easy coming back down the Bolton Valley Access Road with the accumulating snow.  The snow was falling in the form of relatively small flakes, so the accumulations were coming in quite dense.  By morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow with more to come during the day.

Ty wasn’t scheduled to work today, so the whole family had the chance to ski together and we decided to head up to the mountain early enough to hit the lift openings.  The Vista Quad was opening at 9:00 A.M., and we got there right as folks began loading.  We had an excellent run down Alta Vista, and especially Fanny Hill, and everywhere that hadn’t been groomed held several inches of dense powder that contributed to a solid resurfacing of the slopes.

“That was probably my favorite run of the day, with a lot of fresh snow on trails that had hardly been touched by anyone.”

Timberline has finally come on line this weekend thanks to the recent snows, so we next chose to head over that way and catch it near the lift opening.  Cobrass still isn’t open, but we were able to take Preacher and a combination of various glades to get us over to Five Corners and onward to Timberline.  That was probably my favorite run of the day, with a lot of fresh snow on trails that had hardly been touched by anyone.

Timberline still needs a bit more snow to open all the terrain, but we had an excellent run down Sure Shot and in and out of various sections of trees and nearby trails.  Being a holiday weekend with fresh snow, people were arriving at the resort in droves, and when we stopped in at the Timberline Lodge for a quick break, the ticket line inside was roughly 150 feet long.  That line was a sign of what was going on throughout the resort, and indeed a substantial lift queue was forming at the Vista Quad when we returned to the main base.  Seeing that, we did a couple of quick, powder-filled runs on Snowflake and called it a day because we’d had our fill.

An image of Dylan skiing powder during Winter Storm Jacob in the Cobrass area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan enjoying the powder on our run over to Timberline

Cars full of holiday visitors continued to stream into the resort as we were leaving, and the Timberline lots must have been filled because they were already starting to have cars parallel park on the access road.  The number of visitors today must have been great for the resort, even if it meant there were some lift queues at times.  We’d seen Stephen and Johannes right when we’d arrived, and we didn’t get to do any runs with them, but they apparently had a big group with a number of Johannes’ friends.  Stephen also said that he rode the Wilderness Chair, so the opening of the Wilderness area must have been a nice addition to disperse all the holiday visitors.

Bolton Valley, VT 18NOV2018

An image of a snow gun making snow in mid November at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Valley Road area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont showing 16 to 20 inches of snow and ski track in powder snow
I found 16 to 20 inches of snow at the main base elevations on my tour of Bolton Valley today – with great snow for lots of November powder turns.

By Friday morning, I already knew this was going to be a big weekend for skiing at Bolton Valley.  The initial round of snow from Winter Storm Avery had just finished up, and Emma, one of my undergraduate students rushed in just a few minutes before the start of class.  She’d been out on a ski tour at Bolton Valley’s Timberline area earlier that morning, and being the dedicated student that she is, she was back right on time for our class session.  That good school-life balance if you ask me.

Naturally I had to give her some ribbing about stealing my powder, but I got a good rundown on the conditions, and there was indeed a ton of new snow even down at the Timberline elevations.  Combining our third significant winter storm cycle in a week with the start of the Thanksgiving break, and what appeared to be some excellent winter-like temperatures coming on the weekend, sounded like a recipe for a lot of people getting out to enjoy the powdery terrain at Bolton Valley.  Indeed, when we were on our ski tour at Timberline yesterday morning, we found that there had been substantial skier traffic on all the trails.

“My depth checks found 16-20” of snow at Bolton’s main base area, and it went up from there with elevation.”

Yesterday’s tour also revealed that the freezing line on Saturday had crept up to around 2,000’, so for today’s tour I decided to head up to the main base and start my ascent from there.  The mountain picked up another 2-3” of fluff overnight, and with all the snow at elevation avoiding any warmth and remaining well preserved, the snow surfaces were simply excellent.  My depth checks found 16-20” of snow at Bolton’s main base area, and it went up from there with elevation.  The resort is reporting 36 inches of snow in the past week, so those depths really shouldn’t be that surprising

“The resort is reporting 36 inches of snow in the past week…”

I toured in the Cobrass/Cobrass Run/Five Corners area today, and found lots of fresh tracks still available.  With all the visitors that the resort has seen this weekend, there are literally skin tracks all over the place to get you wherever you want to go – it’s almost like having a skin track highway system.  I even checked out some of the tree skiing as I was coming back from the Five Corners area, and you’d almost think it was midwinter with the depths that are available in the woods.

An image showing a ski area boundary sign from Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontIn the ski thread in the New England Regional Forum at American Weather, I noticed someone commented on how they were amazed that there was tree skiing in the eastern U.S. this November.  I actually have the statistics on that, which indicates that here in the Northern Greens you’re going to get November tree skiing in a bit more than ¼ of the ski seasons, so it’s actually not that uncommon.  Of course we’re most likely to have tree skiing in the last third of the month, so to be able to hit the trees this early in November is indeed a bit less common, only occurring in about 10% of seasons.  Tree skiing starts roughly when the depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake hits the 24-inch mark, and you can see from the plot below how often that happens by November:

A plot showing the dates when 24 inches of snowpack depth was reached at the stake on Mt. Mansfield in Vermont
Data from the past several decades showing the dates of reaching 24 inches of snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield stake, the typical depth at which tree skiing starts in the mountains

In any event, there’s certainly enough snow for some tree skiing at this point, and with decent temperatures and a couple of systems potentially in the works this week, it should be around for a bit.