Tag Archives: Northern Vermont

Bolton Valley, VT 10DEC2010

An image of ski tracks in powder
Some nice powder turns were made at Bolton Valley this morning.

This morning I headed up to Bolton to catch some opening day turns and check out the four feet of new snow they’d picked up over the week.  On the way up I could see that Timberline was just loaded with tracks from all the folks that had been earning turns there.  We’d had our coldest temperatures of the season this morning, and although it was still somewhere in the single digits when I arrived at the mountain, the wind was calm and it turned out to be very comfortable.

They had the usual early season options going, but also some natural snow terrain such as the lower part of Wilderness.  I saw that VT 200 was open at the top, but it still looked somewhat bony.  I found that Wilderness and the routes over there were the places to be though, one could get some nice steeper turns in about a foot or so of powder in the junction areas of Swing, Lower Crossover, and Work Road, and then down on the Wilderness lift line it was mellow powder cruising.  To check out the rest of the details and see all the pictures from the day, head to the full Bolton Valley Trip Report from today.

Stowe, VT 05DEC2010

Image of the boys skinning up through powder
Dylan works hard to keep pace with Ty as we skin up Spruce Peak.

By this morning, enough snow had accumulated that we decided to head up to the higher elevations and check it out.  Without much of a base, we didn’t expect the skiing to be too great, but it would be a good chance for Dylan to get on his skins and see how everything was working for him.

We first stopped in up at Bolton Valley, where accumulations appeared to be in the 2-3 inch range at the main base (~2,100’).  I took a look around to see if any manmade snow had been put down outside the areas of current snowmaking operations, but didn’t see any on the lower mountain.  A good amount of snow had been made in the Mighty Mite learning area, a fan gun was blowing snow above the lodge, and I could see at least one other gun going underneath the Mid Mountain Chair.  The snow was certainly light and dry, and the powder had accumulated up to a foot in some areas.  We hung out for a bit and let the boys play in the snow, then we headed off to Stowe to see if any ski options were available atop manmade base snow at Spruce Peak.

As we drove toward Stowe, we could see that the valley snow accumulations were quite variable.  We had an inch or two at our house on the Waterbury/Bolton line, and there was a bit less in the center of Waterbury.  North of Colbyville however, the ground was bare, and between there and the Stowe’s Lower Village, there was only the occasional dusting visible on the ground.  As Powderfreak had mentioned in one of his reports to Americanwx.com, we saw a sharp increase in snowfall amounts as one entered the center of Stowe, where they had picked up a fluffy few inches earlier in the morning.

Up at the mountain base, accumulations were similar to what we’d seen at Bolton, with roughly 2 to 3 inches on the ground at the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club building.  We were surprised to see that lift-served skiing was going on over at Spruce (Easy Street area), so we decided to skin up above that elevation and check out the options.  We headed up toward the Sunny Spruce Quad, and found about 4 to 5 inches of fluff as we approached the top of East Run.  The snow was definitely fluffy, so good turns could be had on grassy slopes, but beyond that it was sketchy.  It was definitely rock ski/junkboard territory, although with all of the extra snow we’ve had in the past couple of days, that will be changing.  To continue with the rest of the text and see all the pictures, click through to the Stowe trip report from today.

Stowe, VT 16OCT2010

Image of Ty skiing
Ty skiing some October snow on Perry Merrill at Stowe Mountain Resort

Even before the storm existed, the formation of the season’s first Nor’easter had appeared likely for several days, and with it, the appearance of at least a few flakes in the higher elevations of the Northeast seemed like a good bet.  However, the question of the whether or not we’d see our first decent dump of skiable snow took a few more days to settle out.  Eventually, the mountain forecasts came into focus, and it looked like the Greens were going to get good elevation snows up and down the spine.  The Northern Greens seemed to be in a good spot for precipitation, but the Central and Southern Greens were likely to be closest to the core of cold air that would support the most early season snow.  On Wednesday the 13th, Scott Braaten did a nice job of alerting everyone about the setup through SkiVT-L and Lionel Hutz was all over it at the FIS website.

On Friday, October 15th, the storm was underway, and morning reports were already coming in about snow falling in the Southern and Central Greens.  The pictures from the Killington web cam were looking quite wintry even at the lower elevations, and when Paul Terwilliger sent in his Friday Killington trip report to SkiVT-L and said he’d already found 18 inches at the summit, it was clear that the area was getting a good shot of snow.  By that point the temperatures indicated that the Northern Greens were getting plenty of snow as well, but if they weren’t going to catch up to the Killington area, I was thinking that it might be a good time to mix things up and head a bit south for turns.

