Bolton Valley, VT 02JAN2021 (P.M.)

An image looking westward down the Winooski Valley of Vermont near the Bolton Flats area after some snow from Winter Storm John
An image of Holiday lights outside The Mad Taco restaurant in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the snow-covered holiday lights at dusk in the Bolton Valley Village after my ski tour today

With the way it had been dumping inch/hr snowfall when I headed home around noontime, I decided it would be worth another session in the afternoon.  This time I went for a tour on Wilderness, which had its uphill route officially reopened as of today thanks to the accumulations from Winter Storm John.  There had been additional snow, and I’d say 6-10” of powder above the base snow would represent a good summary of what I found overall in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range, which was a combination of the snow from this storm on top of the accumulations from previous events.  With Bolton Valley providing access to the entire Wilderness Lift area of moderate-angle, cut trails all starting above 2,000’, I’m sure a lot of folks see it as a very good option with the rather thin base currently in place at lower elevations.  That, and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, meant that there was a lot of uphill traffic.  Fortunately, there was still decent access to untracked powder along the edges of trails, and the turns were quite good and bottomless on low and moderate-angle terrain with the recent snow we’ve picked up.

An image of the sign for "The Mad Taco" restaurant in Waitsfield, VermontWe’d been looking for an opportunity to try out The Mad Taco Bolton, so I place my order from the car before I started my ascent, and then timed my tour to be able to make the pick-up.  It worked quite well, and I got to see the way they’ve set up the restaurant for the first time.  It looks like there are a number of tables in there that folks will be able to use once in-person dining is back in action, although for now it’s takeout only.  The food was great though, just like we’ve had from their other locations!

An image of a vehicle covered in snow from Winter Storm John in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the snow from Winter Storm John on a nearby vehicle as I start my tour in the Wilderness are today

Bolton Valley, VT 02JAN2021 (A.M.)

An image of the Mid Mountain Double Chair disappearing into the clouds on a snowy morning at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow falling from Winter Storm John in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There was quite the wintry vibe at Bolton Valley this morning as snow continued from Winter Storm John.

With the influx of snow that the area has seen from Winter Storm John since yesterday, the snow conditions improved dramatically this weekend.  Based on the liquid equivalent we picked up here at the house, I bet the local mountains picked up something in the range of ¾” of liquid, which is a game-changer relative to where things were before.

On Saturday morning I decided to go for my first lift-served turns of the season at Bolton Valley.  Only the main mountain is open at this point, since coverage is still too thin down at the lower elevations of Timberline.  It was snowing steadily with some big flakes when I arrived at the mountain, and I found about 4 to 5 inches of new accumulation in the Village areas at 2,000’.  The snowfall tapered off to light snow during the midmorning period, but really picked up to some heavy inch/hr snowfall when I was leaving a bit before noon.  That was when the back side of the storm was coming through, and the wind jumped up a bit there, but prior to that the weather was fantastic with temperatures just a bit below freezing and no wind.  There was obviously some surface snow in place from previous systems because I was generally finding powder depths of 6-9” at the 2,400’ level.  Skiing was good, with enough snow to resurface low to moderate angle slopes, and listening to skiers and riders on that terrain you’d hear absolutely nothing.  On higher angle slopes you could still hear contact with the old base snow, so it was obvious that ¾” of liquid can only do so much with holiday levels of skier traffic.

The conditions had seen such an uptick relative to where they’ve been the past week that I had to head back up for a tour on Wilderness in the afternoon!

An image of some condominiums with snow falling from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another shot of the snow falling from Winter Storm John this morning when I was up in the Village area at Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2020

An image of Erica standing in the Bolton Valley Village circle area with some skis after a Telemark ski tour at the resort
An image of snow on the roof of one of the condominium complexes in the village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view from the Bolton Valley Village today

Erica and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning to potentially get in a bit more powder skiing ahead of today’s warming temperatures.  The real warmth wasn’t expected to come into the area until later in the day today, but it was already above freezing at the base elevations when we began our tour around 9:00 A.M. or so.

The Wilderness skin track was in great shape, but the snow on Lower Turnpike definitely looked like it had been worked in a bit more compared to what I saw on yesterday’s tour.  There were more people out touring in the area today, and we figured it was because so many more people had time off for Christmas Eve.

