There were several cars at the base of Timberline, with a very nice skin track in place, and the trip up to the Timberline Mid Station was quick. Depth checks revealed 6 to 8 inches of powder at the base elevations of 1,500’, and 8 to 9 inches up at the mid station elevations. Although the powder wasn’t especially deep today, there was enough of it that I wasn’t worried about hitting the subsurface, and the base is actually quite soft anyway due to snow from other recent storms.
Conditions were just about perfect for being out on the slopes today, with temperatures around 20 F, no wind, and light snowfall filling the air. We’ve got some cold temperatures on the way for the next couple of days before they moderate over the weekend.
While the snowy weather at Stowe today was just what we’d all expected, the makeup of my ski day turned out to be dramatically different. I was scheduled to work on the Magic Carpet with Harrison this afternoon, but he ended up being a bit under the weather and we were informed that he wouldn’t be coming to the BJAMS ski program. Ty was supposed to be working with another group, but two out of the four student there didn’t show, and one of the remaining students was the son of the chaperone, so they were all set without Ty. When all was said and done, and we’d waited for any late arrivals, Erica said that Ty and I should just head off and ski together.
Wind holds were rampant today, with the Fourrunner Quad, the Gondola, and the Sensation Quad down at a minimum. Winds actually weren’t bad at all down low, but the Sunny Spruce had quite a lift queue with so many other lifts on hold. After a warm up run on the Meadows Quad, Ty and I decided to wait in the Sunny Spruce queue once, then go adventuring and take an exorbitantly long run to avoid dealing with any lift lines.
“As we finished up and headed back toward our car in the Mansfield Parking Lot, snowfall was in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range and slowed traffic leaving the resort, but it sure was impressive and will no doubt be freshening the slopes even further.”
Since we had all afternoon, my plan was to explore the lines that dive off toward the notch from the top of Sunny Spruce. I’d seen the obvious lines many times before, but I’d never take my group down there without some reconnaissance first. With just Ty and I, today was the perfect day to get that done. The route starts off steeply, with some obvious trimmed lines through mixed evergreens and hardwoods. The pitch then moderates a bit, and you get into hardwoods where natural lines abound everywhere. The new powder was only about 6 inches deep, so Ty and I sought out some of the shallower lines, but there are countless steep lines in there that would support powder of any depth.
We generally kept to skier’s left, shallowing out our lines and knowing that we had to head that way eventually. There were several sets of tracks in there, so it was clearly a traveled area, but I was bit surprised as we approached the bottom and saw a river instead of Route 108. It turns out that we were on the near side of the valley away from the road, but we were easily able to cross the frozen river, then hook up with the boardwalks coming from near Barnes Camp, and get back to the resort. We headed to the Midway Lodge for a break and a snack, and with the wind holds the Lodge was nearly deserted.
We finished off the day with a few more runs on Spruce Peak, and any lift queues had essentially evaporated by that point. The snowfall continued to intensify though, and the skiing just kept improving every run. As we finished up and headed back toward our car in the Mansfield Parking Lot, snowfall was in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range and slowed traffic leaving the resort, but it sure was impressive and will no doubt be freshening the slopes even further.
I really hadn’t planned to ski today. During the midweek period we picked up some snow from Winter Storm Indra, but there was mixed precipitation with that system that would certainly require some resurfacing to softened up the slopes. Between the dense, backside snow from that storm cycle, as well as additional lake-effect snow from the past day or so, we’d picked up 2 to 3 inches of new accumulation at the house, but I really hadn’t thought the mountains would be quite ready for prime time. I was thinking the bit of snow we’re expected tomorrow would just about be enough, so I was happy to relax and spend the day inside getting some work done.
It was midafternoon by the time I’d figured out about all the snow, but just so Mother Nature could drive the point home about how much she’d been doing in the snow department, I arrived in the Village to find a steady light snow falling. A quick check on the powder depths at the 2,000’ Village elevations revealed 6 inches, and as I began my trip up the Bryant Trail I found that the trees all around me were loaded with snow. The recent snows had fallen with minimal wind, so evergreens and deciduous trees alike were just caked in fresh powder.
