It hasn’t been an extremely snowy week, but we did have at least a modest storm in the Tuesday timeframe that dropped 3.6 inches of snow at the house and close to a foot of snow on Bolton Valley. Still, that was back on Tuesday, and things would be getting somewhat tracked up by the weekend, so our plan was to head up to Bolton’s backcountry network with the boys to get in some easy access powder. That idea changed quickly though, when we got a call from James, who was planning to head up to Bolton with Tom and Amy. We still found plenty of powder on terrain serviced by the lifts, and it even snowed and squalled at times to keep surfaces fresh, so a good time was had by all. For all the details and pictures, click through to the full report from Bolton Valley today.
We were at Stowe all day today and got to experience the skiing associated with last night’s thundersnow event. The snow was certainly dense, very much like Cascade Concrete/Sierra Cement etc., and one typically sunk down into the powder only a few inches when skiing it, but there didn’t appear to be any detrimental effects from whatever mixed precipitation fell. While not the top of the line snow for fluffy powder skiing, we picked up 7.6 inches of snow down at the house comprised of 0.99 inches of liquid, and the Bolton Valley through Jay Peak area picked up about a foot, so it was a good shot of moisture to add to the base. There was also a touch of wind crust in exposed areas, but in general the skiing was awesome and it was a nice day for some reasonably fat boards as Ty demonstrated. Thanks to the hearty snow, coverage on steep terrain was really nice, so the boys had several runs in the Green Acreas area. To read more about the day and see all the pictures, click through to the full report from today at Stowe.
I got in some fantastic turns on Thursday at Bolton Valley after our first big synoptic snowstorm of the season dropped a couple feet of snow in the mountains, and today we followed it up with more powder skiing as we made the most of the storm’s bounty. We spent a good amount of time over at Wilderness, catching a fun run in the Bolton Outlaw area, and doing a couple runs to explore the powder in Snow Hole. In the evening we were in the Burlington area for a birthday party, and we were getting pounded with snow that was falling at rates up to 2 inches/hr as our second big synoptic storm of the season rolled in. Later in the evening when we were back at the house, we even got to witness some thunder snow with the event. To read all the details and check out the pictures from the day, click through to the full Bolton Valley trip report from February 5th, 2011.
E and Claire canceled Sunday Stowe program on the 23rd due to the cold, but today we were back at it. After a fairly dry week, we’d received some nice new accumulation up at Bolton to freshen up the slopes yesterday. Down in the valley at the house, we wound up with 1.4 inches from that event, and there was more on the way for today. In my update from this morning, I summarized yesterday’s storm that had just gone through, discussed the next shortwave that was about to cross the area, and mentioned talk about a larger midweek system that might actually deliver something more substantial to Northern New England for a change.
We got up to the mountain around midday, and there was already some nice snow in the air. Our group started off with Ty, Dylan, and Luke, and while Claire worked on organizational issues like Ethan forgetting to bring his skis and Sam having his skis taken by accident by someone with an identical pair, I took the boys for a run. With plenty of untracked powder in the lesser used areas off piste, it was a great day to jump into the trees and get Luke more experience in there. The boys gobbled up the fresh snow in the Upper Meadows trees, and Luke not only got some good tree skiing experience, but some practice extricating himself through a brushy exit. Jack joined us next, and I brought all four boys through the Meadows East Glades. The main lines were tracked or packed, but boy there was still plenty of fresh powder all outside the formal glades. Even at that point before the subsequent pair of bigger synoptic storms, Stowe’s snow depths were getting to the stage where many of the natural tree areas open up just like the glades because the brush has been buried under the snowpack.
Claire continued to work out program issues, so I headed to the Sensation Quad with the boys. From fairly light snow at the base of Sensation, we ascended into quite a winter wonderland as more vigorous snow and some winds quickly greeted us on the ascent. The conifers were caked in snow just as if we were in the middle of a larger storm cycle, and Powderfreak had some great shots of the intense snowfall. We kept gawking at the awesome powdery routes below us on Spruce Line, and lamented the fact that it was closed, whether due to coverage or the race that was taking place on Main Street. I vowed that if those race or coverage issues were gone by the following week, we would definitely be hitting that terrain. Even more than the main routes of Spruce Line, I was drooling over the steep shots dropping off the Main Street traverse into the evergreen glades that had been created alongside the trail. I’m not sure if I just forget that this terrain exists every season, or if they keep improving it, but I’m immediately reminded of Red Mountain in British Columbia. I couldn’t find any images of what I’m recalling in my collection, but runs like Cambodia and Short Squaw come to mind. To read the full text and check out all the pictures, click through to the Stowe report from today.
