With the snow from this latest storm, E and I headed up to Bolton for a session today with Ty, who’s back from school on spring break. We got to the mountain reasonably early, with some concern about how the powder was going to hold up as the day warmed, but even as of midday that wasn’t a concern at elevation. It was probably in the 20s F when we arrived, and combined with the breeze, it was chilly. It was excellent touring weather, and the powder stayed cold and dry. Even at midday, the higher elevation snow was dry, although snow in the mid to lower elevations in directly sunlight was starting to be affected by the sun.
The mountain was reporting 4 inches of new snow, but I’d say that was a fairly conservative report – I was finding 5-6” new at the 2,000’ elevation, and as much as 8” up above 3,000’. We started our session with a tour at Wilderness up to ~2,800’ or so. Wilderness is 100% natural snow, so the decent amount of base in many spots was impressive, but the usual windswept or sunny spots were lean on coverage. Those areas of lean coverage were fine for grassy and/or low angle slopes, but you wouldn’t have wanted to tackle anything steep that didn’t have existing base.
I’d say the very best snow we encountered yesterday was on Alta Vista – the ridgeline and skier’s right of the headwall were windswept as usual, but the protected left side of the headwall held some nice, semi-packed snow. Below that though was the real gold mine. They had groomed the skier’s left of the trail, but the skier’s right held about 8 inches of chowder that was mostly bottomless, and we couldn’t believe how good the skiing was there. We were wishing they hadn’t groomed anywhere if it could have meant the snow would have been like that. The Vista Quad was on wind hold until about midday though, so we were up on Alta Vista not too long after the lift started running, and I think that helped set up the incredible snow quality there.
It was great to catch a day of skiing with Ty while he was back. Although he’s got plenty of breaks between Thanksgiving, the long holiday break, sinter break, and spring break, you still never know when schedules and good snow might line up. Ty said today was probably his best Telemark day ever in terms of comfort level and confidence with his turns, so that was exciting to hear. He’s still learning and improving, even at this age. He also finally got to visit the Miso Toh Kome stand for the first time, and he’s a total sushi fiend, so he loved it. I’ve been sending him pictures every time I’ve gotten food from there over the past few weeks to build it up… and maybe give him a bit of a hard time about missing out as well!
Today was the day after the storm (Winter Storm Quinlan), and the weather had settled down. E and I headed up for morning turns at Timberline, and the conditions were great. It was still cold by March standards, somewhere in the teens F in the morning. The storm total reported by Bolton Valley was around 18 inches.
We spent our entire morning at Timberline, and just stayed there since there was plenty of snow even down to 1,500’, and there was still some wind around as we hit 2,500’. My depth checks generally revealed about 12” of new snow after settling down in the Timberline elevations, which with the density at the beginning of the storm was plenty to cover most on piste terrain. Initially, the headwalls of the steepest terrain areas were closed, since they had been scoured by the winds and thus not covered as well as they otherwise would have been. The traverses below them were in good shape though, so that gave you access to run after run of untracked powder on trails like Spell Binder. Eventually, patrol even opened the Spell Binder headwall, but you had to be quite cautious going down the most scoured sections.
For off piste runs, you had to know the areas with good base depths, but the skiing in those areas was excellent. The usual steepest areas were still sketchy of course, as one storm can only do so much to cover up areas with poor base depths. E and I had a great run in the lower KP Glades, and when we showed it to Dylan and Parker once they arrived it the early afternoon, they were pretty impressed with the conditions as well. E and I left around 1:00 P.M., but the boys did a lot of off piste exploring in the afternoon, and my Dylan’s ski got a solid core shot to show for it.
“My depth checks generally revealed about 12” of new snow after settling down in the Timberline elevations, which with the density at the beginning of the storm was plenty to cover most on piste terrain.”
The parking lots up at the Village were already full when we arrived in the morning, so the Timberline Quad had intermittent periods with a lift queue as the people arriving made their way up to the main mountain, but thankfully those died off as people dispersed. Bolton opened the new expansion to the Timberline Lodge for the first time this weekend, and it looks quite nice. I hear they are also going to use it as rentable space for conferences and events, but it’s going to be a great addition to the space in the lodge.
