We had another nice day of weather today with some sun and temperatures in the 50s F, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for another ski tour at Timberline. The strip of snow just to the climber’s right of the Timberline Quad base station that we used for skinning during our ski tour on Saturday, was slightly broken up now with a small gap. It was just a few feet of dry grass in the break though, so I easily continued right across it, and coverage was great from there on up.
On Saturday, we stopped our tour at the Timberline Mid Station because it was our first outing in a little while and I figured it was good to take it easy, but today I headed right up to the Timberline Summit. The views were nice with some late day clouds to the west over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. The snow on Showtime was even a notch better than Saturday, I think thanks to a bit more sun to soften it up and create a smoother, more even surface today.
It looks like we’ll have more spring weather in the first part of this week before it becomes wintrier in the latter part of the week.
“One of my favorite parts of the descent was playing in the dips and rolls along the skier’s left of the trail – there was some incredible flow, and the fats had that “no width” feeling much of the time.”
Despite the recent additions of snow, there hasn’t been too much incentive to ski over the past couple of days, basically because of the continuation of those cold temperatures. When the high temperatures are below zero Fahrenheit, as they have been in some locations this week, I’d much rather get other work done and save skiing for when the temperatures become more respectable. Fortunately, today was that day. Temperatures climbed into the low 20s F this afternoon, and since I was curious about how those rounds of snow over the past week had settled in up at the mountain, it was time to check it out. I really didn’t know what to expect up on the hill. New trails have been opening up on natural snow, including some black diamond runs like Schuss and Vermont 200, so that seemed like a good sign. I was also curious about the lower-elevations on Timberline though. If the recent snows had put down enough coverage there, I was excited to skin up for some powder turns. To cover my options, I put both the fats and mid fats on the ski rack, and threw their skins in the back of the car. I was ready for whatever was out there.
First on my list was to check out Timberline on my way up to the main base, but that’s as far as I got. There was still some tall grass sticking out of the snow on the slopes, but I could see a lot of ski tracks scattered about, and it was clearly game on for Timberline turns. I grabbed the fats, put on the skins, and headed up. There was a well-established skin track heading up the usual Twice as Nice route, so clearly a lot of people have been earning turns since the most recent storm. At the base elevations down at ~1,500’, the snowpack had a few different layers. Going from the top down there were 3 to 4 inches of powder, with what appeared to be a thin crust below it, then another inch of powder, and then some denser snow. All told it was only about 5 to 6 inches in deep, but there was enough substance to it that it seemed like it would provide some decent skiing. Up above 2,000’ it was notably deeper, with more base and a snowpack hitting the 7-10” range.
Based on what I’d seen in the lower elevations, I thought that Brandywine might be a nice option, so I headed to the top of Intro and switched over for the descent there. Looking down Brandywine, the signs were definitely positive. The trail had seen a few skiers, but there was plenty of untracked snow on the skier’s left, and based on the tracks it looked like there would be plenty of cover. The turns were even better than I’d expected, with 6 to 8 inches of powder over a hardened base up top. There was that thin layer of crust sandwiched in there somewhere, but it only occasionally made its presence felt, and the fat skis made quick work of it. One of my favorite parts of the descent was playing in the dips and rolls along the skier’s left of the trail – there was some incredible flow and the fats had that “no width” feeling much of the time. There has definitely been some good snow building up on the mountain while I wasn’t looking – it’s certainly not enough to support lift-served traffic yet, but we’re just one good synoptic storm away from that with the base that’s down there now.
When I reached the junction with Timberline Run I saw that it was rutted from snowcat traffic, so I took Spur, which was totally untracked. The powder wasn’t so deep that I couldn’t move on the modest pitches, but it was enough to keep you floating for turns. As I passed by Spell Binder I saw that there had been a lot of skier traffic there, so indeed people have been hitting it hard. It seems like there was a mini army out there skiing laps over the past couple of days. Just as I was reaching the end of Spur, I saw that the sky was exploding with color off to the west, and it quickly became dramatic enough that I had to stop and take it in. I was probably there for 10 minutes watching the color change as the sun sank lower, and I happily got some good photos of the light show. Even the lowest elevations about which I was most concerned offered up good turns, so it may be worth another visit tomorrow. Temperatures are staying mild ahead of the next storm heading this way, so I’d say it’s time get out in the snow in the northern mountains.