Tag Archives: Picture

Bolton Valley, VT Nordic & Backcountry 01JAN2011

An image of a spruce bough with beads of water
We caught some great pictures of the surrounding forest as we ascended the Bryant trail on our backcountry outing up at Bolton Valley today.

We’d found that temperatures had cooled down a bit yesterday afternoon at the end of our Bolton outing, and slopes that were not in the sun had begun to tighten up.  In general though, temperatures stayed relatively warm, and there was no new snowfall through this morning.  We hung out at the house in the A.M., and as skies brightened a bit in the afternoon, Dave and I headed up to Bolton.  Since there weren’t going to be any substantial changes in the spring-like snow conditions we’d experienced yesterday, and some of the natural snow trails were going to be closed due to the warmth, we decided to do a tour on the Nordic/backcountry trail network.  Dave had never been on Bolton’s backcountry network, so he needed to at least get a taste of the plentiful options for turns.

Up in the village, there was one other car in the corner of the tennis lot providing quickest access to the Broadway area, so I’m guessing they had the same idea as us.  In general though, things were quiet aside from a few Nordic skiers moving around the trails.  We skinned the skis and headed toward World Cup where we found a group of patrollers checking passes.  I can’t recall the last time I had my pass checked on the Nordic network, but I’ve heard the mountain is doing it more frequently this season so that’s nice to see.  We chatted with the patrollers for a bit – they were initially wondering if we were planning to stay at the cabin, but we let them know we were just out for a quick tour.

We headed up the Bryant trail and it was a really pleasant ascent.  Temperatures were in the 40s F so we stopped frequently for photography to capture the sights.  At one photography stop, a couple of patrollers stopped by and we talked for a while.  We chatted about skis, cameras, and some of the new glades, and then they headed on their way up to take care of a tree that had fallen onto one of the trails.  Coverage on Bryant and in the surrounding backcountry was excellent, with generally a couple feet of settled snow.  We did see a couple of small openings in streams along the side of the trail, but they were more an opportunity for photos than anything.  Any stream crossings on Bryant were in fine shape and there was no open water across the trail.  To check out the rest of the text, images, and GPS track, continue on to the full Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 31DEC2010

An image of Dave and the boys laying on the snow
Dave and the boys relaxing in the warm sun

Today our friend Dave came up from Boston for a skiing visit, arriving in the late morning with his dogs.  Like yesterday, we headed up to the mountain around midday, and the found that the trend of moderating temperatures had continued as suggested by the forecasts; we’d seen high temperatures in the low 30s F yesterday, and today’s temperatures topped out around 40 F.  The weather was again often sunny, but not quite as brilliantly sunny as yesterday had been.

We’d never left the Timberline area during yesterday’s outing, but I’d received an email from Stephen that evening telling me that the mountain had fired up the Wilderness Lift.  We decided that we’d head over for our first lift-served Wilderness turns of the season, and Dave and I rode up Timberline with one of the ski patrol who said that getting in our turns over there as soon as possible was a good idea.  With the temperatures remaining warm through Saturday/Sunday, she said that they might need to shut the lift back down by the weekend.  We stopped in at the main base so I could grab a ticket for Dave, and while I was in the lodge, he and the boys dropped down on the snow and enjoyed the sun and warm temperatures.  To see all the pictures and text, head to the full Bolton Valley report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 30DEC2010

An image of Jay skiing the glades
Jay enjoys some deep snow in Bolton Valley's glades today.

After Tuesday’s great outing with the boys, the whole family headed out for more turns today.  The skies had been somewhat gray on yesterday, but the sun was back today and consistent with the forecast trends, the temperatures were climbing to the low 30s F.

There hadn’t been any new snow, so we didn’t find ourselves out to the slopes until midday, but the Timberline area still seemed to be following the trends I’ve seen over the week and most visitors were presumably over at the main mountain.  We kicked things off on Spell Binder, and the most obvious change in on piste conditions from Tuesday was that the powder and chowder had been replaced by packed powder.  I found that there was still powder to be had if I went very tight to the edge of the trail, but it had to be helmet-scraping tight.