My thoughts of heading south to Killington were suppressed somewhat around 8:30 P.M. that evening.  After checking on our rain gauge a couple of hours earlier, I hadn’t looked outside at all, as a massive sword and ball battle had kept me busy in the basement with the boys.  When I finally did look out back, I was very surprised to see that it was snowing… all the way down at our elevation of roughly 500 feet.  The air temperature had dropped to 33.3 F and the precipitation was big flakes of snow, without even any rain mixed in.  The snowfall lasted for a couple of hours, long enough to put down 0.3 inches of slushy accumulation on the snowboard and coat the ground white.  Eventually as the precipitation slowed down, the temperature began to warm up and it all changed back over to rain.  I knew that if we were getting snow all the way down to the lower valleys though, then the local mountains must have been getting pounded, so I suspected that Mt. Mansfield would come through with sufficient snow to make it worth skiing.

The next morning we had steady rain at the house, and valley temperatures in the low 40s F as Ty and I headed off to Stowe.  The snow level had clearly risen up overnight, as we didn’t see any signs of snow at all until the slopes of Spruce Peak came into view.  We headed to the base of the Gondola (~1,600’) which seemed to have the best accumulations of snow at low elevations.  The temperature was in the upper 30 s F, and there was a gusty wind in the parking lot.  Although a little thin, coverage was still enough that one could start skinning from the lot if they wanted, but we decided to hike for a bit to get some variety in the ascent.  Snow depth at the bottom of Perry Merrill was 2-3 inches, but with the warming temperatures any disruptions in the snow were seeding its melting.  The footprints of earlier hikers were already holes in the snow with colorful foliage showing through.  To continue with the full text and all of the pictures, click through to the full trip report from today at Stowe.

Bald Hill, VT 23JAN2010

An image of Ty skiing backcountry powder in the Bald Hill area near Camel's Hump
Ty out there ripping up some of the powder on Bald Hill today

Saturday was another potentially good day for some backcountry skiing in Northern/Central Vermont, since snowfall had again been rather minimal in the area during the preceding week.  At the house in Waterbury, we’d picked up just 1.4 inches of snow in the Sunday/Monday range from a storm that favored parts of Maine and Southern New Hampshire with up to a foot, and then 1.6 inches of snow in the Tuesday/Wednesday timeframe from an upper level low coming out of the Great Lakes.  As for the mountains, I saw accumulations topping out in the 4 to 5 inch range for the Bolton through Sugarbush stretch, with amounts tapering off to the north.  The forecast on Saturday called for a cold start in the 0 F range, but brilliant sunshine and eventual temperatures in the 20s F.  Weather wise, it was an excellent time to get outside.

“The combination of settling
and the thin breakable
crust in some spots made
things tricky at times,
but it was all soft and fun.”

With the snowfall thoughts in mind, the plan was to do some skiing off the west side of the Camel’s Hump/Mt. Ethan Allen area.  Unfortunately, on Friday we found out that Tom had tweaked his knee and ankle at soccer, so the ski group for the day was going to be just James, Ty, and myself.  We met up with James in Huntington Center a bit after 9:00 A.M., and decided on an initial plan of heading up the Forest City Trail to do some skiing on the lower flanks of Mt. Ethan Allen (3,674’), the next prominent peak south of Camel’s Hump.  We headed up Camel’s Hump Road, finding that the access to the Forest City trailhead was going to be difficult because the road there wasn’t plowed in the winter.  There was a little room along the snowbank to potentially park a couple of cars, but a more important factor in our case was the added distance to get to the trailhead.  Ty’s backcountry range is not that great yet, so we weren’t looking for a big approach.  There was the option to connect over to the Forest City Trail from the Burrows Trailhead area, but we decided to just do something simple off the Burrows Trail.  James had commented to me earlier that there was going to be a temperature inversion in effect, and that was indeed what we saw on our ascent of Camel’s Hump Road.  From down in Huntington Center (690’) where the temperature was somewhere in the middle single digits, the temperature was up around 10-11 F at the trailhead parking area (~1,900’).  The lot was about half full, and while we geared up, we could see that several parties of people were heading out for hikes on snowshoes.

