Bolton Valley, VT 27JAN2018

An image of the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of RT-86 Telemark skis with snow on them at the base lodge of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
My RT-86 Telemark skis holding onto a bit of that leftover powder that I found out at Bolton Valley’s Wilderness area today

Ski conditions have been in sort of a holding pattern here in Northern Vermont.  We just haven’t had any big snowstorms in the past couple of weeks, and that’s what we need to get the off piste terrain back in prime shape.  With that said, there’s certainly some decent off piste skiing out there in various spots.  Powderfreak highlighted how good some of the tree skiing was at Stowe today, despite the fact that Winter Storm Jaxon had a substantial amount of mixed precipitation.  It was just one of those storms that finished off with some dense sleet to snow that really resurfaced whatever lay beneath.

I was sort of curious about the conditions up in the mountains today, and when temperatures rose up into the 30s F even at elevation, I decided that there would certainly be some soft snow out there.  I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon timeframe and parked at the Timberline Base to start my outing.  With the main base of the resort at 2,100’ up into the 30s F, I knew it would have warmed down there at 1,500’.  The scene at Timberline was quite mellow, with generally calm winds under cloudy skies, and just a sprinkling of skiers visible.

“As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.”

As I rode the Timberline Quad, the conditions below me on Showtime looked, and even more importantly, sounded very good.  I couldn’t hear a thing from the turns of the skiers below me, so I hopped right off at the mid station and went for a run.  Indeed the snow on Showtime was great, probably softened a bit by the moderate temperatures, but it was immediately obvious that a major portion of the snow quality came from the fact that the resort had just blown a ton of snow on it.

“…it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.”

That snow on Showtime was worthy of being lapped for quite a while, but I still wanted to find out what the snow was like in the higher elevations, so I headed all the way to the Timberline Summit.  As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.  I hadn’t seen Powderfreak’s post and photos about the snow at Stowe at that point, and I really wasn’t expecting much, so it was indeed sort of a pleasant surprise.  It did make me think back to something I’d read in the Bolton Valley snow report earlier in the day:

“Updated Saturday, January 27th at 7:57 AMNews and Notes: Come and get it folks. The sun will make an appearance today and the trails have a pleasant surprise feel to them making for a fun combination. If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”

If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”

The report literally had “pleasant surprise” in it, and I can absolutely see what they were getting at.  With that commentary, and what I’d encountered off piste, I decided to head off to check out the powder over at Wilderness.  What I found was that even areas that had seen some skier traffic over there were offering up some nice soft turns, but untracked areas with that coating of a couple inches of powder were very nice.  It’s really the dense, yet soft, material underneath that is providing the good turns vs. the couple inches of powder on top, but hey, the combination really comes together.

An image of Jay taken from a double pane window reflection in the base lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Capitalizing on a double pane window reflection on the Bolton Valley base lodge

I gradually worked my way back to the Timberline Base to complete my tour of the resort’s terrain, and it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.  Despite the good conditions I found in many spots, high-traffic and windblown areas are definitely in need of a resurfacing.  The worst spots will need a couple inches of liquid equivalent, but good base is in place in most areas, so all we really need is a decent storm with about an inch of liquid equivalent and we’ll really be back to more typical on and off piste conditions.  We’re expected to get into a more active wintry pattern in February, so we’ll see if any storms swing through to bring what we need.

Stowe, VT 21JAN2018

An image of the ski trails of Mt. Mansfield behind the Stowe Mountain Lodge
An image of Dylan, Jay, and Ty on the Sunny Spruce Quad at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
The boys out at Stowe today for our first BJAMS ski day of the season

Our first BJAMS ski program day of the season at Stowe was scheduled for two Sundays ago, but we canceled it due to dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills.  That wasn’t an issue today though – with base elevation temperatures in the 30s F, it was quite comfortable out there.  On piste coverage and conditions were actually quite decent, whether it was the softened snow on the lower slopes of Spruce Peak, or the midwinter snow higher up on Mansfield.  Although natural base depths are fine, and there are definitely people skiing off piste, the snow is sort of thick and punchy out there, so the groomed runs are just a much friendlier place to be.