I hadn’t planned to ski today, thinking it was just going to be a rainy one, but the sky cleared out in the afternoon to produce a beautiful, warm, early spring day. Seeing that, Dylan and I popped up to the mountain for some runs. In a classic reversal of Saturday, this was a situation where the terrain with manmade snow provided the superior skiing. Manmade snow is dense enough that it generally transitions quickly to an appropriate spring snow surface, while the natural snow initially gets sticky with warm temperatures and requires some freeze/thaw cycles before it really primes up. Trail pitch mattered today as well, and low angle terrain was the toughest in terms of movement. We talked to a couple of guys in the parking lot who said that the flat terrain was brutally slow.
“…we just spent the rest or the time lapping the good snow on the Showtime trail under the Timberline Quad. The snow was great for railing carves and generally having a fun springtime ski session.”
We spent our whole session today at Timberline, and Bolton Valley had recently put down a bunch of manmade snow under the quad that provided great turns in the warm temperatures. We did venture off to flatter terrain on one run per Dylan’s request, just to see what it was like. Thankfully, we didn’t actually find that conditions on the flats as bad as the guys we’d talked to in the parking lot, and I’ve definitely seen it worse. I was on Teles, which can be brutal with respect to the effort required to keep fore-aft balance and prevent yourself from going over the handlebars all the time on really sticky snow, but I found that today was at least reasonable compared to some days we’ve been out in the past.
The difficulty in traveling on flat terrain was still made abundantly clear after that run, and we just spent the rest or the time lapping the good snow on the Showtime trail under the Timberline Quad. The snow was great for railing carves and generally having a fun springtime ski session. Also, there was hardly anyone at the resort, probably because they had assumed it was going to be a dreary day like we’d thought. When we arrived in the early afternoon, there were just three cars in the upper Timberline lot.
This morning, Ty, E, and I headed up to Bolton Valley to check out the snow from Winter Storm Oaklee. The boys were both asleep as E and I were just about to leave to get in on some of the fresh powder, and we assumed they were just going to sleep in. Ty just happened to wake up at the right time, and he was excited to join us, so that was fortuitous timing for him!
Having clear skies, comfortable winter temperatures, and about a foot of fresh snow held the potential for some great skiing. Based on my snow density observations down at the house, the storm cycle progressed from denser 8-10% H2O snow into some impressive 2-4% H2O champagne, and indeed what we found out there at Bolton today was some very high quality powder. This was also the first chance for E to try out her new Rossignol Spicy 7 HD skis, and she was very happy with how they felt with today’s conditions.
The denser snow from the front end of the storm cycle wasn’t too evident underfoot actually, so the only major downside of today’s powder skiing was that it wasn’t quite bottomless. Depending on the pitch, you were certainly touching down on the subsurface, but on everything except for the steepest terrain, the powder turns were quite good. On moderate-angle terrain you could typically get by with 80-90% bottomless skiing, and because the powder was just so incredibly dry, you could ride it on lower angle terrain and it skied really well because of such low impedance.
Measurements throughout the morning revealed plenty of 8-12” powder depths, and we just ended up staying down at Timberline for our entire session because there was rarely a lift queue of note. A lot of trails weren’t open simply because the headwalls didn’t have quite enough snow to cover them up fully, but routes were available to traverse below them, and all that terrain was just loaded with quality powder. We generally stayed on piste because there was plenty of powder available there, and it was the better option anyway. Some off piste areas are dicey because of the recent warmth, but the off piste areas that are typically protected from the warmth and are well manicured were in great shape, so we did have some nice turns in those spots.
Storms like this are where one’s knowledge of their local hill really comes into play for putting together a fun session vs. one where you’re constantly dodging rocks and logs, wrecking your skis, or even worse, potentially wrecking yourself. Although we did spend most of our time on piste over the weekend because there was plenty of available powder there, our travels also brought us into some off piste lines that we trusted, and we found great turns in those areas.