An image of a stack of powder snow atop a stump along the Burrows Trail leading up to Camel's Hump in Vermont
Some of the powder stacked along the Burrows Trail

Starting up on the Burrows Trail, I checked the snowpack and found a couple inches of fluff on top of a generally thin crust, atop a lot more settled powder.  A few of the lower elevation stream crossings on the trail were open with small gaps, and that represented a bit of a challenge for Ty, but he managed well.  We didn’t have any lofty goals in mind other than getting in a little skiing, since our ultimate destination would likely be affected by Ty’s mood and stamina.  Our pace was pretty slow with Ty taking his time, but it was an easy go, and everyone’s skins were working well on the packed trail.  There were lots of dogs, lots of people on snowshoes (including a bigger group that seemed to be from the UVM Outing Club), and we also saw a party of about four skiers that passed us on their way up the trail.  One of the more interesting sights was a woman coming down trail at breakneck speed on a sled that looked like a booster seat.  We made sure to move out of her way, but she seemed to be very conscious of the uphill traffic and stopped easily.  James inquired about how her sled worked, and she demonstrated that for braking, you just lean back.  I know that people like to use those Mad River Rocket-style sleds on the trail and elsewhere, but this was the first time I’d seen what this woman had.

An image of Ty and James ascending Bald Hill on their skis near Camel's Hump in Vermont
Ty and James ascend Bald Hill.

Up to about the 2,300’ elevation mark the surrounding vegetation was on the brushy side, but above that point it began to thin out and the potential for skiable lines looked a little better.  Off to our right, we could see some open, moderate angle slopes across the big gully that had begun to parallel the trail, and off to the left we could see the more obvious lines that steepened on the way up to Bald Hill (3,041’).  Ty had some good bursts of skinning speed when we kept him motivated, but as inquiries about how far we were going and when we would get to ski became more frequent, we decided it was time to think about our descent route.  Heading off to the left for the lower slopes of Bald Hill was going to make things easiest for getting back to the trailhead for Ty, so a bit above 2,500’ when we hit one of the skin tracks breaking off the Burrows Trail and going in that direction, we took it.  The change of scene was enough to keep Ty motivated for a little bit longer, since we were able to tell him that we’d be able to descend soon.

We headed up into the glades a little farther, reaching an elevation of about 2,700’ before Ty seemed to be getting just a bit too antsy.  There were plenty of good lines available with untracked snow, but we could see that taking them would mean dropping right back down to the Burrows Trail almost immediately.  So, we continued to contour westward to get something that might drop a little more directly to the trailhead.  We could only traverse so far though, since Ty knew we were close to skiing and his inquiries started up again.  When we finally called it on the traverse, James and I skinned up a little farther to catch a nice looking line, while Ty waited just below us.

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder snow on Bald Hill near Camel's Hump in Vermont
Jay enjoys some turns in the beautiful powder out there on Bald Hill.

The skiing was good, and definitely worth the hike, but certainly not perfect or quite up to what I’d found off the Monroe Trail the previous weekend.  The combination of settling and the thin breakable crust in some spots made things tricky at times, but it was all soft and fun.  Ty stuck with just alpine turns, but had a lot of fun catching air and working on his jumping technique.  Our extra traversing had bought us a little longer descent, but we still dropped back to the Burrows Trail pretty quickly.  Instead of trying to ski on and near the trail, we took a traverse out to the west with the aim of eventually dropping back down to the parking lot to finish our run.  I used the GPS for route finding, and as is often the case, James went by his natural sense of direction.  The biggest issue with the traverse was that like on the Burrows Trail itself, a few streams were still open from the previous warm weather.  They weren’t too hard to cross since there were still snow bridges around, but Ty’s smaller skis definitely set him at a disadvantage for spanning some gaps.  We helped him across when needed.  Even with the aid of the GPS, I overshot the parking area by about 100 feet or so and had to swing back during my final descent, while James nailed it right on.

