Bolton Valley, VT 01DEC2018

An image of Ty skiing powder and ducking under a bent tree in the Snow Hole area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of hoarfrost coating a branch at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
One of the neat weather features out on the mountain today was the delicate hoarfrost covering everything with needles up to three inches in length

Yesterday, the last vestiges of Winter Storm Bruce wound down in our area, so today was a great day to take advantage of all the new snow on the slopes with relatively benign weather.  Due to the prodigious November snowfall we’re had around here, Bolton Valley is running the lifts again this weekend for another pre-season session.  Ty and I had some time in the morning, so we headed up to the mountain for a bit of lift-served skiing.

“We caught a ton of untracked lines today, but the powder has settled even more than what I found on my Thursday morning tour, so it was very much a PNW/Sierra-style snow experience.”

We got to the Village in the mid- to late-morning period and were amazed to find that all the parking lots, even the Nordic Center lots, were packed.  It was a struggle to find a spot, but we finally got one in the very lowest Nordic lot.  We assumed the lifts would be packed, but there were no lines at Vista, Mid Mountain, or Snowflake.  We were stunned, and couldn’t figure out where everyone was, but we happily hopped on for our first Vista ride of the season.

Although the Wilderness Lift isn’t running yet, the usual Vista Quad-served access to Wilderness is available, so after a great run down Alta Vista, Ty and I headed that way and made a run through Snow Hole.  There was an old track or two around, but we essentially had first tracks through there.  Another spot on today’s hit list was Maria’s, where we traversed far left and were well clear of any tracks from other skiers.

An image of Ty skiing in Maria's area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty enjoying a fun line through the powder today on Maria’s.

We caught a ton of untracked lines today, but the powder has settled even more than what I found on my Thursday morning tour, so it was very much a PNW/Sierra-style snow experience.  In most spots now, you really only sink a few inches into the powder, so you’re very much staying on top of the snowpack.  It’s been interesting to watch the powder slowly transform to this dense state from our ski session on Tuesday, to my Thursday outing, to today.  It’s really hard to complain about such fantastic early season conditions, but in terms of powder we could use a freshening at some point.  The groomed terrain is skiing superbly right now though – with such a huge resurfacing it’s just packed powder and more packed powder.  One very cool weather-related feature out there today was the hoarfrost covering everything – we found areas where the delicate, feathery needles were as much as three inches long.

Our next winter storm is moving into the area tonight with snow, then some mixed precipitation, and potentially more snow on the back side.

Bolton Valley, VT 29NOV2018

An image of a truck along the Bolton Valley Access Road covered with snow from Winter Storm Bruce
A trail sign covered in snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A sign of the times – dense snow sticking to anything and everything thanks to Winter Storm Bruce

It’s been snowing now for four days, but Winter Storm Bruce is finally starting to wind down.  Bolton Valley is reporting a storm total of roughly 32 inches, and based on the 2.26 inches of liquid equivalent we’ve picked up here at the house, the new snow at the mountain must contain at least that much liquid.  That’s a fantastic addition to the early season snowpack.

I had some time this morning, so I headed up to the Bolton Valley Village for a ski tour from the main base.  Temperatures that were a degree or two above freezing in the valley with easy driving conditions gave way to temperatures in the upper 20s F, snowfall, and wind at 2,000’.  The main skin track on Lower Turnpike was in great shape, so the going was easy on my ascent.  Although there’s been more snow since my Tuesday outing with Ty, it’s settled now, so the overall feel is definitely denser.  The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits.  There’s also been more wind over the past couple of days, so protected areas definitely offer the best turns.  The skiing definitely has a Pacific Northwest feel – that feeling that you can basically go anywhere you want and you’re not going to hit anything below because the dense snow is going to protect you.  The feel in the valleys fits right in as well, with temperatures right around freezing, and dense, dripping snow caked on all the trees – and any other objects upon which is sits.

“The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits.”

As of today’s snow report, Bolton is indicating an impressive season snowfall total of 84 inches.  In terms of the local mountain snowpack, the snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake hit 46 inches today, which appears to be the deepest November snowpack on record.  What a November it’s been on the slopes!

