Bolton Valley, VT 14JAN2012

An image of Dylan skiing powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan smiles away as he blasts through the powder at Bolton this afternoon.

The complex winter storm that has been affecting the region finally wound down today, and it’s been a great boon for the Vermont ski areas.  The storm began on Thursday morning when it delivered some fairly standard synoptic snowfall, and through Thursday evening we’d picked up 3.7 inches of 9.2% H2O snow at the house, with the mountains picking up about a half foot.  Thursday night into yesterday morning we were in the dry slot of the storm, and then yesterday afternoon the second round of snow began… and boy did it come on strong in the evening.  While the first half of the event had favored the eastern slopes of the Greens, the second half pounded the western slopes, and that was very evident as I headed home from Burlington on Friday evening.  Our bus took Route 2 instead of I-89 because of storm-related travel issues, and at one point yesterday evening at the house we picked up roughly 3 inches of snow in an hour.  After last night’s snow, the storm totals wound up at 11.7 inches for our location in the valley, and in the 1.5 foot range up in the mountains, with Jay Peak approaching 2 feet.  It was ultimately enough snow to get Stowe’s ski terrain 100% open.

The downside of the new snow was that cold air came with it – it was approximately 10 F this morning at the house, and 3 F up in the Village at Bolton Valley.  Fortunately, there wasn’t any wind, but we still brought hand and foot warmers for the boys in case they needed to take the edge off the chill while skiing.  E wasn’t all that impressed with the conditions on Sprig O’ Pine after their preliminary run while I parked the car, but I was hoping that was due to effects of the wind and the exposure of that terrain.  After a little debate, the boys decided that they were cold enough that they would head into the lodge to fire up some of the hand warmers and put them in their boots and gloves, and then we headed back out into the cold in search of more powder.

Leaving the Mid Mountain Lift, we quickly saw that the Enchanted Forest looked extremely powdery with little traffic up to that point, so we headed in.  We found the coverage and powder to be pretty nice, but in general the snow just felt a little “slow” with the cold temperatures.  With this in mind, we headed to Glades to get a little more pitch, and that helped move things along a little better.  Glades had seen a fair bit of traffic to track up the snow, but we found some good shots of untracked in the jug handle area.

An image of Erica in a Telemark turn in the fresh snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E arcing through a Telemark turn in the fresh snow on Bolton Valley's Glades trail

The snow was decent, but none of us really seemed to be grooving, and Ty appeared especially glum and ornery about the day up to that point.  It turned out that his hands were still cold despite the hand warmers, so we decided to make another trip inside and have lunch in the process.  When we got into the lodge, we were astonished to discover that all the hand warmers the boys were using were stone cold.  That was extremely disconcerting, as we’d bough a big box of them at Costco, and were expecting them to work.  We fiddled around with them for a bit, and I also headed down to the ski shop and bought a couple packets of a different brand for comparison.  The new packets fired up right away and got quite hot.  With a little more shaking and processing we were actually able to get our original packets going as well, but they didn’t cook like the new ones, they just seemed to be of the “slow burn” variety and only got up to lukewarm relative to the hot ones.  Once we were done with lunch, we hooked the boys up with a combination of the “slow” and “fast burn” varieties of hand warmers, and headed out to see if we could finally get that groove going.

To get some challenge and potentially find Ty some “satisfying” turns, we headed up on the Vista Quad and descended via Vermont 200.  That turned out to be a good choice, with generally great coverage, lots of good snow, and only a couple of icy ledges to navigate.  Ty definitely got some of the turns he had been seeking, and everyone enjoyed the challenge and powder/chowder we found.  Below Mid Mountain we headed back to Glades and hit the jug handle area as we’d done before.  Both boys seemed to have fun ripping that up.

An image of Ty skiing fresh powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty cruising through that fresh powder in the Villager Trees

To continue with the positive energy, we sought out some untracked snow in the Villager Trees, and found an impressive snowpack for what has been a slow season for snowfall – I stuck my measurement pole in a representative protected area at ~2,600’ and got a depth measurement of 30 inches.  While we explored around, the boys amused themselves by taking down some huge icicles from one of the ledges.  On the descent, the powder was deep and thoroughly bottomless, and while many fun turns were made, the powder was almost too deep for some of the pitches in there.  The turns were so good though that we were able to call it a day after that and finished off with more powder on the sides of Lower Bentley.  It had actually gotten sunny and warmed up a bit as well, into the high single digits, and with the hand warmers cranking the boys didn’t have any more issues with the cold.  Back at the car we found out that the “fast burn” hand warmers had already burned themselves out after just a couple of hours, while those of the “slow burn” variety were still going.  At that point everything seemed to make sense – a combination of the two types would really be optimal.  So after a slow start today, things really picked up and we managed some decent powder from what has been the biggest winter storm of the season up to this point.

Bolton Valley, VT 12JAN2012

An image of E skiing fresh powder at night on the Sprig O' Pine trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E cruising through some fresh powder tonight on Sprig O’ Pine at Bolton Valley

The incoming multi-part winter storm started to affect the region today with the first round of snow.  The snow started falling at our location in Waterbury right around 6:00 A.M. this morning when I was making my observations for CoCoRaHS, and there was probably a half inch of accumulation when I left roughly an hour later.  There was the potential for downsloping on the western slopes of the Greens, and indeed, just a few miles west of the house, the snow really tapered off.  There was little if anything falling in Jonesville and Richmond as I drove through, and nothing going on in Burlington.  Later in the morning though, it did start snowing in Burlington, and there was roughly a half inch of accumulation when I left around 5:00 P.M.

When I got back to the house this evening, I found 3.7 inches of snow on the snowboard; the snow seemed fairly dense but it was still medium weight stuff at 9.2% H2O.  Up in the mountains, afternoon reports were indicating about a half foot of snow from the event, with the higher totals toward Central and Southern Vermont where the snow had come in a little earlier and stronger.  Here’s the north to south list of totals from some of the ski areas as of this afternoon:

Burke: 4”
Smuggler’s Notch: 5”
Stowe: 3”
Bolton Valley: 4”
Sugarbush: 5”
Suicide Six: 4”
Pico: 7”
Killington: 7”
Stratton: 7”
Mount Snow: 6”

Knowing that we’d picked up 3.7 inches down below in the valley, it was likely that Bolton had done better than 4 inches of snow reported in their early afternoon update, but even that was enough to get us thinking about an evening session of turns with the boys.  There are only so many times a season when the right combination of new snow, comfortable temperatures, and minimal wind come together to make for that optimal night skiing experience, and tonight was looking like one of those nights.

