We popped back up to the mountain for another sunny ski session at Timberline on Sunday, and the boys were both off work so they were able to join us. Temperatures were about 10 F warmer than Saturday, but I didn’t notice too much change in the variety of ski surfaces that we’d seen – the direct, west-facing trails were decent corn snow, but there were still some sticky spots on other aspects, and some firmer snow on terrain well out of the sun.
We sampled most of the available terrain off Timberline, and folks had some different favorite runs. E liked Twice as Nice the most, while I liked Spell Binder the best because it seemed to have seen less traffic and offered some of the smoothest corn snow surfaces below the headwall. All in all it was yet another great day of spring skiing though, topped off with a little takeout from Mad Taco Bolton for dinner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Solitude. Bolton 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indeed, 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.
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.