Big Jay Basin, VT 21FEB2021

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in deep powder from Winter Storm Viola in the Big Jay Basin backcountry near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan dropping into a Telemark turn in powder during a backcountry ski tour out in the Big Jay Basin area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
Dylan dropping into a Telemark turn in the powder during our ski tour out in Big Jay Basin today.

When I headed up to Jay Peak yesterday and found that quality subsurface base snow with up to 16” of new Champlain Powder™ on top, it was hard not to think about going back for another visit.  The snow just kept accumulating throughout the time I was there yesterday, but that wasn’t the end of it.  Here at the house, the snowfall really ramped up overnight, and I figured it had to really be unloading up there in Big Jay Basin.  So, I told the family all about it, and we all headed out for a tour today.

The weather was quite a contrast between yesterday and today – yesterday was relatively low visibility with constant snowfall, but today there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  The basin area had definitely picked up more snow since I’d left yesterday, but it was most notable above the road elevation (~1,500’).  Yesterday I found powder in the 8-12” range down in that elevation range, and we found something closer to a consistent 12” today.  Up higher, I’d found 12-16” in the 2,500’ range, but my measurements show that the powder depth had increased to roughly 20” when we were there today.  If one considers how dry that snow was, and whatever settling occurred, that was obviously another impressive shot of snow overnight.

An image of Ty skiing powder in the Big Jay Basin backcountry area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
Ty drops into another turn in the powder on today’s Big Jay Basin tour, while E looks on from above.

Based on my adventures yesterday, I had no plans to bring E and the boys way up toward the east face of Big Jay; the terrain is really too steep for efficient skinning, and there’s so much great ski terrain in Big Jay Basin itself, that there was little point anyway.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s report, during the approach, it was somewhere above 2,000’ when I found the first obvious split in the main skin track – I literally came to a “T” junction with a skin track to the left, and the other option to the right.  It was interesting guiding the family around today though, as the situation with visible routes was quite different.  There had been a lot more skier traffic, so there were skin tracks and descent tracks all over the place, and the obvious distinction of those skin track routes had been obliterated.  There were so many ski tracks and descent tracks around that the most efficient one’s I’d taken yesterday got missed in a couple of places, but they were all generally leading to where we wanted to go.

“Yesterday I found powder in the 8-12” range down in that elevation range, and we found something closer to a consistent 12” today. Up higher, I’d found 12-16” in the 2,500’ range, but my measurements show that the powder depth had increased to roughly 20” when we were there today”

The skiing, as expected, was excellent.  We topped out at an elevation of roughly 2,700’ in the basin, and worked our way generally back toward the parking area following the typical routes.  There was plenty of powder, although since the area had seen additional skier traffic, we didn’t quite have the run of the place like I did yesterday, and we had to move around a bit more for fresh lines.  I brought up the idea of just skiing straight down the basin to Route 242 and making the short walk back to the car on the road, because I saw some people that seemed to have taken that approach on my outing yesterday.  E and the boys wanted to hit some of that open terrain that’s available near the bottom of the approach though, so we headed that way.  Heading straight down out of the basin will be something I’ll have to try on a future trip, but it could be a nice way to avoid having to traverse to the right as much during the ascent and get a more direct fall line run.

A map showing GPS data on Google Earth for a backcountry ski tour in the Big Jay Basin area near Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
A map of our backcountry ski tour in the Big Jay Basin area today with GPS data mapped onto Google Earth

Since the trip is an hour or so from home, we used it as an opportunity to get Dylan some of his required driving hours, and that was a win-win.  There was still some snow to navigate on the roads so that he could work on dealing with slushy areas, but it was probably good that he wasn’t dealing with the heavy snowfall and low visibility that I had frequently encountered yesterday.

Bolton Valley, VT 10FEB2021

Dylan skiing powder by a small evergreen tree in the Doug's Solitude area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing through powder after Winter Storm Roland in the Doug's Solitude area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty blasting through a bit of our surprise powder at Bolton Valley this morning.

While we haven’t really had any of those stretches this season where snowfall has really gone off the hook by Northern Greens standards, what we’ve had in the past few weeks has been a nice steady pace of snowfall from bread and butter systems intermixed with the occasional larger synoptic storm.  And that snowfall has indeed been steady – since the start of the calendar year at our house, we’ve only had four days without snowfall.  Indeed we also haven’t seen any massive blockbuster storm cycles in the area yet this season, but in many ways, it’s felt like a fairly classic Northern Greens winter period since about the start of the calendar year.  Part of the climatology here is getting those little surprises throughout the season, such as Winter Storm Roland dropping over 8 inches here, when only about half that was expected.  It’s good to take advantage of Mother Nature’s surprises when you get the chance.