“Although natural base depths are fine, and there are definitely people skiing off piste, the snow is sort of thick and punchy out there, so the groomed runs are just a much friendlier place to be.”

An image of Dylans ski helmet with the Backcountry.com goat and the Turtle Fur turtleWe arrived at Spruce Peak early enough that I was able to take a couple of runs with Ty and Dylan off the Sunny Spruce Quad.  We found nicely softened snow with those temperatures in the 30s F, and it was really only those usual high-traffic areas out of the sun that we found to be slick.  We had a mixed group of snowboarders (Cole and Robbie) and skiers (Dylan and Wiley, with Norris also tagging along) today, but since we were on piste for the most part there weren’t any traversing issues for the snowboarders.  We did a couple of runs off Sunny Spruce, carving up the soft snow, and then headed over to Mansfield for some longer runs.  Being fairly old snow, and a Sunday afternoon, the best turns were definitely the sides of the trails where ample traffic had built up substantial loose, soft snow.  We did a few runs on Gondolier and Nosedive, and you could just go and go and go and rarely have to leave those edges with good snow if you didn’t want to.  I think one would have to grade the overall conditions as subpar because of the quality of the off piste snow, but on piste conditions are fairly typical for when we haven’t seen a substantial snowstorm in a while.  We had a nice break at the Octagon toward the end of the afternoon before heading back to Spruce Peak to catch up with everyone else.

A fundue sign at the Skinny Pancake at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont

For Ty’s first day as a chaperone/coach in the program today, he was helping E with some first-timers over on the lower parts of the Meadows area.  When I stopped in to check on them at the end of the day, he was just heading up the Inspiration Chair with a boy who had graduated from the Magic Carpet.  It was actually a great day to be out there with the first-timers, because he wasn’t really missing out on anything special on the steep or off piste terrain.  I think it will be a couple of weeks before we get back into some really good storms, so hopefully he’ll be able to put in some more time at our next session helping out the beginners again.

Bolton Valley, VT 15JAN2018

An image of Ty's Anon M2 ski goggles with the photographer Jay in the reflection at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of tree branches with ice on them from Winter Storm Hunter at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Remnants of Winter Storm Hunter were seen today at Bolton Valley in the form of a little ice glistening on tree branches in the sun

The weather has been a real roller coaster ride over the past two to three weeks.  We were in the deep freeze over the holiday week and the first week of January, so while the snow quality was great, air temperatures and wind chill values just didn’t make for comfortable skiing.  Winter Storm Grayson hit the area in the January 4th through 6th timeframe and dropped roughly 10 inches of snow here at the house, but the temperatures that followed were still too frigid to make great use of all the snow.  Temperatures finally moderated this past week in association with Winter Storm Hunter, but the early part of the storm brought a mix of precipitation, so the skiing wasn’t great at that point.  Frigid air once again came in right after that storm, but mountain temperatures finally moderated into the teens today, so Ty and I made a quick trip up to Bolton Valley in the afternoon to check out the ski conditions.

A sign announcing an upcoming music performance at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont Bolton picked up about 5 inches of dense snow on the back side of Winter Storm Hunter, and that actually did a pretty decent job of resurfacing the slopes, but the snow and sleet were still dense enough that the resort wasn’t comfortable opening ungroomed terrain.  From the Vista Summit, Ty and I tried out Alta Vista, which of course was fairly scratchy in its steep upper section being the end of the ski day, but the snow that had accumulated on skier’s left from traffic was quite nice.  We actually helped a gentleman who was in well over his head and stepping down that first steep section of the trail.  Although Alta Vista is listed as an intermediate trail, that first section is clearly a black diamond pitch, and even more challenging than that when it’s been scraped down after a day’s worth of skier traffic.  We ventured off into the lower part of the Vista Glades, and low to moderate angle terrain that was untracked was really quite smooth.  In general the off piste turns were beautiful with that dense covering of a couple of inches, as long as the pitch didn’t get too steep.  We considered heading over to check out the lower parts of Wilderness, which are loaded with that sort of terrain, but just didn’t have enough time before the lifts closed.  All in all though, if you didn’t get out this weekend, you weren’t really missing anything too spectacular – conditions are well below average.  Temperatures are remaining nice and wintry, so freshly groomed terrain I’m sure is making for some fantastic carves, but we’ll need another nice shot of snow to get the off piste back in prime form.

“Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal.”

One extra fun aspect of today was that Ty finally got to try out the combination of his Anon M2 Goggles and Anon MFI Tech Balaclava that he got for Christmas.  For those unfamiliar with the goggles in this system, a unique aspect is that the lenses are held in with magnets.  So, you can pop them out with a quick pinch of the frame and change them in seconds, but the magnets are quite strong, so the lenses never pop out unless you want them to.  Another part of the system that is ridiculously slick and ingenious is the balaclava.  You know that gap you always have between the bottom of your goggles and your balaclava or neck warmer?  Well, you don’t have it with this system, thanks to more magnets.  Any of the Anon MFI System equipment has magnets in it that automatically link to the bottom of the goggles and makes a perfect seal.  Ty had been asking for a balaclava will full face coverage, so this system was literally perfect for him.  Today’s benign, but reasonably cold conditions were a great chance for him to test out the system to see how it performed for him, and he loved it.  Hopefully it will serve him just as well on his next chilly, storm day.  And hopefully, we’ll get the weather to stabilize into a more typical pattern and have some of those days soon!

Stowe, VT 29JAN2017

An image of some of the trails at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont from the Toll House double chair
An image of Ty skiing powder with heavy snowfall at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Ty cranking out some powder turns during some of the heavy snowfall this afternoon at Stowe

Ty and I had an appointment in Burlington this morning, which mean that we’d be arriving a bit late to our BJAMS ski program at Stowe in the afternoon.  We were arriving just in time for the afternoon snows however.  The first encounter was when we driving to the resort during the noontime hour.  We could see snow moving in to our north as we headed through Waterbury, and it finally hit us as were rising up to the Waterbury/Stowe line near Chutesville Hill.  Some fairly intense graupel was a big feature of the precipitation at that point.

There were on and off periods of snow throughout the afternoon at the mountain, and Ty and I worked our way over from the Gondola to the Fourrunner Quad trails around Tyro with a dip into the Chapel Glades.  The snow surfaces were excellent in there, and there were plenty of spots with fresh tracks to be had.  We continued all the way down into the Toll House terrain because we were looking for something mellow, and I’d say there has certainly been plenty of visitation to the mountain over the past couple of days based on some of the areas I saw with tracks in them.  You typically don’t find too many people spending much time in the trees around the Toll House Lift, since the terrain is very low angle and the return to the rest of the resort exceedingly long on the slow double.  I’ve never seen as many tracks in there as I did today though, and we’re not talking a week after a storm, we’re talking a day or two after a storm.  It was unusual, but hopefully a lot of beginners got their chance to check out the awesome powder in the trees!

An image of macarrons at The Beanery at Stowe Mountain Resort in VermontWe made our way back to Spruce Peak for a final couple of runs of visiting some of our favorite powder stashes, and that last hour before closing definitely featured some of the heaviest snowfall of the day.  I’m sure rates were an inch per hour or more at that point, and the photography was difficult during the heavy stuff, but we still fired away.  Images captured successfully during intense snowfall are always fun anyway.  In general I’d say we found about a foot of powder around the mountain in untracked areas, and the skiing was great.  The quality of the powder was definitely very high, and it looks like it will stay that way with the upcoming forecast for the next week or so.