My initial plan was to tour up to near 3,000’ and get into some powder like yesterday, but E was looking for a shorter tour than that, and once we discovered that the powder was already getting somewhat wet, we just toured up to below the Cougar headwall as our apex.

Turns on the packed areas of Lower Turnpike were quite good, with just a touch of stickiness in spots.  I occasionally checked out the powder along the sides of the trail, but it was starting to get wet enough that the packed areas were generally the better experience.  Had I known that the rising temperatures had already affected the powder, I probably would have just brought midfats instead of my fat Tele skis.

An image of the exterior of the Mad Taco restaurant location at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont

We headed back to the car through the Village Circle, and were reminded again about the Mad Taco outpost right in the Village.  We’re definitely going to have to take advantage of the opportunity to get some of their food from the Bolton site – that’s the closest Mad Taco branch for us.

Our area is going to be in the warm sector for much of the next storm coming into the area today, but we’ve got more chances for snow during the holiday week.

Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2020

An image of a snow-covered tree against a brilliantly blue sky in the background at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a ski track in powder snow after some small storms dropped 8 to 10 inches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
This morning’s ski tour revealed some excellent ski conditions with up to 8-10″ of powder on the upper mountain in undisturbed areas.

Today turned out to be sort of a bit of a midwinter gem, which is pretty nice considering winter just started.  I hadn’t expected it to be quite so stunning, but with the recent snows, it was clearly a good day to head up to Bolton for a tour and check out how the powder had settled in.

In the morning, before any clouds rolled it, the sun and sky were simply brilliant.  And that’s the first thing I noticed when I got out of the car at the mountain.  And I couldn’t believe how hot the sun felt.  We’re up near 45 N latitude, and this time of year is just about as low a sun angle as we get, so all I can think is that I’m just not used to actually having the sun shining on my face.  I had a 23% VLT lens in my goggles, figuring that sure, it was sunny, but it’s late December way up here in the north.  Well, I could have easily gone with something sub-10% VLT; it was that bright.

“The powder definitely exceeded expectations today – I found settled depths of roughly 5-7” above the subsurface at 2,000’, and many spots with 8-10” up near 3,000’.”

The powder definitely exceeded expectations today – I found settled depths of roughly 5-7” above the subsurface at 2,000’, and many spots with 8-10” up near 3,000’.  I initially couldn’t figure out where all of it had come from, but then I realized that since the 4-5” from Winter Storm Gail, it’s just continued to snow with these past couple of smaller systems.

An image of someone pushing a stroller on snow with a ski on the front wheel at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Out for a snow stroll around the base area

The Wilderness skin track was in excellent shape, and it almost looked like the resort had groomed the adjoining Turnpike trail because it was so smoothly packed.  It’s possible that it was just very nicely packed by skier traffic, but for folks looking for groomed turns in the Wilderness area, it’s good to go.

Off the main route though, there was tons of untracked powder available, and it was definitely right-side-up, midwinter quality stuff.  That synoptic snow from Winter Storm Gail, topped off with the drier snow from these last couple of systems has really put together a quality surface.  Low-angle stuff is good to go, and even moderate-angle slopes are nice if the snow is protected from the wind and there hasn’t been any skier traffic.  Above those angles though, the snowpack is definitely not ready yet; the base is just not deep enough.

An image of the exterior of the Mad Taco restaurant location at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We can’t wait to try out the Mad Taco outpost that they’ve added to Bolton Valley this season!

It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out for this next week.  This next storm looks to consolidate the base, and there are a couple of potential systems behind it that could make some nice conditions atop that if they came to fruition on the snowy side of things.