An image of Dylan skiing powder in some open trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Skier traffic was fairly low this morning, so we had acres and acres of powder to ourselves.

To that point, I certainly hadn’t planned to ski today.  But, with the way it was dumping huge flakes here at the house this morning, and after watching it snow 2.5” in an hour, I started to reconsider.  I checked out the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam, saw just a whiteout of massive flakes, and that pretty much sealed the deal.  I told the boys that if we they didn’t have any meetings this morning, we definitely needed to head up to the mountain for some turns.  And so we did.

An image of Ty dropping off a ledge while powder skiing after Winter Storm Roland at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping one of those powdery ledges today

We just stuck to Timberline, and skier traffic was low enough that there really wasn’t any need to go anywhere else.  We started with a run on Adam’s Solitude, but spent the rest of the day in Doug’s Woods and Doug’s SolitudeBolton is reporting 12” in the past 48 hours, but we were typically finding 12-16” off piste in the areas we were skiing.  The snow was absolute champagne, definitely in line with the ~2% H2O I’d gotten from my previous three snow analyses at the house, so it skied like a dream.  The boys had fun throwing themselves off just about any stump, bump, log, tree, ledged, or cliff they found.  And, Mother Nature even decided to treat us with some sun during the morning to let us get a bit more pop out of the photos from the session.

Bolton Valley, VT 07FEB2021

An image of Dylan skiing powder from Winter Storm Peggy in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty and Dylan approaching the mid station area of the Wilderness Double Chair at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The boys approaching the Wilderness Mid Station on one of our runs today

It had just started to snow when I headed up to Bolton Valley with the boys this afternoon for a session.  We had planned to start at Timberline, but we were surprised to find that the Timberline Quad wasn’t running.  It must have been a mechanical issue because it didn’t seem like there were any issue with the wind.

Today wasn’t the obvious powder day that yesterday was, but the snow continues to be fantastic.  We just had to travel farther afield to get into fresh stuff around the resort today, hitting areas like White Rabbit, Snow Hole, The Knob, Maria’s, various Fanny Hill Glades, etc.  The only spot on our list that we didn’t get to hit was Adam’s Solitude, since the Timberline Quad wasn’t running.

An image of Ty jumping into some untracked powder in a ski line off The Knob at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty comes flying into the picture during a run through some of that deep powder off The Knob.

The powder really just keeps piling up with each round of snow, making all the untouched areas more and more bottomless.  We had on and off light snow during the afternoon that accumulated to less than an inch, but it started dumping those huge flakes when we were leaving due to approaching Winter Storm Quade, so there should be some additional accumulation tomorrow.

Bolton Valley, VT 06FEB2021

An image of Ty jumping off a ledge on skis in the Wood's Hole area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks on a powder morning after Winter Storm Peggy on the Spell Binder trails at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Early tracks and some sunshine on Spell Binder this morning

With Bolton Valley reporting 8” in the past 24 hours due to various rounds of snow from Winter Storm Peggy, we headed up for a session at the opening of Timberline this morning.  It was bright and sunny when we got there, but before long it clouded up and flakes started to appear.  For the rest of the morning it was generally cloudy with a bit of snow and the occasional appearance of the sun.

My depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ range revealed new snow depths in the 6-9” range, which was definitely consistent with the snow report.  The powder was pretty dry (3-5% H2O) so the new stuff alone wasn’t quite bottomless on piste on steep terrain, but it skied really well.

An image of Erica skiing powder from Winter Storm Peggy in the Wood's Hole area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Erica dropping through some powder today in the Wood’s Hole area

We ended up spending the entire morning and into the early afternoon at Timberline, starting off with powder runs on the trails, and gradually moving into the trees.  We hit some favorites that we had yet visited this season, like the KP Glades, Lost Girlz, and the Corner Pocket Glades.  Anywhere off piste that hasn’t seen heavy traffic, the new snow just bolstered the depth of that already bottomless snowpack that’s out there.

Bolton Valley, VT 20JAN2021 (P.M.)

An image of Ty and Dylan skiing powder snow left by upslope precipitation during a January storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing trees in the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont during a January snowstorm
Ty charging through the trees of Timberline today as we get out for some turns during our most recent rounds of snow this week at Bolton Valley.

The turns this morning at Bolton Valley were so good, that as soon as I got home, I checked to see if the boys had finished all their school meetings and schoolwork to be able to head up for an afternoon session at Timberline.  I had a midday Zoom meeting anyway, so that gave them time to finish up any remaining work, and once everyone was set, we headed back up to the mountain.

For the afternoon, I switched over from Telemark to alpine gear, since that’s what the boys wanted to do.  It was just great to be out with the boys on a snowy afternoon enjoying some turns, getting some pictures, goofing around in the powder, etc.  I had to break it to them that the turns weren’t quite as insanely good as what I’d encountered in the morning, but that was splitting hairs of course.  The trails were a bit more tracked up due to a few more hours of skier traffic, but we started heading into some of our favorite tree stashes anyway, where the powder was deep and plentiful.