From conversations with friends and colleagues who have skied in different spots in the Northern Greens over the past few days, it sounds like with respect to off piste turns, the farther north you go, the better the base gets. These next couple of bread and butter systems that are coming though this week should only help in that regard, and then we’ll have to see if that mixed system that’s farther out there in time can further substantiate the base.
We had comfortable temperatures in the 20s F, and found about 3 inches of new snow starting at the 1,200’ elevation. My initial plan was to head up to at least the Caribou Corner intersection, and then see how we felt at that point in terms of snow conditions and timing. Even at a casual, conversational pace, Ty and I were quickly at Caribou Corner, and I figured we could go on past to see what the snow looked like beyond the beaver ponds. Surface snow depths were generally in the 3-4” range, but we did find a few spots of up to 7” by the beaver ponds. We finally stopped our ascent around the Moose-ski trail on a local rise that set us up with an initial descent of relatively low angle pitches.
Even on low-angle terrain, we were still touching down to the base with any substantial edging, and only occasionally would be find just the right combination of snow depth and pitch where we could get in some bottomless turns. Those spots where you could make a gentle turn without much angulation were the ones that delivered.
A fun aspect of the day was interacting with the Husky that seems to live at that house/cabin that’s about 10 minutes up the hill along the Catamount Trail. It’s a really well-behaved dog that seems to interact nicely with most people who are out on that area of the network. On our ascent, we parted company with the Husky a few minutes after passing the house, when it joined a group of children who were sledding in a spot just below the Catamount Trail. On our descent, the Husky was right at the Bolton Lodge, and joined us for the rest of the descent back to the cabin, where we met the owner. What a great back yard that Husky has! With the Catamount Trail and Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network right there, I bet there’s hardly even a shortage of people to play with.
This weekend’s forecast suggests the reverse of last weekend when it comes to temperatures. Whereas Sunday was the warmer day last time around, this weekend, Saturday is the day. We’ve had a couple of nice, milder days this past week with temperatures up around 40 F, and that spell continued into today. Tonight, the temperatures are expected to drop below zero F with the passage of a sharp cold front, and tomorrow’s highs are only in the single digits, so today was definitely the day to hit the slopes.
D, E, and I headed up to Timberline today for a ski session in the late morning. The Timberline Quad seems to be back up to full capacity, so whatever repairs were needed must have been completed. With full capacity loading, there were occasionally a few people forming a lift queue, but it was mostly just walk-on service.
Today’s outing on the mountain had a somewhat Colorado feel – temperatures were above freezing in the 30s to near 40 F, but the air was dry, and the snow stayed relatively dry as well. There’s lots of loose, chopped up snow on the trails, and it really seems like we’re still just working with long-lasting leftovers from Winter Storm Landon. I guess with low levels of skier traffic at Timberline, and the resort leaving parts of the trails ungroomed, that snow is just sticking around. We had some sunny periods that really brightened up the session, and the snow got a bit sticky in a few spots, but in general I found even the sunniest areas of snow to be quite dry. Even among the sunshine there were a few flakes falling today, and the views across the lake were impressive with squalls dropping snow among the Adirondacks ahead of an approaching clipper system.
I was on my Atomic RT-86 Tele Skis with an 86 mm waist, but I think even something in the 90-100 mm range would have been nice out there today with all the loose snow. E was riding her old school Tele skis that have a 70 mm waist, and that lack of width just made it harder to negotiate the chop. We actually discussed a similar theme during our Bolton Valley outing back on the 30th, when E and I were skiing some leftover powder and chopped up snow at Timberline. It seemed like it was a good time to get E something wider for a daily Tele driver, so I ordered up a pair of Rossignol Spicy 7 HD skis. Those were delivered earlier this week, and we actually just visited OGE to get them mounted this afternoon. They should be a nice addition to her Tele quiver, and she can save her old skinniest Teles for real groomer days or early/late season situations with poor coverage.
We spent our time today on the main Timberline runs like Twice as Nice, Showtime, and Spell Binder, and despite some warm days this week, coverage is in pretty good shape for all those areas, which are all running on natural snow. Not surprisingly, the Spell Binder headwall is the place with some thin cover, but it’s hard to overstate just how important it was to get those inches of liquid equivalent put down by Winter Storm Landon last weekend. That really was an absolute game-changer on the season for the lower elevation slopes.
