Today the family headed up to Bolton Valley to pick up our season’s passes and go for a ski tour to check out the snow from our recent storm. The snowfall has finally slowed down, and with temperatures staying in the 20s F, conditions were indeed great for getting out on the slopes.
What immediately struck us when we got to the resort was how many people were there. The top tier of the main Village lot was totally full, and the uphill side of the next tier down was full as well. Plenty of people were coming and going, and it was obvious that a lot of them were picking up season’s passes and leased equipment, but we could also see that there were a lot of people geared up for ski touring.
We got our gear together, headed up to the main base lodge to take care of our passes, and when we were done we put our skis on behind the lodge. There were a number of snow guns running near the base as the resort prepares for opening next weekend, but there was plenty of natural snow as well, and it was staying dry and powdery.
We made our way over to the Lower Turnpike skin track, and I’d never seen so many people out on the ascent. Just within eyeshot there were a dozen people on the track in groups of varying size. A lot of things (fresh snow, weather, pass pickup, etc.) had presumably come together to get people out, but the number of people out there has clearly got be a sign that the word is out on the resort’s uphill routes and touring options. Hopefully it’s a great sign for a busy season at the resort in general.
In terms of the skiing, indeed the snow quality was great, just like yesterday. Bolton didn’t quite pick up the totals that I found at Stowe yesterday though – I measured 8-10” of new snow in the Village elevations around 2,000’ or so, and I’d say Stowe picked up those amounts about 500’ lower. We measured roughly 14-15” of new snow at the 2,500’ elevation mark, and I’d say that was about the same near the 3,000’ level.
We took a nice break at the top of our ascent to enjoy some soup and hot chocolate (Ty really loved the peppermint mocha creamer that I added) before we finally got out descent underway. Everyone got in some great powder turns, and the boys were in much better Telemark form on this snow without the slight crust that challenged them on their previous Bolton Valley outing. Although our big storm just finished up, it looks like we’ve got a smaller system on the way tomorrow to add a bit more. Let’s hope we can keep the snowy systems going as we move forward to set up some good December skiing.
After Winter Storm Goliath last week, we moved into a pattern of snow showers with minor accumulations here and there ahead of a cold front that passed through the area yesterday. The approach of the cold front intensified the snowfall, resulting in snow totals of up to a foot in the Northern Greens. Unlike the dense snow from Winter Storm Goliath, these latest rounds of snow have been light and dry, with densities of 3-6% H2O based on my analyses. With this fluff on top of the dense snow, it was actually a setup for some great powder skiing. The temperature drop with the arctic cold front was notable, with highs expected to be only in the single digits F today, but I still wanted to get out for some turns and exercise, so I decided to go for a ski tour up at Bolton Valley this morning.
Despite temperatures running in the low single digits as expected, I was happy to find that there wasn’t much wind as I ascended the Bolton Valley Access Road. I swung into the Timberline parking lot at 1,500’ on my way up the road, and measured 4-5” of powder over the old base. Although likely serviceable for some turns on appropriate terrain, I know that the base snow is a bit thinner down at that elevation, so I continued on up to the Village at 2,100’ to start my tour. It was right around 0 F up at the Village, and there was the occasional bit of breeze blowing things around, but it was nothing like that wind from last Tuesday during Winter Storm Goliath. I ascended via the designated Wilderness route, and for the first time this season it felt like it was worth a trip all the way to the Wilderness Summit. Indeed that was the case, as the new snow kept getting deeper and deeper, eventually reaching a point where even black diamond terrain was quite skiable. The person before me who had set the skin track up to the summit had descended via Bolton Outlaw, and the turns looked quite nice.
Here’s the summary of the snow depths atop the old base up to the Wilderness Summit at various elevations, with the 500’ value being from our house:
I can’t say that all the snow up on the mountain was necessarily from the past 24 hours, but it’s very easy to distinguish the new powder from the dense base snow that we picked up from Winter Storm Goliath.