After dinner we headed up to Bolton; we were in the dry slot portion of the storm system at that point, so precipitation was minimal and the Bolton Valley Access Road was in good shape.  Arriving at the village (2,100’) we found a temperature of 30 F, and the only precipitation was some small snow grains/mist.  I dropped E and the boys off at the Snowflake Lift so that they could take a run, and made it back up to the loading area before they’d even finished their descent.  While I waited for them, I got to speak with our friend Matt who was checking tickets that evening.  He said that the mountain had received a decent shot of snow, and that they were even thinking of opening up Timberline for the weekend.  That will likely depend on how things look over there after the rest of the storm system comes through, but that was encouraging to hear.

When E and the boys returned to the lift, we headed up for another Snowflake run.  They had taken the Butterscotch Terrain Park on their descent, and conditions didn’t sound all that inspiring in terms of softness and powder since they had taken the main area with the big snow whales.  For that next trip we visited Sprig O’ Pine, and found some very nice powder off to the skier’s right before the area where it merges with Bear Run.  The 4 inches that the resort had reported seemed about right for the lower mountain, although I suspected there would be a bit more on the upper mountain with the continued snowfall.  We took one more Sprig O’ Pine run to enjoy that powder we’d found, and it continued to serve up some nice turns since it was dense enough to keep you from bottoming out.  Our 3.7 inches of snow down at the house was made up of 0.34” of liquid equivalent, so with Bolton presumably picking up at least that 0.3” to 0.4” of liquid, that was plenty of cushion above the base snow.

Next it was time for a summit run off the Vista Quad.  As we glided above Spillway on the lift, we were astonished by how good the coverage looked, and how many tracks were on it; it almost looked like it was open. We looked around for all the detritus that litters the trail, and it was really hard to find anything sticking out; I actually questioned if they had made snow on it because of how buried everything was.  Clearly it wasn’t open though, as there was a patroller stationed at the bottom to catch folks who were bending the rules.  More than likely, the new snow was just hiding all those object lurking below the surface, making for a very dicey descent.  Up at the Vista Summit the air temperature had cooled a bit down to 24 F, but it was still quite nice overall.  We took Sherman’s Pass, which generally had a nice surface for carving, and we had a really good time in the fresh snow off to the skier’s left above the Mid Mountain area.  Ty was making so much noise and having so much fun coming down through there, that the patroller stationed in the area checked to make sure we hadn’t poached Spillway.

An iamge of Dylan in front of snow-covered evergreens lit up by the night skiing lights at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan pauses on Sherman’s Pass as the night skiing lights illuminate some of the fresh snow on the trees.

Since it was a school night for the boys, we didn’t stay too much longer, but it had definitely been worth getting out for a few runs; it felt great to have the skis dig into that soft, fresh snow.  The recent snow was deep enough that we were able to ski right across the access road to the parking lot, and in terms of ski conditions, that’s typically a great sign to be able to comfortably ski across main roads to your car.  E had a good time and we’ll certainly be back for another evening session if circumstances line up appropriately again.  This front end dump has already featured plenty of snow and liquid equivalent to get some additional terrain going, because there were plenty of areas that were very close.  If some decent upslope comes in on the back end of this system tomorrow, that will provide additional help.  I’d say everyone is excited about where the mountains will be after this event, which all told may bring up to a foot and a half of snow.

Stowe, VT 08JAN2012

An image of ski tracks in the powder on one of the exit trails from Upper Smuggler's at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Natural snow terrain featured some excellent skiing today at Stowe Mountian Resort.

We kicked off our BJAMS ski program at Stowe today, and it really snuck up on me – it felt like we’d just finished this year’s December training day.  We had to arrive early so that E could hand out everyone’s season’s passes, and once we were ready, I took Ty and Dylan out for some pre-session runs.  It was the boys’ first chance to try out Stowe’s RFID lift pass system, and they were pretty psyched about how it worked as we hopped on the Sunny Spruce Quad.  We saw a touch of snow yesterday at Bolton, but since the three small storms last week that dropped about a half a foot of snow, there hasn’t been anything huge.  Powderfreak reported that the mountain did get another 2.7 inches overnight, and coupled with all the other recent light snows and wintery temperatures, the fresh tracks that Powderfreak snowed from the morning looked mighty fine.  I was really worried when I heard PF mention some light rain in the lower elevations on Saturday, but it must have been pretty inconsequential because nobody is mentioning any ill effects.

We set out toward Lower Smuggler’s, hoping to find some “satisfying” turns like we found  yesterday at Bolton.  Lower Smuggler’s didn’t turn out to be that impressive; there was a lot of manmade snow on it that was rather firm, and not a lot of extra untracked snow off to the sides.  With all the racing going below on Slalom Hill, we took the alpine slide tunnel and headed toward the meadows area to see how the natural snow in the upper meadows was skiing.  We cut around the very top of the area in case it was crusty of coverage was poor, but once we cut back in we found that it didn’t matter – the snow was quite decent.  Even though that area is south facing and very low elevation, there were a couple of inches of substantial powder over the base snow.  The base was a little variable due to what seemed like wind and some previous melting, but the quality of the turns was impressive.  At one point I believe I commented, “That wasn’t half bad… that wasn’t even a third bad!”  There are still a few blades of tall grass sticking out here and there, but that’s really decent coverage for such a location with snowfall being substantially below average.

An image of Ty skiing above the Meadows area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Ty catches some powder turns in the open area above Meadows at Stowe.

We had time for another run, so we took the Sunny Spruce again, and this time headed in the direction of Side Street.  The skier’s left had some very nice snow, and when we passed the last exit from Lower Smuggler’s we saw that it looked great – it had several inches of powder on it, with just a few tracks.  We added that to our hit list in case we got the chance to venture there later in the day.  At that point it was obvious that there is some really good snow out there, and not just in the high elevations; when I probed snow depths in those middle elevations of Spruce Peak, I generally found 8 to 12 inches of loose powder before I hit a base layer.  That’s great skiing for any time during the season.  At the top of the Easy Street Double we cut over to the area above Meadows once again.  The boys set down some more tracks in that powder, and were looking really good as they handled the variable snow that lay underneath.