From several days out, the weather models suggested that Winter Storm Landon was going to target Northern New England with more than a foot of snow. Unlike last weekend’s Winter Storm Kenan, this wasn’t a coastal system that needed to line up perfectly and might affect only a small geographical area; this was a large overrunning system stretching up all the way from the Southwest, through the Midwest, and into the Northeast with an almost nation-wide swath of wintry precipitation. By Wednesday, it was obvious that Northern Vermont was on track for a solid snowfall, and late in the afternoon, I got a quick text from Dave that led to the following exchange:
Dave: “Any thoughts on this storm?”
Jay: “I would say 12”+ is a good bet for around here.”
With that, the plan was on. Dave was heading to Killington to ski on Thursday, and then he’d make his way up to our place to stay Thursday night, with the hope of being able to get some turns together on Friday. This was exciting, because Dave’s schedule and obligations haven’t really lined up for a visit in a while. A search on our website revealed that his last trip up for skiing was in 2018 when we skied Stowe on March 14th and Bolton Valley on March 15th.
When Dave got to our house late yesterday afternoon, he said that he’d almost bailed on skiing at Killington when he arrived there in the morning to find it raining. Thankfully, it was much more wintry up high on the mountain, and the conditions just got better as the day went on. He met up with another guy that was skiing solo, and ended up having a fantastic time roaming around and even getting some video shots with the guy’s camera.
“At our site, I recorded 6.0 inches of new snow from 6:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M., and then another 5.2 inches between 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. Our storm total at that point even down at the house was over a foot of new snow, and 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent, so it was clear that the storm was putting down a very solid resurfacing of the slopes.”
As expected, the snowfall really turned on around here yesterday evening. At our site, I recorded 6.0 inches of new snow from 6:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M., and then another 5.2 inches between 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. Our storm total at that point even down at the house was over a foot of new snow, and 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent, so it was clear that the storm was putting down a very solid resurfacing of the slopes. Between getting gear together, snow blowing the driveway, solidifying Dave’s ski plans, getting his ticket, and everything else that goes into a storm morning, it was quite busy. But we easily made it to the Vista Quad lineup for the planned 9:00 A.M. opening.
It was chilly out there on the mountain, with temperatures probably in the 10 F range. We were happy to discover that winds weren’t strong at all though, so there were no wind holds, and the lifts seemed to start right up at their planned times aside from the usual smaller delays of getting the later lifts rolling on a storm day. We were all set to head over toward Timberline on our second run, but we ran into a patroller on Cobrass who said that it wasn’t quite ready yet, so we gave it one more run and the timing worked out beautifully.
The new snow was undoubtedly a solid resurfacing of the entire mountain at all elevations. Indeed, that 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent that we’d picked up at our house meant that the resort had at least that much, and you could feel it by the girth of the massive cushion beneath your skis. The snow had started out quite dense at the very initial stages of the storm as temperatures were still coming down, and then it seemed to settle down to roughly medium-weight powder for the bulk of the overnight accumulations. My 6:00 A.M. analyses revealed snow density at 9.4% H2O, which is solidly in that medium-weight powder category. There hadn’t really been any fluff at that point to set up an impressively right-side-up powder accumulation, so you were generally riding in that medium weight snow, and we found the best skiing on steeper terrain. Low angle slopes were just a bit on the slow side with the available snow density. Thankfully, with that 1 to 2 inches of liquid equivalent down, it was game on for even the steepest terrain, and steep areas that we hit such as Vermont 200, the Spell Binder headwall, and the Tattle Tale headwall all delivered. You could attack those pitches as aggressively as you wanted, without concern. Another great example of the resurfacing was hitting Cobrass on our second run to find that even the usual ledges and ice bulges were covered. Initially, I’d gone in with the usual strategy of negotiating those obstacles, but quickly saw that they were irrelevant, and I was able to ski like they weren’t even there. That’s the sign of a solid resurfacing. With depth checks, I was generally finding settled accumulations of about a foot at that stage of the storm, which I think was right in line with what the resort had noted in their morning report.
