Bolton Valley, VT 30DEC2021

An image of Erica skiing the Hard Luck trail during the Christmas holiday week at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of the Courtside Condominiums in winter at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of snow clinging to the roof areas of the Courtside 1 Condos in the Bolton Valley Village during today’s ski outing

The Vista Quad was down for a time yesterday to take care of a mechanical issue, and during that time the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam showed backups in the queues at the Mid Mountain and Snowflake lifts as one would expect with the number of holiday visitors.  The repairs were completed yesterday afternoon, which helped disperse everyone, and with everything starting out as expected this morning, E and I headed up to the mountain for a morning ski session.

I was excited to check out Hard Luck, which the mountain has recently opened as their first full black diamond offering of the season.  The snow report indicated that they’re still working to put sufficient snow down on Spillway, so that’s not quite open yet, but Hard Luck is definitely a favorite because it’s much more protected from the wind and often has better snow.

It was great be back on the Vista Quad for lift-served skiing, and we warmed up with a run on Sherman’s Pass and Bear Run to get a feel for the conditions.  Weather conditions have been relatively stable, and although we’ve only had small systems hitting the area over the past week, there haven’t been any major warm air intrusions to really deteriorate the snow surfaces.  With fresh grooming to start off the day, the groomed conditions were quite good on the low to moderate angle terrain we encountered on that run.  You could still hit firm snow in spots, but the lower angle terrain was definitely staying true to form maintaining a nice surface.

Once we were warmed up we headed for some steeper turns, and started on Hard Luck Lane.  E and I had a good discussion about how it’s typically quite icy because it’s steep, and gets a lot of traffic as the first option for many folks coming off Vista.  Today it offered up probably my favorite turns of the day on the left side where people had pushed a lot of extra snow.  Hard Luck was also quite nice throughout, but especially the edges where additional snow had either accumulated or remained untouched.  As we skied a spine on the left side of the trail, I was a bit jealous of E on alpine skis because she could hold a really tight line to stay in the best snow, whereas my footprint with Tele turns was a bit larger.  It was hard to go wrong though – the snow was generally nice all around on Hard Luck.

Looking forward, we might have a storm coming this weekend to potentially freshen up surfaces and perhaps open more terrain depending on how much liquid equivalent it brings.

Bolton Valley, VT 29DEC2021

An image of snow covered branches in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Village Circle at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont during the Christmas holiday week as night skiing gets underway.
The Bolton Valley Village Circle this evening with the festive feel of light and skiers arriving for night skiing

We haven’t had any storms of note since Winter Storm Carrie more than a week ago, although the weather has been fairly active with lots of very minor systems.  E and I were up on the mountain on Monday for some snowshoeing, where we found decent base snow in place from 2,000’ on up, and Bolton Valley was also reporting a couple inches of new snow in their snow report for today.

The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so I decided to head up to the mountain for a tour in the late afternoon.  There was still decent daylight available as I started my ascent, but I had my headlamp just in case I was out long enough for the light to fade.  It was comfortable out there on the hill, with temperatures in the upper 20s F and no wind.  I saw a few other skiers coming down while I ascended, and I bet the number of skiers touring earlier today was way up there, being a holiday week.

I stopped my ascent at around 2,500’ to make sure I’d have enough light for the downhill run, but there were a few skiers still continuing up.  I saw two skiers come down with their headlamps already lit, and I’m sure the folks still ascending we planning on using theirs.  Conditions were nice – most of the trail was natural packed snow from all the skier traffic, but there were still areas with a couple inches of powder along the side that I was able to jump into.

It was definitely a pleasant ski outing to add to the holiday week, and with the base in place on trails like Lower Turnpike, it’s going to offer some great turns when the next significant winter storm hits.  The night skiing was just getting going as I was finishing my tour, and the Village Circle looked lively and festive as holiday week skiers headed up to the lodge and lifts.

Bolton Valley, VT 19DEC2021

An image of Erica and Dylan getting psyched up helmet-to-helmet as they get ready for some turns in the morning's fresh snow
An image of Dylan skiing in some powder from Winter Storm Carrie on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The 6 to 8 inches of new snow from Winter Storm Carrie provided some nice turns today off the lower lifts of the main mountain at Bolton Valley.

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks finishing up the semester for me, and there haven’t been any notable storms to urge me out to the slopes, but we got out to the mountain today to take a few turns in the new snow from Winter Storm Carrie.