Bolton Valley, VT 27NOV2018

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in 18 to 20 inches of fresh powder from Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of one of the chairs on the Wilderness Chairlift filled with snow from Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Bruce unloaded its snow on Bolton Valley today – we measured 18 to 20 inches of new snow during out afternoon ski tour at the resort.

Today our area has been under the influence of Winter Storm Bruce, a low pressure system that’s crossing through New England and bringing copious amounts of moisture with it.  School was cancelled for Ty due to the storm, so I came home a bit early in the afternoon with the hopes of getting together for a ski tour up at Bolton Valley.  There was some very heavy snowfall in the early afternoon period that was easily putting down an inch or two of snow an hour, so I was a bit leery about trying to negotiate the Bolton Valley Access Road under such conditions.  But, the heavy snow let up a bit in the midafternoon timeframe, and we figured the plows would be able to keep up with it so we headed out.

The Bolton Valley website indicates that the Timberline area is strictly closed to traffic right now (perhaps due to chairlift work) so we headed up to the main base for our tour, and that turned out to be a great starting point.  The amount of snow that the Village picked up from this storm was quite impressive – we both did numerous depth checks and found 18 to 20 inches of snow at 2,000’.  The depth of the new snow was essentially the same all the way up above 3,000’, so I’d say that everything from this storm fell as snow at least down to the Village level.

An image of snowplow piles and snowy trees during Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Up in the Bolton Valley Village today, the scene was incredibly snowy thanks to Winter Storm Bruce

There was a great skin track set on Lower Turnpike, which was a godsend with so much fresh snow.  Temperatures were in the upper 20s at 2,000’, so all the snow up there was quite dry.  It certainly wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluff, but it was medium-weight powder with a right-side-up distribution and the skiing was fantastic – definitely a day for the fat boards.  Ty was on E’s 115 mm Black Diamond Element Telemark boards, and he really likes the way they handle the powder.  I knew we’d need some steep pitches to handle this snow, so that’s what we sought out, and the skiing was simply fantastic.  This storm brought plenty of liquid equivalent in the snow (1.5 inches of total liquid form the storm even down at our house in the valley) so it’s covered everything really well and there’s not much to worry about with such a substantial base already in place ahead of this storm.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing during Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Resort on Vermont
Ty enjoying the float of Mom’s 115 mm Black Diamond Element skis on our ski tour today as he tackles the snow from Winter Storm Bruce

The actual action photography was quite a challenge today because we’re talking fairly late afternoon, late November light, and snowfall, but I used my brightest lens (Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM) and we did our best with the light we had.  Bolton Valley is now reporting 66 inches of snow on the season, which is a great way to get rolling in November.

An image of Ty finishing a ski tour at dusk with the glow of the Bolton Valley Village behind him at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Finishing our ski tour toward the glow of the Bolton Valley Village as darkness descends.

Bolton Valley, VT 24NOV2018

An image of the Timberline Quad from near the Timberline Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan skiing powder in the trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan gets into some of the powder in Bolton Valley’s trees today as the resort opens up for a special early season day.

With the great run of November snowfall we’ve had, Bolton Valley decided to run some of its lifts today as an early kick off to the season.  In addition to running the lifts, they had a number of events taking place, such as special discounts and lunch specials for pass holders, as well as roasting marshmallows outside by an open fire.

“The powder from Thanksgiving has settled somewhat, but I still found a general 12 to 24 inches in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range.”

E and the boys and I headed up to catch a few runs, and I decided to skin up from Timberline and meet the rest of the family up at the Village.  Since our last visit to the mountain on Wednesday, the Thanksgiving cold front snows had definitely freshened up the powder on the slopes.  Some skiers had been out since then, but overall traffic was much lighter than what it had been at the beginning of the holiday week.  The powder from Thanksgiving has settled somewhat, but I still found a general 12 to 24 inches in the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range.  Temperatures were right around 30 F when I arrived, and were even climbing a bit above freezing as I made my ascent to the Village.