“The new snow depths continued to increase with elevation, and by the time I was getting up near the 3,000’ mark I was finding 8 to 9 inches of powder in many places.”
The new snow depths continued to increase with elevation, and by the time I was getting up near the 3,000’ mark I was finding 8 to 9 inches of powder in many places. I’d initially been thinking about a fairly low-angle tour like the one I’d done back on December 27th, but my plans quickly changed when I saw how deep the powder was getting. I continued on up past the Bryant Cabin to Heavenly Highway to extend my tour a bit more and incorporate some steeper terrain.
I put together a classic descent that brought me through Gotham City as well as a host of other glades, it definitely delivered some great powder turns. In terms of bottomless quality, there were certainly differences between those depths up around 3,000’ and the depths down around 2,000’ – there was a lot more flexibility with respect to slope angle up high, with moderate and even steeper angles easily in play. Another important factor that I discovered during my tour was that open areas and deciduous trees were the way to go for the deepest powder. The dense evergreen areas, which are often an excellent bet for snow protection when it comes to wind, offered much shallower powder today. Since the snow in the trees had been unloaded during the midweek storm, and the recent snows fell with minimal wind, the boughs had been reloaded with all the powder, keeping a lot of it off the ground. Open glades with substantial amounts of deciduous trees like Gun Sight were great examples of the effects of letting the new snow get down through the trees.
I did stop by the deli after the tour today, but we already had dinner planned so I decided to grab some of their maple lattes for the family. That’s definitely a fun offering that they have now, and the flavor is certainly very “Vermonty”. E described it as “homey” compared to some other maple lattes she’s had.
On the weather side of things, we’ve got a small system and associated cold front expected to come through the area tomorrow, and then a bit larger storm in the midweek period that should continue to improve the powder even further.
Temperatures were only expected to stay in the single digits F today, so I had initially planned on heading for some backcountry skiing to stay warm, but once we saw that there was zero wind and all of Bolton Valley’s lifts were running, our plans shifted to riding the lifts. We headed up to Timberline around midday and found continued snowfall that was robust enough to challenge both the road and parking lot plows to keep up with it.
“…with the storm cycles we’ve had recently it’s just been resurfacing after resurfacing. So, you can certainly go fast and big on the slopes, and that’s just what the boys had fun doing today on the steep and deep terrain.”
We started off with a quick run on Spell Binder to get warmed up, and the depth of the powder seemed to range from 15 to 25 inches. I’d say the low end values would represent what had come from this storm, with the deeper areas including snows from previous storm cycles. Anything in that range of depths was more than enough to keep you floating though, since it was fairly hearty mid weight powder.
That introduction on Spell Binder set the tenor for the day though, and it less us know that both the depths of the powder, and the degree of resurfacing called for steep terrain and plenty of it. With that in mind we spent the afternoon visiting a ton of powder-filled, steeply-sloped favorites like Lost Girlz, Thundergoat Pass, KP Glades, Sure Shot Trees, Doug’s Solitude, etc. Off piste coverage is excellent, and with the storm cycles we’ve had recently it’s just been resurfacing after resurfacing. So, you can certainly go fast and big on the slopes, and that’s just what the boys had fun doing today on the steep and deep terrain.
We took a mid-session break in the Timberline Base Lodge to have some food and pop in some hand/boot warmers, and seats were just about filled, but we were able to get a table within a minute or two. Food options are fairly minimal now from what we saw, but there were fries and chicken fingers for hot items. I’m sure it’s hard for the resort to manage the availability of food services at the Timberline Base Lodge because of the variability in its opening schedule, but we’d certainly be ordering more food if they had more available. We’d love to go back to the South of Solitude days as well!
Overall all though, it was simply fantastic to get the whole family out for a lift-served Timberline powder day, and I think this was our first one of those this season. As usual, Ty was very impressed with how the lot was quite full of vehicles, but people seemed to be nonexistent on the slopes. I guess the message is that they were well spread out. E was cold and didn’t come out for our last run, but it was a big hit with the boys, especially Dylan. We hit Doug’s Solitude to Adam’s Solitude, and he jumps off big ledges, lots of untracked powder, and a chance for Dylan to ride his favorite return track to the base with all its whoops, jumps, walls, and endless halfpipe nature.