We then headed off to the trees for a bit to get in some powder skiing – E had gone with alpine skis for the day so that we could explore some steeper lines and see how they were faring.  Our first test was the steep terrain dropping into the KP glades, which revealed that tight evergreens at around the 2,000’ elevation had still not seen enough snow to support much traffic or aggressive skiing.  The evergreens had not allowed enough snow to fall to the forest floor, but the mixed evergreen/hardwood glades below were in prime form and yielding great untracked turns.  To check out the rest of the details and see all the pictures from today, head to the full December 30th, 2010 trip report from Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley, VT 28DEC2010

An image of Ty skiing in the Wood's Hole Glades at Bolton Valley
Ty tackling some steep terrain in the Wood's Hole Glades

After finding excellent snow conditions at Timberline near the end of the Nor’easter yesterday afternoon, it looked like lift-served skiing was going to be fantastic on today.  E was a little under the weather and wanted to get some things done around the house, so it was going to be a ski day for the boys.

We got up to Timberline around 10:15 A.M., and conditions were looking good.  The temperature was 20 F, skies were clear, and the wind had abated.  The Bolton Valley website had indicated a planned Timberline opening of sometime in the 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. range, and I’m not sure what time they’d finally started loading, but there was hardly anyone there when we arrived.  After experiencing lift queues at Vista on Thursday and Friday, it was very nice to have Timberline open again.

We kicked things off with a run down Spell Binder to get the boys warmed up, and Ty was really enamored with the snow and pitch on the headwall.  He’s definitely been waiting for the season to get going so additional steeper terrain could open, and he was really hootin’ and hollerin’ on that run and exclaiming how “awesome” it was.  It wasn’t untracked, but as usual the skier’s right held lots of chowder, with plenty of deep loose snow and a really nice subsurface.  Both boys had fun making their sloughs, or “avalanches” as they call them, slide down the slope.  Below the headwall, there was still ample fresh snow along the skier’s right to provide lots of powder turns.  I generally found 12-18 inches of powder along there depending on how far I got towards the trees, and although it wasn’t Champlain Powder™, it was at least medium weight fluff protected from the wind and it skied really well.  While I worked the powder, the boys were generally in and out of there often playing in the chowder and taking lots of jumps off the remnants of the water bars.  To see all the pictures and read the rest of the story, click through to the report from Bolton Valley today.

Bolton Valley, VT 27DEC2010

An image of ski tracks on Timberline Run at Bolton Valley
Laying down some tracks this afternoon in the fresh snow on Bolton Valley's Timberline Run

It turns out that Northern Vermont wasn’t really the jackpot for this Nor’easter, but we did get into some of the snowfall.  As of 6:00 A.M. this morning we’d picked up 1.1 inches of snow down at the house that came in at a fairly synoptic storm-style 9.1% H2O, and up above us at Bolton Valley they reported 3 inches of new snow in the higher elevations.  Even down in the valley it continued to snow however, and the flake size increased as we moved farther into the storm.  By noon we’d picked up another inch of snow, and the density was down to 5.0% H2O.

Temperatures in the low double digits F and plenty of wind outside didn’t have me jumping out the door to hit the hill, but with the way it continued to snow at the house, I figured it had to be doing even better in the higher elevations.  Bolton was reporting that everything but their surface lift was on wind hold, but I decided to head up to Timberline to make some turns.  I’d missed the chance to check it out on Sunday when it was planned to open, so this would be a good chance to see how it was skiing.

I arrived up the Timberline base (1,500’) to a temperature of 9 F, and decent winds in probably the 20 to 30 MPH range.  There were a couple of other cars in the upper lot that belonged to folks doing the same thing I was, but the whole scene was one of a desolate winter storm.  Another fellow had headed up just a few minutes before me, so I followed his skin track… or at least I think I did because even in that short time it was starting to disappear in places due to the wind and falling snow.  I ascended the usual Twice as Nice route, and was surprised at how nice the snow was.  I was wondering if everything was going to be scoured down to something hard, but that wasn’t the case – there’s a really good base of natural snow, and an even in spots where the new snow had been blown away, the underlying surface was either packed powder or some sort of Styrofoam material.  In actuality though, it was only isolated spots that were even down to that surface, most of the new powder was still there.  Since the wind was from the north instead of the west, that was probably a better setup for the generally west-facing Timberline terrain.  I checked the depth on my ascent and generally found between 3 and 7 inches of new snow, so the mountain had definitely picked up more snow since their morning report.

Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2010

An image of a snow-covered slope at Bolton
A quiet scene with untracked powder at Bolton Valley's Wilderness area

The boys opened up some early Christmas presents today, so there was no way I was getting them up to the hill, but I was able to join up with Stephen and his kids for some turns.  In the past we’ve had some great Bolton outings on Christmas Eve, with some nice natural snow terrain available and the mountain almost to ourselves.  However, due to the sizeable amount of visitors we’d seen yesterday, we were wondering what today would bring.  Would more people have the day off, or would that be counteracted by more holiday obligations?  Well, the visitors were back in a big way, apparently even bigger than what we’d seen yesterday.  On the way up to the main base, I stopped in for a look at Timberline, and it looked quite ready for the planned Sunday opening.

Conditions were very similar to yesterday, and a bit of wind had actually reset some of the powder to provide repeat fresh tracks.  The wind also put down some wind crust, but it was pretty weak and didn’t change the snow too much.  The weather and snow were both great, but with the lines and afternoon holiday obligations were all left around noontime.  On the way down the road I saw that two Timberline lots were being used for additional parking, so business was certainly good.  To check out all the pictures with the text, head to the complete Bolton Valley report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2010

An image of Erica skiing powder
Erica checks out the latest round of powder at Bolton Valley today.

We contemplated heading to Smuggler’s Notch today to use some free vouchers, but opted for Bolton Valley instead when they won out with snow accumulations.  Bolton reported 7 inches of new snow, and based on my analyses from the house, it was in the 8-9% H2O range for density.  This meant that the powder wasn’t as fluffy as what we skied over the past couple of weekends, but it definitely put down some substance in the snowpack.  We picked up more than a third of an inch of liquid equivalent in our snow down at the house, so Bolton probably had twice that amount.

We joined up with Stephen, Helena, and Johannes and hit our usual favorite areas for powder.  With the composition of the group we didn’t spend too much time in the trees, but occasional jaunts I’d make into the woods revealed that there was awesome tree skiing to be had.  Since many places were already skiing pretty well over the weekend, the bolus of new denser snow definitely bumped it up another notch.  Overall the snow was awesome as usual, and the sides of the lesser used trails were holding enough powder that heading into the trees wasn’t really necessary to get great turns.  To see all the pictures and get the rest of the details, head to the full report from Bolton Valley today.

Bolton Valley, VT 19DEC2010

Ski tracks in powder
Glorious powder was found on Spell Binder up at Bolton Valley today.

We had a busy day of holiday-related activities planned today, so I headed out early to earn some powder turns up at Bolton Valley before things got going.  Although I’d been hearing great things about the snow at Timberline, and I’d driven by and seen the tracks there a number of times, I decided it was finally time to check out just what all the fuss was about.  Indeed, as I found out, the quality of the powder there is in fact worthy of a fuss.  To see all the powdery details and images, go to the full Bolton Valley trip report from today.

Bolton Valley, VT 18DEC2010

An image of Jay skiing powder
Jay making turns at Bolton Valley today in some of the Wilderness powder

We had one of those weeks where it snowed almost continuously at the house and in the local mountains, but there haven’t been any huge synoptic storms to make people really stand up and take notice.  We’ve actually had over a foot of snow this week at our location in the Winooski Valley, and 1.5 to 2 feet in the local mountains, but when it comes in doses of just a few inches a day and it’s very light and dry, it’s hard to know if it’s really adding up on the slopes.  Well, after heading up to Bolton yesterday we can definitely say that it’s been adding up in a big way.