When we got back it was time to start coaching.  My partner for today was Mike, but as he was still working on getting his son Micah set up, I took all the kids out alone for an initial run.  I had a good crew, with Luke, Jack, Alexia, Madeline, Ty, and Dylan.  After what we’d seen on that last run, I knew the exact route to take; we headed toward Side Street, and traversed to catch that powder on the Lower Smuggler’s Exit.  That snow was as good as it had looked.  I then brought everyone into the powder above Meadows so that they could work on handling that uneven base, and they all did a pretty nice job.

We met up with Mike and headed over to the Gondola, finding that it was feeling especially wintery when we got up to the Gondola summit around 3,600’ or so.  There was a bit of snow falling, some wind, and tons of snow on the ground; it was definitely a midwinter scene.  Mike suggested that we hit the switchbacks along Gondolier, and as we headed down that way, I cut uphill from Upper Perry Merril to check out some of the snow on Upper Switchback – there was over a foot of powder up there over plenty of base, and if I hadn’t been coaching I suspect some off piste exploration would have yielded some really nice turns.  The main issue keeping all off piste terrain from being accessible is just that snowpack is still somewhat low, so getting into the trees (especially steep stuff) isn’t quite there for all locations yet.  With that said, Mike noted that yesterday he was out exploring the Goatdive woods and environs (on his super fatties and being very cautious) and had a good time.  I’m not recommending this of course, since he’s very familiar with all those lines from hiking them in the off season, but things are certainly getting close for that type of terrain.  The 26 inches of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake isn’t just 26 inches of fluff, there’s plenty of substance in there, and as Powderfreak and I talked about over in the American Weather Forum, that’s the snowpack depth where appropriate moderate-angle tree skiing gets going around here.  We certainly weren’t planning to explore much off piste with the kids today anyway, but it was nice to find that there are some fantastic powder turns out there already.  As we continued down below the upper mountain, we found that the lower sections of Switchback were OK, but for whatever reason they seem to be really icy in spots as I’ve often seen.  One would think they’d get less traffic than Gondolier or Perry Merril, but something turns the snow bad in there – perhaps it’s the narrowness of the trail constraining traffic in a small area.

With another trip on the Gondola we decided to catch Cliff Trail so the kids could try out Stowe’s new Four Runner Quad.  Cliff Trail, which far too frequently seems to be just an icy, concave mess with the way it is groomed and managed, was far better than usual – it was left bumped up!  Neither Mike not I could remember the last time we’d seen it like that, but the conditions were so much better than what happens when they groom it.  Perhaps it keeps people from skidding their way down the trail and turning it into an icy mess?  Whatever the reason, the upper half that had been left bumped had far better conditions than I can remember from any recent outings.  Farther down, Lower Nosedive was a return to annoying manmade snow… firm and not really that impressive.

We had a couple of runs off the quad, one down through to the Tyro area, and another in the North Slope area.  There was some pretty nice snow near the top of the mountain, but neither trail was all that impressive with firm, Sunday afternoon, manmade snow conditions prevailing.  I was surprised that Tyro was so firm, as it’s a little lower angle and out of the way, but for whatever reason it was pretty uninspiring.  One trail that we didn’t ski was Liftline – but it looked pretty crazy with a lot of firm, snowmaking whales of all different configurations.  On our final trip to the top it was really starting to get cold.  We took a snack break inside the Octagon, but they were in the midst of closing so we headed out quickly and headed back to Spruce Peak.  We managed to catch the s’mores session at the fire pit in the Spruce Peak Village, and the kids were happy about that, although we didn’t take any additional runs.

A black and white image of a weather-battered tree as viewed from the Octagon building at Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort near the top of Mt. Mansfield
Looking out from the Octagon at a weather-battered evergreen high on Mt. Mansfield

Upstairs in Spruce Camp, the Great Room Grill and Spruce Camp Bar were closing early today, so E and the boys and I decided to stop in at The Whip for food on the way home.  We were still a little early for the full dinner menu, which starts at 5:30 P.M., but the kid’s menu was in effect and E and I had soup and salad like we’d been thinking about anyway.  I think E and Claire had a very good first outing for the BJAMS ski program today, and with the big season’s pass distribution week behind us now, thing will hopefully continue on a good track when we next meet in a couple of weeks. 

Overall there is already some impressive skiing and riding out there on the natural snow terrain at Stowe; I can see why people are coming from all over the place to visit, since it’s been a slow start to the season in many areas.  There’s not much to complain about, and hopefully next week’s system will be another net gain to improve the skiing even more.  Having skied at both Bolton Valley and Stowe this weekend, I can say that one good synoptic storm with an inch or so of liquid equivalent is going to produce a huge bump in open terrain – if it’s big enough both resorts could be close to 100% open.  For Bolton, it may also depend on how prepared they are to get areas like Wilderness and Timberline going, but we’ll see what Mother Nature does and I’m sure they’ll take it from there.

Bolton Valley, VT 07JAN2012

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Wilderness Lift Line at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan enjoying the powder at Wilderness

There weren’t any large snowstorms in Northern Vermont over the past week, but we did have three small storms that brought a total of 4.8 inches of snow to the house and probably a half foot or so to the mountains.  Today was again expected to be one of those comfortable days in the 30s F, and since it appeared as though there was some warming in the middle elevations based on Powderfreak’s early morning report from Stowe, we got a relatively early start in case the powder on the lower mountain was going to thicken too much with the warming temperatures.

I checked in on the temperature history for the Bolton Valley Weather Station at 2,100’, and it had only gotten up to 35 F overnight at that elevation.  As we drove up the Bolton Valley Access Road around 9:30 A.M., we could see that the mid level temperature inversion was in effect though; at the house (500’), the temperature was around freezing, and it was 37 F in the village (2,100’).  That still wasn’t too bad depending on how dry the air was, and it was likely cooler than that above the base elevations.

A plot of the temperatures from a weather station at the base of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont 07JAN2012
Temperatures at the base of Bolton Valley rose to 35 F overnight, and the mid to upper 30s F during the day today, but the summit elevations stayed below freezing and the powder remained light and dry on the upper half of the mountain.

The resort had finally opened up the Snowflake Lift for the season, so I dropped E and the boys off there to let them take a run or two while I parked the car and got changed.  When I finally met back up with them, they’d already taken a couple of runs, and the boys were really enjoying the skiing in the Butterscotch Terrain Park.  The mountain hasn’t even created the big jumps yet, but they’ve started to amass snow in the area, and there are some knolls and steep drops.  Ty enjoyed taking them at speed and sailing a good distance while being just inches off the ground.  The embryonic terrain features were nice, but I was more interested in powder along the edge of the park.  There were a couple inches of new snow atop the base, and it was skiing nicely – there certainly weren’t any temperature issues with the powder at that point.  We met up with Stephen and his group of Helena and Thomas, as well as Claire and her group of Luke and others, and took a few runs in that area before finally deciding to check out the higher elevations.