An image of the base of the Timberline Quad with snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Powder covers the assortment of materials by the base of the Timberline Quad.

Only the lower mountain lifts were in operation today, so there were lift queues of about 10 minutes, but it was such a nice day that nobody seemed to mind hanging out as they kicked off the season.  E and the boys had done a couple runs before I arrived, and once we caught up, Dylan and I headed for a little tree skiing in the powder while Ty worked on some snowboarding with E.  We then stopped in for the lunch special at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery, which has been remodeled a bit to provide more seating.

An image of snow melting in the sunshine on an evergreen bough at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontAfter lunch I headed back to my car at Timberline via the Timberline Summit, and snow in the sunny areas was getting a bit thicker, but I found some excellent dry powder by sticking to north-facing and sheltered terrain.  We’ve got a Winter Weather Advisory in effect overnight into tomorrow, but that’s for mixed precipitation.  This system should add a bit of liquid to the snowpack, but there’s not really any snow associated with it.  There’s another storm coming in the midweek period however that appears to have much more snow potential.

Bolton Valley, VT 21NOV2018

An image of Dylan skiing powder after a snow squall at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today’s ski tour was quite an outing with heavy snow squalls and lots of fresh tracks.

The big synoptic snowstorms from last week put down a lot of base on the slopes, and this week has followed up with some modest refresher storms to keep the powder fresh.  Today’s feather weather event was the passage of an arctic cold front with very impressive snow squalls that reduced visibility to near zero at times – and we were on a ski tour at Bolton Valley just as the first barrage of heavy snow hit the mountains.

An image of Johannes skinning during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontStephen and I had been talking about getting out together for a ski tour at the mountain during this holiday week, and things lined up today so that Johannes and Dylan could join us.  I planned on a tour that would bring us from Timberline up to the trails of the main mountain, shooting for some of those lesser used routes to get everyone some fresh tracks.  We began mid-morning with light flakes falling, and the snowfall gradually ramped up to a steady, heavy level of intensity with big flakes as we made our way toward Cobrass.  While we were switching over our gear for the descent, a big squall enveloped the mountain.  Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times.  It was the kind of snowfall where you put your gear down for a few moments, and small stuff could be easily lost because of how fast it became covered.

An image of Johannes jumping a water bar during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Johannes with a bit of air as he negotiates a powdery water bar on today’s ski tour

“Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times.”

The descent portion of the tour brought us some great fresh powder on routes like Five Corners, Sure Shot, and Tattle Tale.  It’s getting hard to tell exactly how much base is down now after so many recent storms, but I was generally getting depths of 15 to 20 inches, with much of that powder.  Everything was also topped off with a couple more inches that fell during the tour itself due to the intense snowfall.

Tomorrow is going to be an impressively cold Thanksgiving day, with highs in the mountains around here in the single digits F, so I think it will be nice being inside enjoying some holiday food.  Bolton Valley is actually planning to run the lifts on Saturday, at which point it should be much warmer.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 30DEC2017

An image of snow-covered berries on a tree up by the Bryant Cabin near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a glade in the Bolton Valley backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Taking advantage of today’s slightly warmer temperatures to visit some of the glades in the Bolton Valley backcountry network

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.

An image of some plants poking through the snow along the Broadway trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThe 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.”

It was my first day out on the backcountry network this season, so I stuck with a simple trip up to Bryant Cabin with one of my favorite touring routes:  Car –> Broadway –> Bryant –> Bryant Cabin –> Gardiner’s Lane –> North Slope –> Connector Glade –> Gardiner’s Lane –> Grizzwald –> Gotham City –> Girl’s –> World Cup –> World Cup Glade –> Telemark Glade –> Broadway –> Bolton Valley Village –> Fireside Flatbread –> Car.  It seems like quite the tour, although it’s only about 2.5 miles.  That last stop before the car is pretty important though, especially on a cold December afternoon when the sun’s gone down.