We actually skied with an associate from PeakRankings.com who was getting info for his report on Bolton Valley, so we showed him around for a few runs. His ski jacket has something like “WE RANK PEAKS” written in huge letters on the back, which quickly gets your attention and lets you know what he’s up to. We hooked up with him just as we were finally planning to head over to Timberline, so we showed him the Maria’s route to get there.
I had to head out around midday, but Dave and E did eventually catch up with Dylan and his friends out on the mountain for some skiing. When E texted to see if the boys were on the mountain, they couldn’t help but have some fun by replying with a picture saying “NO” that was an obvious shot of them riding the lift. The boys waited at the Vista Summit for the others to catch up, which shows a nice touch of class on a powder day. Dave and E said they had a great time that afternoon, and E even had a some sense of where they were going on the mountain. She recalled some trail names, and was remembering the character of many trails enough to give people an idea of what they were going to ski.
I have to give the boys a hard time for not getting out right at the start of the morning, but Dylan’s friend Parker did pull off a classic dual resort visit to really maximize a powder day. He headed to Stowe first thing for the typical “hour of power”, where you can get some good fresh runs before it’s all tracked up and the lift queues grow, and then he headed to low-key Bolton where you can enjoy powder for the rest of the day in peace. I’d say he’s wise beyond his years.
Dave said that his drive home to Boston was fine on I-89, but I-93 was tough with lots of people off the road. Those areas to the south apparently got a lot of mixed precipitation and it was quite a mess. We were all happy to be well north of that stuff up here.
Today is Ty’s birthday, and the whole family was around with time to do something together. Ty’s broken collarbone has healed to the point where he doesn’t have to wear a sling, and light activities that don’t put stress on it are fine. On Sunday, Ty and E and I went for a snowshoe tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network, and after some discussion today, we decided that some ski touring on mellow terrain would be fine.
D is still trying to find some new Telemark boots that fit better, so he just hiked in with his snowboard – most of the approach is either road, or packed trails, so it didn’t turn out to be a problem. Ty did give D a ride on the backs of his skis at times, which was sort of neat. Ty said it was a lot of work, but D could help out the process a lot by using his poles.
I’d found total snowpack depths of ~18” at the 1,500’ elevation when I toured in the Timberline area on Tuesday, and even starting down at an elevation of 1,200’ today there were no major issues with the base. The powder out there in the backcountry is still in excellent shape – depth checks I did today in the 1,200’ – 1,700’ elevation range revealed powder depths of 12-13”. That’s actually a bit deep for some of the lower angle spots on today’s tour, but the descent was still nice. We also hit some of those slightly steeper shots around the Bolton Lodge, and those pitches offered up some great powder turns.
Up at Bolton Valley today, wind holds were in effect at the resort’s normal opening time. By mid-morning though, the winds had died down, the lifts started running, and we headed up for what was hopefully going to be a great day of skiing. We were right in the midst of Winter Storm Izzy, the resort had already picked up several inches of snow, and more snow continued to pour down. Right from our house it was obvious that snowfall rates were pretty impressive with the system. Snow was falling at about an inch per hour down in the valley, and they ramped up as we headed into the higher elevations. With the snowfall rates, it was hard to keep pace with plowing the Bolton Valley Access Road, so it was snow covered and giving some vehicles trouble making the ascent. We had to head around stopped vehicles in a couple of different spots on the access road; one car was actually working on turning around to head back down and presumably wait for the plow/sander to make a pass.
“By the time we arrive in mid-morning, those winds from earlier had settled down to almost nothing across many areas of the mountain, temperatures were very comfortable in the upper 20s to around 30 F, and it was pounding snow somewhere in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range much of the time. ”
As far as ski days go, you had a number of factors that made today an amazing one. By the time we arrive in mid-morning, those winds from earlier had settled down to almost nothing across many areas of the mountain, temperatures were very comfortable in the upper 20s to around 30 F, and it was pounding snow somewhere in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range much of the time. The snowfall meant that surfaces were getting constantly refreshed, atop of what had already been a solid resurfacing of the slopes with probably 0.50 to 0.75 inches of liquid equivalent in the form of medium-weight powder.