Bolton Valley, VT 28JAN2017

An image of Ty skiing in the Wilderness Woods at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing some powder snow in the Wilderness Woods area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E in the Wilderness Woods at Bolton Valley this morning enjoying some of the powder put down over the past couple of days

Snowfall has been somewhat lean in Vermont this January, so we haven’t been up to Bolton Valley since the early part of the month.  Things are definitely picking up now though.  The past couple of days have featured plenty of upslope snow in association with an upper level low to our north pushing various smaller impulses through the area.  Over the course of the past two days, the resorts in the norther half of the state have picked up 1 to 2 feet of new snow.

With Bolton Valley reporting nearly a foot of snow over the past two days, the family headed up this today to see just how it well it was settling into the terrain.  The snow report let us know that some of the upper lifts would be delayed a bit due to winds, but they were opening just as we were arriving around mid-morning.  The word was definitely out about all the new snow today – cars were already parking down to the lowest Village lot when we arrived, and more were coming in by the minute.

We started off with a quick run on Snowflake, and enjoyed some excellent powder on the side of Snowflake Bentley.  Since he’s been Telemark Skiing and snowboarding up to this point, it was Ty’s first time on alpine boards all season, and he was really enjoying the powder turns much like a new sensation.  There was no line for the Vista Quad by that point, so we hopped on and got to see the impressive rime up near the Vista Summit.  Catching some of the first turns on the groomed Alta Vista was nice treat that we don’t usually experience, and it really was soft and carveable from edge to edge.  We also got first tracks in the powder off to the ungroomed areas to skier’s left.  The only downside in the powder there was occasionally hitting some old grooming chunks under the snow, but the new accumulations were deep enough to make them only a minor hindrance.

An image of Ty skiing powder in the Wilderness Woods at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontWe made our way over to Wilderness and took a quick pass through part of the Wilderness Woods.  The powder was really nice in there, and there had been little traffic up to that point.  We finished off with some groomed and powder turns on Lower Turnpike, and found that the Wilderness Double Chair was running, but they weren’t quite loading it yet.

We stopped into the lodge for an early lunch, and by the time we came out they were loading the Wilderness LiftPeggy Dow’s was in nice shape, but out favorite part was actually the Wilderness Lift Line, which had a lot of powder left on it.  Everyone had so much fun there that we would have easily done it again, but a bit of a queue was forming at the Wilderness Lift so we decided to call it a morning.

An image of Dylan drinking some chocolate milk with two straws in the base lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
What can even be said about the Dylan?

When we were leaving, a woman was more than willing to wait for our parking spot way down by the sports center, so obviously the lots were really filling up.  Even the Timberline lots looked full when we passed by.  Temperatures were in the upper 20s F today, so folks were definitely out in force to enjoy it with the new snow – we’d even heard comments on one the local weather reports about just how good a ski day it was going to be.  The current trends with the snow will probably go on for a couple more days, so conditions should stay quite good.

Stowe, VT 22JAN2017

An image of some skis on a rack on the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of low clouds in the Spruce Peak Village at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Thick, low clouds down to the base elevations and soft snow were the themes of the day today at Stowe.

The midweek period this past week saw some decent snows, with 6.5 inches at our house, and accumulations up to 10 inches at the Vermont ski resorts.  There was some great skiing at Stowe on both Wednesday and Thursday, but I was too busy to hit the slopes and check it out.  Today we were at Stowe for our weekly BJAMS ski program though, so I finally got to check out the latest conditions on Mt. Mansfield.

On our drive to the mountain we noticed that there’s not actually a ton of snow down in the center of Stowe Village, but the snowpack builds as one heads up the mountain road, and it’s quite hearty once you get up to The Matterhorn around the 1,000’ elevation.  The snow depths simply skyrocket after that, and Mansfield’s snowpack is quite impressive.  This shouldn’t be too surprising with 52” at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, but it’s still great to get out there and experience it firsthand.