A Google Earth Image with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on Bald Hill near Camel's Hump in Vermont
The GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour plotted on Google Earth

Stowe, VT 01OCT2009

An image of the Hayride trail at Stowe, Vermont with snow and fall foliage after a September & October snowfall
Looking down Stowe's Hayride ski trail at the fresh October snow and brilliant fall foliage

For quite a while, the local weather gurus had been talking about the potential for local snow at the end of September/beginning of October.  Yesterday, reports started coming in of white in the mountains, and from UVM I could see the tendrils of snowfall crashing out along the Green Mountain spine.  It was looking like this morning would feature some real accumulations of snow, but yesterday evening the snowfall seemed to come to a halt.  I started to reconsider my thoughts of taking a morning trip up to Mt. Mansfield, but sometime after dark I checked the local radar and it looked like snowfall was blooming again.  I awoke this morning to see that there were still echoes on the radar, the temperature at the house was ~41 F, and our back deck was wet.  I suspected there had been some additional snow on Mansfield, so I hopped in the car and decided that I’d at least go for a hike before work.

While I couldn’t see much white at all on my drive to the mountain, as I finally got close to Mt. Mansfield, I could see that there was a good covering of snow from about the middle elevations of Spruce Peak on up.  I parked in the upper lot of the gondola (~1,600’) and there were a half dozen cars that looked like they could belong to other early morning folks checking out the snow.  Snow was falling all around me, and while it wasn’t sticking at the base, I could see white on the ground not far above.  At some point after 7:30 A.M., I strapped my skis on my pack and headed up Nosedive, hitting the snow line right around 1,800’.  The depth of the snow didn’t increase too quickly, only up to maybe ½ to 1 inch in depth by the 2,000’ mark.  I thought that the snow would probably be great for the junkboarders, but I wasn’t quite sure about those who were on regular skis.  Not long after I had that thought though, I met three skiers coming down Nosedive, right around the intersection with National.  They clearly seemed to be making due on regular skis and seemed to be enjoying it.  During my ascent it snowed most of the time, and occasionally the snow came down with moderate to heavy intensity.  Being starved for a bit of winter weather, I loved it.

Even by the top of Nosedive (~3,600’) the snow was only up to about 3 inches in depth, but I hiked on a bit farther to check out the Mt. Mansfield Stake.  There was some vegetation in front of the stake (~3,700’) that hadn’t let the snow settle all the way to the ground, but the depth of the snow was clearly less than 6 inches.  At least one vehicle had driven on the Toll Road, but I still popped on my old Telemark skis and did a little gliding in the untouched snow outside the tire tracks.  That was quite pleasant, although due to the minimal snowfall, there was the occasional crunch of a piece of gravel.  Not wanting to deal with the hassle of negotiating the steep terrain of Nosedive with somewhat minimal snow, I continued on the Toll Road and into the Ridge View area before deciding to take off my skis.  I had even made a few Tele turns on the snowy grass, but by around the 3,000’ elevation, a combination of wanting to head back in the direction of the Gondola via steeper terrain, and not wanting to put any real damage into my skis saw me strapping them back on my pack.  I’m not totally ready to commit the Hellgates to official rock ski status just yet.

Hiking up had been really enjoyable (I think it was the first time I’d hiked such a long distance in Tele boots without switching to skinning) but the vistas on the descent were spectacular.  With the dramatic scenes of white surrounding me, and the brilliant colors in the valley, I stopped frequently to pull out the camera.  My descent was somewhat meandering, taking me down through the Hayride and Lookout areas, before making it down to Crossover and down to the gondola lot.  The snow level on Mansfield looked like it had crept up a few hundred feet since my ascent, so it was certainly warming up.  Insofar as I can recall, I think today’s outing was the first time that things came together to allow me to ski on my birthday, so that made it even more of a treat that usual.  To check out all the pictures from the day, head to the Stowe trip report from today.

Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 25APR2009

An image of some of the trails of Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont taken from the alpine area up near the Chin of Mt. Mansfield
Looking back at the resort trails today as I head up into the alpine

The boys were more interested in planting flowers with Mom on Saturday than skiing, so unfortunately I couldn’t interest them in going out for some turns.  This meant that I was on a solo outing, but the upside was that I’d be able to do a much bigger tour than I would have been able to with Ty, or especially with Dylan.  The skies were clear and blue all Saturday morning on what was likely our warmest day of the spring up to that point.  The temperature was already around 80 F when I pulled into Stowe’s Midway lot (~1,700’) in the early afternoon, and with the forecast for temperatures in that range, I hadn’t been too optimistic about the snow quality.  My major goal was to at least get in a good workout, so I was willing to negotiate some sloppy snow on the descent if that was the way it had to be.

