After the good conditions I experienced yesterday on my tour of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, I knew today had some great potential depending on how Winter Storm Noah performed. It wouldn’t take much to produce some really excellent skiing, and when the numbers finally came in this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow. That was more than enough for the whole family to get together for a tour.
“The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.”
Although it’s already mid-February, today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family would have a chance to ski together. It really looked like a beauty though, with close to 10 inches of snow in the past couple of days, temperatures in the upper 20s F, and snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon. Arriving up at the mountain in the mid-morning timeframe, the resort was really humming with visitors once again. We were able to get a prime parking spot right along the edge of Broadway, geared up, and we were on our way.
Since I’d like what I found on my tour yesterday, I brought E and the boys on a variation of that trip. We headed up to Bryant Cabin, stopped for a quick break among about a dozen other backcountry travelers, and then headed on above Gardiner’s Lane as I’d done yesterday. My skin tracks had just about disappeared with all the new snow overnight, but there were just enough vestiges of my passage to allow me to use my old track as a guide.
We descended through a lot of glades I knew well, in addition to a few different lines that we found in our explorations. There were definitely plenty of good crashes in the powder, especially by Ty who seemed to enjoy the crashes as much as any aspect of the tour. The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.
We stopped in for some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery after the tour, and I got a great shot of Ty grappling with his huge sub. It was great to finally get the whole family out together, and what a day for great ski conditions!
We had some great ski conditions in the area last weekend thanks to a couple of winter storms putting down a solid resurfacing of the slopes. Ty and I hit some beautiful powder on Saturday at Bolton Valley, and the good snow conditions carried right over to our BJAMS ski program session on Sunday at Stowe. Some mixed precipitation moved in as the weekend closed out though, potentially setting up some dicey conditions as temperatures cooled back down during the week. Some new snow would likely be needed to soften up the slopes, but the only real possibility in the forecast was a cold front coming through the area on Friday. It was only expected to drop an inch or two, but true to form, the resorts along the spine of the Northern Greens managed to reel in a solid four inches. A subtle but important aspect of the snow that fell was that it started out dense and wet, then gradually dried out. That held the potential to really bond it to the old snow and actually create a rather soft subsurface that would be great under the new powder. You never know exactly how the layers are going to come together, but the potential definitely piqued my interest enough for a trip to the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.
“In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.”
We had a morning of blue skies and bright sun, but it was dimming just a bit ahead of incoming Winter Storm Noah as I headed up to the mountain around midday. Arriving up in the Village, there was no doubt that it was President’s Day weekend – it took me several minutes to get a parking spot even down by the Sport Center and Nordic area because the lots were just jam packed. Hopefully that’s a great sign that the resort is going to have a great weekend of visitors. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out today though – it was simply spectacular out there with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20s F.
“Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.”
My first real sign that there might be some great snow on the hill came as soon as I walked to the back of the car to gear up. I’d backed into my parking spot and was pleasantly surprised when I had to remove almost a foot of powder to clear a spot so I could get my ski boots on. The snow had clearly drifted some, but it was obvious that the resort had picked up a good shot of accumulation and I was eager to see what the protected environs of the trees held.
Starting my ascent I generally found about four inches atop the old base, very consistent with what the resort had mentioned in the snow report. It was actually tough to gauge the depth of the new snow at times though, because indeed the new snow had bonded so well to the old snow that it was hard to find the interface. In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.
I was inspired to try a couple of new areas on my tour today. First, I ascended up the Bryant Trail, then past Bryant Cabin to Gardiner’s Lane. I then ascended up above Gardiner’s Lane at an angle until I hit the evergreen line, and then contoured across at that elevation until I reached the North Slope area. I stopped where I could catch a nice line all the way back down to Gardiner’s Lane, and got in some great turns. Then, instead of continuing along Gardiner’s Lane, I dropped off into one of the glades and skied fresh lines down to the next bench. I contoured on the bench until I found myself entering Gotham City, where I caught a series of various glades back down to Bryant.
Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring. I headed back up Bryant, and ascended back up to the bench near the bottom of A1A. I worked back toward Gotham City and then ascended into some lines above. I finished off my descent heading down Alchemist and back toward the Village for a stop in at the deli for some subs.
The Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery was really hoppin’, but I definitely have to give a shout out to Gus and his crew for some great work managing all the holiday visitors. Thanks Gus, the sandwiches were great!