An image of a snowman drawing on the wall at the Octagon atop Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in VermontToday in our group we had many of the usual crew, like Jack, Dylan, Jonah, and Norris.  Ken is still taking it easy due to his injury, so our new additions were Nolan and his kids Sophie and Evan.  They fit right in with the group, so I suspect we’ll have a lot of fun whenever we’re together.  After an initial run on Sunny Spruce, we quickly headed over to Mansfield to check out some steeper terrain.  We skied the Bypass Chutes, as well as Goat and Starr from the top.  While coverage isn’t yet perfect on those routes, it’s pretty darned good, and that says a lot if those steep pitches are reasonably covered.  I was concerned about what the snow surfaces were going to be like with the cloudy conditions today, but the snow was beautifully soft at all elevations with temperatures in the 30s F.  The Nosedive Glades were fantastic – and they’ve definitely done some additional clearing in there to enhance some of the lines.  Overall, today was actually like being out there on one of those awesome soft days in April with the hefty snowpack.  I’d say the main drawback on the hill today was the visibility, since we were in the clouds the whole time.  In some elevation bands it was pea soup, but it was more reasonable than at many elevations.

An image of some BJAMS students at the Octagon atop Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Hanging out in the Octagon today while the crew re-hydrates

We’ve actually got a storm coming into the area tomorrow evening that should bolster the snow pack even more.  The storm is expected to have some mixed precipitation with it, but plenty of liquid equivalent, so it should really be a good shot to add to the season’s base.

Ranch Valley & Stowe Cross Country Center, VT 07JAN2017

An image showing ice formations on Ranch Brook in Stowe, Vermont
An image of a sign for the Burt Trail on the trail network at Stowe Cross Country Center in Vermont
Out on the Burt Trail today for some backcountry skiing

It’s been a relatively slow week for snowfall in the Northern Greens, but Stowe did manage to pick up roughly a foot of snow between Wednesday and Thursday.  Since the Mt. Mansfield area seemed to be a sweet spot with respect to snowfall, I decided to head out for a backcountry tour in the Ranch Valley, which sits just to the south of the resort’s alpine trail network and is the location for Stowe’s Cross Country Center.  I’ve been through the area numerous times when coming down the Bruce Trail, and I’ve sampled some of the natural glades that populate the middle elevations in that area.  I could see that there was much more skiable terrain to explore though, so I decided to check out what the areas around the Burt Trail had to offer.

Temperatures were in the low to mid 20s F in the local mountain valleys as I headed up to the Stowe Cross Country Center to start my tour.  It turns out that Mrs. Blanck was behind the counter when I was buying my trail pass, so we were able to catch up a bit and she gave me an overview of some nice glades that she’d heard of as we reviewed the backcountry portion of the trail map.

My ascent route consisted of starting on the Timberlane Trail and using Cross Cut 2 to get to the Burt Trail.  The recent snows were certainly elevation dependent, so there was only about an inch of fresh snow atop the snowpack down near the base of the Cross Country Center at ~1,000’.  It did increase as I ascended, reaching a couple of inches by the time I hit the Burt Trail, and nearly 4 inches at the top of my ascent at the junction with the Underhill Trail.  Here’s the general depths of surface powder I found on my tour with respect to elevation:

1,000’:  1”
1,500’: 2-3”
2,000’: 3”
2,500’: ~4”

An image of a hut along the Burt Trail at Stowe Cross Country Center at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Passing a hut along the Burt Trail

The backcountry portion of the Burt Trail starts right around 1,500’ elevation, and getting to that point represents a pretty hefty approach of over two miles, so that’s about the minimum distance one will have to go on this route to get into terrain for potential descents.  The Burt Trail really starts to steepen above 2,000’, which one hits at close to three miles in.  At that point it’s comprised of switchbacks to accommodate the steeper terrain.  That area is still mostly hardwoods, with scattered evergreens, so tree density isn’t too bad and one can easily cut the switchbacks and ski through the forest.  That terrain is pretty steep though, so one would want a decent amount of powder for it to be optimal.  Based on darkness and trying to ensure that I made it back to the Cross Country Center by 5:00 P.M. since a sign that the parking lot gate would close at that point, I only ascended to the junction with the Underhill Trail, but I could see that there was plenty of similar terrain right up above me.