Snow was available right from the Midway Lodge elevation, with just a couple hundred feet of fairly flat walking on grass to get on it from the parking lot.  I was immediately surprised when I got on the snow and found that it wasn’t sloppy at all; it was all corn with just the top inch or so loosened up.  That’s the sort of corn that seems to provide some of the easiest turns, so I was immediately enthusiastic about the potential for a quality descent.  There wasn’t much of a breeze in the lower elevations, but the snow helped keep the air temperature a bit cooler and the ascent was very enjoyable.  For ascent attire I’d gone about as minimally as I felt comfortable doing, with a short sleeve polypropylene T-shirt and my ski pants with the side zippers fully open, and that worked out to be a comfortable setup for the temperature.  I hadn’t made a non-powder ascent on skins in a while, and I was quickly reminded how the lightness of Telemark gear allows you to simply fly up the slopes.  Before I knew it I was up at the Cliff House (3,625’) and feeling great, so I decided to keep going up into the alpine.

I set my skis onto my pack and hit the climbing gully.  There was a bit of rotten snow in spots, and as I didn’t immediately find a boot ladder, I had visions of an inefficient, sloppy climb with lots of post-holing.  I’d already post-holed a few times in the outskirts of the gully (it only took one of those to remind me to get my ski pants zipped up at least halfway) but fortunately, about 50 feet up the climbing gully I found a boot ladder made by some nice big feet.  That made the going fairly smooth, and the views of the Green and White Mountains continued to improve with each step.  Near the top of the gully, I ran into a guy about to descend.  He had spent an overnight or two on the mountain, and said that he’d been amazed to find fresh powder on Friday morning when he’d started skiing.  It sounds like along with Thursday morning, Friday morning had also been good in the higher elevations with regard to fresh snow.  The downside of the fresh snow was that conditions in the alpine were still a bit sloppy.  The new snow had not yet cycled to corn in the highest elevations, so it just wasn’t going to provide an optimal surface.  By the time I departed from my conversation in the gully, I was moments from the Mansfield ridge line.  Up on the ridge I enjoyed the new westerly views of the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks, and decided to stop in at the top of The Chin (4,395’) since I was so close.  There was a small group of college students enjoying the popular leeward side of the summit, and there was a pleasant breeze of probably 15 MPH or so.  The high temperature for the day at the Mt. Mansfield Stake came in at 67 F, so I suspect that the summit maximum temperature was probably close to that.  Getting an April day like that at the top of The Chin is certainly a treat.

For my descent, I wasn’t able to ski right in the summit or the West Chin area due to lack of snow, but I was able to ski down the gully where the Long Trail drops away from The Chin as it heads south.  It was quite a perspective to see the snow create a flat surface through the gully, when in the off season it’s a 10-foot deep chasm containing the hiking trail.  I had to remove my skis to descend the very top of the climbing gully, but below that point one could keep them on continuously.  As expected, the new snow up high that hadn’t fully cycled to corn wasn’t as nice as the corn snow on the bottom 2,000’, but I actually had some fun turns in the climbing gully, and it let me work on Telemark turns in steeper, tighter confines.  I still had to make some alpine turns and throw in some side slipping up there since some areas were just so tight, but overall the gully allowed a good mix of styles.  The crème de la crème of snow surfaces for the day was probably the top half of the Gondolier descent.  There must have been very little traffic up there because most of the snow surface was just a smooth layer of ripe corn.  The lower half of Gondolier still had nice corn snow, but the surface wasn’t as smooth as the top half of trail.  Perhaps the lower elevations had experienced more melting that started forming aberrations in the surface.  Based on my GPS data, it looks like my descent was 2,720’, not quite what you can get for vertical in the winter when you head all the way back down to Route 108, but still a decent run.  There were still about 7 feet of snow at the stake on Saturday, and even though that level has dropped some with the recent warmth we’ve had, skiing should available on Mt. Mansfield for a while.

A Google Earth/GPS map showing the route of a ski tour up through Stowe Mountain Resort to the Chin of Mt. Mansfield on April 25th, 2009
A Google Earth/GPS map of today’s ski tour up to the Chin of Mt. Mansfield – Click the image for a full size map

Bolton Valley, VT 24FEB2009

An image of Jay jumping into deep powder on the Duva Horn trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Today you just aired it out wherever you wanted… it didn’t matter.