An image of Erica skiing a couple inches of fresh powder along the edge of the Butterscotch Terrain Park at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E enjoying some of the powder along the edge of the Butterscotch Terrain Park

From the Vista Summit we decided to head down Alta Vista, and this is actually where I found some of the best turns of the day.  I checked out the snow on the skier’s far left, and found an impressive accumulation composed of the recent rounds of powder, bolstered by snow that people had pushed off the trail.  I told the others in the group to check it out as well, because it was really impressive.  We’ve certainly had some good skiing so far this season, but it was something about the combination of steep, soft turns along that left side spine that really hit that next level.  As I was composing my thoughts about the turns I’d just had in an effort to crystallize a description, Ty, who had followed my advice to take that line, came to a stop at the bottom of the steep pitch and said, “That was really satisfying!”  I must have laughed out loud.  That was the perfect description of that skiing – Ty had really nailed it.  It was steep enough, and deep enough, and fast enough, that is just hit that combination that we hadn’t seem too much of yet.  The mantra for the day became that “satisfying” line, and we deemed Alta Vista as our “go to” run from the top.  Obviously, with the great snow we’d found, temperatures were not at all an issue up at the top of the mountain; it was easily below freezing and the snow was staying light and dry.

We headed over to Wilderness next to get into some untracked powder, and found that a few hundred feet lower the snow was still holding up well.  The boys were in really good spirits after the great skiing we’d found on Alta Vista, and they next hit some untracked areas on the Wilderness Lift Line.  Ty caught a nice jump on his line, and Dylan finished off his line with an impressive straight-line, figure-11 schuss.  It was really nice to see him being so aggressive, although he did have an unfortunate end when he came into a water bar that wasn’t quite filled to the brim with snow and took a tumble in the powder.  Fortunately, the biggest issue ended up being all the cold powder that got under his clothes.  Below that, E had some really nice Telemark turns in the open areas of powder; the powder was a little dense, but without the effects of the wind, the snow was easier to manage than what we’d encountered last Friday.  The boys and I popped into Wilderness Woods, and coverage is clearly adequate based on how heavily they had been skied.  Still, one can’t quite go around with reckless abandon in there yet, and a big synoptic dump of snow is what’s needed to get that area to the next level of coverage with more comfortable skiing.  Farther along, we ventured onto Lower Turnpike.  Just like we’d seen last Friday, the kids were still there having a session on that backcountry kicker.  There was still plenty of untracked snow to be found, although now that we were on the lower half of the mountain we could feel it getting thicker due to temperatures a bit above freezing.

An image of Ty catching air amidst the powder on the Wilderness Lift Line at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty catching a little air on the Wilderness Lift Line

The boys called for lunch, so we headed into the lodge.  Surprisingly, even though the holidays were over, the lodge was much more crowded than we’d found on our previous Bolton outing a week ago on New Year’s Eve.  That day had low clouds on the upper mountain that probably kept a lot of people away, but a big factor in the number of visitors today was probably the fact that all the season-long kids programs were starting up.  After a quick look for a table, we just decided that we’d grab a quick bite in the James Moore Tavern instead.  It was our first time in the tavern this season and we had a pleasant lunch with the usual great atmosphere.  The tavern was really filling up by the time we were done, so it looks like they were doing some really good business.  Stephen popped into the tavern during lunch and said that he’d be free in the afternoon for some skiing; Helena was going to take a lesson, and Johannes would still be in his Mountain Explorers group for the remainder of the day.

An image from inside the James Moore Tavern at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some ski area ambiance from inside the James Moore Tavern at lunch today

After lunch we did a Mid Mountain run on Beech Seal, and some precipitation started to fall.  We actually thought it might be rain at first, but it was just a bit of sleet that soon transitioned over to snow.  We met up with Stephen and Thomas, and enjoyed the fresh round of snowfall as we rode the Vista Quad and headed toward the summit.  The snow was gradually transformed into higher quality flakes as time and elevation passed, and it was snowing hard enough on the upper half of the mountain that we put up our hoods to keep from getting covered.  I was riding the chair with Ty and Dylan, and we all had fun with various methods of capturing snowflakes in our mouths.  The snow didn’t last too long, but at least it put down a coating and brought in and extra dose of winter spirit.

An image of Ty catching snowflakes on his tongue while we ride the Vista Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty going for some snowflakes during one of our rides on the Vista Quad today

We introduced Stephen and Thomas to what we’d found on Alta Vista, and then headed back over to Wilderness.  It had warmed a bit more, so the turns in the untracked snow on Lower Turnpike were more challenging, and we learned that we’d definitely been smart when we’d hit it as early as possible.  While the skiing was still manageable, it was getting sticky enough that it wasn’t quite worth making the trek all the way over there, especially when contrasted to the way the snow was staying so cold in the higher elevations up on Alta Vista.  With that thought in our heads, we headed back up for another go at Alta Vista.  Ty actually nailed the steep, “satisfying” section better than me on that one, although I came right back at him and said that I’d like to see him handle it with some quality Telemark turns.  On the lower mountain, E and I opted for the steeper turns on Beech Seal, while Thomas and the boys took Bear Run for its jumps.  Even with the good snow, we were done at that point, so we skied on down to the road and headed to the car.  I think Ty would agree that it was a pretty “satisfying” day – we got a taste of steep, natural snow and we’re ready for Mother Nature to deliver something that will allow more access to more.  There could be a substantial storm in the later part of the upcoming week, so we’ll just have to see how that plays out.  The mountain is primed and ready with respectable base snow at all elevations, even down to Timberline, so a big synoptic dump could open a lot of terrain.

Bolton Valley, VT 31DEC2011

An image of the main upper mountain at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont with low clouds
Today had a bit of a Pacific Northwest flavor on the mountain, with low clouds and soft snow.

We knew that today was going to be a big day up at the mountain.  Kenny and his family just returned home yesterday from holidays in New York City, and the plan was to get together with us for some skiing at Bolton.  A couple close friends of their family were coming to ski as well, and with Stephen and his crew up for the morning, that made a total of 15 people with whom we were likely to ski.  With varying abilities and instructional goals, everyone wasn’t necessarily going to be skiing together all at once, but with eight kids, the outing was likely to be quite a mettlesome affair.