As for the skiing and conditions, one would definitely want more powder above the base than what I found today, but I was still able to get in some decent turns.  I had my midfat Tele skis, which were certainly not all that light in the overall spectrum of Nordic equipment, but I was thankful to have something that could handle the descent well.  I cut the Burt Trail switchbacks and skied the fairly open forest in some spots, but I could actually stay on the trail itself for the most part where it mattered.  Only one person had gone up ahead of me above 2,000’ on the trail and they must have descended another way, because there was no descent track.  So the Burt Trail itself was relatively untracked and I got some of my best turns of the afternoon simply by staying on it.  The terrain in the 1,500’ to 2,000’ range offers some options off the trail depending on the pitch of the terrain, but I just ran my descent out the trail itself based on the snow conditions and my time.  The whole runout back to the Cross Country Center is actually pretty fun, and you can really cruise along at times, but you will have to do some skating and deal with a couple of small uphill sections.  It’s quite similar to running out the Bruce Trail though, and indeed the route is identical in some spots, so if you’ve done that you’ll have a good sense for what this is like.

An image showing GPS data on Google Earth from a backcountry ski tour in the Ranch Valley of Vermont near Stowe Mountain Resort
Today’s backcountry ski route in the Ranch Valley

It looks like we’ll be in a fairly active weather pattern in the foreseeable future with some clipper-type events and larger synoptic systems with potential mixed precipitation, so we’ll see how these play out in terms of bolstering the snowpack.

Bolton Valley Nordic Center, VT 02JAN2017

An image of trail signs on the Bolton Valley Nordic Center at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the cover to the newest version of Bolton Valley's Nordic & Backcountry Trail Map
The beautiful cover to the newest version of Bolton Valley’s Nordic & Backcountry Trail Map

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been out for a genuine cross country ski session, but that’s what I got to do today at the Bolton Valley Nordic Center.  E planned to take the boys up to the resort’s sports center for some swimming this afternoon, and with a fairly short window of time and not much new snow over the past few days, some cross country skiing seemed like the perfect fit.

The resort was again quite busy today with many people off from school and work, and indeed the lift queues looked fairly substantial as we passed by the base lodge.  We were able to park right down by the sports center and E and the boys headed roff to the pool while I got my gear together.  I took a nice round trip out on Broadway and Maple Loop, and enjoyed the ability to actually ski in the tracked lanes.  Where possible I used the tracks and skied classic, but also skated in some spots.  My skis aren’t really skate skis, but I was able to fumble through some strides.  I jumped into the powder off the sides of the trails a few times and even managed a few Telemark turns, but I was thoroughly reminded of just how unstable real cross country skis are.

An image from outside the Bolton Valley Nordic Center at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont

The boys had a lot of fun catching balls as they jumped into the pool and did everything else they’ve missed since the last time they were in the water.  We walked up to get some sandwiches from the deli before we left, and could see the mass exodus of visitors heading back to their cars as the ski day ended.  Based on what we’ve seen over this holiday period, I think the resort has seen a lot of visitors thanks to fairly decent ski conditions, so hopefully that’s been a big positive during what is typically the biggest week of the ski season.

Stowe, VT 31JAN2016

An image of the ski groups at the BJAMS ski program at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont as they begin their afternoon program session
An image of Jay, Jack, Emma, and Dylan on the Meadows Quad Chair at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Today was Jack and Emma’s first time riding the Meadows Chair and exploring some of the Meadows terrain during the BJAMS ski program at Stowe.

E was short on instructors for our BJAMS ski program at Stowe today, so I took on a different group than my usual cadre of experts. I was with Jack, Emma, and Nolan, who are beginner skiers making generally wedge turns. Dylan came along to help me, and Nolan’s brother Lucas was also able to assist. Although our three beginning students have ridden the Inspiration Chair already, I started them off by ascending the small slope up to the magic carpet to let the kids work on edging. We proceeded with a couple of magic carpet runs to check speed control and wedge turns. That went swimmingly, so we moved to Inspiration and worked on wedge turns until everyone had successfully complete the short course of gates that was set up there. Then, it was on to the Meadows Chair.