An image of Dylan skiing powder during a January snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIndeed, while it continued to snow during our afternoon session, it was more in the ½-1”/hr range, so certainly decent, but not quite up to the level of what I’d experienced in the morning.  That was until we were leaving though – when we were packing up at the car, the snowfall rate was back up in that 1-2”/hr range again and combined with light heading more toward dusk, visibility dropped way down.

An image of snow falling outside the Timberline Base Lodge during a January snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The snowy scene at Timberline today as we were finishing up for the day.

The Northern New England ski resorts are definitely having the sort of great run of snowy days that we needed to make up for some slower snowfall earlier in the season, and the snow looks to continue right into the coming weekend.

Bolton Valley, VT 18JAN2021

An image of Ty as he about to jump through some tree branches on the Hard Luck trail during Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing the Hard Luck trail in snow from Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E amidst the powder and falling snow of Winter Storm Malcolm as she descends Hard Luck this morning.

We’d already been planning to head back to the mountain today for an early morning start, since Bolton’s highest elevation lifts (Vista Quad and Wilderness Double) never ran yesterday due to high winds.  They both ran fine today and delivered some great skiing on the upper mountain.  Conditions already would have been great, but that extra 3-4” of sub-4% H2O champagne we picked up early this morning put the icing on the cake, and it continued to snow much of the morning on the mountain as well.

” I did a snowpack depth check right around the 3,000’ mark in the Outlaw Woods, and found 32”, which seemed somewhat reasonable with a depth of 30” reported from the Mt. Mansfield Stake.”

I already summed up the VT resort snow totals for Winter Storm Malcolm in a post in the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forum, but ultimately, all the ski areas along the Green Mountain Spine seemed to be in that 1½ to 2 foot range.  Without a heavily consolidated based below what just fell from Malcolm, it’s tough to get settled depths from just this storm because there’s no clear demarcation in the snowpack.  Depth checks of the settled snowpack that I made yesterday were all in the 20”+ range, and it was certainly deep up around 3,000’.  I did a snowpack depth check right around the 3,000’ mark in the Outlaw Woods, and found 32”, which seemed somewhat reasonable with a depth of 30” reported from the Mt. Mansfield Stake.

An image of Ty skiing through fresh snow from Winter Storm Malcolm on the Hard Luck trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe had a fantastic first run down Hard Luck, where we found just a few tracks ahead of ours – it was nice to show the boys what getting out a bit earlier can get you!  I think they might have some manmade snow under there, but it was hard to tell with all the snow from Winter Storm Malcolm providing a very thorough resurfacing.  The resort also opened the Wilderness Chair for the first time this season, and there was a notable queue as it was finally getting ready to open, but it was a fun wait because there was an excited energy among the skiers for it to make its season debut.

An image of a line of people waiting for the Wilderness Double Chair to open for the first time during the 2020-2021 ski season at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An excited crowd awaits the opening of the Wilderness Double Chair for the first time this season.

I can’t speak to the financial aspects, but in terms of snow conditions, it was definitely a solid holiday weekend for Bolton Valley and the Vermont ski areas in general. 

Bolton Valley, VT 17JAN2021

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm while we wait for the Timberline Quad chair to start loading at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing in fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Once the Timberline Quad started loading this morning, we got in some great turns in the fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm, as Ty shows here on Spell Binder.

The family was up at Bolton Valley for a ski session this morning, and the mountain reported an additional 6” of snow as of their early report today, making for a 14” storm total at that point.  That will probably go up a bit more for tomorrow since it was still snowing while were there, and indeed the snowfall was heavy at times.

They had a resort-wide power outage in the morning (presumably some heavy, wet snow and/or winds brought something down on the Bolton Valley Access Road), so that delayed opening a bit.  We’d planned to just do lift-served skiing on alpine gear today, but catching wind of the power outage via the snow report, we brought Telemark gear as well, and ascended via the Timberline uphill route to make a quick run there while we waited for the Timberline Quad to open.

An image of Erica skiing on the Twice as Nice Trail during Winter Storm Malcolm at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow from Winter Storm Malcolm continues to fall as Erica enjoys some morning Telemark turns on Twice as Nice.

We switched over to alpine gear once the Timberline Quad started loading, and the skiing was great.  While we were hanging out, we checked total snowpack depth on the Spell Binder trail at around the 2,000’ elevation mark, and generally got depths of 18-20”.

An image of a snow depth measurement stake in Waterbury Vermont with delicate upslope snow sticking to the top and sides of the stake
Back at the house, delicate upslope snow clings to one of our snow stakes out in the back yard. This morning’s liquid analysis revealed the most recent snow came in at 3-4% H2O.