Bolton Valley, VT 17DEC2020

An image showing the logo for the Outdoor Gear Exchange store on a roof-top ski box of a nearby car while skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image showing an evergreen with a bit of the snow picked up at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont from Winter Storm Gail
An evergreen captures a bit of the snow picked up today at Bolton Valley from Winter Storm Gail

The weather models have been showing a potentially substantial east coast snowstorm system for probably a week.  For much of the time, it looked like more of a Mid-Atlantic event, and I hadn’t really been paying any attention to it, but then Phin stopped in the Northern New England Winter Thread at American Weather Forums and gave us a heads up that we shouldn’t be sleeping on this storm, even up in the north.  Ultimately, Winter Storm Gail did have its greatest impacts north of the Mid-Atlantic Region, with parts of Upstate New York and central New England getting in on an incredible band of snow.  There were numerous reports across that band of storm totals exceeding 40 inches, and reports of as much as four feet of snow in parts of New Hampshire.

Up here in Northern Vermont, I hadn’t been expecting to ski this storm at all, but as the models revealed a more northward trend in guidance, it looked like we were going to get something out of it.  Indeed, by midday I’d recorded over four inches of snow, and nearly half an inch of liquid equivalent from it.  Snowfall with a half inch of liquid definitely has enough substance to get some floatation above the base, so I figured it was worth a quick tour to see how conditions were faring up at Bolton.  They’ve got the extra elevation to potentially enhance the snowfall even more, but they’re also a few miles farther to the northwest of our site, and the farther north and west one went with this system the more the accumulations quickly drop off.  Once up at the mountain, accumulations I found at 2,000’ in the Village were 4-5”, so roughly the same as what we picked up here at the house.

That was more than enough to make the powder skiing quite nice on low angle terrain though – on my 115 mm fat skis the turns were smooth and bottomless with the snow that had just fallen.  We still haven’t had a big, 1”+ liquid equivalent storm affect the Northern Greens yet this season, so base snow is still pretty meager.  There were a few inches of base snow left at 2,000’, with some variability and patchiness, but it’s still probably too inconsistent for steeper pitches or areas down around 1,500’.  We’ve got a couple smaller round of snow in the forecast over the next couple of days though, so those should help bolster that overall snow in the higher elevations.  Temperatures are expected to be single digits and even below zero F in the coming days, so snowmaking should be taking off as well to enhance the manmade base in areas of the resort.

Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2020

A scene with a couple pairs of skis on a ski rack and some snowy rocks in the background at the main base area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of some skiers ascending the skin track on the Turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A few folks on the Turnpike skin track today as we were out enjoying the pleasant ski conditions at Wilderness

The midweek system that brought nearly a foot of snow to the mountains had produced some excellent turns on Thursday, so I decided to head back up to the mountain today with E for a quick tour in the Wilderness area.  Warmer weather is expected to move into the area over the next couple of days, so this morning seemed like the best time to get in on the remaining powder before it consolidated too much.

Being a weekend, there were a good number of people out on the hill, and we saw several groups using the Wilderness skin track and enjoying the nice weather.  We toured up to around the Cougar area, and enjoyed a nice descent on Lower Turnpike.  Much of the trail was skier-packed snow after a couple days of ski traffic, but it was a really nice packed surface with soft snow and temperatures in the lower 30s F.  There was even powder remaining around on the sides of the trail that I was able to hop into for some floaty turns.  The power was getting a little thick with warming temperatures, but it was definitely serviceable.  There were certainly a few thin spots here and there, and one had to pick their spots for traversing the water bars, but obstacles were minimal enough that avoiding them could easily be worked into the flow of your turns for an enjoyable down mountain ride.

Bolton Valley, VT 10DEC2020

An image of the village circle area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after a small December snowstorm
An image of fresh snow with some buried ski tracks from a small December snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
One of the beautiful scenes from Bolton Valley this morning, showing a few old ski tracks on Lower Turnpike

Yesterday, an upper-level disturbance/Alberta Clipper-style system began to affect our area, and as of this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 4-8” of new snow in the past 24 hours, and 10” in the last 48 hours.  Although we haven’t had too much base snow yet this season, those accumulations, as well as the view on the Bolton Valley Main Base Webcam, suggested that there was enough snow out there for a tour.

Temperatures up in the Bolton Valley Village were in the upper 20s F, and I generally found 7-10” inches of snow from the Village elevations upward.  There’s decent substance to the snow (i.e. it’s not just fluff), but as expected, there’s really not too much base below that snow from what I saw.  I just don’t think there was any dense snow, or rain-affected snow that had a chance to consolidate below these most recent accumulations.  The snow quality is good though; the snowpack I encountered was right-side up with some medium weight density snow below fluffier powder on top.