A map with a GPS tracking data plotted onto Google Earth for a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort on December 30th, 2017
The GPS track of today’s Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry tour mapped onto Google Earth

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 26DEC2017

an image of the Timberline Lift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Brandywine trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Preparing for some turns on Brandywine during my ski tour at Bolton Valley’s Timberline area today

The middle of Winter Storm Dylan at the end of last week had some mixed precipitation that put a thick layer into the snowpack, but since then we’ve had the backside snow from that storm, the snow from Winter Storm Ethan, and some additional snow from a localized streamer that was affecting the area yesterday.  It was certainly enough new powder to entice me out to the mountain for a quick tour today, especially with some very cold air coming into the area later this week.

I arrived at Timberline in the mid-afternoon period, just as a some snow was moving into the valley.  The snow was steady during my whole tour, although visibility was generally in the 1 to 2-mile range, so it wasn’t especially heavy.  In terms of the powder, I found roughly 4 to 6 inches at the 1,500’ level, and probably 5 to 7 inches at the 2,500’ level.

An image of the Timberline Lodge with some snowfall at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snowfall at the Timberline Lodge today

Although I did ascend all the way to the Timberline Summit, my main goal was a trip down Brandywine, which had some great snow and just a couple of previous ski tracks.  The powder was deep enough for plenty of good turns on Brandywine, although I think it would have been better with some wider skis vs. just my midfats.  I also think some slightly lower angle would be good to really stay away from that crust.

At the end of my tour I spoke with one of the crew that was working on grooming Timberline Run, and it sounds like they’re planning to open the Timberline area tomorrow for lift-served skiing.

Bolton Valley, VT 22DEC2017

An image of snow from Winter Storm Dylan collecting on a chair by the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Quinn skinning up in the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Quinn heads up on his ascent of Timberline this afternoon to enjoy the fresh snow from Winter Storm Dylan.

We’re currently under the influence of Winter Storm Dylan, which started dropping snow on the area early this morning.  The snow started out slowly for the first couple of hours, but by 10:00 A.M. or so it had ramped up to very heavy intensity – at one point it was coming down at a rate of roughly 4 inches per hour.  It continued at a steady pace, and by midafternoon we’d already picked up 6 to 8 inches of snow at the house.  By that point it was obvious that there was going to be enough fresh snow for a ski tour, so I headed up to Bolton Valley while I still had light.

I pulled into the Timberline lot amidst heavy snow, and chatted with another gentleman who was just skinning up his skis for an ascent.  Within a couple of minutes, Quinn appeared out of his truck, and we sort of laughed amongst ourselves how everyone sort of had the same idea.  Well, great minds think alike, and know to get to the powder while the getting’s good.

An image of Quinn preparing his skis with climbing skins for a ski tour during Winter Storm Dylan at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There’s definitely some excitement out there for what Winter Storm Dylan was delivering today!

As I began my tour, my checks near the Timberline Base Lodge revealed that roughly 8 inches of new snow had fallen.  That number was growing by the minute though, and the snowfall during my ascent was quite heavy.  At times, visibility was down to a tenth of a mile, which equates to very heavy snowfall.  Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.

“Up at the Timberline Mid Station I was finding anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of new snow.”

There were few if any tracks on Twice as Nice, so I decided to make use of its fairly consistent pitch and make my descent there.  I was on my 115 mm Black Diamond AMPerages, even with accumulations only topping out around a foot, the snow was mostly bottomless.  My legs got cooked pretty quickly from making Tele turns, but it gave me time to stop and soak in the scene with the storm, the snowfall, and the solitude.  It was a great outing, and there’s nothing like getting some of these productive winter storms during the holiday period when one’s schedule is a bit more relaxed.

Winter Storm Dylan is supposed to continue through tomorrow, but we’re going to have to watch out for some mixed precipitation and see how that plays out before everything changes back to snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16DEC2017

An image of Ty and Jay at the bar at Fireside Flatbread Pizzeria at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder on the Snowflake Bentley trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
10 to 12 inches of powder greeted us on the slopes of Bolton’s Snowflake area this afternoon.

It’s been a great week for snow in the Northern Greens.  Last weekend we had some lake-effect snow that dropped several inches in the mountains, and when that was followed up by the larger storm we had in the first half of the workweek, the local resorts were looking at snow totals of roughly two feet.  Since then, we’ve had additional rounds of light snow to keep the surfaces fresh, and the result has been some simply fantastic skiing.

