Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley for a few runs this evening to catch up with my friend James and his kids Jack and Lizi. James is one of the chaperones for their school’s ski program, which has their sessions on Thursday nights at the resort. They’ve actually had some great Thursday nights so far with respect to conditions. They had a couple of nice days before the holidays, and they scored again tonight as well with the resort reporting 6 inches of new snow as of this evening.
Up at the mountain we quickly caught up with James and made a run off the Vista Quad. Like my tour at Timberline this morning, the overall weather was quite nice. Temperatures were well up into the 20s F, and another bout of snow had come in for the evening to further freshen up the slopes. Wind was pretty minimal as well, except for up near the Vista Summit where it was howling at times. The off piste was actually a bit better than what I found this morning, presumably due to some additional snow, but the groomed areas were really what I found to be impressive. You could still find scratchy areas, but a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs. The steepest slopes like Spillway weren’t open, which is probably a good idea with respect to safety, since that very firm subsurface is still sitting there lurking under the new snow.
“…a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs.”
We caught up with Jack and Lizi for a final run off the Mid Mountain Chair, and I was surprised to see that they headed right down Beech Seal vs, the easier Bear Run route. They get an hour of ski lessons on each of their program days, and it’s obvious that they’re really coming along in the way they easily tackled Beech Seal. I could tell that Jack was clearly comfortable by the way he flashed me a peace sign as he buzzed the camera while I was shooting photos.
James and the kids had to head out around 8:00 P.M., but Ty and I went for one more run off the Vista Quad before retiring to Fireside Flatbread for some pizza. We’d snacked at home a bit earlier, but we’d definitely been saving space all evening for some of their great pie.
It looks like we might have another small system coming through on Saturday night into Sunday, and then there’s the potential for another couple of larger systems midweek, so conditions may improve even further over the next several days.
There’s a frontal boundary spread across New England right now, and up here in Northern Vermont we’re on the cold side. That’s given us a decent amount of fresh snow today, especially in the mountains where more than a half foot has fallen in some cases. Bolton Valley was already reporting 4 to 6 inches of new snow as of mid-afternoon, so Ty and I decided to head up to check it out and grab some dinner for the family.
“…the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it.”
It was surprisingly quiet for such a spectacular night skiing evening, but I suspect concerns about the roads kept a lot of people home. There’s definitely been some mixed precipitation around, but the precipitation was mostly snow while we were up at the mountain. Flakes varied from granular types all the way up to massive 1” aggregates, and the snow surface was dense, buttery powder with a really good shot of resurfacing liquid equivalent in it. Tonight looked like it was one of those evenings where weather conditions were coming together to make for some great turns under the lights, and indeed that was the case – the temperature was right around 32, there was no wind, and there was lots of fresh snow.
Ty and I focused on Spillway, and it was great letting those steep turns fall away in the dense powder. I brought my Tele midfats, but I definitely could have gone with the full fats and had a blast. It’s no wonder the skiing felt like there had been such a solid resurfacing; we’re already past ¾” of liquid equivalent with today’s snow down in the valley at our house, and up high they’ve certainly had more.
I was home this afternoon with enough time to head up to the mountain for a couple of runs before dark, with the incentive being a bit of snow that we picked up today from a small Alberta Clipper-type system. Although the snowfall had generally been quite light in intensity today, it had been snowing continuously, and reports of 3 to 5 inches were coming in from the mountains. I didn’t know if anyone else would be interested, so I figured it would just be a solo outing for me to scope out how the new snow was setting things up for coming days. But, before I knew it, the whole family was interested in getting some turns, and once we confirmed that night skiing was on, up to the hill we went!
“…combined with the weather, the overall ski conditions were so good that we ended up staying a lot longer than I’d thought we would.”