Since it wasn’t an obvious powder day, we didn’t rush and headed up for a mid morning start.  After dropping E and the boys off at the village circle, I parked in the bottom row of the main lot, right above the sports center.  That lot was still mostly empty at that point, so I had the sense that the number of visitors wasn’t going to be quite as big as it was last Saturday for opening weekend.

I hadn’t looked at the snow report for the day, so we just played it by ear and discovered all the new ropes that had been dropped during the day.  Patrol has opened routes like Cobrass, Glades, The Enchanted Forest area, Vista Glades, Alta Vista, Vermont 200, Schuss, Beech Seal, etc., most of them just on the natural snow that has fallen.  I’m not sure exactly when all those trails opened, but most of them were not open when we were at the mountain last weekend.  According to SnoCountry Mountain Reports, Bolton was 45% open yesterday, and based on the snow we saw, I bet they could be 80% open if they wanted to.  They haven’t even fired up the Wilderness, Timberline, or Snowflake lifts yet, so while some of the Wilderness and Snowflake terrain can be accessed from Vista, there is a lot of potential terrain that’s just not open due to lack of lift access.  I did notice that snow was being blown down at the bottom of Timberline, and have heard that plans are to open it after Christmas.  I also noticed work being done at the bottom of the Wilderness lift yesterday, perhaps it was some preparation to get it going.

Anyway, as far as the skiing went yesterday, we rotated run choice among the family, so we managed to mix it up among the terrain options fairly well.  On the announcement board at the bottom of Vista they had a sign that said “LOTS OF FLUFFY SNOW”, and they weren’t kidding.  We found that most areas, even those with some manmade underneath were really nice packed powder due to all the natural snow that has fallen on top of the base, and on the sides there was plenty of untracked powder.  Areas where we did find icy snow were the top half of Alta Vista, where it was pretty horrible at the end of the day, and a few smaller spots on Beech Seal where there were snowmaking whales that hadn’t been covered with enough natural snow.  I didn’t ski it, but it also sounded like Hard Luck Lane was in similar shape to Alta Vista, which is not surprising with the way they are exposed to summit winds and the amount of traffic they get.  We didn’t ski Cobrass, since we only realized that it was open toward the end of the day, so I don’t know how much snow they blew and what it was like.  Coverage was clearly not perfect on steep, natural snow runs like Vermont 200, and patrol has thin cover signs up, but the coverage seemed quite manageable on what they had open.  On that note, we did ski Glades, which is on all natural snow, and it was very easy to avoid any thin areas even in the steep sections.  There were still some pockets of powder on Glades in areas that are awkward to access, but for the most part it was packed powder.  I’d forgotten how much fun even packed powder can be on a trial with lots of natural terrain features on which to play.  To read the rest of the details and see all the pictures from the outing, continue on to the Bolton Valley trip report from today.

Stowe, VT 12DEC2010

E and I headed out to Stowe yesterday for the school program training session, wondering what we were going to experience in terms of weather.  Happily, the first flakes appeared just after we arrived at around 8:00 A.M., the snowfall quickly ramped up in intensity, and then it dumped hard all morning and into the afternoon to make for great riding conditions.

Image of Stan Biasini providing snowboarding instruction
Stan Biasini fills us in on how teach novice snowboarders at Stowe, Vermont.

This year we both decided to go with the snowboard training session, since out of necessity E seems to spend most of her time boarding instead of skiing, and it would supply me with some additional tools to serve as an alternate snowboarding coach when needed.  We joined up with Stan Biasini’s group, since he would be advising everyone on how to work with the students that were early in their snowboard progression.  We started out with techniques for the “never evers” at the Magic Carpet, then stepped it up to Inspiration, followed by the Alpine Double, and finally the Sunny Spruce Quad.  We got a raft of good teaching techniques, and Stan made ample time to ensure that everyone got plenty of their own instruction as well.  I learned that Stowe no longer requires leashes for snowboards, and that the slope of the Inspiration trail is an impressively consistent 8% grade for teaching.  Continue reading the text and see all the pictures by going to the full trip report from Stowe today.