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Bolton Valley, VT 13JAN2011

An image of deep trakcks in the snow from powder skiing at Bolton Valley
This morning it was skiing in the trenches at times with one to two feet of Champlain Powder blanketing the slopes of Bolton Valley.

I was too busy to get out on Monday for the bounty of upslope snow that followed the weekend’s inverted trough system, but overall it was quite a nice event.  By the time it finished up on Tuesday we’d reeled in a total of 18 inches of snow at our location in the valley to make it our second largest storm of the season, and as usual the mountains were piling it up even more.  Fortunately, right on the heels of that system was another Nor’easter, and it looked like I would have a little time to make a trip to the slopes.

I got some work done at the house in the morning, and then headed up to the hill a bit after opening time.  It was windy up in the village, and while booting up I could see that neither the Vista nor Mid Mountain lifts were running; I threw my skins in my fanny pack just in case it came down human-powered powder acquisition.  It turned out that the skins were able to stay in the pack, as I hopped on the Snowflake Lift and found out that Timberline area, in all its beautiful wind-protected Champlain Powder™ nirvana goodness, was ready to roll.

The first skiers were already descending Spell Binder as I made my way to the Timberline base, and I couldn’t help but stop for a couple of minutes, absorb the scene, and grab a few photos.  The quiet of the powder morning was disrupted only by the erupting “Woos” and “Yeeee Haaaas” of the skiers.  Several people passed as they headed for another lap, and not one of them could seem to contain their vocal exuberance.  It was already obvious that the snow was fantastic, but if discerning midweek Bolton skiers were this excited, the powder skiing was likely to be top notch.  To check out the rest of the story, continue on to the Bolton Valley trip report from today.

Stowe, VT 09JAN2011

An image of our Subaru Forester covered with snow at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
At the end of our day at Stowe today, I found our Subaru covered in a deep coating of fresh snow that had accumulated during the afternoon.

Today was our first school program session of the season, so we were off at Stowe for the afternoon.  With the level of skier traffic, especially weekend skier traffic that Stowe sees, Sunday afternoons don’t typically offer optimal snow surfaces.  However, last season had to be a low point in that continuum; not only was the snowfall below average, but an inordinate number of times the next round of snow seemed to come in for Monday, after we were done skiing.

So far this season however, things have been much better.  We had fresh snow for our training day back on Sunday, December 12th, and as we moved into our first session with the students, it looked like Mother Nature was going to try to help out with fresh snow again.  On Friday, an inverted trough system had set up shop over New England, and while the focus was south of our area, we’d managed to pick up a couple more inches last night.  This morning’s snowfall report from the house at 6:00 A.M. revealed that we’d already picked up almost a half foot of snow, and it’s easy to imagine what the skiing was like at Stowe today when the snow just kept pounding down – for all the details and pictures, head to today’s trip report from Stowe Mountain Resort.

Bolton Valley, VT Nordic & Backcountry 01JAN2011

An image of a spruce bough with beads of water
We caught some great pictures of the surrounding forest as we ascended the Bryant trail on our backcountry outing up at Bolton Valley today.

We’d found that temperatures had cooled down a bit yesterday afternoon at the end of our Bolton outing, and slopes that were not in the sun had begun to tighten up.  In general though, temperatures stayed relatively warm, and there was no new snowfall through this morning.  We hung out at the house in the A.M., and as skies brightened a bit in the afternoon, Dave and I headed up to Bolton.  Since there weren’t going to be any substantial changes in the spring-like snow conditions we’d experienced yesterday, and some of the natural snow trails were going to be closed due to the warmth, we decided to do a tour on the Nordic/backcountry trail network.  Dave had never been on Bolton’s backcountry network, so he needed to at least get a taste of the plentiful options for turns.

Up in the village, there was one other car in the corner of the tennis lot providing quickest access to the Broadway area, so I’m guessing they had the same idea as us.  In general though, things were quiet aside from a few Nordic skiers moving around the trails.  We skinned the skis and headed toward World Cup where we found a group of patrollers checking passes.  I can’t recall the last time I had my pass checked on the Nordic network, but I’ve heard the mountain is doing it more frequently this season so that’s nice to see.  We chatted with the patrollers for a bit – they were initially wondering if we were planning to stay at the cabin, but we let them know we were just out for a quick tour.