The temperature at Village elevation (~2,100’) was right around freezing, and while we were at the mountain the cloud deck fluctuated between there and Mid Mountain (~2,500’). There was light snow falling the entire evening, and although we never went higher than Mid Mountain, there was no wind to speak of. So overall, it was an incredibly nice time to be out skiing under the lights. I measured 3” of snow in the Village parking lot, and generally found 3-4” on the hill, which jives perfectly with the 3-4” that I see this evening in the Bolton Valley snow report. My liquid analyses down here at the house (500’) revealed a very mid-weight 10% H2O snow, and while we may have had a touch of compaction due to being slightly above the freezing mark at our elevation, I’d say that 10% density is fairly consistent with what the mountain received. So the new snow has got a bit of girth to it and can float you pretty well on low- to moderate-angle terrain as long as there’s a smooth subsurface.
One thing that got Ty excited to head to the mountain this evening was the chance to do some snowboarding. He’s big enough to use my snowboard now, so E said that she’d give him some instruction to get him started. We all started off at the Mighty Mite to ensure that Ty was set on the board, and then spent the rest of our time on the Mid Mountain Chair so that Ty could work on his snowboard turns with E, while I worked with Dylan on his Telemark skiing.
There was plenty of powder available this evening off to the sides of the main runs and on the easily accessible side trails, and combined with the weather, the overall ski conditions were so good that we ended up staying a lot longer than I’d thought we would. There obviously hasn’t been enough liquid added atop the snowpack to keep folks from touching down to the old surface on steep terrain yet, but lower-angle to moderate terrain is skiing beautifully. I suspect the groomed terrain could have been pretty loud before this new snow, but turns were very silent and peaceful tonight. And, there’s the aesthetic quality of all the new snow. Folks coming up for the holiday weekend should be pretty psyched, especially if Mother Nature tops this current snow off with a bit more from the system potentially affecting the area on Saturday.
We capped off the evening with a trip to Fireside Flatbread for the first time this season. It was a quiet midweek evening, and service was really quick – we sent the boys downstairs to the cafeteria to get a couple of appetizers and the pizza arrived before they even got back! Anyway, tonight’s experience with the soft conditions has got everyone in the family interested in getting more turns this weekend, so hopefully we’ll have another chance to get out and enjoy the new snow.
Today was a sunny, spring-like day in Northern Vermont, with temperatures in the 50s F in the valleys and snow corning up nicely on the mountain slopes. Dylan’s friend Cole was coming over in the mid to late afternoon to stay for the night, and since he had his snowboard for tomorrow’s BJAMS ski program at Stowe, we headed up to Bolton Valley for a few sunset runs.
There was still probably an hour of daylight left when we arrived, and after a quick warmup run on Beech Seal off the Mid Mountain Chair, we headed up to the Vista Summit. We just missed our chance to catch Hard Luck before patrol closed it for the night, but it looked quite nice with the soft spring snow. On our next run we did get to hit Alta Vista, and the skier’s left that often holds powder was again delivering the goods in the form of beautiful spring corn snow. I’d say that was my favorite area of the day, and I heard Cole mention how he liked it as well. I was worried that the snow would start to tighten up as the sun went down, but it stayed quite soft at least up to the point we left at around 6:00 P.M.
Aside from the skiing, one of the most fun parts of the day was playing with the spring snow while we rode the chair, tossing snowballs from one side of the chair, up and over the tow cable, to be caught by the person at the other end. Our record was 8 in a row before that snowball finally disintegrated, but the boys are already excited to try it some more tomorrow at Stowe – it looks like we’ve got another find spring day on the way tomorrow based on the forecast.
We had some snow earlier in the week, but there hasn’t been much in the past few days and we weren’t in any rush to head off to the mountain early today. Temperatures were pretty nice though, approaching the freezing mark in the valley, so we did want to get out for a few runs. We also thought that it would be nice to get Ty and Dylan out for some Telemark skiing since they haven’t been out on the groomed slopes for Tele practice in a while. As we took care of everything else during the day, we eventually decided to make in an evening session up at the mountain under the lights.
We headed out around 6:00 P.M. and found temperatures in the 20s F up in the Bolton Valley Village. We’re expecting a bit of snow tonight with a weak system passing through, and while there wasn’t any sign of incoming snows when we first arrived, as soon as we made our initial trip up the Vista Quad we started seeing flakes. The intensity of the snowfall increased as we headed up toward the Vista Summit until it was a steadier light snow up there. Winds were light, so it was pretty comfortable overall even up in the higher elevations.