“The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.”

Light snow continued on and off today at the house to the tune of an inch or two of accumulation, but Powderfreak said that Stowe had seen a few inches, and the skiing looked really good.  One can only watch the flakes fall out there for so long before you want to take advantage and get in some powder skiing, so taking a trip up to the mountain was inevitable.  Dylan had a friend visiting today, but Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon to catch a few runs.  Temperatures had started in the 20s F, but they were definitely falling as the back side of this latest event came through.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty working on turns in some of the fresh powder out there today

As we were gearing up, Ty decided that he needed to hit the restroom in the main lodge, and when he came back he could not stop raving about the pizza smell inside.  With that, we knew where we were heading as soon as we were done skiing.  Ty had brought his Tele skis today, and we ended up just doing runs off Snowflake to let him work on his turns.  Actually, Snowflake was an excellent choice in general today because thanks to its generally lower amounts of skier traffic, it held some fabulous snow.  Ty had his pick of working on his turns in powder, chowder, or packed snow.  The general depths of powder we found today were in the 10-12” range, and it’s light and dry and simply delightful to ski.

“There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic.”

We finished off the day with a ski down through the fresh powder on Timberline, and of course that was a highlight.  There’s been at least a little skier traffic down at Timberline from folks earning turns, but fresh turns are essentially everywhere.  Ty had no choice but to work on powder turns for that run… oh well.  There’s easily a foot or more of powder in many places over there – it’s just been building up over the past few weeks with little traffic.  We’d called ahead to let E know that we were heading down, and she was right there at the Timberline Base to pick us up and bring us back up to the main base.

E couldn’t stay, but Ty and I headed up to Fireside Flatbread as planned, and had a couple of slices at the bar.  Since E and Dylan hadn’t been able to join us, the natural course of action was to get a couple of pies to take home.  Man that crust was good. 

The base depths at Timberline aren’t quite there for lift-served traffic yet, but we’re definitely OK with that.  There’s more snow in the forecast in the coming week, so surfaces and powder availability should remain in good shape.

Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2017

An image of ridgelines in the Bolton Valley Reosrt area in Vermont disappearing behind snow from a December storm
An image of Ty skiing powder during a December storm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty catching a few Telemark turns on today’s ski tour at Bolton Valley

Due to the winter storm coming through the area today, school was cancelled for Ty, and since I had contemplated working from home due to the weather, Ty being home for the day sealed the deal.  The storm had only started up in the morning, so it would take some time before there was much new snow down for skiing.  So, I got a bunch of work done, and finally in the midafternoon, we headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick ski tour in the new snow.

“We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent.”

On the way up to the Village, we noted the state of the snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and one could certainly have made some turns there if they wanted to, but some of the taller brush was still showing so I’d say it wasn’t quite ready for prime time at that point.  We toured in the Wilderness area from 2,100’ up to around 2,800’, and we measured depths of the new snow in the 6” to 9” range, with some spots approaching 10” near the top of our ascent.  I’d say the accumulations up there at that point weren’t all that different than what we had down at the house, although the flakes were pretty small, and the powder a reasonable middle-weight variety, so I’d say they’d picked up more liquid equivalent.

An image of snow drifts forming in the Bolton Valley Village
Drifts beginning to form in the Village

In terms of the powder skiing, although it certainly wasn’t champagne dry snow, the moderate heft to it was decent for keeping you up off the base.  At this stage of the season we can of course use some snow with plenty of liquid in it to build the snowpack, and if what’s up there gets topped with fluff form the back side of the storm, it should produce some excellent powder skiing.

“There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.”

We’re into some of the shortest days of the year now, so light it as a premium, especially during a snowstorm.  I brought my brightest lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, and it was definitely sufficient, but there was still a lot of snow in the air making action shots a challenge.  There’s something special about these deep dark December storm days though, the low light just gives them a unique feel that it’s hard to replicate at other times of the year.