Wanting to go for something with a bit more pitch lower down, I passed by Bolton Outlaw and headed to Upper Fanny Hill so that I could also ski its lower portion. Upper Fanny Hill has a healthy black diamond pitch, and in terms of coverage it’s easily good to go now with the dense base covering up everything but the obvious major obstacles. I did find a good representative spot from which I could assess total snowpack depth at around 2,700’, and found it to be 14-15”. There’s a lot of single-black terrain at appropriate elevations that I suspect is good to go for at least the touring crowd, although I’d say one more good shot of liquid equivalent (an inch or so) would be needed to get things going for lift-serviced levels of traffic. I’m sure the mountain could open some natural terrain consisting of mellow pitches at this point if they chose to.
“Upper Fanny Hill has a healthy black diamond pitch, and in terms of coverage it’s easily good to go now with the dense base covering up everything but the obvious major obstacles”
In any event, the powder turns were excellent this morning, with my only complaint being that it was “slow snow” due to the very cold temperatures. Even with 115 mm fat skis keeping me afloat, I had to go steeper than the pitch of typical green terrain for a good ride – in that respect, Fanny Hill was a better choice than Lower Turnpike as I suspected. We’ve got a couple of potential storms coming up this weekend that may deliver something more like Winter Storm Goliath in terms of liquid equivalent. They probably won’t deliver the type of Champlain Powder™ we had with this event, but if they play out well they could set up the base to open a good amount of natural snow terrain.
We’ve had a decent buildup to Winter Storm Goliath over the past several days because it was expected to be the first widespread winter storm to hit the Northeast this season. The forecasts were spot on with an initial burst of heavy snow in the wee hours of Monday night, as snow began to fall not too long after midnight, and by the time I made my 6:00 A.M. weather observations there were 4.3 inches on the boards here at the house. Early morning reports from the mountains weren’t actually all that much greater than our total in the valley, topping out around a half a foot, but the snow was certainly going to do a decent job of resurfacing the slopes – my liquid analysis showed the snow coming in at a hefty 13.0% H2O. That’s actually a great way to start building a natural base of snow.
“I could tell that in the appropriate areas the snow was going to offer those surfy, buttery powder turns that you get atop a good dense snowfall.”
We were getting set to head up to Bolton Valley for some turns around noontime when we hit a very unexpected snag – Ty put on one of his Telemark boots and immediately let out a boisterous “Whoa, that’s tight!” Apparently kids his age grow. Ty likes his boots really tight, so for him to say that was a bad sign, there was no way he was going to be able to ski in those boots. E quickly offered him one of her new boots, and it was a great fit. Ty was of course elated to have the chance to try out E’s sweet ski boots, but of course that left her without a pair. Let’s just say that it’s fortunate for us that trash day is Thursday. E’s old Telemark boots had been sitting around for a couple of years, and after finally bringing them to OGE last week for consignment and finding out that they were just too beat up for them to even accept them, it seemed like it was time to give them the heave-ho. Desperate times call for certain types of measures, so into the trash I went this afternoon, and the old Garmonts came back into service. Ty actually tried them on and found that even those were too tight, so “conveniently” he somehow still wound up with E’s nice new boots and E donned her old ones. Needless to say, a trip to OGE is going to be in order to see what we can find for Ty in the Tele boot department.
The precipitation we encountered was generally sleet as we headed up to the resort, and we got a pretty good sandblasting with pellets driven by a strong wind in the Bolton Valley parking lot. There generally seemed to be 3 to 4 inches of new snow at Village elevation, but there was also plenty of drifting due to the strong winds, so it was hard to get a good estimate. The process of being blasted by sleet pellets tamed down as we began skinning up the sheltered slopes of Lower Turnpike, and after gaining a couple hundred feet of elevation, depth checks revealed 5 to 7 inches of dense snow along the sheltered areas on the climber’s right of the trail. Even on Lower Turnpike, there were still some areas that were wind packed and or showed reduced snow depths due to stripped snow, but I could tell that in the appropriate areas the snow was going to offer those surfy, buttery powder turns that you get atop a good dense snowfall. The boys stopped their ascent at the junction with Wilderness Lift Line and jumped into the woods to play in the snow, but E and I continued on up to the base of the headwall on Cougar to get into some of the typically good snow that sits there. As we neared the top of our ascent I was finding pockets of 8 to 10 inches of snow in the best spots, but even half that amount was plenty to keep you well off the subsurface with the density of this storm’s snow.