Here are the snow depths I observed from the bottom of the Bolton Valley Access Road and up above the Bolton Valley Village:

340’:  2”
1,000’:  3-4”
1,500’:  4-5”
2,000’:  7”
2,500’:  8-9”
2,700’:  9-10”

Roughly 2,700’ was as high as my tour took me today, so I can’t provide observations above that level, but snow depths probably would have increased a bit more with elevation.

An image of fresh snow on an evergreen bough after a December snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some of the recent snow on a spruce bough

I’m surprised to see a depth of only 8” at the Mt. Mansfield Stake at 3,700’ as of the most recent report, but I’m not sure when that depth was last updated.  Based on the amount of liquid equivalent that seemed to be in the snow, and the sub-freezing temperatures up there, this would likely be the start of the winter snowpack unless we get a really warm/wet, long-duration event.  Consolidating the snow that’s there right now and/or adding some water to it would certainly help form a base.  We certainly want to get in a decent synoptic winter storm to substantiate the base, but the mountains have got at least a minimal start with this system.  I’m not sure if the snow we have in the valleys around here is quite enough to mark the start the season’s snowpack, but it’s possible.  We’ll see what the next couple of weeks bring as we head into the busy holiday season.

Bolton Valley, VT 01JAN2020

Ty cranking a turn in the fresh snow t at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder after Winter Storm Gage at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan out for some Telemark turns today on the great snow put down by the past couple of storms

With the addition of snow from Winter Storm Gage Sunday through Tuesday, ski conditions have seen substantial improvement over the past few days.  I was already pleased in general with the conditions I found at Bolton Valley yesterday, and I expected them to easily move up another notch with the follow up system that came into the area last night.  As of this morning in the valley we’d already picked up over a half foot of snow (with a solid shot of liquid equivalent) between the two storms, and yet another round of snowfall was building in as we headed up to the mountain around noon.

An image of Dylan making a Telemark turn at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan was really laying down some great turns today as he tested out Ty’s Tele skis

“I’d say you could typically find 6 inches or more of powder above the first thick layer in the snowpack.”

Today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family had a chance to ski together, or at least the first day where both schedules and snow conditions made it happen.  Unlike yesterday, the mountain was really busy today, and we parked in the lowest tier of the main lots down by the Sports Center.  We even had to wait for a couple minutes to get on the Vista Quad, but that wasn’t bad considering the other mains lifts aren’t running yet.  Temperatures were still relatively nice in the 20s F, but there was some wind in the higher elevations.  D was having fun buttoning up with his magnetic Anon MFI Tech Balaclava and his helmet-compatible hood on his Arc’teryx Sidewinder Jacket just to see how everything came together.  I have the same combo and think it’s fantastic for keeping out the wind.

An image of Erica in her ski gear with a bit of snowfall at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontFrom the Vista Summit we skied Alta Vista, and in discussions about the conditions, E and D said it was definitely better than the last time they’d been on it back on the 24th.  All the snow from these past couple of storms has really put some quality coverage above the old base, so the trail edges were quite nice with hardly a sound from hard snow.  We also had some time to visit Wilderness, which is still seeing just a modest amount of traffic from people using the uphill route.  Conditions over there were very good, building on what I found yesterday.  I’d say you could typically find 6 inches or more of powder above the first thick layer in the snowpack.  D was actually trying out Ty’s Telemark skis today for the first time, and he was really taking to them.  His Tele turns looked strong on both the groomed slopes and in the powder, so I see him using those skis a lot until he gets his own new Tele setup.

Looking ahead, we’ve got the chance for another modest system this coming weekend, so conditions could get another shot in the arm if that system delivers something similar to what we’ve just received.

Bolton Valley, VT 31DEC2019

An image of trees coated with snow from Winter Storm Gage at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of holiday lights in the evening in the center of the Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Early evening in the Bolton Valley Village with some new snow from Winter Storm Gage

Over the past couple of days, Winter Storm Gage brought several inches of snow to the area, so I headed up to the mountain today to sample the goods.  We picked up close to an inch of liquid equivalent from the storm down at the house, so the mountains should have had at least that much as well.  Bolton Valley was noting 5 inches in their official report, which was likely a fairly dense 5 inches.  There was some mixed precipitation in the middle of the storm cycle, but it seemed like the slopes should have gotten a decent resurfacing with the mixed components sandwiched between a decent amount of snow.