The day started off with good timing; we arrived right around the same time as Kenny and his family, so assembling in the lodge and getting day tickets for those that needed them was an easy process.  The pre-arranged plan was for E and Uncle Forrest to provide a bit of instruction to Marlene and Ashley in the Mighty Mite area so that they could get their feet wet on their first outing of the season.  Meanwhile, Jeff and I took all the kids up the Mid Mountain Lift so that Kenny, Liana, and Isabella could do a few laps and get their turns flowing.  After just a couple of runs their turns and control were really coming along, although we did have to keep Kenny from playing too hard with Ty and Dylan in the jumps and other terrain along the edge of the trail until he was ready.  Helena quickly joined up with us, and after watching the other kids working on their turns, I was especially impressed at how confident and fluid she looked in her turning.  Soon, our ranks swelled a bit more as Stephen, Johannes and Thomas joined us for a bit.  Temperatures were in the mid 30s F, so the snow softened nicely and was perfect for digging in an edge.  I was once again impressed at just how good Bear Run is for folks that are working on their turns; there are a couple of slightly steeper spots, but none that are overwhelming, and the trail really meanders down the mountain at a fairly consistent and friendly pitch.

We hadn’t done too many runs before Isabella (the youngest of course) insisted that she needed more challenge.  The routine of Bear Run was already making her impatient and she wanted to hit something else.  It felt like everyone was ready, so we stepped it up next with the recently-opened Beech Seal.  Everyone did fine, although there was no question that the increased pitch put a little more pressure on the less advanced children – Isabella definitely got lazy toward the bottom and stopped making here turns.  Jeff and I both got on her case for that.  In any event, the snow was just as soft as we’d encountered on Bear Run, and it was really nice to hit that steeper pitch and really sink the edges into the snow.

We met up with the folks who had been on the Mighty Mite around that time, and learned that instruction had gone well; Marlene was working her way toward parallel turns with wedge Christies, and Ashley was working on various aspects of her wedge.  The only issue is that there had been a big pause due to adjustment needs in their leased/rented boots.  Even though their boots were from another shop, the folks in the Bolton Valley rental area were great with assistance with fitting, and figured out exactly the adjustment that was giving them all their discomfort with that specific boot model.  Knowing how painful the situation had been, big kudos go out to the shop folks for saving the day.

With the Mighty Mite crew joining us, we did some additional trips down Bear Run that allowed Marlene to ski with the kids – she was looking really good with her parallel turns and seemed to be having a great time.  Naturally with the huge group, everyone’s pace wasn’t quite the same, so Jeff and I had let Ty and Kenny run circuits at their own speed.  Liana did the same thing, and although they don’t typically do a lot of time at the resort alone, they took care of themselves quite well.

Finally, we had progressed to the point that we decided to do a run off the Vista Quad – Ashley had gone in for a break, but everyone else in the group was heading up.  Ty had been excited to get to the upper mountain, and had been talking it up enough to Kenny that he was getting excited as well.  Since there was the potential for more challenge, I’m sure Isabella was happy as well.  While we’d been below cloud level on the lower mountain, the Vista Peak area was socked in, and it was very impressive just how thick the clouds were.  We started with the full Sherman’s Pass route to make it as easy as possible on everyone that was working on their turns.  The kids played in all the jumps along the edges of the trail and had a blast.  On-slope visibility was difficult at the top of the mountain, but those thick clouds tapered off well before we even got down to the Mid Mountain level.

With that run under everyone’s belts, it was easy to get a consensus to break for lunch; Stephen and his crew had to leave by 1:00 P.M., so they had gone in to eat earlier, but we still had quite a large group.  Despite the soft snow, the cloudy weather and potential for a few showers seemed to keep many people home, so that meant neither the slopes nor lodge were crowded – that was good news for our group at prime lunch time.  Personally, I thought the conditions were great; it felt like classic Pacific Northwest ski conditions in the lower elevations – a little heavy on the clouds and moisture in the air, but it was more than made up for by very comfortable temperatures and soft snow.  In any event, we had any easy time getting all the tables we needed for the large group upstairs on the lodge.  The kids took care of the hunger they’d accumulated with all those morning runs, and charged themselves up for the afternoon.  Later, when I asked Ty about things he remembered from the day, he spoke of the awesome cheeseburger he had for lunch… so obviously it made an impression.  Oh, and he also mentioned Kenny’s pizza, which seemed to disappear quickly.

An image of various people from our group having lunch in the base lodge at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Enjoying lunch with our big group in the base lodge

We were right back on the quad in the afternoon, and although I wasn’t sure how ready everyone was for more challenging options beyond Sherman’s Pass, Jeff made the executive decision of heading down Bull Run.  Technically I think it’s labeled a beginner run, but it’s got some more challenging sections, including that last dive down to Mid Mountain that would probably be rated advanced on its own.  The pitch made it difficult for the girls to commit to their turns, especially since it’s a natural snow trail and coverage was a little thin to further constrain the line options.  I helped by carrying Isabella through the crux, and Liana took that section by sliding on her back in the soft snow.  Everyone seemed to have a really good time though, and they were laughing about it as we slid across the Mid Mountain area.  The clouds had lowered pretty far by the afternoon, even below Mid Mountain, so many folks were calling it an early afternoon.  While the reduced visibility can be great for working on your balance if you’ve reached a certain level of skiing, it can make it quite difficult when you’re first starting out.  I heard one guy in the lodge mention that he only did a couple of runs because he just couldn’t see well enough to be confident in his skiing.

An image of snowboarders riding the Vista Quad Chair in heavy fog at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Clouds enveloped the mountain peaks today and visibilities dropped to incredibly low levels on the upper mountain.

With the clouds lowering the way they were, after a couple of quad runs we decided to finish off with Mid Mountain Lift to keep us below the densest clouds.  People were excited to check out Glades, and although I was a little worried about the uneven terrain or potential coverage issues for the beginners, I quickly acquiesced.  Coverage wasn’t too bad, but not quite to the level it was when it opened up on December 30th, 2006.  I bring up that day because the 2006-2007 season started slowly, very much like this one – it wasn’t until the end of December that natural snow terrain really started to open up.  So, even with the early season coverage on Glades, Ty, Dylan and Kenny ate it up; the huge leap in skiing that Kenny had made that day was most evident as I watched him easily hang with Ty and Dylan.  The boys schussed the run so fast that we had time to hit the Waffle Cabin at the base while we waited for the girls.  The boys had already finished their waffle by the time everyone else arrived, but E said all of the girls had done really well – it just took time as she coached them on how to deal with uneven terrain by taking it one turn at a time, and there were a couple of small tumbles that just required a lot of time for reassembly.  It had been a great day for Kenny and his family all around, and it looks like they’ll hit the ground running when ski program starts up next week at Stowe.