After a quick break, E and I began our descent, sampling the snow along the skier’s left of Cougar and finding some reasonably soft lines in the dense accumulations. As E descended I took the opportunity to get in a first test of ski action photography using the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens. I’ve been looking for a really bright lens to supplement my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM workhorse – especially for dark storm days like this near the solstice. Although it’s a prime lens, 50 mm on an APS-C camera is in a pretty nice spot with respect to focal length for my type of ski action photos. And, it’s hard to argue about the monstrous light-gathering ability of an f/1.2 lens – wide open it’s more than an 11-fold increase over my f/4 lens, so it should be able to handle even the darkest of storm days. Obviously shooting action photos wide open at f/1.2 with its razor thin depth of field isn’t necessarily going to be practical, but even stopping down to a respectable f/2 is going give me a four-fold increase in brightness and the ability to hit action-stopping shutter speeds in lower light without having to crank up the ISO too high. Today I started off with a reasonable f/2.8 and a locked shutter speed of 1/1000 sec, and an ISO of only 250 was required. After looking at the images, I’ve got nothing to complain about so far; the focal length is looking like it’s going to be great, and the lens has got that beautiful color retention and contrast you’d expect from one of Canon’s L-series lenses.
“Dylan was back on his game of trying to one-up me with his Telemark turns, but I had my fat skis today, and boy were they the right tool for the dense snow.”
There was certainly some variability in the snow due to areas affected by the wind and dense precipitation types, but the sheltered spots yielded some very nice turns. When we’d made it down to the boy’s elevation we found that they had already put away their skins and were just about ready to go – that was a pleasant surprise. Dylan was back on his game of trying to one-up me with his Telemark turns, but I had my fat skis today, and boy were they the right tool for the dense snow. They made that beautifully stable platform that kept you up in the upper reaches of the powder, but still let you slice your way into it. I’d say the most consistently good powder turns were in the upper reaches where E and I began our descent, but there were some nice turns to be had lower down as well. Ty was unfortunately off his game a bit due to a sore leg, but Dylan had some beautiful carves and was working hard on fast transitions from turn to turn as he followed me into some of the best lines along the skier’s left of the trail.
I’d heard that the James Moore Tavern was going to be open for business this weekend, but I guess they changed that plan because we found it closed, and instead headed for some food at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery. The resort was pretty quiet in general, with just a few skiers around hitting the slopes and enjoying the new snow with a bit of extra solitude. There was plenty of snow being made on the slopes of the main mountain today, and combined with this natural accumulation (which added up to over an inch of liquid even down at our place in the valley) they should be in good shape to handle lift-served levels of traffic on the terrain they open. We’re getting into a much more wintry weather pattern now, so this storm should serve as a good base for the start of the season’s snowpack.
I had a really busy Friday, but the views of the mountains caked with snow suggested that accumulations were really holding well in those elevations that had received snow, and my plan was to head out for some turns at some point today. Ty and E had left the house early today for some volunteer work at a school function, but Dylan and I were able to head up to Bolton Valley by late morning. The lower valleys are bare in terms of snow, and it felt quite warm, so it was really hard to imagine that there was going to be decent snow for skiing just a few minutes away. We saw the first signs of snow along the Bolton Valley Access Road in the 1,300’-1,400’ elevation range by the big S-curve below Timberline, and the accumulations really shot up quickly above that elevation. By the time we got above 2,000’ to the Village, it was an entirely different world. Within the span of 1,000’ in elevation we’d gone right from November into December. There was a good 2-3” of dense snow on the ground, and temperatures were holding in the 34-35 F range. The snow was wet so that it packed very well, and as I got the ski gear together Dylan had rolled a massive snowball within moments. After a good session of building and destroying some snowballs, we headed over to the base of Wilderness to start our ascent.