E and the boys are off from school this week, so I joined them for a day up on the mountain yesterday.  Heading up to ski was pretty much a no brainer – it looked to be almost a carbon copy of Saturday, with another foot or so of upslope Champlain Powder™ overnight to finish off another three-foot storm cycle, and the clouds pulling away to leave blue skies and perfect temperatures.  Bolton Valley had just finished off a run featuring six feet of snow in six days, which doesn’t happen all that often… anywhere.

We hit up many of our usual haunts in the Timberline area, but also got in a few runs in the Adam’s Solitude/Wild Woods out of bounds areas, which we’d yet to visit this season.  I don’t visit those areas all that often, but I was absolutely floored by how protected the accumulated snow was over there.  Amazingly delicate accumulations of Northern Vermont’s famed upslope snow had settled on everything, apparently defying gravity by even accumulating laterally and growing off the sides of trees.  All it seemed to take was the slightest imperfection on a surface to catch a few crystals, and then they would apparently grab hands and just go nuts.  I’m not sure if the area is always protected like that, but I’ll sure be on the lookout with future storms.  My final overnight accumulation of snow down at the house for that event had come in at 2.4% H2O, which is not all that uncommon for upslope snow in our sheltered valley location, but there really were areas up near the top of Adam’s Solitude where the snow was like air.  I’d be skiing along through the usual bottomless powder and I’d hit pockets where it would feel like the bottom had literally dropped out because the snow became so airy.  It almost felt like I was hitting small tree wells, but it was just the settling pattern of the powder.  Anyway, it was quite an experience.  I’ve skied a lot of cold smoke snow between Vermont and our years out in Montana, and yesterday snow now sets the standard.  I can remember a day at Smugg’s several years back that featured snow as airy as yesterday’s, but it was only about 6 to 12 inches deep and not bottomless, so the experience wasn’t quite the same.

An image of Ty skiing some of the incredibly light "Champlain Powder" in Vermont on the Adam's Solitude trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort
Ty out there on Adam’s Solitude getting a taste of that Champlain Powder today

I wanted to bring E and the boys over to explore some areas on the main mountain, but the day at Timberline was so packed full of runs that we just never had the chance to get over there.  We did manage to meet up with Stephen and his kids for a final run down Adam’s Solitude.  It was a first time out there for them, so it was quite an introduction to that terrain.  I worked a bit with Ty and E on getting their body positioning more compact when they are in the air.  They’ve still got some work to do, but it was one of those days where you didn’t mind having to try, try again on those kinds of tasks.  The rest of the images from yesterday can be found below in the gallery, and full size versions are also available in our report to SkiVT-L.

Bolton Valley, VT 21FEB2009

An image of Erica skiing in neck deep snow in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
As E demonstrates, today was one of those day when you could go neck deep… if you’re into that sort of thing.

The numbers are in, and they indicate that Bolton Valley picked up a solid three feet of snow from our latest storm cycle, with the final 12 inches of upslope fluff coming in overnight to set the table for a fantastic Saturday.  The day started off a little cloudy and breezy, but by midday we were left with warm sunshine to make for one of the best ski days of the season.  We arrived up at the Timberline Quad for the 8:30 A.M. opening, and in classic Bolton Valley style the powder day lineup was comprised of a whopping three chairs worth of people.  The first hour or two of the morning were pretty quiet in the Timberline area, at least in terms of numbers of visitors, although generally not in the voices of those of us that were there.  By 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. more visitors started to arrive.

“The deep powder
also let Ty engage
in his own personal
huck fest ’09.”

While the trails only contained about a foot of powder in areas that had seen skier traffic over the past couple of days, many off piste locations that hadn’t seen visitors on Thursday or Friday held the entirety of the storm in and undisturbed stack.  Before heading up to the mountain this morning we joked about losing Dylan in the deep snow, but fortunately that didn’t happen.  The good thing about the snow was that it was quite dry (my analysis on the overnight accumulation at the house was 3.7% H2O); even the boys could get down in it and really have a fun time experiencing the depth.  We met up with Dave and his friend Jo at 10:00 A.M., and my colleague Stephen and his son Johannes early in the afternoon, and all eight of us managed to do a couple of great runs on Twice as Nice together.

An image of Dave skiing in deep powder in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dave stopped in today for some of his usual Bolton Valley activities

For Ty it was a day of notable improvements in his skiing.  With the fantastic depths of powder in the off piste, he was able to start charging steep slopes more aggressively than I’ve seen up to this point.  E and I had indicated to both boys that they would want to ski steeper terrain than usual today because the deep powder would be slowing them down.  They weren’t very receptive to this idea at first.  However, by the end of the day Ty had really changed his tune and was actually seeking out some of the steepest lines so he could tackle them.  Dylan had quickly picked up on the idea as well.

