Morning revealed some additional snow accumulation at our house at 500’ in the Winooski Valley, and as we climbed the road up toward Bolton Valley we could see that the snow levels had indeed come down compared to what I’d seen on my tour yesterday. After whatever settling occurred since that point, total accumulations at 2,000’ in the Village were now up to roughly 8”. We topped out at around 2,800’ on today’s tour, and accumulations are a foot plus from there on up. The elevation profile from yesterday’s tour is updated below with the addition of today’s total new snow depth numbers, which are in bold below:
So with depths of new snow hitting a foot or more in the higher elevations, and snow continued to fall during our tour as well, the skiing was of course even better than yesterday. Indeed, the snow was deeper and drier, and the turns were even more bottomless and effortless. We saw a few other skiers out there on the slopes, but traffic was quite light and fresh tracks were in great supply. I gave Dylan my Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle lens, so we had a couple of cameras available to document the outing, and it was great to be out with the family. Ty was working in the morning, but he would definitely had been there if he was free.
Our most recent winter storm cycle was Winter Storm Quincy, which took place over a week ago. It brought a couple days of good powder, and D and I were able to get out for some fun turns, but since then we’ve sort of been back in the spring weather doldrums. We haven’t had another significant storm, and it hasn’t really been warm enough to soften up the slopes.
Some warmer, sunnier weather moved into the area today though, with temperatures in the 50s F, so the family headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick tour and some soft spring turns. Timberline still has plenty of continuous lines, so we toured from the Timberline Base, and up to the Timberline Mid Station. Just to the right of the base of the Timberline Quad there’s a thin line of snow that supports skinning right from the base, but that will probably melt out in a couple more days of warm weather. There’s solid coverage on the climber’s left of the quad base though, so that will probably be fine for ascents and descents for a while.
Ty cruised right up the hill on the ascent, with Dylan not too far behind, so the two of them had the chance to hang out at the top for a bit before I arrived. One of the chairs of the quad is nicely positioned at the mid station to make a convenient bench, so the boys really enjoyed hanging out there and enjoying the mountain views.
Showtime is doing the best with respect to coverage thanks to additional manmade snow, so we made our descent there. The snow was nice spring corn that had softened on Bolton’s usual afternoon sun, so the turns were quite good.
We only saw a couple of other cars in the parking lot, although it was fairly late in the afternoon, so most people had probably gotten their turns in earlier.
It looks like the weather is going to cool back down as we head into the latter part of this coming week, so we may be looking at more fresh snow coming to the mountains. We’ll see what happens, but I know everyone would be psyched to get out for some more powder.
As of last week, the ski areas in the state had ceased operations, which obviously has the potential to be a blow to many employees and ancillary businesses. All things considered, this timing hasn’t been too bad for the resorts, since they would all be tapering down winter services and staffing in the next few weeks to some degree anyway. From the skier’s perspective, the timing of these resorts hasn’t been horrible either – weather has been in that spring doldrums stage for the past couple of weeks. The usual thaw-freeze cycles that we get at this time of year have taken place, and we haven’t had any big storm cycles to resurface the slopes nor beautiful warm days with copious sunshine to soften them up. We last skied back on the 8th for the BJAMS ski program at Stowe, and regardless of the ski area closings, there hasn’t been much to entice us out since then.
“Our initial forecast called for a total of 2 to 4 inches of accumulation, but after we picked up 2.6 inches of snow in just a half hour (an impressive snowfall rate of over 5 inches per hour) yesterday evening, it was obvious that we were going to get more.”
Since the resort is not posting snow reports now that they’re closed, we didn’t have a sense for how much snow Bolton Valley picked up in the storm, but Dylan and I finally had time around late morning to head up for a ski tour. On the way up the access road we stopped in at Timberline to check on the snow depth, and found about 7 inches of settled new accumulation at the base. We also noted that there were a couple dozen cars in the parking lot from folks that were out ski touring.
I was unsure of the base depths at Timberline, and figured they would be more substantial at the main mountain, so we continued on up to the Village. New snow depths were similar there, and indeed fairly similar all the way up to the Vista Summit. So overall, there really didn’t seem to be much change in accumulation with respect to elevations – from what we saw today, even up above 3,000’ the storm totals looked about the same as what we picked up in the valley at 500’
The turns we had today were very nice. The powder was of medium to perhaps slightly higher density, and temperatures were well below freezing even in the Village at 2,000’. The snow had a nice surfy consistency, with enough buoyancy for bottomless turns on even steep pitches in the black diamond range. You could certainly hit bottom on the very steepest pitches, but we focused on medium-angle terrain and it was bottomless all the way.
“Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing. As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.”
With many people not going to work right now as the state strives to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and a fresh dump of powder on the slopes, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how many people were out for turns. The number of people touring seemed notable though – between Timberline and the Village, there were at least several dozen cars out there. Where we really noticed that ski touring traffic was up was by the number of tracks on the trails. D and I definitely had to work a bit to find trails that had only seen a few tracks, but we just poked around until we found them. Fanny Hill delivered pretty nicely with only about four or five tracks on it and plenty of untouched snow. Despite the number of people up at the resort, it was clear that even resort ski touring is still a great activity for social distancing. As is typically the case, we actually saw only a few people while we were out on the hill, and you still never had to go within 50 feet of anyone if you didn’t want to.
There are a few early signs of another potential storm about a week out, but there’s nothing notable in the more immediate term, so we’ll be watching that timeframe to see if anything pops up.
Today at Stowe I was with a group that I’ve yet to ski with this season at any of our BJAMS ski sessions; I was with Shane’s group, which included Jack, Colby and Ez in attendance. Ty is typically with this group, and was indeed supposed to be with us today, but he forgot his ski boots and the house and thus ended up spending time around the Spruce Peak Village for the afternoon. He did get to do a bunch of exploring though, which included a lots of Pokémon Go and a good analysis of all the village’s good and bad Wi-Fi spots among the various available networks. He happily relayed that to the rest of us, so I’ve got a much better sense of spots to check when I really need a reliable signal.
Temperatures were expected to be in the 30s F with lots of sun this afternoon, so I wasn’t worried about getting soft snow on the lower half of Spruce Peak, but I was unsure about its upper elevations, or what the snow would be like on Mansfield. It turns out that the snow softened all the way up to the top of Spruce, and I got to experience that quite frequently because the boys were ravenously lapping Whirlaway off the Sensation Quad. We’d probably done half a dozen runs there before we finally broke off after Shane called for a bathroom break at the base. I’m not sure if the boys would ever have moved away otherwise. Whirlaway, combined with Sterling lower down, offered pretty much everything they could have wanted though. There were bumps, groomers, some nice tree shots, and of course jumps. These guys love their jumps. Thankfully, the soft snow today was good for lots of jumps, and the ensuing crashes.
“It turns out that the snow softened all the way up to the top of Spruce…”
With their long session on Whirlaway, by the time we’d finished our bathroom/food break in the lodge, there was only enough time for a couple more runs. I suggested we check out the Gondola, since that terrain also should have softened in the sun. By that point in the afternoon only about the bottom half of the Gondola terrain was really soft, but the upper half wasn’t actually too bad. It was partially softened, but you’d still run into some firm areas, so the soft consistency wasn’t there up high the way it was lower down.
“Snow coverage was generally fine today, and even steep, south-facing terrain was still passable.”
On the instruction side of things, all three boys are at that intermediate stage where they can certainly ski parallel, but they revert to their wedge for steep and/or moguled terrain that challenges them to control their speed. Being a bit of an interloper in the group, I didn’t work with them specifically on anything about the skiing, but I did give then a quick instructional lecture during one of our Gondola rides on what they should be thinking about if they want to progress to that next level. They need to bring short radius turns into their repertoire to be able to be able to tackled those steeper slopes and terrain obstacles like bumps and trees without using a wedge. They’re at least aware of that now, so time on snow and even mixing in a bit of that short-turn flavor will help them progress.
Snow coverage was generally fine today, and even steep, south-facing terrain was still passable. But, openings are definitely starting to appear, and if this week is warm without much new snow, those types of south-facing shots are probably going to develop gaps that won’t be passable. There are some chances for snow this week, generally on the back side of modest systems, but there aren’t any large snow events in the forecast.
For today’s BJAMS session at Stowe, Dylan and I were joined by Viviana, as well as Jessica and Sienna who were back from vacation. Viviana has progressed to the point where Erica feels confident enough grouping her up with Sienna, and I’d say that was a good choice.