Bolton Valley, VT 30DEC2011

An image of Jay skiing in powder on the Lower Turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont - December 30, 2011
Today we finally had a chance to catch up with some the powder that has accumulated form the recent holiday snowstorms.

Although we headed out to the mountain yesterday to check out the powder from the recent storm, we really didn’t get to explore all the areas that we’d wanted to hit.  The frigid weather had the snow feeling a bit slow, and the boys got cold pretty quickly in the single digit temperatures and wind.  With the warmer weather today though, we headed back out this afternoon for more exploration.  One of the problems yesterday was that E and the boys hung around outside and waited while I parked the car, headed into the lodge, changed into my gear, etc.; that didn’t really help them in terms of staying warm.  Today however, they decided to hit the slopes and take a run while I got ready.  They typically use the Snowflake Lift for these types of shorter runs, but since Snowflake isn’t in operation yet, they took a run off the Mid Mountain Lift.  They decided to take a trip through The Enchanted Forest – it looked like it had a lot of snow when we looked at it yesterday, and today we saw that the mountain had decided to open it up.  After their run, when I caught up with E and the boys at the base of the lift, E gave me the update on the conditions there.  Although it was certainly skiable, it was probably best earlier in the morning before it had seen much traffic.  Fortunately rocks weren’t really an issue, but E said that areas of grass were coming through and there was enough navigating around them that it wasn’t really worth doing again – we’d likely be able to find better snow elsewhere. 

With those observations in hand, we got ourselves over to Wilderness to catch up on some of that exploration on our agenda.  We checked out the Wilderness Lift Line in the area below the Wilderness Mid Station, but with the way the wind had hit it, it didn’t look all that appealing, so we decided to continue on over to Cougar where there’s a bit more protection from the wind.  The Cougar Headwall had a few tracks on it, and there were actually a couple other groups of skiers hitting it up while we were there.  The best powder pockets were off to the sides, and especially the skier’s left where the wind had been minimal and any wind slab was reduced in thickness.

An image of Erica and Dylan heading over to the Wilderness area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading over to Wilderness for some powder

Things actually got even better when we dropped down onto Lower Turnpike.  The pitch was less, but that meant that terrain could support a lot more traffic.  There had maybe been a dozen skiers on it before us, and spending some time in the tracked areas was actually quite useful if the pitch mellowed too much for the amount of powder available.  And the powder was very good – we found ourselves in 8 to 12 inches of medium weight powder over a nicely consolidated base.  A few water bars still had to be approached cautiously, and optimal crossing points chosen, but between the base and all the new powder from the past two storms, coverage was more than sufficient.  Near the top of the run, a group of kids had built a backcountry kicker and they looked like they were having a good session.  We did some photography of our own skiing, although it was actually getting difficult because it was later in the day and the light was fading.  All in all though it was a beautifully long run filled with powder that more than made up for what we’d skipped yesterday.

An image ofAn image of Jay skiing powder on the Lower Turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying the powder on Lower Turnpike

By the time we hit the bottom of Lower Turnpike it was getting dark enough that the lights were coming on for night skiing, but we weighed our options for more skiing with the boys as we shuffled back from the bottom of the Wilderness lift toward the base lodge.  Dylan said he didn’t really feel like doing another run, while Ty was pococurante and said he could go either way.  We decided to split the difference and do a quick run off the Mid Mountain Lift – we were in part excited that it was a chance for Mom to catch a run under the lights.  It had been a while since she’d been out for an evening session, and we had so much fun under the lights last Friday that we wanted another taste.  Since the mountain had recently opened Beech Seal for the season, we decided to have a go at it.  We’d watched them making snow on it yesterday, and at times it had looked like they were basically just spraying water on it while they adjusted the guns, but it looked quite nice now that the snowmaking whales had been smoothed out by the groomers.  We had a nice run, and with the increased pitch relative to Bear Run it was a good change of pace.  E really enjoyed it and commented on how easy it was to ski it now on her Telemark skis, when at one point early on in her Telemark career it had been the bane of her existence.

That run was enough to satiate us after that long Wilderness tour though, and we know that we’re likely to have a big day tomorrow when we ski with a large group of friends.  We’re really enjoying the moderating temperatures after yesterday’s cold snap, and tomorrow looks like it’s should be plenty warm, with temperatures in the 30s F even up in the mountains.

Bolton Valley, VT 29DEC2011

An image of Dylan skiing powder in the Bear Run Woods at Bolton Valley in Vermont on December 29, 2011
The two feet of snow from the storms this week has finally allowed at least some minimal off piste skiing to get going at Bolton Valley.

Thanks to the second big snowstorm of the holiday week, the mountains picked up another foot of snow, so we decided to hit Bolton to check it out.  When I’d headed up for turns yesterday afternoon/evening, it was still snowing very hard with plenty of wind, but it looked like areas that weren’t affected by the wind were going to offer up some excellent powder turns today.  One downside to the storm was that it also ushered in some fairly cold air, bringing temperatures down to around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  With that in mind, we didn’t rush right off to the slopes in the morning, but let the air warm up a bit because we knew it was going to be a bit rough for the boys.  By mid morning we’d reached the mid teens F at the house, so we decided it was time to get going.  We also got a little extra incentive to ski when we discovered that the mountain was beginning to open up some new, natural snow terrain for the first time this season due to all the additional snow.  In the morning snow report on the Bolton Valley Website, the indicated that trails like the Wilderness Lift Line would be opening, and that was very exciting to hear.  We also let the boys have a go at their powder skis for the first time this season, so that got them psyched up a bit for the outing, even if it wasn’t a mega dump of snow and were weren’t rushing out for first tracks.

An image of Bolton Valley's Timberline area on December 29, 2011 with ski tracks from people earning turns
The natural snow has gotten deep enough that people have even been out earning turns at Bolton Valley's Timberline area.