We headed up the Bryant trail and it was a really pleasant ascent.  Temperatures were in the 40s F so we stopped frequently for photography to capture the sights.  At one photography stop, a couple of patrollers stopped by and we talked for a while.  We chatted about skis, cameras, and some of the new glades, and then they headed on their way up to take care of a tree that had fallen onto one of the trails.  Coverage on Bryant and in the surrounding backcountry was excellent, with generally a couple feet of settled snow.  We did see a couple of small openings in streams along the side of the trail, but they were more an opportunity for photos than anything.  Any stream crossings on Bryant were in fine shape and there was no open water across the trail.  To check out the rest of the text, images, and GPS track, continue on to the full Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 31DEC2010

An image of Dave and the boys laying on the snow
Dave and the boys relaxing in the warm sun

Today our friend Dave came up from Boston for a skiing visit, arriving in the late morning with his dogs.  Like yesterday, we headed up to the mountain around midday, and the found that the trend of moderating temperatures had continued as suggested by the forecasts; we’d seen high temperatures in the low 30s F yesterday, and today’s temperatures topped out around 40 F.  The weather was again often sunny, but not quite as brilliantly sunny as yesterday had been.

We’d never left the Timberline area during yesterday’s outing, but I’d received an email from Stephen that evening telling me that the mountain had fired up the Wilderness Lift.  We decided that we’d head over for our first lift-served Wilderness turns of the season, and Dave and I rode up Timberline with one of the ski patrol who said that getting in our turns over there as soon as possible was a good idea.  With the temperatures remaining warm through Saturday/Sunday, she said that they might need to shut the lift back down by the weekend.  We stopped in at the main base so I could grab a ticket for Dave, and while I was in the lodge, he and the boys dropped down on the snow and enjoyed the sun and warm temperatures.  To see all the pictures and text, head to the full Bolton Valley report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 30DEC2010

An image of Jay skiing the glades
Jay enjoys some deep snow in Bolton Valley's glades today.

After Tuesday’s great outing with the boys, the whole family headed out for more turns today.  The skies had been somewhat gray on yesterday, but the sun was back today and consistent with the forecast trends, the temperatures were climbing to the low 30s F.

There hadn’t been any new snow, so we didn’t find ourselves out to the slopes until midday, but the Timberline area still seemed to be following the trends I’ve seen over the week and most visitors were presumably over at the main mountain.  We kicked things off on Spell Binder, and the most obvious change in on piste conditions from Tuesday was that the powder and chowder had been replaced by packed powder.  I found that there was still powder to be had if I went very tight to the edge of the trail, but it had to be helmet-scraping tight.

We then headed off to the trees for a bit to get in some powder skiing – E had gone with alpine skis for the day so that we could explore some steeper lines and see how they were faring.  Our first test was the steep terrain dropping into the KP glades, which revealed that tight evergreens at around the 2,000’ elevation had still not seen enough snow to support much traffic or aggressive skiing.  The evergreens had not allowed enough snow to fall to the forest floor, but the mixed evergreen/hardwood glades below were in prime form and yielding great untracked turns.  To check out the rest of the details and see all the pictures from today, head to the full December 30th, 2010 trip report from Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley, VT 28DEC2010

An image of Ty skiing in the Wood's Hole Glades at Bolton Valley
Ty tackling some steep terrain in the Wood's Hole Glades

After finding excellent snow conditions at Timberline near the end of the Nor’easter yesterday afternoon, it looked like lift-served skiing was going to be fantastic on today.  E was a little under the weather and wanted to get some things done around the house, so it was going to be a ski day for the boys.

We got up to Timberline around 10:15 A.M., and conditions were looking good.  The temperature was 20 F, skies were clear, and the wind had abated.  The Bolton Valley website had indicated a planned Timberline opening of sometime in the 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. range, and I’m not sure what time they’d finally started loading, but there was hardly anyone there when we arrived.  After experiencing lift queues at Vista on Thursday and Friday, it was very nice to have Timberline open again.

We kicked things off with a run down Spell Binder to get the boys warmed up, and Ty was really enamored with the snow and pitch on the headwall.  He’s definitely been waiting for the season to get going so additional steeper terrain could open, and he was really hootin’ and hollerin’ on that run and exclaiming how “awesome” it was.  It wasn’t untracked, but as usual the skier’s right held lots of chowder, with plenty of deep loose snow and a really nice subsurface.  Both boys had fun making their sloughs, or “avalanches” as they call them, slide down the slope.  Below the headwall, there was still ample fresh snow along the skier’s right to provide lots of powder turns.  I generally found 12-18 inches of powder along there depending on how far I got towards the trees, and although it wasn’t Champlain Powder™, it was at least medium weight fluff protected from the wind and it skied really well.  While I worked the powder, the boys were generally in and out of there often playing in the chowder and taking lots of jumps off the remnants of the water bars.  To see all the pictures and read the rest of the story, click through to the report from Bolton Valley today.