We were able to strap on our skins right away, as there was plenty of coverage, and checking the depth of snow on the climber’s right on Lower Turnpike at ~2,200’, I was already measuring 3-4” of snow. We continued on up the available skin track, and I was surprised to see only about 3 or 4 tracks on the trail from skiers descending. I would have thought there’d be more pent-up demand for turns since it hasn’t snowed in a couple of weeks, but I think a few of the other trails had served as descent routes as well. We continued up to around the 2,600’-2,700’ elevation range, where we stopped at the base of the steep headwall of Cougar. The snow up there had increased to a depth of roughly 4-6”, and the temperature must have been holding below freezing because the snow was quite dry. Dylan tried to build snowballs as he’d done at the base and had no success; the snow was just too dry and it all crumbled away like sand through an hourglass. I was hoping that the loss to snowball building was going to be our gain with regard to fluffy turns.
“The snow up there had increased to a depth of roughly 4-6”, and the temperature must have been holding below freezing because the snow was quite dry.”
I started off the descent and struggled with turns on my long, skinny, Tele rock skis, and of course Dylan made fun of me as he floated along on his more modern gear. I’d brought along my rock skis because I really hadn’t known how much coverage we’d have, but with the generally grassy slopes of Lower Turnpike and decent snow depths, a pair of fat skis would leave you with minimal concerns about damaging any bases. I got my Telemark turns flowing as we descended farther, and Dylan and I exchanged some smack talk about who was actually the better Telemark skier. Dylan said that “only in my dreams” was I actually better than him, but I countered by asking if he’d like to switch skis and see how things went. I think I’d get the much better end of that deal, even if his skis would be on the short side for me. By the time we’d descended to the 2,400’-2,500’ range the snow was starting to get a bit wet, so we’d presumably hit the freezing line. The turns actually remained fairly decent all the way down to within about 100’ of the base though, and we were still able to even make Telemark turns for most of it. There were a few water bars negotiate, but we had a lot of fun working with the different techniques for those – simply zooming across the gap allowed it, or taking the more conservative approach of stepping over if it didn’t. You could certainly lap the top half of the mountain if you wanted to stay in totally dry snow, and we actually saw one guy doing just that up near Peggy Dow’s.
We skied down to the landing at the northeast corner of the village hotel complex, and pulled out the cameras take a few more pictures. Dylan had actually asked to bring along one of the DSLRs to use today, so I gave him the Canon EOS 30D with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM on it, and I used the 7D Mark II with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. He was shooting in auto mode getting used to monitoring the focus lock indicator as today’s training, but we talked shutter speeds as we worked on imaging either droplets or streaks from the meltwater coming off the roof of the hotel complex. We stopped in to grab some lunch at the Deli & Grocery before heading home, and then it was back down to the valley and a return to more of a November environment. These mild temperatures are pretty nice though, and getting to ski in some dry powder snow out there on such a gorgeous day was somewhat of an unexpected treat. It looks like the temperatures stayed pretty cool at elevation, so I suspect the powder will still be up there tomorrow.
“Indeed the sun or warmth had not appeared to be issues of any sort for snow – the real enemy in terms of snow quality was the wind.”
The temperature was still in the low 20s F when I rolled into the Bolton Valley Village this morning, and it looked like midwinter as much as it did mid April. I began skinning right up the well established skin track on Beech Seal, and as one might expect from a well consolidated skin track, it meant that the surrounding slopes had seen plenty of ski traffic. There were some nice looking turns out there though – I saw some beautiful, smooth looking powder turns in the low-angle terrain coming out of the Jungle Jib terrain park. New snow depths and ski conditions were fairly similar to what we found yesterday at Stowe – I found 3 to 5 inches of new snow on the lower half of the mountain, and around a half foot up top near Vista Peak. Indeed the sun or warmth had not appeared to be issues of any sort for snow – the real enemy in terms of snow quality was the wind. In the usual spots, the new powder was scoured down to the crusty surface below, so I could see that it was going to be one of those days where choosing aspect, trail, and trail side, was going to be extremely important in seeking out the best powder turns.
“Turnpike delivered as usual, with just a few spots that had been affected by the wind, but a lot of smooth, silky turns in the slightly settled powder.”