Before session started, Ty, Dylan, and I had the chance to take a run off the Sunny Spruce Quad to get a sampling of the snow. Winter Storm Odell has wound down now, but it left 40 inches of new snow at Stowe, and the effects were still very obvious. When the boys and I ventured off piste, we found that the powder skiing was simply amazing, and this was after a day or two of settling. As much as I’d found excellent conditions at Bolton on Friday, and especially Saturday after their 30 inches of snow from the storm, the quality of Stowe’s off piste snow was even better. It’s hard to say whether it was simply the extra 10 inches, or if the snow at Stowe happened to be just a bit lighter and drier, but the snow quality was indeed at that next level. We skied the powder along the edge of Slalom Hill, and I just couldn’t believe the quality of it. And, this was on south-facing terrain down near the 1,500’ base elevations of Spruce Peak. One can only imagine what the snow quality was like up at 3,000’ on Mansfield. Actually, one doesn’t have to imagine too much – Powderfreak’s over-the-head white-room photos from the mountain on Friday pretty much told the tale.
“As much as I’d found excellent conditions at Bolton on Friday, and especially Saturday after their 30 inches of snow from the storm, the quality of Stowe’s off piste snow was even better.”
We started out today’s session with a warm-up run off the Meadows Quad to make sure Sienna was up to speed after missing a number of ski program days due to illness, and her skiing was in great shape. She’s skiing notably faster than Viviana, although Sienna isn’t quite progressing toward parallel the way Viviana is.
The Toll Road experience turned out to be a great success. The route was well within everyone’s abilities, and it allowed them to ski a really long, continuous run on a scale that they’d never done before. The groomed snow quality was excellent, and the quality of the powder off to the sides of the trail was simply amazing. Dylan was constantly playing around in the powder off piste, and the overall snow conditions were forgiving enough that everyone started to join in. Jessica was raving about the experience, and that was great to hear. Not every storm cycle is going to bring 40 inches of snow to set things up like what they experienced today, but they’re all certainly ready for another run over there from the top of the Fourrunner Quad.
Although Jessica and Sienna had to leave early, we got in a few more Meadows Quad runs with Viviana, and she got to do more trips through the Easy Street Trees. She also began to venture into the various little chutes and tracks that are available off the sides of her usual Catwalk run, and navigating those was actually a good challenge with respect to controlling her speed.
There aren’t any huge storms in the forecast for the coming week, but we could have snow from some smaller systems toward the end of the week, so we’ll see how those set us up for next weekend.
We dropped Ty off at work at 8:00 A.M., and the rest of the family headed up to Bolton Valley for some powder runs. We were still well ahead of the 9:00 A.M. opening of the Vista Quad, so we waited in the lodge and were recognized by a gentleman from Connecticut named Tom who follows the reports on our website.
“We woke up this morning to reports from the Northern Greens ski resorts touting storm totals of nearly 40 inches at Stowe, and roughly 30 inches everywhere else.”
We headed to Devil’s Playground for our first run, since we hadn’t been in there at all yet this season, and there had definitely been enough snow from Odell to support that steep terrain. As I expected with yesterday being a Friday of the local school break week, the main lines were very much tracked out and packed out. The only real untracked powder we were finding was by heading off into more obscure spots with tough entries, some traversing, or ending in relatively flat areas. The skiing was fine, but even with a bit of additional snow overnight, it was very obvious that yesterday was the day for skiing this storm.
We made our way toward Timberline next, hitting a run off The Knob on the way. There were some nice long untracked lines in there, with the full storm’s worth of powder that had not been touched. The powder skiing was definitely quite good, and enough so that it impressed E above and beyond anything else we’d skied to that point.
At Timberline we were surprised to find a lot of untracked snow on Tattle Tale, even the steep upper headwall, so we did a couple runs in there before even thinking about going into the trees. As much as I wanted to bring D and E to check out some of my favorite tree lines in the area, it was too hard to pass up so much quality powder right on trail. It was really just walk-on skiing from the Timberline Quad with no queue to speak of, and the powder was much more plentiful than what we’d seen off the Vista Quad, so we just stayed there and skied the good snow until we had to leave to pick up Ty.
“There were some nice long untracked lines in there, with the full storm’s worth of powder that had not been touched.”
The skiing had been good enough that D and I actually headed back out for another Timberline session in the late afternoon. We visited spots that we hadn’t had a chance to check out in the morning like Doug’s Solitude and Adam’s Solitude. It certainly wasn’t insane over-the-head powder skiing since it’s fairly low elevation and somewhat south-facing, but it was definitely worth getting out for a bit more powder in spots that we’d missed in the morning. The overall skiing is just really nice with the thorough resurfacing from Winter Storm Odell, so even if one was just out skiing the soft snow on the groomed runs it was a fantastic day to be out. Another bonus of the late session was of course grabbing some take-out from Fireside Flatbread to bring home to everyone for dinner.