Today’s temperatures were a few degrees warmer than yesterday’s, but earning turns in the backcountry still seemed like good way to fight off the chill. E and the boys were up for some skiing today, so with yesterday’s trip to Holden’s Hollow serving as reconnaissance, I set up what I hoped would be a fun ski tour for them.
The temperature was right around 10 F in the Village when we arrived in the midafternoon, and with afternoon sun and no wind it was actually quite comfortable as we headed up the Bryant Trail to begin the tour. It wasn’t long before we came to the top of Cup Runneth Over, and everyone was surprised that I had them taking off their skins for our first descent. The descent there was excellent, with about a foot of powder over a soft base. I was very impressed to find that even the steep final section of the glade was in excellent shape. E was really enjoying the quality of the snow, but also the peace and quiet of the trees and all the unique formations that the fluffy snow had built upon the vegetation.
“I was worried that they would be a bit steep for E and the boys on their Telemark gear, but the powder was deep and soft enough that they had no problems with the turns.”
Once we finished our descent down to the pump house, we put out skins back on and began our ascent on Telemark. This was a slightly different route than what I’d taken yesterday, but Telemark looked like a nice option to ascend to the top of the Holden’s Hollow Glades and I was interested in exploring that route. It turns out that Telemark takes a nice mellow grade as it wraps around the ridge with Holden’s Hollow. On the trip around we discovered that there are also more glades on the back side of Holden’s Hollow. They looked quite inviting, but we didn’t quite have time to incorporate those into our tour this time.
“E said that overall she had a really great time because the quality of the snow was just so good.”
We stopped on the ridge at the top our ascent for some hot chocolate, then headed down through the Holden’s Hollow Glades. I was worried that they would be a bit steep for E and the boys on their Telemark gear, but the powder was deep and soft enough that they had no problems with the turns. In the lower sections of the glade, Dylan said he wished it was even steeper to accommodate the amount of powder that was there. E said that overall she had a really great time because the quality of the snow was just so good. We’re often out on the backcountry network when the powder is more marginal and not quite enough to hold up on the lift served terrain, but this time everyone was getting top notch midwinter powder and loving it.
With our recent winter storm dropping 2½ to 3 feet of snow at the local resorts, the ski conditions are simply fantastic. However, the storm also brought some cold air with it, and that’s now in place over the area. Temperatures were expected to top out in the single digits F today, which isn’t horribly cold, but cold enough that I’d rather be skinning for turns than riding lifts.
Temperatures were indeed in the mid to upper single digits F when I arrived at the Village around midafternoon, and not surprisingly with the fantastic snow conditions, there were a ton of Nordic skiers out on the Network. I headed right over toward the Holden’s Hollow area via Pond Loop, and found myself on the Telemark Trail briefly before I cut right to Holden’s Hollow. My ascent on Holden’s Hollow made me realize just how expansive that area is – there are a lot more sections of maintained glades around there than I knew, not to mention the amount of natural terrain that is skiable on its own.
“In the lowest areas around Village elevation I would typically find at least 12 to 15 inches of powder, but as I ascended in elevation I quickly found that depths of 20 inches or more were common.”
Being well on the leeward side of Oxbow Ridge and North Ridge, the snow in the Holden’s Hollow area is well protected from winds, and boy is the quantity and quality of the powder impressive. In the lowest areas around Village elevation I would typically find at least 12 to 15 inches of powder, but as I ascended in elevation I quickly found that depths of 20 inches or more were common. I’m sure the powder has settled some since it initially fell (my analyses at the house were revealing densities in the 3% H2O range near the end of the storm) but all the snow out there is incredibly light and dry, with a fantastic soft base underneath it. The turns were essentially as you’d expect with snow like that – simply outstanding. I guess the only complaint I can muster would be that a few skiers had already been through the area so I had to hunt around off the main lines a bit for fresh tracks. However, this is the kind of powder that’s so deep and plentiful, it’s still amazingly good even after it’s seen a few passes from other skiers. That’s indeed what’s out there right now in the backcountry, so get out and enjoy it if you’ve got the chance!