As soon as we hit the first pitch on Sherman’s Pass, everyone started remarking about the strange snow surface underfoot. We actually didn’t know what we were going to get this evening; it had warmed up above freezing earlier this week for the first time in a long time, and we didn’t have a feel for what had really gone on in the mountains. If it did going above freezing, it must have been very slight, because there was no sign of any effect on the snow surfaces. The groomed surface was very much midwinter, and when I headed off trail, everything was dry and powdery. So, we couldn’t figure out what was up with the snow on the trail. We all felt it had a strange consistency, but couldn’t put our fingers on what it was. I think it might have been the way that the loose snow on top that had been kicked up by skiers wasn’t bonding to the groomed snow underneath, and it felt like it made you slide out a bit as if you were on ball bearings. Everyone felt it, and indeed it’s been a while since we’ve been out on groomed slopes with our Telemark skis, but it was a surprising experience. For me personally it was my first time back on my RT-86 skis in a couple of months since I was having a warranty repair being done on one of the toe pieces. I’d forgotten how light those skis are relative to my other pairs. Also, with the way the snow has been and the type of skiing we’ve been doing, it was my first time on skis much under the ~100 mm waist range in a while, so that took a bit of adjustment. As I gradually got used to the snow I was reminded of how snappy the RT-86 is on turns.
We just did a few runs, and it was a nice evening for turns. E’s toe that she’d injured was feeling pretty good, and she had definitely been worried about putting stress on it via toe-bending Telemark turns. Ty was feeling good, but Dylan was struggling somewhat with his turns and it was evident that it had been a while since he’d been on his Telemark skis. He definitely improved with each run though, so he was starting to get back in the groove. Both boys had a lot of fun doing 360 spins on the trail, and the snow conditions really lent themselves to it. We’ll be watching for some additional evening opportunities not that the weather is warmer, because it was definitely good for the boys to get out for some groomed skiing on the Teles.
On the way home this afternoon, I stopped in at the mountain to make a few turns and check out the conditions in association with today’s new snow. Even in the mountains, temperatures rose above freezing yesterday on the front end of our current storm system, and that was likely to mean firm snow surfaces as the temperatures came back down today. Fortunately some snow also fell on the back side of the system, and Bolton Valley was reporting 4 inches as of this morning. Depending on the density of those 4 inches of snow, and how they fell, they could make for some nice skiing.
“…I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely.”
The skies were overcast today with on and off snow in the mountains and rain/snow in the valleys. Temperatures were hovering around 35 F in the Winooski Valley as I made my way eastward into the mountains, but once I arrived up in the Bolton Valley Village at 2,100′, the temperature was in the upper 20s F and grainy snow was falling. The clouds were low, sinking right down to the elevation of the Village, and combined with precipitation and late-day December light, visibility was very poor. The clouds only seemed to get thicker as I ascended on the Vista Quad, and if the visibility wasn’t already low enough, rime was precipitating out of the clouds and forming on everything… including my goggles. There was a brisk northwest wind in effect by the time I got to the Vista Summit, and temperatures must have been in the low 20s F – it was feeling extremely wintry up there.
“…I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.”
From the lift, my initial impressions of the skiing weren’t all that favorable – I could hear the sounds of snowboarders on Butterscotch, and it didn’t sound good. But, once I actually got on the snow and got down through the windswept areas above Sherman’s Pass on my first run, I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely. I could smoothly glide right through the powder without hitting anything underneath. I found this same snow on the edges all along Sherman’s, and I was surprised at how much snow had been left untracked at the end of the day. I guess traffic had been somewhat lighter since it was a midweek day. The snow was good, but what made the skiing challenging was the visibility. If you ever wanted to work on your balance while skiing, this afternoon’s low light and fog as dusk approached would get you there. The visibility was the main consideration when I was thinking about taking that next run, but indeed the snow had been good enough that I headed up the lift for another. I took the same route, and even though the light had faded to darkness and the night skiing lights were all that was available, I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.