Temperatures were really nice up at the mountain – they were right around 30 F, and with essentially no wind, it was very comfortable and calm.  I was up in the late afternoon heading into twilight, so it was a relatively quiet period of the day and I walked right on the Vista Quad when I arrived.  Although there was still plenty of light when I first got up to the mountain, light snow was in the air and we’re in late December, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before it would be dark enough for the slope lights to come on.  I put a clear lens in my goggles, and that was really perfect for my twilight session.

New snow from Winter Storm Gage coats cars in one of the parking lots at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Cars coated by Winter Storm Gage in the upper tier of the Bolton Valley parking lots.

The new snow was certainly a boon to the conditions.  There were still slick areas, but there was a lot of loose snow throughout the trails as well.  A check on the ungroomed areas from roughly mid mountain up revealed about 4 inches of powder, then a thick/crustier layer below that, then another 4 inches of snow above the base.  Even the uppermost layer of snow was reasonably dense, so moderate angle terrain skied quite nicely.  Finding the natural snow in decent shape, I ventured over toward Lower Turnpike and got some excellent powder turns.  I would occasionally touch down to the harder layers below, so the turns were just a notch below what we experienced back on the 21st of the month.

“It’s a bit strange continuing to ski as 4:00 P.M. hits because it feels like everything should be closing up, but you just get to keep going – almost as if the resort forgot you were there.”

I really enjoy these twilight sessions that you can get at Bolton Valley – it can be a very peaceful time of the day as many people have finished up their skiing and folks planning on the evening may not yet have arrived.  It’s a bit strange continuing to ski as 4:00 P.M. hits because it feels like everything should be closing up, but you just get to keep going – almost as if the resort forgot you were there.  The night skiing lights come on at some point, and the scenery around you changes by the minute as the daylight fades.  It’s definitely a unique experience, which is certainly enhanced when you’ve got some new snow.

There’s another small system coming into the area tonight, with the potential for another few inches on top of what we’ve had.  We’re hoping it makes for some nice New Year’s conditions!

Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2019

An image of Dylan skiing on the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty on his snowboard on the Alta Vista trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty out today on his snowboard riding Bolton Valley’s Alta Vista

There hasn’t been any new snow since our ski outing on Saturday, but Ty was planning to head up to the mountain for a bit of snowboarding with his friend Liam, so the rest of the family decided to get in a few runs as well.

I had to head into town for an errand in the morning, but I headed up to the mountain to meet everyone after that.  Not seeing any of the family at the base of the lifts, I did a quick run off the Mid Mountain Chair and took the mellow Bear Run route to get a feel for the surfaces.  The grooming had set the snow up pretty nicely – surfaces were moderately firm, but not bad thanks to relatively low skier traffic.

I’d checked my phone when I got off at Mid Mountain, and E and D let me know they were in the lodge, so I caught up with everyone there.  We had snack, Liam and his family headed out, and our family decided to go for a run off Vista.  E and D showed me where the best snow was located based on their previous runs, and it was in those areas where skiers had pushed the snow to edges.  The spots provided some nice turns in a few inches of loose snow, and D really enjoyed carving it up on his new slalom skis.

Overall the mountain was very quiet today, presumably because folks know that it’s really just groomed runs for now until we get more snow.  Fireside Flatbread wasn’t even open, but Bolton Valley will likely have everything going for the holiday week.

The next couple of weather systems (a smaller one on Friday, and then a larger one starting Sunday) in the flow have generally looked like mixed precipitation, but the back side of the second one seems to consistently show snow potential in the models.  It’s interesting that some models like the ECMWF and CMC show more wintry potential in that second system, but the BTV NWS doesn’t even mention anything about that in their discussion, so I wouldn’t lend it much credence at this point.  For now, I’d certainly watch that Monday/Tuesday period for potential ski options depending on how the back side of the storm cycle plays out.