Even down at the lower elevations of the Timberline area (~1,500’) we could see the effects of the new snow – the Timberline trails looked to have decent coverage, and ski tracks were visible, indicating that people had clearly been out earning turns.  We found that the temperatures were in the upper single digits at the main base of the mountain, but the bright blue skies at least meant that the sun would be giving us a bit of warmth.  That sort of fooled E and the boys though, in that they waited outside by the base area ski racks while I parked the car and went into the lodge to put on my gear.  They had to wait outside for a decent stretch of time, but they seemed to be doing OK, we all hopped on the Vista Quad together for a run off the top.  It was indeed colder and windy up top, not the sort of place that one would want to hang around, but the snow surfaces were much improved on the upper mountain compared to when we had first skied Sherman’s Pass on mostly manmade snow on Saturday.  We decided to take Alta Vista, which was newly opened thanks to snowmaking.  It was pretty firm since it was all manmade snow, but at least it was an alternative to Sherman’s Pass off the top.  The mountain had also opened up the Swing trail and Work Road, connecting over to Wilderness, and those were nice on all natural snow.  The Wilderness Lift Line had its usual pleasant natural snow skiing, and coverage was fine, even if the powder was a bit wind-affected in spots and the snow seemed a little “slow” due to the cold temperatures.  It was nice to see the boys enjoying their powder boards, which were certainly helping them out if they ran into any of the wind crust.  Once we were back at the base, everyone deemed it was time for a break because the boy’s fingers were definitely cold from their extended wait while I parked the car and got into my gear.

An image of flames in the wood-fired oven up at the Fireside Flatbread Restarant at Bolton Valley ski resort in Vermont
The warm, fiery glow of the wood-fired oven at Fireside Flatbread

We ate upstairs in the lodge, and took a nice long lunch with plenty of hot tomato soup for everyone to get their bodies warmed up.  The influx of cold did make for some nice wintry scenery around the lodge though, with icicles outside the main staircase, and beautiful patterns of frost on some of the windows.

An image of icicles outside a staircase at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Icicles outside the base lodge hinted at some of the cold temperatures today.

We finally decided to head back out into the cold for another run, and this time took Alta Vista and the more standard Sherman’s Pass route below that to mid mountain.  With all the new snow, we decided to check out the Bear Run woods, since we’d seen a lot of tracks in there.  We found that they were skiable, although a lot of the area was pretty marginal because the shrubbery had not been freshly cleared this season in a lot of the area.  It was fun to get into a bit of powder, but there were definitely obstacles underfoot so one had to be very cautious and we didn’t deem it worth another round of skiing.  From what I was hearing though in talking to folks on the mountain, off piste areas that had been well trimmed were offering up some decent turns, although one still had to be very cautious.  We decided to finish off with a mid mountain run, which let us avoid the more extensive cold and wind of the Vista Summit area.  We had a final good run enjoying the groomed Bear Run, which was skiing very nicely with all the new snow incorporated by the groomers.  We are certainly looking forward to some warming temperatures and the chance to get into some additional powder in the upcoming days.  I expect that the mountain will be able to open more natural snow terrain based on what we saw during today’s outing.

Bolton Valley, VT 28DEC2011

Our current winter storm started up yesterday afternoon with some snow that gradually changed over to sleet and other mixed precipitation overnight.  As of this morning though, the precipitation was back to snow, and this afternoon we got pounded with 1 to 2 inch per hour snows in the local mountains and mountain valleys.  The snow was so intense that the northbound lane of I-89 between exits 10 and 11 (Bolton Flats area) had to be closed due to accidents.

With all the fresh snow, I decided that I’d head up to Bolton to check out the accumulations and get in a few late afternoon/evening runs.  Driving along Route 2 I noticed what seemed to be more cars than usual, but I knew the reason once I could see all the cars backed up on I-89.  I was thankful for my short trip to Bolton, because the driving was a bit tricky.  I did eventually run into travel issues on the Bolton Valley Access Road however.  At the big S-curve below Timberline I saw several cars stopped, and it looked like most of the snarl was due to what appeared to be a two-wheel drive vehicle having trouble on the hill.  I was even slowed down in the Subaru for a bit because I had to come to a dead stop and then get over into the snowier downhill lane to pass.  Our tires on the Subaru are getting close to the time for replacement, so it took a few attempts to really get the traction to get around that car while avoiding the downhill traffic.  It was definitely a greasy situation with the intense snowfall, which was falling too fast for the plows to keep up with it.  I even overheard a guy say that he was having trouble getting up the road with studded Hakkapeliitta tires.  Up in the village there was decent wind at perhaps 20 MPH, and moderate to heavy snowfall.  The new snow probably came in quite fast on the mountain while people were skiing – I saw a car having to be helped out by a tow truck in the relatively flat parking lot.

An image of a tow truck helping a stuck car int he Bolton Valley village during heavy snowfall from a storm on Decmeber 28, 2011
Amidst heavy snowfall, a tow truck helps out a stuck vehicle in one of Bolton Valley parking lots this evening.

The Vista Quad had been shut down with the high winds earlier in the day, but the Mid Mountain Chair was still running and I caught a ride.  From Mid Mountain I hiked up about 100 feet to see what the accumulations were like higher on the mountain, and I found about 7 inches of new snow in the areas that didn’t seem to have been hit by the wind.  The light was fading, but I caught some turns up there and they were very sweet – whoever gets out tomorrow in wind-sheltered locations is going to have some great turns.  I stuck around for another couple of lift-served runs off Mid Mountain, and conditions were of course very nice with the new snow.  The only issue was that the temperature was dropping quickly and the snow was actually starting to get “slow”.

An image of Bolton Valley's night skiing lights obscured by heavy snowfall - December 28, 2011
It was a white maelstrom tonight for skiing under the lights at Bolton Valley.

Although still quite snowy and slick, the drive back down the access road was uneventful, and the traffic was moving on I-89, but it was still backed up for quite a distance in the northbound lane.  Down here at the house I found 5.7 inches of new snow on the snowboard, representing the snowfall during the 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. collection period.  Relative to mid afternoon, the snow had definitely been getting fluffier; I estimated that it was probably in the range of 4 or 5% H2O.  The radar still shows the moisture stacked up against the Greens, and more snow has been falling this evening, so it looks like this will be a decent event.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the local mountains start to open up some natural snow terrain after this event.

An image of traffic backed up in the northbound lane of I-89 in the Bolton Flats area due to heavy snowfall on December 28, 2011
With the heavy snowfall, traffic was still backed up on I-89 when I headed home from the mountain.