With the overnight shot of snow and the continued heavy snowfall, patrol was opening up trails all over the main mountain that had not been available yet this season. It was hard to know which ropes had been dropped before opening time, and which ones were done on the fly, but just about everything on Vista was open. Even Cobrass was open, offering options all over that side of the mountain. The resort had completed their snowmaking and preparation of Spillway, which is certainly a steep, signature trail on Vista, but it takes a lot of snow to cover its width, notable pitch and plentiful amounts of obstacles. Getting Spillway open definitely marks a big point of the winter’s progression at Bolton. With Spillway getting all the new snow atop the base they’d made, it offered up some excellent steep skiing today. You could still contact the harder manmade snow below at times, but it was snowing so hard that the manmade stuff was quickly getting buried.
E and I headed up by ourselves to start the day, but we were planning to ski with Dylan and his friend Colin, who came up the road just behind us. We saw them in the parking lot, and quickly caught up to spend the day with them after our first run. Only the Vista Quad and Mid Mountain Chair were running today, but we touched on just about every main area that was available as we toured Colin around the mountain and introduced him to numerous trails that he’d yet to ski. Up to this point he’s really only been night skiing with Dylan, so with the typical daytime options and all the new trails opening, it was quite a whirlwind tour for him. Some highlights were definitely the steep turns on Spillway, lots of fresh snow and great conditions on Cobrass and Cobrass Run, and heading over toward Wilderness where there was lot of fresh powder as usual. We even brought Colin into the Wilderness Woods to that he could get a taste of what tree skiing was like.
The heavy snowfall rates were certainly one of the most impressive parts of today’s outing. The pace of accumulations was very evident while riding the lifts because of how fast you would get coated with snow. On one of our rides on the Vista Quad, Colin stayed still to catch the accumulation, so that was a lot of fun to see, and of course we had to get a picture. By the time we left around mid-afternoon, the resort must have picked up in the range of a foot of fresh snow, so the skiing just kept getting better. This is our first big, synoptic winter storm in a while, and it was just what the local resorts needed to really get the base depths up to snuff, and they should now be able to open up most of their terrain.
It’s been a busy past couple of weeks finishing up the semester for me, and there haven’t been any notable storms to urge me out to the slopes, but we got out to the mountain today to take a few turns in the new snow from Winter Storm Carrie.
For conditions, there was about a half foot of new snow reported by Bolton in their morning report, although there were probably a couple more inches on top of that with the way it was accumulating while we were there. Indeed they’re now reporting 8 inches for their weekly total, and I’d say that’s probably the storm total once the backside snows were incorporated. It was a decent resurfacing of the slopes, with 0.80” of L.E. recorded here at our place. I suspect they’re in the that ballpark for L.E. up at the mountain as well, although the western slopes probably were a bit lower on storm totals relative to the eastern slopes with the wind flow for the majority of the storm cycle. In any event, the surfaces we found out there today were nice, although I could see how high-angle terrain or higher traffic resorts could find the slopes getting down to firm surfaces pretty quickly.
The overall feel at the resort was quite wintry with temperatures in the teens F, moderate snow falling, and some wind. Bolton only had their lower lifts running as they were still prepping the Vista Summit for lift-served levels of traffic, but it looks like this storm put them over the top and they’re opening the Vista Quad in the next few days. The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so with the leftover base they had plus this new storm, there’s certainly enough snow to be skinning for turns on the natural snow terrain at Wilderness, so that’s great to have in place for the upcoming holiday period. They’ll still need another decent shot of liquid equivalent to get more terrain open for lift-served levels of traffic on natural snow terrain, and to get the lower-elevation Timberline area open for ski touring traffic. I’m sure there are some people touring down at the Timberline elevations with what we’ve got at the moment, but the Timberline Uphill Route isn’t officially open yet. I think they’d lost most of the natural base snow there, so you’re working with just the accumulations from Winter Storm Carrie, and this one storm with ~3/4” of liquid equivalent isn’t quite enough to get touring into a really comfortable place.