February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days. The quality of the skiing both on and off piste has naturally taken a huge jump, and unlike the great snow we had back around the holidays, this snow didn’t come with subzero arctic temperatures. Everyone seemed quite excited to get out for our first BJAMS ski program of the season where the mountain was really delivering in quality and quantity of terrain.
We had most of our usual group today, along with Johannes, since he and Stephen were at the mountain to watch some of the Bolton Valley Freeride Team take part in the 2018 Stowe Freeride Challenge. Ty was also with us, since he wasn’t needed for any other coaching responsibilities today.
“February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.”
I wanted to make the most of the great conditions and get our crew into some fun terrain, so I set my sights on getting them over to Lookout. Coming over from Spruce Peak, we took the Gondola to Cliff Trail, and I’ve got to say, Cliff Trail had some of the best conditions I’ve seen there in a long time. You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder. Lookout was closed from the top, so I brought the group around via Hayride and we wound up skiing through much of Tres Amigos Glades. There are still some icy sections in there on the heavily used lines, but there were a lot of great soft lines present as well if you just ventured out to the sides a bit. I hadn’t been in Tres Amigos for quite a while, and I’d forgotten how steep and fun it is in there.
As we neared the end of the day we’d whittled down the group to just Wiley, Ty, Dylan, and I, and we finished things off back at Spruce Peak with some runs off the Sensation Quad. Green Acres yielded what was definitely the most consistently great snow of the day, with deep bottomless powder that had us stunned with the fact that it was still untouched after the whole weekend.
“You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.”
Temperatures were great today, running in the range of probably 25 to 32 F, so comfort wasn’t at all an issue there. What was an issue though was the low clouds that were thick on the upper half of the mountain, making visibility really tough in open areas. There was also some light mixed precipitation in the afternoon that compounded visibility issues by leaving droplets on people’s googles and causing fogging. We had to ski with goggles up at times because the visibility was so tough, but fortunately temperatures were warm enough to make that feasible. The snow surfaces stayed nice at just about all elevations though, since the mixed precipitation we were picking up was fairly light.
Base depths are great right now, with five feet of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, so as long as we can keep refresher storms coming we should be in great shape heading into the rest of February.
With the combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo over the past few days, Bolton Valley is reporting 16 inches of new snow and the ski conditions are taking off. E and Dylan were off to Lake Elmore to do a polar plunge today, but Ty and I headed up to the mountain to make use of all the new powder.
“Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.”
We had snow falling at the house in the morning, and were surprised to see what looked like some brief sleet or rain as we passed through ~1,000’ elevation band on the Bolton Valley Access Road, but as we got to the switchbacks below 1,500’ near the Timberline Base we were hit with a wall of steady light snow. We arrived at Timberline in the 9:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. range when the Timberline Quad was just opening, and had light snow falling with a cloud ceiling around 2,200’.
We kicked things off with a quick run through Wood’s Hole and the Corner Pocket Glades. The powder was good, although you could feel that the freezing level had rise to just about the Timberline base elevations. We found that total snowpack and coverage is OK below 2,000’, but those elevations could use one more solid storm to cover up some obstacles that still remain.
We spent time over at the main mountain after that, with a couple of great runs connecting from Hard Luck to Show Off, which hadn’t seen much traffic and had excellent snow. The main mountain was well above the freezing level and base depths are plentiful up there. We had a quick break with some slices at Fireside Flatbread, and then we finished off at the main mountain with a trip through the Villager Trees before heading back to Timberline. Eventually we took a lunch break at the Timberline Lodge before we finished off the day skiing over there, and it was definitely disappointing to see that South of Solitude isn’t running in the lodge – we were really amped to have some burritos!
There was light snowfall when we first arrived, and it ramped up to moderate intensity at times, but the flakes were fairly small early on. We had a period of heavier snow with big flakes near midday, but snowfall was typically on and off through the day. The freezing line was climbing during the day, and at least based on the temperature’s effect on snow surface consistency, I’d say it was around 1,700’ around midday, and 2,000’ by the time we were leaving near 3:00 P.M.
Overall the skiing is excellent right now as one would expect, but I’d say the biggest improvements have been on piste. The groomed terrain is skiing very nicely. Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there. There really wasn’t a lot of champagne to top it off with this last storm, so I can’t put it up there with those primo dumps where you get that amazing density gradient of powder, but the powder skiing was still great.
It’s nice to have some more typical Northern Greens conditions back in the house. We’ve got some big flakes falling here at our place this evening, so hopefully we’ll get a nice addition for more fun on the slopes tomorrow!
Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day. I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in. Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour. I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City. I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical. I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches. The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area. The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.
Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more. We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.
Ski conditions have been in sort of a holding pattern here in Northern Vermont. We just haven’t had any big snowstorms in the past couple of weeks, and that’s what we need to get the off piste terrain back in prime shape. With that said, there’s certainly some decent off piste skiing out there in various spots. Powderfreak highlighted how good some of the tree skiing was at Stowe today, despite the fact that Winter Storm Jaxon had a substantial amount of mixed precipitation. It was just one of those storms that finished off with some dense sleet to snow that really resurfaced whatever lay beneath.
I was sort of curious about the conditions up in the mountains today, and when temperatures rose up into the 30s F even at elevation, I decided that there would certainly be some soft snow out there. I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon timeframe and parked at the Timberline Base to start my outing. With the main base of the resort at 2,100’ up into the 30s F, I knew it would have warmed down there at 1,500’. The scene at Timberline was quite mellow, with generally calm winds under cloudy skies, and just a sprinkling of skiers visible.
“As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.”
As I rode the Timberline Quad, the conditions below me on Showtime looked, and even more importantly, sounded very good. I couldn’t hear a thing from the turns of the skiers below me, so I hopped right off at the mid station and went for a run. Indeed the snow on Showtime was great, probably softened a bit by the moderate temperatures, but it was immediately obvious that a major portion of the snow quality came from the fact that the resort had just blown a ton of snow on it.
“…it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.”
That snow on Showtime was worthy of being lapped for quite a while, but I still wanted to find out what the snow was like in the higher elevations, so I headed all the way to the Timberline Summit. As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all. I hadn’t seen Powderfreak’s post and photos about the snow at Stowe at that point, and I really wasn’t expecting much, so it was indeed sort of a pleasant surprise. It did make me think back to something I’d read in the Bolton Valley snow report earlier in the day:
“Updated Saturday, January 27th at 7:57 AM – News and Notes: Come and get it folks. The sun will make an appearance today and the trails have a pleasant surprise feel to them making for a fun combination. If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
The report literally had “pleasant surprise” in it, and I can absolutely see what they were getting at. With that commentary, and what I’d encountered off piste, I decided to head off to check out the powder over at Wilderness. What I found was that even areas that had seen some skier traffic over there were offering up some nice soft turns, but untracked areas with that coating of a couple inches of powder were very nice. It’s really the dense, yet soft, material underneath that is providing the good turns vs. the couple inches of powder on top, but hey, the combination really comes together.
I gradually worked my way back to the Timberline Base to complete my tour of the resort’s terrain, and it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder. Despite the good conditions I found in many spots, high-traffic and windblown areas are definitely in need of a resurfacing. The worst spots will need a couple inches of liquid equivalent, but good base is in place in most areas, so all we really need is a decent storm with about an inch of liquid equivalent and we’ll really be back to more typical on and off piste conditions. We’re expected to get into a more active wintry pattern in February, so we’ll see if any storms swing through to bring what we need.
I last got out for a ski tour at Bolton Valley on Tuesday, with the plan of getting in some turns ahead of the very cold weather that was forecast for the rest of the holiday week. Indeed the cold came into the area as expected, and while the low temperatures were far from anything that would set records, high temperatures that were staying below zero F and wind chills on top of that meant that it was going to be brutal out there. Today marked a bit of a respite from those temperatures though, with highs expected to be well up into the single digits F, no winds, and sunshine. I figured that today was my window to get back out for a ski tour before temperatures dip back down in the coming days.
The warmest part of the day was expected to be in the afternoon, with a southerly flow of air thanks to the remnants of Winter Storm Frankie passing through the area. I went with two base layers (lights under heavies) just to ensure that I’d be comfortable, and headed up to the mountain around 2:30 P.M. There was still some dim, arctic-looking sun pushing through the clouds off to the south as I arrived at the Village and parked right along the edge of Broadway. Temperatures were in the in the 5 to 10 F range, and with no wind it was actually quite comfortable – within a few minutes of starting my ascent of Bryant I was skinning without a hat in order to cool off.
“Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns.”
We’ve had perhaps an inch or two of snow since my last outing on Tuesday, and at Village elevations I was finding about 5 inches of powder atop a thick layer. That surface snow depth definitely increased a bit with elevation, and if you punched through the thick layer in the snowpack you’d be looking at 18 to 24 inches of snow before getting to whatever base snow was below that. Learning from my Tuesday tour, I brought fatter skis and dropped the pitch of my selected slopes just a bit, and that yielded some excellent powder turns. Some of the best sections were Girl’s and Telemark Glade, where the terrain and snow really flowed well.