The skin track took me up Sherman’s, Schuss, and finally Alta Vista, to where I stopped just below the top of the Vista Quad beneath where the snow was all scoured away. The skier’s left of Alta Vista offered up some nice powder turns, although I still encountered some areas of wind-packed snow. I ventured off into the lower reaches of Vista Glades, and found some smooth turns there, since the snow was generally protected. Having seen so many tracks and plenty of wind affecting the trails above the base lodge, I headed over toward Wilderness for the bottom part of my run. Turnpike delivered as usual, with just a few spots that had been affected by the wind, but a lot of smooth, silky turns in the slightly settled powder. Like yesterday, the turns weren’t completely bottomless, but there were still a lot of them, and I was happy to have the AMPerages and their floatation to help out. The Village was still incredibly quiet as I was heading back to my car, but I did run into Josh as he was heading into the office. He’s already getting ready for next season, enjoying a quieter scene now that the lifts have stopped. Based on the snow that’s up there though, there’s still plenty of skiing to be done this season.
While we’ve still yet to get hit by a big synoptic snowstorm in Northern Vermont this season, another Alberta Clipper system came through the area today, and it began delivering a reasonable shot of fresh snow, just like the one last weekend. With the snow just starting up this morning, we waited until mid afternoon to head up to the mountain for skiing. By that point we’d picked up a couple of inches down at the house, and the snow was continuing at a good clip. Today also offered to bonus of being a somewhat warm reprieve from the arctic air, with temperatures around 20 F in the valley and up on the mountain at Bolton Valley.
I dropped E and the boys off at Snowflake, parked the car, and got my gear together fast enough to catch them on their second run. Ty was raving about the snow on Butterscotch in general, but E didn’t quite find the overall setup quite as nice as what we found on Monday. She said that the middle of the trail was good with the new snow, but the powder on the skier’s right didn’t cover and even out the subsurface in quite the same way that it had last time. Those subtleties aside, you could tell that there been another nice addition to the snowpack, and the snow from this storm was definitely denser than what we received on Monday. In fact, although it was still fairly dry at ~7% H2O according to my analyses from down our house, that’s still roughly twice as dense as the last storm. The snow certainly had some heft that helped cover up the old surfaces, but it wasn’t going to be flying in your face the way the snow from the last storm did.
“…the snow from this storm was definitely denser than what we received on Monday.”
Heading next to the Vista Quad, we took Spillway, finding some good turns, but again a notch below what we’d found on Monday. Ty worked the terrain with fresh snow off to the skier’s right, but wasn’t interested in setting up any photos; clearly the snow couldn’t quite inspire him the way the last storm did. E wasn’t feeling comfortable enough on her Teles today to stick tight to the soft snow on the edge of Spillway, so spending more time toward the middle of the trail, she had to deal with some icy, high-traffic spots. As we descended toward Mid Mountain, the boys toured us through some nooks and crannies of access roads in order to ski under a big bent over tree. That was a bit of a slow route, but you could get a feel for just how much snow was starting to build on the natural terrain. We checked out Beech Seal on the lower mountain – I hit the usual soft snow on the skier’s right and found it performing right in line with the other terrain we’d skied. The skiing was great, just a notch below the last storm. I hadn’t seen where Ty had gone on Beech Seal, but it turns out he’d snuck over into the little lane of terrain on the right beyond the racing fence. He gets a kick out of being over there, and of course he’s probably one of the only people who can comfortably fit in there and loves the fact that the powder is untouched.
With Swing finally open, we next headed over toward Wilderness to sample some of the powder over there. Checking on the powder depth at 2,775’ on Lower Crossover like I’d done on Monday, I got a reading of 9 inches. That’s actually an inch lower than what I recorded on Monday, but that’s not surprising after several days of settling and now some denser snow on top. Most importantly, the net content of liquid in the snowpack has increased again with this storm. Every storm continues to bolster the snowpack over there, and we definitely had our best run of the year on Turnpike. It’s really been our go-to trail this season when snow has been lean, and it was just a heck of a lot of fun with all the new powder.
Although we still had daylight, the night skiing lights continued to come on as the resort shifted into night skiing mode. It was 4:15 PM, and I had to be in Burlington for dinner, but we decided to catch a final run off the Mid Mountain Chair – Ty really wanted another chance to ski his line behind the racing fence on Beech Seal. The snow continued to pour down, now with some larger flakes more reminiscent of upslope, and as we skied along I commented to E on how conditions were almost of the type we like for night skiing – fresh snow, no wind, and relatively warm. For those that went out last night to the slopes, I’d say they chose a good one. Ty got to ski his line, and Dylan followed along as well, continuing on to the second fence where the line ends in a bunch of brush. Dylan extricated himself easily though, and came out smiling.