An image of Ty peering over a cliff in the Wood's Hole Glades area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont as he prepares to jump off
Peering over the steep edge of a drop… decisions, decisions.

The deep powder also let Ty engage in his own personal huck fest ’09.  I’d been saving up a nice 5 to 10 foot drop with a sloped landing that Dave and I had discovered in the Villager Trees a couple weeks back, and with feet of new powder it was ready to be plundered again.  Ty likes to do jumps on his skis, but this type of a drop was in a league he’d never really tackled before, so I was curious to see his reaction.  When we arrived at the top of the drop, he was certainly intimidated by the height and confirmed that he didn’t want to hit it.  We didn’t want to force him, but we had Mom drop it and demonstrate how easy it was with such deep powder.  After seeing that, he didn’t immediately change his tune, but we could see that the wheels were turning.  Later in the day we were in the Wood’s Hole Glades and Ty somehow found himself atop a rather big rock.  He dropped a pretty rugged looking line, and with that his confidence was building.  I asked him if he’d be interested in joining Dave and I in dropping another small cliff on the next run and he said yes.  We gave him first shot at the drop in the freshest powder, while E shot pictures from below.  He wasn’t willing to carry a lot speed going into it, but he dropped right off and did an awesome job.  At the end of the day when we were in the lodge, he indicated that he wanted to go out for one more run.  He insisted that we hit the first drop that we’d shown him earlier in the day, the one that Mom had done.  He said he was now ready for it.  He had no trepidation this time around, and dropped it as soon as I was in position with the camera and gave him the go ahead.  When we got back to the lodge he even told E that he’d done a better job on it than she had.

An image of Ty dropping into powder off a cliff in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Those landings from the drops started to get smoother and smoother today for Ty

Dylan also had quite a day, blasting lots of powder lines with the most consistency that I’ve seen from him all year.  He plowed through every mellow or steep nook and cranny that we dragged him into, and his powder skiing is now becoming reliable enough that we don’t have to worry much about bringing him into any of the typical areas that we’d ski as a family.  It appears as though a mounting topic with Dylan is the use of ski poles.  Ty didn’t start using poles until his 4/5-year old season (last year), but it looks like Dylan is about ready.  After I broke a wayward stick off of a tree today in the Wood’s Hole Glades, Dylan proceeded to bring it with him for the rest of the run and use as a pole.  Back on the trail, E told Dylan how he should be using the stick in terms of planting, and he easily coordinated the timing of planting and turning.  We may have to start phasing in poles for him the way we did with Ty.  Dylan also skied what was perhaps his biggest day to date, racking up over 8,000’ of vertical.  He was clearly on his last legs when we came down through the Twice as Nice Glades near the end of the day though; he just couldn’t handle the steepest pitches anymore and I had to help him down the final one.

An image of three-year old Dylan skiing the powder on the Sure Shot trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Little Dylan making his own advances in figuring out the powder today

When I finally downloaded the images from my camera this evening, I discovered that I’d taken 479 shots throughout the day, but I managed to whittle it down to 21 that made the final cut.  In some cases, the culling process involved skipping over some really nice waist-deep powder shots in favor of some even better chest and neck-deep ones, but sometimes that the way it goes!  Images from the day are in the gallery below, and full size versions are also available in our report to SkiVT-L.

Bolton Valley, VT 19FEB2009

An image looking down the Vermont 200 trail filled with powder at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Bolton is starting off this storm cycle with about a foot of powder to greet midweek visitors.

By the time I’d left the house (495’) at 7:30 A.M. this morning, we’d picked up 0.6 additional inches of snow since the 6:00 A.M. snowboard clearing, bringing the event total to 4.1 inches.  It had been snowing lightly at the house when I left, but when I arrived up at the Bolton Valley Village area (2,100’) it was snowing moderately and still accumulating.  The mountain had reported 7 inches of new snow as of their 6:45 A.M. update, but I suspected I’d find a bit more based on the way it was coming down.  The lifts weren’t going to start loading until 9:00 A.M., so I kicked off the morning off by skinning for some turns, taking the route straight up Beech Seal.  I first checked the consistency of the snow near the base area; I couldn’t quite make a snowball out of it in my hand, so I guess I’d describe it as medium weight powder.  Beech Seal had been groomed at some point earlier, but I found about 2 to 4 inches of additional new snow on top of the groomed base.