We’re in the midst of a long, strung out winter storm system that began way back on Monday evening. The storm has already dropped 20 inches of snow down here at the house, and I’d expect some of the local resorts to report totals in the 30-inch range by tomorrow morning. With the northwest winds driving the moisture into the mountains, I wasn’t surprised to find that the Vista Quad was on wind hold again this morning, just as it had been when Ty and I went out for some runs yesterday. I’d been contemplating both lift-served turns up at the main mountain, or touring down at Timberline, but the Vista Quad remaining on wind hold sealed the deal on some skinning at Timberline.
“Snow had settled in there nicely and I measured about 22 inches of surface snow atop the headwall.”
I arrived at Timberline to find fairly heavy snowfall and not a lot of plowing. I had to wrap around to the far entrance to gain entry, but I plowed my way through 8 to 12 inches of snow in the Subaru and got over to the main parking area. There were a few cars present, but I was worried that I’d be breaking trail on the ascent when I found no signs of a skin track next to the Timberline Base Lodge. Fortunately, the lower areas of the track had just been erased by the winds, and once I got to Twice as Nice there was a great track in place.
Winds had definitely affected the snow, but after looking around at the options by the Timberline Mid Station, I found that Spell Binder was entirely untracked and decided to the skier’s right would offer up some great turns. Snow had settled in there nicely and I measured about 22 inches of surface snow atop the headwall. The turns were great, but even there the snow had been affected by the winds, so the powder wasn’t quite as light and airy as it was in the trees. I’d popped into the trees briefly at the top of my ascent to take off my skins out of the wind, and it was dead calm in there with beautifully fluffy snow. The trees should really offer up some great skiing in the coming days!
The first part of this storm had some mixed precipitation, so we were really in no rush to jump out on the slopes early, instead deciding to let some of the new snow build up during the day. Today’s snow here at the house was quite dense, coming in in the 10-13% H2O range based on my analyses, so while it wasn’t going to be the ultimate in fluffy powder, it certainly had the potential to further resurface the slopes.
“I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches.”
While working today, I watched the Bolton Valley Live Webcam, and saw that the Vista Quad stopped running at some point around midday. I figured it was on wind hold, but Mid Mountain and Snowflake were still running, so we still headed up for a few lower mountain runs. The wind was certainly whipping around up there, but most of the lower mountain areas were reasonably sheltered, and the trees were especially nice because it seemed like a lot of snow had settled in there. I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches. I’m sure some of that is from a previous storm or two, but as their afternoon report, the resort was indicating 7 inches of snow and overall there have been some healthy, dense accumulations from these past couple events. Indeed we found the new snow on the mountain to be dense as my analyses had suggested, but boy did it constitute a resurfacing of the slopes. If you were on the new snow there was no touching the subsurface, and you typically sunk into the powder just a few inches anyway because of the density.
As of about 9:30 P.M. this evening, the flakes falling have become much larger down here at the house, so the snow is getting fluffier. This drier snow on top of the dense stuff from earlier today is just what we like – the perfect right-side-up deposition for those powder turns.
Today was our first BJAMS ski program day of the season at Stowe, and I was assigned a snowboarding group consisting of Dylan and Molly. Molly has been riding for a couple of seasons, and Dylan has been snowboarding before, but it looks like the plan is to have him work on it more this year. He’s used Erica’s snowboard in the past, but this fall at the Waitsfield ski swap we got him his own brand new board, a Rome Mini Agent Rocker. It’s a bit smaller and lighter than E’s board, it’s got a softer flex, and it has some rocker as well, so we expected it to be a much better fit for him. He could already feel the differences when we were installing the bindings yesterday and he put on the board – he could flex it easily and said it felt great.
He confirmed those impressions today after his first run on Spruce Peak. I was still getting on my gear in the lodge, but he took an early run with Ty in the Meadows area and said he loved the feel of the board. He also indicated that the overall riding was fantastic with all the new powder out there, and that can’t help but make any appropriate board feel sweet.
“Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session.”
Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session. There have been some rounds of fluffy snow with this system, but overall I’d say the snow settled in to produce some medium-weight powder, and it did a great job of resurfacing the slopes from what we experienced in the Meadows area. We stuck to the Meadows Quad all afternoon because there really wasn’t a need to go anywhere else. There’s a top-to-bottom continuous fall line with no significant flat areas to deal with on the boards, there’s a gradient of pitches to use across the big open face, and we were essentially getting free refills on powder each run.
“The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder.”
The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder. Most of Dylan’s previous snowboard experience was in rather marginal/firmer conditions, so he really hadn’t experienced a day like this. Today he was on a new board with appropriate size and flex, and he was floating on powder. So as you can imagine, the snowboarding experiences of the past compared to today were like night and day for him. He was blow away by how much fun it was, and said he would love to snowboard a lot more if the experience was like today. I let both the kids know that this was the kind of riding that snowboards were initially designed for, so these are indeed great days to pull out the board.
Molly and Dylan are very competent making turns in both directions on their boards, and they can handle slopes up to black diamond pitch – especially with quality snow like we had today. You could see the confidence in their turns knowing that they wouldn’t have to deal with the hard subsurface. They’re at the stage where they’re just trying to smooth out their transitions and remove any jerky movements, so I discussed that with them and simply let them ride. Smoothing out those transitions will come with time on snow, and there’s no better time to enjoy that than with some good powder.
As noted, the snow conditions really were fantastic at the mountain, so the only weather-related issue we really had to combat today was the wind. It was strong, and blowing right at us as we rode the Meadows Quad. Dylan and I had brought our new Anon MFI balaclavas today to use with our M2 goggles, and I simply can’t overemphasize how great they were during each lift ride. Having that magnetic seal between the balaclava and the bottom of the goggles seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread as the wind washed over us. If you hate having to fiddle with your facemask or neck gaiter on every lift ride as you try to seal up those crevices where the biting wind gets in, definitely check out one the MFI-type magnetic systems.
We’ve got what looks like a snowy week coming for the mountains, so barring some drastic changes to the forecast, we should be looking at some great skiing and riding in the coming days.
With help from our most recent winter storm, Bolton Valley is reporting 6 to 9 inches of new snow over the past several days, so Ty and I decided to head up today to ski a bit of that powder. We got to the Village in the late morning, and were surprised to find the upper parking lots were hitting capacity. We poked around in the lots for a bit though, and eventually got a spot from someone who was leaving. Parking at the main base was at an unusual premium today because there was a big Nordic race taking place. They certainly had a really fantastic day for the event – the sky was a mix of sun and clouds, and temperatures were just edging above freezing at the 2,000’ level.
With temperatures expected to rise a few degrees above freezing, Ty and I quickly got on our way over to Wilderness to make sure we could get in some powder turns before any potential temperature effects on the snow. We started off with a warm up on Bolton Outlaw, connecting down to the Wilderness Woods area and Lower Turnpike, where we found plenty of powder along the edges of the runs. I was definitely leery of the subsurface on Bolton Outlaw based on my experience over at Timberline on Thursday, but I ended up being really impressed with the overall conditions we found. The new snow has settled some and it’s now had a chance to form a much better bond to the underlying surface. In addition, there’s definitely been some additional liquid equivalent added to the surface snow relative to what I found earlier in the week. There was plenty of loose snow on Bolton Outlaw, but even when you got down to the subsurface there was substantial grip. Steep, natural snow trails like Bolton Outlaw being in good shape bodes well for the overall surface conditions on the mountain, so it’s not surprising that most terrain has been reopened now.
“There was a good half foot or more of powder in there in general, and a nice subsurface that made for some excellent overall turns.”
Ty and I also visited White Rabbit, where we found just a couple of tracks and acres of fresh powder. The freezing level was rising, so we had to start paying attention to aspect and sun protection, but the effects on the powder were still fairly minimal overall. There was a good half foot or more of powder in there in general, and a nice subsurface that made for some excellent overall turns.
The forecast suggests we’ve got a small system coming in to the area tonight, and then another couple of larger systems in the coming week, so folks should be alert for more potential powder turns in the near future.