We skied right back down to the access road through the trees near the Wentworth Condos, which is always a nice way to end the day. I’d say the mountain had picked up at least 2 to 4 inches by the time we’d left, and a half foot would be a reasonable way to expect the event to finish off. We’ve got a chance for another Alberta Clipper on Monday, and a steady diet of these is certainly a nice way to go until a bigger storm comes through to really give us a big jump in base depths.
An Alberta Clipper hit the New England region yesterday, dropping up to 10 inches of snow in Northern Vermont and continuing the process of covering up surfaces that were hardened by the big mixed precipitation event earlier this week. We had a couple additional rounds of light snow prior to yesterday’s storm, but there still hasn’t been enough new snow to resurface steep, icy terrain. As such, Bolton Valley only has their core set of trails open on the main mountain. I had fun on those trails on Saturday, but it’s still a limited number of options for runs, and with a good amount of new powder available, we decided to earn some turns and get some fresh tracks today. The Wilderness Lift isn’t running yet for the season, so we decided to pay that terrain another visit. Ty, E, and I had a great time there back on November 30th, and with the current firm, icy subsurface, we knew that the moderate pitches and relatively high elevation of the lower Wilderness area trails would be a good bet for powder skiing today.
Now that we’re back into a more consistently wintry weather regime, the Northern Greens snow globe has kicked in, and we’ve had a fairly consistent supply of light fluffy snows in the air. It’s not really substantiating the base snow, but it is creating quite the quintessential Vermont winter scene for holiday visitors, and it’s topping off the slopes with some serious softness. Another burst of flakes was just kicking off when we left the house to head up to the mountain today after lunch, and the snowfall intensity increased as we headed up toward the resort. Up in the Village we encountered temperatures in the low 20s F and steady light but accumulating snows. There were plenty of cars in the parking lots, but since spots were opening up with early afternoon departures, we secured a spot right at the north end of the upper lot.
“The descent was a peaceful glide through silky smooth powder, with only the occasional touchdown on the old base.”
We headed up to the landing on the northwest corner of the main Village complex, and got our gear ready. Quinn passed through and gave us a heads up on conditions – below the powder was a slick, icy base as we’d suspected. We followed a nice skin track up Lower Turnpike, and there were a few sets of tracks on the trail, but a lot of fresh snow remaining. A couple of guys came down the trail and let us know that the steep upper sections weren’t worth the effort because of the ice, right in line with what our beta was suggesting. Depth checks at the start of the ascent revealed 5-6” of powder, which represents the accumulations from this recent clipper and the couple of small bouts of snow that preceded it.
“…you could really feel the way the floatation afforded by our fat skis was letting us ride a bit higher and faster in the powder on those lower-angle pitches.”
We skinned up among steady flakes, enjoying the snowy views of evergreens around us, and when Dylan called for a break ,we stopped at the first crossover to the Wilderness Lift Line at 2,500’. I checked on the conditions on Wilderness Lift Line, and found that it had been hit with wind harder than our last visit – it was clear that although Turnpike had a few tracks, it was the better choice for snow quality. With Ty leading the charge, we continued on up to ~2,750’ before finally putting a halt to the ascent because we were getting into icy, scoured terrain. The snow depth up at the point had increased to roughly 7 inches.
The descent was a peaceful glide through silky smooth powder, with only the occasional touchdown on the old base. The pitch and powder were essentially perfect, although the powder was deep enough that Dylan would sometimes have difficulty keeping his speed up. Dylan’s Telemark skis (Völkl Gotama Juniors) are fairly wide, but nothing like the Black Diamond Elements and AMPerages that E and I were using, and momentum issues aside, you could really feel the way the floatation afforded by our fat skis was letting us ride a bit higher and faster in the powder on those lower-angle pitches. I was curious to see if E had noticed the effect, so I asked her how she felt about the speed of her skis on the descent. She initially thought that they were very fast, and figured it was because they haven’t been used for too many outings and had been waxed. I explained that a good part of that was actually from the floatation that the skis provided. Ty invented a new descent technique where he would kneel all the way on the tips of his skis with both knees, and in the powder it gave the illusion that he was just kneeling in the snow with no skis and flying down the mountain. We’ll have to get some video of that at some point, because it’s quite a hoot.