It was a little tough to motivate the boys for skiing last Saturday, since there hadn’t been any significant storms reaching Northern Vermont. At the house we’d picked up just a couple inches of snow in the preceding week, and even up in the high country Bolton was reporting just 5 inches of accumulation for the period. Without the fresh powder to get the boys jazzed up, E and I took a suggestion from Stephen and threw in the option of doing some swimming at the Sports Center after skiing. In actuality we suspected that the skiing would be quite good; temperatures had been rather wintry though the period, and a small clipper-style system was in the process of freshening up the slopes and even bringing snow down to the valley, but the carrot of swimming definitely made it easier to get the boys out there to enjoy the conditions. At times we were getting some bursts of heavier snowfall even down at the house, and directing the boy’s attention outside toward the big flakes helped inject a little more alacrity into their preparation.
I dropped E and the boys off in the village circle, and they did a quick run on Snowflake while I parked the car. Our plan was to meet up with Stephen and Johannes, but they were up on Vista and about to head in for some lunch, so we planned to meet up with them later. E told me that Ty got to ride up Snowflake with a stranger, a woman with a British accent, and after initially being somewhat diffident, he eventually had a good time talking. So that was a little adventure for him. After parking down near the Sports Center in preparation for our later visit, I found E and the boys at the base area and we hopped on Snowflake to ski over to Wilderness. E had said that she found the powder a little dense in explorations on their first run, and that the tracks of previous skiers underneath the most recent rounds of snow made things a little uneven, but it turned out that she had just sampled a windswept area or something, because a quick foray off Sprig O’ Pine revealed some very light, deep, and beautifully undisturbed powder. The big terrain park was closed while they were working on it, but I was able to traverse into some of the trees below and catch the bottom of the “Bonus Woods” as Quinn calls them. Even though recent snow accumulations had been minimal, the numerous rounds of dry powder from before were staying really well preserved with the consistently cool temperatures. I took a quick depth reading with my pole and found that the snowpack was essentially in the same state it had been for a while, finding the “base” was really just a function of how far down you wanted to push into the density gradient of powder.
Making our way over to Wilderness we did a couple of laps featuring Bolton Outlaw and surrounding areas, and there was plenty of powder off piste. I did a check on the upper part of the Wilderness Lift and found 24 inches of depth as Kurt Ries passed over our heads on the lift and inquired about what my measurement pole was reading. I’d forgotten that the mountain was only running Wilderness Fridays through Sundays, so that made the untracked powder just that much easier to find. It was an exciting day for E, as she was feeling much more confident on her Telemark skis, and thus was really stepping up the terrain challenge with things like Bolton Outlaw and Wilderness Woods. She was working the versatility of the skis very well and throwing in alpine turns if needed, but from experience I know it’s especially fun to get to that stage where Tele turns are dialed in enough that off piste skiing becomes comfortably enjoyable. E was encouraged by the fact that we saw several other Telemark skiers in the Wilderness Woods at various stages of learning – the lower mellow pitches there are great for learning, especially since the glade crew cleaned things up in the off season. Lower down we skied various combinations of Lower Turnpike and the bobsled racetracks off in the trees, enjoying my favorite high-banked corner near the bottom. E said it was reminding her of playing Mario Kart. To check out the rest of the text and see all the pictures from the day, head to the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.
Dave had heeded my late week alert about the good skiing, so yesterday evening we worked out a Sunday morning Timberline meeting. The clipper system that had started up midday yesterday dropped roughly 4 inches of new snow at the house by 6:00 A.M. this morning, with most of that coming in at 3.7 to 3.8% H2O according to my analyses. What it meant for the local mountains was more fluff on top of fluff, so the powder skiing just continued to get deeper. Dylan had a midday birthday party (shouldn’t there be a Vermont state law mandating only evening birthday parties during ski season?), and E was taking him to that, leaving just Ty and I to join up with Dave. On the upside it meant that Dave and I could really run Ty ragged as we marauded our way through Bolton’s powder stashes… and apparently run him ragged we did.
Bolton had only reported 3 inches of new snow in the morning, but based on what we got at the house, combined with what we found on the hill, I think it was a bit underreported. Conservative snow reports are generally appreciated though. While we waited for Dave to arrive at the mountain, we took a warm up run on Spell Binder, and I found 6 to 8 inches of snow on much of the trail. Ty really ripped it up on there and he was off to a great start. Continue on with all the powdery pictures and text at the full report from Bolton Valley today.