Just like last Saturday, another storm came through the area over the past couple of days and dropped a round of fresh snow to give us some great April powder. For the first time in quite a while, the whole family was available to ski, so we headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for some turns.
Down at the house, snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain. There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well.
In terms of the snow we found, I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range. More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations, although I did find up to two feet in spots. The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry. It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures – it was well below freezing at all elevations of the resort this morning. It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session.
I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, and this Saturday was even more extreme. For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it. It was hard to pull ourselves away. While we were finishing up back at the main base area and getting ready to hit the Village Deli to grab some lunch, we were able to watch some of the snowmobilers in the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb. The Village parking lots were full of snowmobile trailers, so the resort got a great additional influx of visitors.
The latest weather system to come into the area has been named Winter Storm Theseus. Snow associated with the storm started up on Friday and left nearly a foot of at some of the local ski resorts, so Dylan and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for what we hoped would be some great powder skiing, and we weren’t disappointed.
Temperatures edged above freezing down in the valley, but the freezing line really stayed below 1,500’ this morning from what we saw, so that kept surfaces wintry at all elevations of the resort. The snow was certainly less dense the higher you went, but it wasn’t until probably below 1,800’ that the quality of the powder skiing started to fall off a bit – it was just getting a bit too dense for optimal turns. Really though, that’s just last few hundred feet of vertical at Timberline, and everything at the main mountain was well above that. It snowed all morning to keep the wintry appeal going and keep things fresh. The flakes were small so additional accumulations weren’t too hefty, but it was definitely coming down at times – we had to pull out the lens hoods for some photography sessions because of the intensity of the snow.
We started off on the morning on the main mountain with a trip up the Vista Quad, but we knew that by the time we’d worked our way down the trails we’d be able to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad. We had a good time down there, catching the rope drop on Upper Tattle Tale, just after we’d skied the lower half from the crossover. We did some exploring and found the entrance to House Line, a shot I’ve been looking to ski for a while. Dylan decided to go Telemark again today, and he was definitely ripping up that powder. We eventually made our way back to the main base and finished off the ski day on Wilderness, then grabbed some food at the main cafeteria and the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.
Bolton’s got their 48-hour total at 9 inches for the higher elevations, and I’d say 9 to 10 was where we found things topping out with the addition of this morning’s snow. Anyway, it was a great way to start off this month’s skiing, and of course another perk of the day was the fact that we’re in April, and visitation at the resorts really starts to fall off. There were certainly visitors, but there were still a number of trails with just a few tracks on them when we were leaving around midday, so folks who were out really got treated to one of those kind of powder days.
A number of students were unable to attend ski program today, so there were some small groups, and any of them that were interested in a trip down the Bruce joined up with us. From the top of the Fourrunner Quad, those that wanted to ascend joined me for a trip up Old Nosedive, which I find is a nice way to get in a bit of hiking and extra turns before diving into the Bruce. The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour. It was quite wintry up top, but even in the lowest elevations the snow was dense enough to hold up well for fresh turns, just like Dylan and I had experienced yesterday at Bolton Valley. There was still ample untracked powder available off the sides of the Bruce, and as usual once we were down into the open hardwood areas there were lots of great lines to explore in the trees.
“The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour.”
This morning, Dylan said that we should go with Telemark skis for today’s session if our focus was going to be the Bruce Trail, and while I’d planned to go alpine, I agreed and ended up going Tele. It was totally the right choice, especially since the coverage and snow conditions were so optimal. I was happy because I felt really dialed in and my transitions felt incredibly quick, and Dylan was also really psyched because he skied so well today. He says that he always wants to run the Bruce on Telemark gear now. Of course he got to experience it on a great day. I’d put today in the top 25% of conditions for the Bruce – there was so much soft snow and powder around, and even those most difficult to cover, south-facing shots were virtually blemish free.
We capped off the run with a trip to the Notchbrook General Store for snacks, and a ride on the Mountain Road Shuttle back to the Spruce Peak Village. Greg said that the last time he skied the Bruce Trail was about 35 years ago, so it was really neat that he got the chance to do it again after such a long hiatus. We had time for a few more runs on Spruce once we got back, and found that the quality of the snow was still really nice. This was just the way a March ski day should be!