We ended our descent back at the landing on the northwest corner of the Inn, and discovered that it’s a great spot to be if you want to catch up with what’s going on at the resort. After seeing Quinn at the start of our tour, we ran into Cam and later Josh at the end of the tour. We got to chat about the current state of the conditions, being happy that there are still great options out there for powder, but hoping that we can get some larger storms in here to start building the base. We’re in an OK pattern for maintenance over the next couple of days, and there’s a chance for getting in on snow from a coastal system as we head into Sunday night. We’re certainly a bit fat to the northwest to really jackpot with that storm, but if we can get some base-building synoptic snow out of it, it will really be a step toward terrain expansion.
For the valleys in Northern Vermont, our first big winter storm of the season hit the area this week, and it created some potential holiday travel woes because of its occurrence so close to Thanksgiving. The storm was essentially complete by the time we traveled on Thanksgiving Day, but with 8.2 inches of snow, and 1.62 inches of liquid equivalent, it had certainly bolstered the snowpack in the yard and changed the look of the landscape. While the storm did have some mixed precipitation and rain in the middle, it was quite a nice gain in snow for the mountains, with some of the ski areas in the Northern Greens picking up more than foot of snow. And, as is often the case, the final volley from the storm consisted of a good shot of dry powder that sat well atop some newly added dense base to create some great Thanksgiving Day skiing.
With our holiday traveling done, we finally had the chance to get out today and sample some of the new snow. Dylan was away at a friend’s house, but E, Ty, and I headed up to Bolton Valley to earn some turns. They had reported 9 inches of new snow for Thanksgiving morning, and as we headed up to the Village, we stopped in at the base of Timberline at 1,500’ to check on how the snow had settled in down at that elevation. The depth of the powder was 3 to 4 inches over a good base, and we could see that there had been plenty of ski activity on Timberline’s slopes. Continuing on up to the Village at 2,100’, we found that the snow had increased to 4 to 6 inches in depth.
“The powder skiing was every bit as good as what I’d experienced on Sunday…”
Having experienced some good snow on Turnpike on Sunday, I figured that we would check that out again today. Of course, with it being two to three days since the snow fell, plenty of skiers and snowboarders had been out on the trail, a lot more than the single track I’d seen on my last trip. We were treated to a nice skin track, but most of the powder was tracked out, so we definitely kept our eyes open on the ascent for lesser used options. We ran into Cam at the top of Lower Turnpike, and chatted about the mountain’s opening in a couple of weeks. If we can stick with the current weather pattern, things are looking quite good.
Like I’d done on Sunday, we stopped our ascent around 2,900’ on Turnpike since the terrain above that level was rather windswept, but snow depths had increased to roughly 6 to 8 inches, and combined with the base, there was easily over a foot of snow sitting there in many places. On the ascent I’d looked at the snow on Cougar and the Wilderness Lift Line, and I’d seen only a couple of tracks, so we worked those into our descent. The powder skiing was every bit as good as what I’d experienced on Sunday, and I was glad that we found plenty of untracked snow for Ty and E. Ty was putting together some great turns on his Teles, and I think his skiing was helped by the fact that he was in high spirits. E had her first chance to get on her Element skis with her new Telemark boots, and she definitely felt a big increase in control that she’d previously lacked with on her fat skis with her old boots.
Today was a great, mellow outing, just like you’d expect pre-season at Bolton Valley. Along with Cam, we saw a couple other pairs of skiers, and they all appeared to be experiencing that same vibe. We’ve actually got our next small storm coming through tonight, and it’s supposed to persist into tomorrow, so perhaps we’ll get a freshening of the powder that will set things up for more turns. It’s been a great November of skiing around here, and now it’s on to December – let’s hope it can follow suit.