Today at Stowe we had some absolutely fabulous weather and ski conditions for our students in the BJAMS ski program. Temperatures were in the 30s F with plenty of sunshine, and on the slopes of Spruce Peak where we spent our time, the snow had softened to just the right consistency to be perfect for confidence building, exploration, and advancement.
Dylan and I were with Viviana, so we started her off with a couple of runs off the Meadows Quad where she’d last been skiing. I was astonished to see that in many spots on the standard Easy Street run, she was already making parallel turns – these were just happening naturally without any mention of it from us, which is a great sign.
“Temperatures were in the 30s F with plenty of sunshine, and on the slopes of Spruce Peak where we spent our time, the snow had softened to just the right consistency to be perfect for confidence building, exploration, and advancement.”
Before program today we’d taken an early trip to the Sunny Spruce Quad to check on the West Run route. We’d confirmed that there was no ice and no moguls, and with the consistency of the snow I was confident that Viviana could make the progression to those trails. While on the lift we noted that this was Viviana’s fourth day on skis, and each day she’d progressed to a new lift. Viviana did great oh her Sunny Spruce runs, although the steepest pitches on West Run were definitely pushing her. She had to work hard to control her speed, but it was challenging her to just the right level. She even got to ski trees for the first time along Easy Street and really liked that experience.
After a break for some food at the Great Room Grill, E joined us for a run to see how Viviana was doing off the Sunny Spruce Quad. Even though Viviana’s brain didn’t know it, I could tell by her body language that she needed to be done for the day during the course of that run. She had a real hard time controlling her speed on the steep pitches, and she barely turned for the last part of Easy Street. Even though she wanted to keep going, I had to explain to her dad that she needed to be done, and he understood. Viviana made excellent progress with the fantastic snow conditions today, so the last thing we wanted to do was ruin it with one of those “last run” injuries.
After dropping off Viviana to her dad, we did join up with one of the other groups for a run off the Sunny Spruce Quad. Dylan and I had an amazing time skiing the ridge off to the left side of West Slope, catching nice air with each turn for a really fun end to the day.
We may have a substantial winter storm coming to the area from midweek into the weekend that could drop a foot or more of snow in the mountains, so we’ll be watching for that as the forecast develops.
Dylan and E were off to a sledding party this afternoon in Morrisville, but it was such a gorgeous day that getting out for a ski tour was definitely on my mind. Ty had to work until noon, and was heading to a friend’s house at 4 P.M., but we definitely had enough time to sneak a tour in that window. Once Ty was back and we’d gear up, we headed right to Bolton Valley.
You almost couldn’t ask for better weather today – we had blue skies, and temperatures at Village elevation were right around 30 F. That’s nice and comfortable for touring, but not warm enough to really start adversely affecting the powder. Visitation at the resort looked strong, but there were still available parking spots and we were able to get one right along the trails in the upper tennis court lot.
“The mountains have had several more inches of snow since then though, and today we really didn’t encounter any signs of that crust because it’s probably just buried deep enough.”
We toured over toward Holden’s Hollow today, and the theme was definitely efficiency. Ty is in really great shape, so his pace is even faster than mine, and within about 25 minutes we were already in position for a descent. Based on how fast we’d moved, I said we’d easily have time for a couple of laps, so we set up for an initial descent through a nice glade on the back side of the ridge. Ty worked on deskinning with his skis still on, and was quite fast with it, so our transition speed only enhanced just how efficient and quick we were overall.
We had first tracks for our descent of the glade, and the conditions were excellent. I’d actually describe the conditions as even better than what we encountered last Saturday when I was out at Bolton with Dylan – and that already wasn’t too shabby. The powder skiing on that outing with Dylan was decent, but there was a marginal buried crust present in some areas that knocked the overall feel down a notch. The mountains have had several more inches of snow since then though, and today we really didn’t encounter any signs of that crust because it’s probably just buried deep enough. Surface powder depths we found were right around 20 inches before getting down to the base, which is basically what we found last weekend. The powder was more consistent today though with any crust buried deeper. That 20 inches of powder is fairly settled at this point of course, so we’re not talking about sinking down 20 inches into fresh champagne, you’re more like 6 to 12 inches down in the powder, but the rest is serving as fantastic cushion above the base. Our first run was on a fairly south-facing slope, but the trees offered a good amount of protection from the sun. A few spots were just starting to get that first phase of the powder being affected by the sun, but those were few and far between.