For conditions, there was about a half foot of new snow reported by Bolton in their morning report, although there were probably a couple more inches on top of that with the way it was accumulating while we were there.  Indeed they’re now reporting 8 inches for their weekly total, and I’d say that’s probably the storm total once the backside snows were incorporated.  It was a decent resurfacing of the slopes, with 0.80” of L.E. recorded here at our place.  I suspect they’re in the that ballpark for L.E. up at the mountain as well, although the western slopes probably were a bit lower on storm totals relative to the eastern slopes with the wind flow for the majority of the storm cycle.  In any event, the surfaces we found out there today were nice, although I could see how high-angle terrain or higher traffic resorts could find the slopes getting down to firm surfaces pretty quickly.

An image of skiers heading to the lifts in the Bolton Valley Village during Winter Storm Carrie
The back side of Winter Storm Carrie made for a snowy morning up in the Bolton Valley Village.

The overall feel at the resort was quite wintry with temperatures in the teens F, moderate snow falling, and some wind.  Bolton only had their lower lifts running as they were still prepping the Vista Summit for lift-served levels of traffic, but it looks like this storm put them over the top and they’re opening the Vista Quad in the next few days.  The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so with the leftover base they had plus this new storm, there’s certainly enough snow to be skinning for turns on the natural snow terrain at Wilderness, so that’s great to have in place for the upcoming holiday period.  They’ll still need another decent shot of liquid equivalent to get more terrain open for lift-served levels of traffic on natural snow terrain, and to get the lower-elevation Timberline area open for ski touring traffic.  I’m sure there are some people touring down at the Timberline elevations with what we’ve got at the moment, but the Timberline Uphill Route isn’t officially open yet.  I think they’d lost most of the natural base snow there, so you’re working with just the accumulations from Winter Storm Carrie, and this one storm with ~3/4” of liquid equivalent isn’t quite enough to get touring into a really comfortable place.

An image of snow from Winter Storm Carrie and the tracks of skiers on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the snow on Beech Seal today, where 6 to 8 inches fell from Winter Storm Carrie

Bolton Valley, VT 27NOV2021

An image from the Bolton Valley Village on Thanksgiving weekend showing snow falling from a departing winter storm
An image of a skin track at Bolton Valley after a November snowstorm
A view of a skin track on today’s ski tour. The deep snow across the mountain made for many trench-like ascent and descent tracks.

For several days the weather modeling has suggested an early winter storm would be affecting the area after Thanksgiving, and indeed it really began to ramp up the snowfall yesterday.  The ski area webcams were suggesting some nice accumulations at elevation, so I headed up to Bolton this morning for a bit of ski touring.

In terms of snow accumulations, what I found is definitely more than what they’ve got in their snow report (5-8”), but they did indicate they had trouble with blowing at their stake.  It’s possible my measurements were getting down into existing snowpack, but it seems like that should have been consolidated from recent temperatures.  The backside upslope snow was also coming down while I was out there today, so that likely added a bit to the totals:

An image of snow depth on a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont on Thanksgiving weekend.
Snow depths I found today topped out around 16 inches at the 3,000-foot elevation.

340’:  4”
1,000’:  5”
1,500’:  7”
2,000”: 10-12”
2,500’: 13-14”
3,000’: 14-16”

Like what we picked up down at the house, the snow I found at the mountain was generally dense, and it put down a substantial addition to the base on the slopes.  We picked up over an inch of liquid at our site in the valley from this storm, and I’d say the slopes of Bolton easily picked that up as well.  It feels like there’s at least an inch of L.E. at the base elevations, and probably something like two inches of L.E. up high.  Some of the higher elevation snowpack could have come from previous events, but in any case, that’s a substantial amount of L.E. in place.

There were a couple inches of drier upslope snow to finish off this storm cycle, but the bulk of it was that denser snow, and that’s definitely what set the tenor of the skiing.  There were no concerns about hitting anything under the snow on trails without any overt obstacles like large rocks, and any terrain that was smooth up to the level of single black diamond pitch was fine to ski unless it was wind scoured.  In fact, the snow was too dense for skiing any low angle terrain, so you really had to be on moderate to steep terrain or you would be bogged down and just have to straight-line to maintain speed.  Skiing on terrain with the right pitch was quite good though, and you could carve right into the powder and just let the skis surf.

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.