Due to high winds, the uppermost lifts (Vista Quad and Wilderness Double) never opened, so we ended up skiing in just the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range on Timberline.  I know from my experience at the resort yesterday that the snow was notably drier on the upper mountain, so what we skied today in those lower elevations was a bit on the denser side.  The powder had certainly become drier overall with the overnight addition of upslope snow vs. just the dense snow from yesterday, but I bet the snow is even drier in the upper elevations of the main mountain.  With that said, the snow at Timberline was still fantastic, with lots of untracked powder available as ski patrol did their checks and other work to get new trails open.

The mountain is planning to run all the lifts tomorrow as long as the winds die down, so there could be some nice turns on the lifts that didn’t open at all today.

Bolton Valley, VT 03JAN2021

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John while ski touring in the Wilderness area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan in a little powder during today’s tour as he tests out his Rossignol Soul 7 HD skis for the first time. The powder from Winter Storm John is getting harder to find with lots of people touring at Wilderness, but the snow is holding up well on low and moderate-angle terrain.

Yesterday delivered some decent lift-served turns, as well as a quick Wilderness tour with some powder, so today I headed back up to the mountain for a ski tour with Dylan.  With more time than I’d had yesterday afternoon, we went a bit farther afield in the Wilderness area in search of untracked powder.  The untouched snow was definitely harder to come by this afternoon, because there has been heavy ski touring traffic this weekend.  The amount of traffic is relative of course, and nothing like you’d get with lift-served skiing, but after an entire holiday weekend worth of people touring, the untracked snow on the trails of Wilderness had been just about picked clean.  One factor in the apparently heavy traffic is that folks aren’t yet using all the acreage of tree skiing; the trees were generally untouched because people know that it’s still just a bit too thin in there for the skiing to be practical.  I saw an occasional track of people who had headed into the trees, but you could tell they weren’t quite ready.  If we get one more good snowstorm with an inch of liquid, then the low-angle trees will be in play.

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Although the trails in Bolton’s Wilderness area have seen a lot of skiers due to extensive use of their uphill route, Dylan and I were still able to get into some very nice powder from Winter Storm John on our tour today.

We picked up some take-out from Fireside Flatbread for the first time this season, and the process is similar to what the resort is doing at the Village Deli and The Mad Taco – they’re not taking orders in person.  In this case it looks like the preferred method is to go through the Toast online ordering service.  I actually found this approach to be quite quick though; I was easily able to put in my order on my phone, and they accept Apple Pay, so all I had to do was authorize that with my fingerprint, and we were good to go!

The weather looks generally quiet this coming week, but by the early to middle part of next week we could get back into a more typical Northern Greens bread-and-butter pattern of modest systems to freshen up the slopes.  We still need a solid synoptic storm with an inch of liquid equivalent (or something similar from a series of smaller systems) to really get the base depths to more respectable levels, but Winter Storm John was a godsend to at least get a bit of base down and have some snow to see us through the next week.

Bolton Valley, VT 11APR2020

An image of Erica and Dylan skiing powder together during an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder during an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With additional snowfall overnight, depths of new snow on the mountain today were hitting a foot or more, and Dylan was making quick work of the fresh powder riding Mom’s fat Telemark skis.

Although I headed out on yesterday afternoon’s ski tour alone because I was unsure of just how good the snow was going to be, my concerns turned out to be quite unfounded.  With 4-5” of fresh snow at Village elevations, and 8-9” up top, the power skiing was already good to go… and Mother Nature was only making it better.  Yesterday evening, the upslope snow continued to crash into the spine of the Greens, and as temperatures came down, we began to pick up accumulations in the valleys again.  With the snowfall anticipated to continue overnight at all elevations, it was definitely going to be worth getting the family out for a tour.

A close-up, wide-angle image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder during an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontMorning 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:

340’: 0” –> 0”
600’: —–> T
900’: T –> ½”
1,000’: ½-1” –> ½-1”
1,500’: 2” –> 5”
2,000’: 4-5” –> 8”
2,500’: 7” –> 9-10”
2,800’: 12”
3,000’: 8-9” –> 12”+

An image of Erica Telemark skiing on powder during an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E said that she really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the skiing today – it was certainly the type of snow where you could just set yourself on autopilot and go.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 04APR2020

An image of Ty and Dylan on a chair of the Timberline Quad Chairlift during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont.
An image of Erica Telemark skiing on the Showtime trail during a spring ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E enjoys some spring exercise as the whole family got out for a ski tour at Bolton Valley today.

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.

An image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan preparing their gear for a spring ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The family gets their gear set for the ski tour.

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.

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing during a spring ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan out on Mom’s fat skis today.

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.