Once we were back down at the Telemark Trail, we switched over for another ascent, and I was much more efficient at the transition, so told Ty I’d start the ascent and he could catch up. This time, I broke trail through the powder beyond our previous lap, and headed up to the top to access the east side of the ridge. Ty caught up to me just as I was cresting, so it worked out perfectly.
“Surface powder depths we found were right around 20 inches before getting down to the base, which is basically what we found last weekend.”
We descended in the C Bear Woods area that I’d visited back during my tour on the 1st of the month. We had first tracks there as well, but the powder wasn’t quite as good as what we’d found on our first ascent – I think wind effects up on that part of the ridge were the main culprit. The sun was also doing a bit more work on that snow, so in some areas it had lost a bit more of its winter fluff texture.
Back down at the bottom of that run, Ty and I skinned up for the final return to the car, and we found that we’d less than 90 minutes for the whole tour. It was fun getting things done so efficiently, and we really weren’t even pushing ourselves, it was just overall solid pace and good transitions between skinning and skiing.
We’ve got another potential winter storm coming later this week, and it looks pretty nice for the mountains around here from what I’ve seen on the models. The initial snow might be dense since it not an especially cold storm, but unless things change dramatically it looks like another nice shot of liquid equivalent for the snowpack. Some of the models also show extended upslope snow on the back side of the cycle, which would be great to top off the powder skiing conditions.
Today started out very cold. We bottomed out below -15 F here at the house, so nobody was really in a rush to get out skiing this morning. Last Saturday, Dylan and I skied in temperatures around 0 F to catch the fresh snow from Winter Storm Kade, but today we took our sweet time and waited well into the afternoon when temperatures were predicted to be up around 20 F.
It was a bit after 3:00 P.M. when we arrived up at the Village, and we were able to grab a parking spot in the first tier and load right on the Vista Quad. We headed toward Maria’s for some powder, and a chance for Dylan to try out his new Rossignol Sky 7 skis for the first time. His skis were supposed to arrive last weekend, but in a nice piece of irony they were delayed because of Winter Storm Kade.
“We probed total powder depths above the old base and generally found 20 to 22 inches.”
In any event, Dylan’s skis were a great tool for today’s snow. The powder currently consists of snow from Winter Storm Kade last weekend, topped off with snow from four additional storms that included Winter Storm Lamont on Sunday into Monday, and Winter Storm Mabel that just hit the area at the end of the week. We probed total powder depths above the old base and generally found 20 to 22 inches. There was a breakable crust present within the snow from some mixed precipitation that occurred during Winter Storm Mabel. In some areas the crust was absent altogether, and in others it was anywhere from 2 to 8 inches down in the snowpack. The presence and depth of the crust depended on things like aspect, wind effects, and protection from that part or the storm by trees or other terrain features.
Overall the powder skiing was good, although of course not up to the level of last Saturday with the fresh snow from Winter Storm Kade. The crust is thin enough that it’s breakable, and buried enough that it’s inconsequential in many spots, but it definitely makes the powder skiing variable enough that you have to be on your toes. Putting down some additional fresh snow and burying the crust deeper will definitely help the off piste conditions, so we’ll have to see how the expected storms this next week play out.
Dylan and I were assigned a different group today for our BJAMS ski program session at Stowe. Erica was planning to work with Viviana, our student from last week, and we were going with Meredith and Bella. They’re farther along in their skiing and they’re working on transitioning from wedge to parallel. After spending time with them today I’d say they’re about 50% of the way there. They still need their wedge to control their speed on more challenging terrain, but on beginner/green terrain they can make parallel turns most of the time.
“Off piste areas typically held a foot of powder or more, and Dylan and I frequently played around in the trees for short stretches while we were working with the girls today.”
Our group spent time on the Adventure Triple Chair, Meadows Quad, and Sunny Spruce Quad today, and conditions were essentially perfect on beginner terrain. There are some slick areas on intermediate terrain depending on traffic levels. Off piste areas typically held a foot of powder or more, and Dylan and I frequently played around in the trees for short stretches while we were working with the girls today. It seems that we may have more powder on the way as well – the Mt. Mansfield forecast is suggesting an additional 4 to 8 inches of snow tonight into tomorrow.