Today’s visit to the Meadows Chair was the first for Jack and Emma, so naturally that was very exciting for them. Nolan was able to stick with his brother Lucas, which meant that Dylan and I were able to work with the others and give them specific attention. We took the easiest route down from the top of the Meadows Chair, which included some of the gentle terrain features (banked slalom, humps, spines) that the resort has set up for beginners. Both of the kids did a great job (Jack loves the banked slalom), and this was aided by the superb snow conditions that were available today – temperatures in the 30s F created snow that was beautifully soft but not mushy. Jack and Emma are both pretty much at the Stem Christi stage now, and I was able to start working with Emma on that during our last run after Jack had to leave. She’s in fact already done those types of turns before and is certainly ready to improve upon them, so I think she’ll only be incorporating more and more parallel components into her skiing as the next few weeks progress.

It looks like the coming week will be generally mild with some mixed precipitation, so I suspect the slopes will generally be soft until temperatures drop to more February-like levels. At that point surfaces will likely tighten up, so hopefully plenty of new snow will be on the way.

Bolton Valley, VT 30JAN2016

An image showing some ski trakcs in powder snow on the Wilderness Liftline Trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of the Wilderness Chairlift at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Catching some powder beneath Bolton Valley’s Wilderness Chair today

The local ski resorts along the Green Mountain Spine from Stowe to Middlebury were reporting 3-5” inches of new this morning thanks to an Alberta Clipper that moved through the area. The snow was reasonably dense based on my analyses here at the house, and early reports from the slopes indicated that the skiing was quite good with the infusion of the new snowfall. I was busy much of the day, but by midafternoon I decided that I could head up to Bolton Valley for a few turns.

The Village was looking pretty wintry when I arrived, with some fresh snow and rime covering all the trees. The temperature was around 30 F at the base as I hopped on the Vista Quad and headed to the summit. There was a slight breeze up there, but it was another one those generally comfortable days of which we’ve been having a lot this season. I started my run down Alta Vista and found the snow pretty tired as one might expect at the end of a weekend day. The center 80% of the trail was pretty scratchy, and the skier’s left that usually holds the best snow was reasonably soft, but certainly not up to the level that I often find it. I made my way over to Wilderness to see how the powder was faring, and on the traverse over found 16”-17” in protected areas in the 2,600’-2,700’ range. Aside from the areas that had been hit by the wind, I found some sweet bottomless turns on the Wilderness Liftline. I wanted to explore around the mountain a bit more, but that was definitely worth coming back to depending on what else was available. The available powder lessened a bit as I descended to areas where traffic increased and less snow had fallen, but I still found some good untracked snow in spots along the skier;s left of Lower Turnpike.

An image of the snow depth at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

Snow depths seemed decent for some exploration in some of modest-angle off piste areas, so I set my sights on the Village Trees area for the next run. Unfortunately patrol had already closed off the Cobrass area as they were switching over to night skiing mode, so I couldn’t head that way. I checked out some options as I continued on Sherman’s Pass, but any thoughts of Hard Luck had pretty much passed by the time I’d made my first lift ride – I could hear the sound of skis scraping across the icy surface there all the way from the lift, and that’s never a good sign. Not spotting any other obvious routes that seemed to be able to top what I’d already skied, I found my way over to Wilderness again and scored another great run with powder. This time I stayed on the Wilderness Liftline and worked the snow along the edges; the powder tapered down as on the previous run on Lower Turnpike, but it was available up to the point where I merged back toward the Vista trails.

I grabbed a couple of Fireside Flatbread pies for E and the boys, and slowed a bit to check out the snow down at Timberline on my way home. Coverage looked decent, and it would probably be worth a look to see what the powder was like. They did have the shuttle bus running and I saw a few skiers descending, but I’ll have to wait until my next visit if I want to get over there. Hopefully we’ll get some decent storms as we head into February to finally get the base depths at Timberline up to where they need to be.