Bolton Valley, VT 27DEC2010

An image of ski tracks on Timberline Run at Bolton Valley
Laying down some tracks this afternoon in the fresh snow on Bolton Valley's Timberline Run

It turns out that Northern Vermont wasn’t really the jackpot for this Nor’easter, but we did get into some of the snowfall.  As of 6:00 A.M. this morning we’d picked up 1.1 inches of snow down at the house that came in at a fairly synoptic storm-style 9.1% H2O, and up above us at Bolton Valley they reported 3 inches of new snow in the higher elevations.  Even down in the valley it continued to snow however, and the flake size increased as we moved farther into the storm.  By noon we’d picked up another inch of snow, and the density was down to 5.0% H2O.

Temperatures in the low double digits F and plenty of wind outside didn’t have me jumping out the door to hit the hill, but with the way it continued to snow at the house, I figured it had to be doing even better in the higher elevations.  Bolton was reporting that everything but their surface lift was on wind hold, but I decided to head up to Timberline to make some turns.  I’d missed the chance to check it out on Sunday when it was planned to open, so this would be a good chance to see how it was skiing.

I arrived up the Timberline base (1,500’) to a temperature of 9 F, and decent winds in probably the 20 to 30 MPH range.  There were a couple of other cars in the upper lot that belonged to folks doing the same thing I was, but the whole scene was one of a desolate winter storm.  Another fellow had headed up just a few minutes before me, so I followed his skin track… or at least I think I did because even in that short time it was starting to disappear in places due to the wind and falling snow.  I ascended the usual Twice as Nice route, and was surprised at how nice the snow was.  I was wondering if everything was going to be scoured down to something hard, but that wasn’t the case – there’s a really good base of natural snow, and an even in spots where the new snow had been blown away, the underlying surface was either packed powder or some sort of Styrofoam material.  In actuality though, it was only isolated spots that were even down to that surface, most of the new powder was still there.  Since the wind was from the north instead of the west, that was probably a better setup for the generally west-facing Timberline terrain.  I checked the depth on my ascent and generally found between 3 and 7 inches of new snow, so the mountain had definitely picked up more snow since their morning report.

Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2010

An image of a snow-covered slope at Bolton
A quiet scene with untracked powder at Bolton Valley's Wilderness area

The boys opened up some early Christmas presents today, so there was no way I was getting them up to the hill, but I was able to join up with Stephen and his kids for some turns.  In the past we’ve had some great Bolton outings on Christmas Eve, with some nice natural snow terrain available and the mountain almost to ourselves.  However, due to the sizeable amount of visitors we’d seen yesterday, we were wondering what today would bring.  Would more people have the day off, or would that be counteracted by more holiday obligations?  Well, the visitors were back in a big way, apparently even bigger than what we’d seen yesterday.  On the way up to the main base, I stopped in for a look at Timberline, and it looked quite ready for the planned Sunday opening.

Conditions were very similar to yesterday, and a bit of wind had actually reset some of the powder to provide repeat fresh tracks.  The wind also put down some wind crust, but it was pretty weak and didn’t change the snow too much.  The weather and snow were both great, but with the lines and afternoon holiday obligations were all left around noontime.  On the way down the road I saw that two Timberline lots were being used for additional parking, so business was certainly good.  To check out all the pictures with the text, head to the complete Bolton Valley report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2010

An image of Erica skiing powder
Erica checks out the latest round of powder at Bolton Valley today.

We contemplated heading to Smuggler’s Notch today to use some free vouchers, but opted for Bolton Valley instead when they won out with snow accumulations.  Bolton reported 7 inches of new snow, and based on my analyses from the house, it was in the 8-9% H2O range for density.  This meant that the powder wasn’t as fluffy as what we skied over the past couple of weekends, but it definitely put down some substance in the snowpack.  We picked up more than a third of an inch of liquid equivalent in our snow down at the house, so Bolton probably had twice that amount.

We joined up with Stephen, Helena, and Johannes and hit our usual favorite areas for powder.  With the composition of the group we didn’t spend too much time in the trees, but occasional jaunts I’d make into the woods revealed that there was awesome tree skiing to be had.  Since many places were already skiing pretty well over the weekend, the bolus of new denser snow definitely bumped it up another notch.  Overall the snow was awesome as usual, and the sides of the lesser used trails were holding enough powder that heading into the trees wasn’t really necessary to get great turns.  To see all the pictures and get the rest of the details, head to the full report from Bolton Valley today.

Bolton Valley, VT 19DEC2010

Ski tracks in powder
Glorious powder was found on Spell Binder up at Bolton Valley today.

We had a busy day of holiday-related activities planned today, so I headed out early to earn some powder turns up at Bolton Valley before things got going.  Although I’d been hearing great things about the snow at Timberline, and I’d driven by and seen the tracks there a number of times, I decided it was finally time to check out just what all the fuss was about.  Indeed, as I found out, the quality of the powder there is in fact worthy of a fuss.  To see all the powdery details and images, go to the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.