I definitely give a thumbs up for this latest round of snow in terms of covering up the old base, and it sounds like Powderfreak’s impressions at Stowe were very much the same. It looks like this is going to be about it for snow chances until we get into a storm next week, but fortunately there’s some decent powder out there. It should have plenty of staying power based on its density.
Earlier today when I was heading up for some afternoon skiing, E suggested that we should go night skiing because it looked like the snow and weather conditions would be good. We’re always on the lookout for that convergence of fresh snow, moderate temperatures, and low wind for time under the lights. So, as soon as I was done with my afternoon session, I picked up E and Dylan at the house and we headed to the main base area at Bolton Valley for some turns. Indeed E was right on with the conditions; the trails were chock full of new snow, temperatures were in the mid 20s F, snow was falling, and there was no wind. Those are just the sort of conditions that we’ve found to make night skiing at Bolton Valley especially enjoyable. The Snowflake Chair was running, so I dropped E and Dylan off there for some runs while I parked the car and got ready. There were good parking spots right in the top tier lot, and while I was getting ready I heard a familiar voice helping someone get their car out of the snow. It was Will, one of our BJAMS benefactors who lives up in the Village. We chatted for a while about the snow, the wonderful conditions, and various other skiing-related things.
Eventually I made my way to the slopes, and met up with E and Dylan after they had finished their third Snowflake run. Dylan was working on his Telemark skiing and doing a nice job – this was his first session on the 118 cm Völkl Gotama Juniors that he inherited from Ty, so it was a step up in size for him. E was excited to be back on some skinnier skis after being on her fat Black Diamond Elements for a couple of days. We took a run on Sprig O’ Pine, and the snow surface was indeed fantastic – packed powder and powder everywhere, and there were only a few people out on the slopes. Dylan insisted on riding the lift alone… because he could, but it meant that E and I got to ride together. We made a trip up the Vista Quad and were able to take the upper part of the Vista lift line at the start of our run. I think they’ve removed some stumps and other debris to make it more skiable, and boy was it nice. It’s only partially lit, so it was a bit of an adventure making turns, but the powder was great. The whole trip down Sherman’s Pass was just one soft turn after another, and Mother Nature continued to pile it on from the sky as well.
We went back to Snowflake for a run in the Progression Park, and those were some of my favorite turns of the night. I’d pulled out my RT-86s for the evening session, and after several days on the AMPerages I’d forgotten just how lively a narrower, midfat-waisted ski (86 mm) could be compared to skis with a relatively fat profile (115 mm waist) on snow that wasn’t bottomless. Being back on the RT-86s made for some really fun carving in the powder and chowder. One way to describe the conditions from tonight were that they were the sort that made you never want to leave.
When Dylan’s hunger overcame his desire for turns, we headed into the lodge and got some pizza at Fireside Flatbread. Gone were the crowds of yesterday, although there was one large group of 15-20 people at a large table. That’s our third time at Fireside Flatbread in three days, and Dylan seems to be enjoying it – it’s really convenient to pop in there and get a slice, and it’s really good flatbread. Dylan was in rare form, chatting about everything and carrying around some comical cocky persona that was just too funny. He was indeed having a lot of fun out on the slopes, and the saying he adopted to describe the evening was “Lights, Powder, Action!”
We finished off the evening with one more run in the Progression Park, where Dylan invented an interesting technique in which he turned both directions in the same Telemark stance – it was quite original, although I’m sure it’s a drill of some sort that folks have used. Right as the lifts were closing, the small snowflakes that had been with us all evening changed over to larger, upslope-style flakes, and they were beautiful under the lights. I stopped for a few pictures before we headed to the car, one of which was a tree that was entirely encrusted with rime. I shot upwards to get the tree and some of the big snowflakes against the black of the sky, and it was an interesting image. It was a fantastic evening on the slopes, and I wish we could get conditions like that all the time at night; I’m sure we’d be out there much more often.
The incoming multi-part winter storm started to affect the region today with the first round of snow. The snow started falling at our location in Waterbury right around 6:00 A.M. this morning when I was making my observations for CoCoRaHS, and there was probably a half inch of accumulation when I left roughly an hour later. There was the potential for downsloping on the western slopes of the Greens, and indeed, just a few miles west of the house, the snow really tapered off. There was little if anything falling in Jonesville and Richmond as I drove through, and nothing going on in Burlington. Later in the morning though, it did start snowing in Burlington, and there was roughly a half inch of accumulation when I left around 5:00 P.M.