“…today Spillway
offered up some
gorgeous steep
powder.”

When I reached mid mountain (2,500’) I checked the depth of the powder in an undisturbed location and it came in right at 12 inches.  That should represent the combination of powder from last week’s midweek system (~6 inches) as well as whatever had come down up to that point with this new event, so that seemed reasonable.  Wind doesn’t appear to have been much a factor with this system, so getting measurements was easy.  I was thinking of skinning up in the Cobrass area, but there was enough powder to keep me following one of the snowmobile tracks for my ascent.  At about 9:00 A.M. I’d reached the top of Vermont 200 (~3,000’), and when I checked the depth of the new snow there I found that it was at 9 inches.

“It was really nice
to see all the visitors
getting rewarded with
such a splendid day
on the slopes.”

I enjoyed first tracks down Vermont 200, and this new round of snow had settled in nicely.  The medium-density powder was just what the doctor had ordered in terms of getting the windswept steeps back into shape.  I was on my Telemark skis, and found that the consistency of the snow made for really easy turns.  After my initial descent I stayed around for some rides on the lift, and unquestionably the trail pick of the day for me was Spillway.  Usually I avoid it like the plague between its man-made snow, exposure to the wind, and traffic, but today Spillway offered up some gorgeous steep powder.  The fact that it has seen grooming in the past made the subsurface the most consistent and provided lots of nice bottomless turns, and since there didn’t appear to be much wind with this event, there were no issues on that front.  I had to hit it twice because it was so good, and I’d say it was better than even Hard Luck or Vermont 200.  The Wilderness Lift opened right around 10:00 A.M., and I was fortunate to catch one of the first few chairs.  The way the steeper trails had been skiing so nicely, I opted for Bolton Outlaw from the Wilderness Summit, and it was in great shape.  After that descent I traversed back toward the main mountain.  I followed a random set of tracks off New Sherman’s Pass and found a nice region of glades that I’d never explored before.

An image looking down the Bolton Outlaw trail with fresh snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Things were looking great on Bolton Outlaw today

The mountain definitely had more than its usual midweek handful of people this morning.  A lot of the extra folks I saw were children, and I think some of the schools in the Northeast have vacation right now because I heard what sounded like a Boston-style accent on a couple of occasions.  It was really nice to see all the visitors getting rewarded with such a splendid day on the slopes.

The moderate snowfall had gradually tapered off through the morning, and when I left the mountain around 10:40 A.M. there was just light snow and the temperature at my car (~2,100’) was 34 F.   The temperature stayed fairly stable through most of the descent down the Bolton Valley Access Road, but at the bottom (340’) it was up to 35 F.  The precipitation was light snow as I drove westward through the Winooski Valley to the center of Richmond.  The temperature there was up to 36 F however, and I was surprised to see that Richmond appeared to have picked up little if any snow from this event.  When I’d reached the I-89 rest area in Williston, the temperature was up to 37 F and the precipitation was over to rain, which was coming down at moderate intensity for a while.  In the South Burlington area the temperature was up to 38 F, and when I finally arrived at the UVM campus it had hit 39 F.

Bolton Valley was officially reporting 8 inches from this event as of their 10:05 A.M. update, so I don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting into Scott’s 10-20” inch prediction range with some upslopeIt sounds like this is one of the best upslope setups we’ve seen this season, so it should be fun to see how it plays out for the mountains and even the mountain valleys over the next couple of days.  It’s expected to start up tonight so I’ll certainly report on whatever makes it down to our elevation in Waterbury.  Images from today can be found in the gallery below, and full size versions are also available in the report to SkiVT-L from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 16FEB2009

Image of Dylan skiing in the Wood's Hole Glades
Dylan exploring the powdery terrain in the Wood's Hole Glades

Although it was a holiday today, E and Ty had to go to school, leaving Dylan and I home alone.  After a couple of sunny days, the weather was mostly cloudy with flurries throughout the day at the house (495’), and it was a little tougher to get inspired to head up to the hill.  I got a lot of stuff done at home during the day, and when I asked Dylan if he wanted to head up to the mountain for a couple of runs, he was very excited… click through to read the full trip report and see all the images from the day.