Bolton Valley, VT 27DEC2011

An image of evergreens caked with snow at Bolton Valley ski resort in Vermont after about a foot of snow
Evergreens at mid mountain caked with powder from the Christmas Alberta Clipper/upslope storm that dropped about a foot of new snow.

Since we were out of town for much of the Christmas Alberta Clipper and upslope snow, I decided to pop up to the mountain today to get a little exercise and check out what the new snow had done for the slopes.  Bolton Valley did get close to a foot out of that event, so I was hoping it would soften up the hard, manmade conditions we’d encountered on the upper mountain on Saturday.

When I headed up to the mountain in the mid afternoon, temperatures at the house were running a bit above freezing, and up at Bolton’s main base elevation (2,100’) I found temperatures right around the freezing mark.  I boarded the Vista Quad and rode with a couple of snowboarders – one was a skateboarder that was just learning to snowboard, and it was fun listening to the older snowboarder, who was also a skater, talk about the transition and differences between the sports.  We started to get hit with a few sleet pellets from the incoming storm, and that got the conversation going about the weather.  There’s a storm coming in that’s expected to have some front end snow, then some mixing, and then hopefully plenty of back end upslope snow.  Up at the mountain today though, the weather was been pretty benign, and although it’s the holiday week, it’s still a Tuesday and the scene was quite mellow.  At the Vista Summit elevation (3,150’) the temperature was a bit below freezing, and on the upper mountain I could see the way the evergreens are now caked with snow thanks to the recent storm.

I was happy to find that with all the new snow, and presumably more days of churning things up with grooming, the conditions on the upper mountain were much improved over Saturday.  I was able to sink my edges into the groomed terrain nicely, especially on the lower mountain where we’d already found it to be better anyway.  The new snow has definitely pushed the skiing to another level in terms of natural snowpack, at least insofar as people are really starting to venture onto some of the natural snow terrain.  I looked at a few tracks on Cobrass Lane and saw that the skiing looked halfway decent.  I ran into patroller Quinn and his wife while I was taking pictures and watching some of the guys playing around in the hike park on Sprig O’ Pine, and we talked about the conditions and the incoming storm.  I stuck around just long enough for a couple of runs, certainly enough to get the legs burning from Telemark turns.  I could tell by the length of time that I could make continuous Tele turns that there’s a lot more work to be done on getting my legs strong for the season.  All in all though it was a really nice, mellow time out on the mountain, which was just what I was looking for.

An image of ski tracks on the Cobrass Lane trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont - December 27, 2011 - Recent snows have provided sufficient base for some of the natural snow terrain.
The recent storm has increased base depths to the level that people are starting to venture out onto some of the natural snow terrain.

I arrived back at the house to find light snow falling and a temperature of 34.3 F.  We had picked up a couple of tenths of an inch of snow, and as it looked like it was going to change over to something else like sleet around 5:15 P.M., I collected that off our back yard snowboard as the front end snow portion for the event.  However, it really started dumping out there for a while in the form of inch an hour type snow, and we picked up a quick inch of snow by 7:30 P.M. before sleet started to mix in again.  It’s going to be fun to see how much snow we get as this storm passes through, it’s a much bigger storm than just an Alberta Clipper.  And although it’s cutting to our west, there is a lot of potential moisture.

Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2011

A westward view of Whiteface Mountain above the clouds from Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Looking out across Lake Champlain and the sea of clouds toward Whiteface in the Adirondacks.

We picked up a final 0.4 inches of snow overnight to finish off this event at 3.7 inches of total snow at the house and somewhere around a half foot up in the mountains.  With the opening of the mountain from the top for the first time this season, we decided to stop in for a few morning runs today to check out the conditions.  The snow on the upper half of the main mountain was really looking promising when I skinned up during my morning session at yesterday, and I even had the chance to get into some of the new powder.  At that point all the snowcat and snowmobile traffic had left the groomed surfaces full of track marks down the center of the trail, but we knew they’d take care of that with the groomers overnight.

We arrived up at the hill around mid morning to find that the latest rounds of snow had certainly continued the trend of setting up the natural snowpack and holiday scenery.  In the main village lot at around 2,100’ the snowpack was 4 to 6 inches in depth, although a lot of it was new, fluffy snow.  It was very pretty, even if it didn’t add a ton of liquid equivalent atop the old base.  We headed up the Vista Quad for our first trip to the Vista Summit for the season – the views were spectacular, with blue skies above, and clouds covering the valleys below.  Looking over to the Adirondacks to see the trails and slides of Whiteface hovering above the clouds was quite a sight.

Unfortunately, as inspiring as the views were, the conditions found on the new manmade snow on the upper mountain were the exact opposite.  The surface of Sherman’s Pass was hard, and full of death cookies in many areas.  After mentioning to E how great things had been yesterday with the fresh snow, and expecting the untouched snow that the mountain had put down to groomed into something really nice, it was a huge letdown.  The much was apparent pretty quickly, and after a few dozen turns E broached the topic by commenting, “No offense, but these conditions are crappy.”  There was no offense taken, as she was exactly right.  I popped off to the side of the trail near the bottom of Vista Glades and found a bit of powder, but the groomers had really hammered the slope from wall to wall and there was barely a scrap of fresh snow to find.  Both the morning and afternoon/evening sessions from yesterday had been so much fun, but this was more of a teeth-chattering slide across corduroy that was way too hard. 

Fortunately, at least the bottom half of the mountain was in nice shape, since that hadn’t seen the new manmade snow.  Without the constant freshening of trail and spirit that all the new snow had provided yesterday though, the experience just wasn’t elevated to quite the same level.  E and I enjoyed some pleasant Telemark turns, and the boys had their first chance of the season to be out on their new carving alpine skis, so that was good.  There was no need to return to the top after what we’d experienced up there, so we just did one more run off the Mid Mountain Lift.  That provided another round of decent turns, but with holiday obligations calling, we decided that we’d head home and just finish food preparations and get ready for the travel we have coming over the next couple of days.  Our first stop is going to be South Burlington for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  The good news is that more snow is expected to come into the area tomorrow, and it looks like there are a lot of potential storms of varying sizes stacked up for the holiday week.

A sign on the lower terminal of the Mid Mountain Lift at Bolton Valley that says "I Dream of Nor'easters"
We couldn't agree more, and we're ready for the upcoming storms over the holiday week in Northern Vermont.