When I got back to the house this evening, I found 3.7 inches of snow on the snowboard; the snow seemed fairly dense but it was still medium weight stuff at 9.2% H2O. Up in the mountains, afternoon reports were indicating about a half foot of snow from the event, with the higher totals toward Central and Southern Vermont where the snow had come in a little earlier and stronger. Here’s the north to south list of totals from some of the ski areas as of this afternoon:
Knowing that we’d picked up 3.7 inches down below in the valley, it was likely that Bolton had done better than 4 inches of snow reported in their early afternoon update, but even that was enough to get us thinking about an evening session of turns with the boys. There are only so many times a season when the right combination of new snow, comfortable temperatures, and minimal wind come together to make for that optimal night skiing experience, and tonight was looking like one of those nights.
After dinner we headed up to Bolton; we were in the dry slot portion of the storm system at that point, so precipitation was minimal and the Bolton Valley Access Road was in good shape. Arriving at the village (2,100’) we found a temperature of 30 F, and the only precipitation was some small snow grains/mist. I dropped E and the boys off at the Snowflake Lift so that they could take a run, and made it back up to the loading area before they’d even finished their descent. While I waited for them, I got to speak with our friend Matt who was checking tickets that evening. He said that the mountain had received a decent shot of snow, and that they were even thinking of opening up Timberline for the weekend. That will likely depend on how things look over there after the rest of the storm system comes through, but that was encouraging to hear.
When E and the boys returned to the lift, we headed up for another Snowflake run. They had taken the Butterscotch Terrain Park on their descent, and conditions didn’t sound all that inspiring in terms of softness and powder since they had taken the main area with the big snow whales. For that next trip we visited Sprig O’ Pine, and found some very nice powder off to the skier’s right before the area where it merges with Bear Run. The 4 inches that the resort had reported seemed about right for the lower mountain, although I suspected there would be a bit more on the upper mountain with the continued snowfall. We took one more Sprig O’ Pine run to enjoy that powder we’d found, and it continued to serve up some nice turns since it was dense enough to keep you from bottoming out. Our 3.7 inches of snow down at the house was made up of 0.34” of liquid equivalent, so with Bolton presumably picking up at least that 0.3” to 0.4” of liquid, that was plenty of cushion above the base snow.
Next it was time for a summit run off the Vista Quad. As we glided above Spillway on the lift, we were astonished by how good the coverage looked, and how many tracks were on it; it almost looked like it was open. We looked around for all the detritus that litters the trail, and it was really hard to find anything sticking out; I actually questioned if they had made snow on it because of how buried everything was. Clearly it wasn’t open though, as there was a patroller stationed at the bottom to catch folks who were bending the rules. More than likely, the new snow was just hiding all those object lurking below the surface, making for a very dicey descent. Up at the Vista Summit the air temperature had cooled a bit down to 24 F, but it was still quite nice overall. We took Sherman’s Pass, which generally had a nice surface for carving, and we had a really good time in the fresh snow off to the skier’s left above the Mid Mountain area. Ty was making so much noise and having so much fun coming down through there, that the patroller stationed in the area checked to make sure we hadn’t poached Spillway.
Since it was a school night for the boys, we didn’t stay too much longer, but it had definitely been worth getting out for a few runs; it felt great to have the skis dig into that soft, fresh snow. The recent snow was deep enough that we were able to ski right across the access road to the parking lot, and in terms of ski conditions, that’s typically a great sign to be able to comfortably ski across main roads to your car. E had a good time and we’ll certainly be back for another evening session if circumstances line up appropriately again. This front end dump has already featured plenty of snow and liquid equivalent to get some additional terrain going, because there were plenty of areas that were very close. If some decent upslope comes in on the back end of this system tomorrow, that will provide additional help. I’d say everyone is excited about where the mountains will be after this event, which all told may bring up to a foot and a half of snow.