Last week’s midweek system had continued the excellent stretch of snow, yielding a great dose of dry Champlain Powder™ up at Bolton for Thursday, and then snowfall from that system continued at a slower pace right into the holiday weekend where a clipper was due to add more fluff. Today, the whole family headed up to the mountain to try and catch up with Stephen his kids for the reopening of Wilderness. Ty was a bit out of sorts at first, so Dylan and I took a mid mountain run on Timberline to get going. The snow quality was excellent on piste, not quite perfect in coverage since there were a couple of spots to watch out for as we skied the skier’s right of the Showtime headwall, but any coverage issues there were pretty minor.
Once everyone was set, we headed over to the main mountain and hooked up with Stephen, Johannes, and Helena. With all the kids, the makeup of the group was constantly in flux, but on my end I had a couple of ripping runs through the Turnpike bobsled tracks with the Ty and Johannes. We hit those banked corners like race cars. On another run I was guiding Ty, Johannes, and Helena through some of the Wizard Way trees, and the end result literally saw Helena swimming the backstroke through the deep powder to get back to the trail. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of that, but I did grab one of Ty in there working the powder.
Johannes and Stephen were also out getting pictures, and they put together a substantial slide show along with Johannes’ report from the day at VTSkiReport.com. Amanda was out on the Nordic network for a tour, and it sounds like she had quite an adventure, but I really liked her description “It felt like walking through clouds” with regard to going through the powder. It certainly was that kind of snow. I was happy to have my first Kurt Ries sighting of the season, and learned that he has the same Telemark skis as me! A definite thanks goes out to Icelantic at First Tracks for turning me onto those. I actually saw no less than four pairs of RT 86s at the mountain on Saturday, all mounted Tele, so they seem to be quite popular. To check out the rest of the story, head to the full report from Bolton Valley today.
Today was our first school program session of the season, so we were off at Stowe for the afternoon. With the level of skier traffic, especially weekend skier traffic that Stowe sees, Sunday afternoons don’t typically offer optimal snow surfaces. However, last season had to be a low point in that continuum; not only was the snowfall below average, but an inordinate number of times the next round of snow seemed to come in for Monday, after we were done skiing.
So far this season however, things have been much better. We had fresh snow for our training day back on Sunday, December 12th, and as we moved into our first session with the students, it looked like Mother Nature was going to try to help out with fresh snow again. On Friday, an inverted trough system had set up shop over New England, and while the focus was south of our area, we’d managed to pick up a couple more inches last night. This morning’s snowfall report from the house at 6:00 A.M. revealed that we’d already picked up almost a half foot of snow, and it’s easy to imagine what the skiing was like at Stowe today when the snow just kept pounding down – for all the details and pictures, head to today’s trip report from Stowe Mountain Resort.
I checked out Bolton’s snow situation and alpine trail offerings in the middle of the day today, and after heading home, I filled E and the boys in on what I’d found. Since there was plenty of powder, but not a ton of lift-served trail options were available, we decided to head up to get in some backcountry skiing for the end of the day. Dave and I had found that the amount of base snow was excellent when we’d headed up to the Bryant Cabin the previous Saturday, so we were expecting great things with all the fresh stuff on top of it. Our 3:00 P.M. start resulted in twilight turns through the powder in the areas below Bryant Cabin, so it was quite an adventure for everyone. To see all the pictures and read the whole story, click through to the full backountry trip report from this evening.
Today our friend Dave came up from Boston for a skiing visit, arriving in the late morning with his dogs. Like yesterday, we headed up to the mountain around midday, and the found that the trend of moderating temperatures had continued as suggested by the forecasts; we’d seen high temperatures in the low 30s F yesterday, and today’s temperatures topped out around 40 F. The weather was again often sunny, but not quite as brilliantly sunny as yesterday had been.
We’d never left the Timberline area during yesterday’s outing, but I’d received an email from Stephen that evening telling me that the mountain had fired up the Wilderness Lift. We decided that we’d head over for our first lift-served Wilderness turns of the season, and Dave and I rode up Timberline with one of the ski patrol who said that getting in our turns over there as soon as possible was a good idea. With the temperatures remaining warm through Saturday/Sunday, she said that they might need to shut the lift back down by the weekend. We stopped in at the main base so I could grab a ticket for Dave, and while I was in the lodge, he and the boys dropped down on the snow and enjoyed the sun and warm temperatures. To see all the pictures and text, head to the full Bolton Valley report from today.