Tag Archives: Powder Skiing

Bolton Valley, VT 08APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
We were treated to another winter storm and more powder today at Bolton Valley.

Just like last Saturday, another storm came through the area over the past couple of days and dropped a round of fresh snow to give us some great April powder.  For the first time in quite a while, the whole family was available to ski, so we headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for some turns.

Down at the house, snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain.  There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIn terms of the snow we found, I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range.  More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations, although I did find up to two feet in spots.  The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry.  It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures – it was well below freezing at all elevations of the resort this morning.  It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session.

An image o Dylan Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, and this Saturday was even more extreme.  For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it.  It was hard to pull ourselves away.  While we were finishing up back at the main base area and getting ready to hit the Village Deli to grab some lunch, we were able to watch some of the snowmobilers in the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb.  The Village parking lots were full of snowmobile trailers, so the resort got a great additional influx of visitors.

Stowe, VT 02APR2017

An image of Ty skiing some powder in terrain above the Nosedive trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
High elevations were still holding onto some dry powder at Stowe today, but lower elevations were affected by warming temperatures.

Today was our final BJAMS ski program session of the season, and it took place right on the heels of Winter Storm Theseus, which dropped anywhere from 10 to 18 inches of snow up and down the spine of the Green Mountains.  The powder was in pretty nice shape when Dylan and I visited Bolton Valley yesterday, but temperatures were expected to warm up today, and that had us worried about the state of the snow – without some freeze-thaw cycles to turn it to corn, it could just become mushy or sticky.

Initial reports from Spruce Peak as we began our ski program in the afternoon suggested that indeed the snow was getting quite sticky in the sun, so we took our group over to Mt. Mansfield to get to higher elevations and find north-facing terrain that would see the best protection from the warming temperatures.  From our experience on trails like Nosedive and even Cliff Trail, we found that snow quality was quite nice on roughly the top half of the mountain, but the bottom half was certainly sticky enough to be a nuisance.  It was one of those days where you wish Stowe had some upper mountain lifts.

With the sticky snow, the group was happy to take an extended break for some s’mores and a visit to the Great Room Grill before we went out for a few more runs on Spruce Peak to close out the day.  A highlight of those last runs was hitting the ruts of the race course on Competition Hill.  They had been well traveled, so the snow was plenty fast and lots of fun.  Ty and I raced for the gold on our final run, and I won, but it was because he let me choose the track and I opted for the faster one on the left.  While that’s it for official ski program days this season, there’s still lots of snow left in the mountains, so we’ll see what the rest of April brings us for skiing.

Bolton Valley, VT 01APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today we got out in the powder at Bolton Valley thanks to Winter Storm Theseus.

The latest weather system to come into the area has been named Winter Storm Theseus.  Snow associated with the storm started up on Friday and left nearly a foot of at some of the local ski resorts, so Dylan and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for what we hoped would be some great powder skiing, and we weren’t disappointed.

An image of skiers on the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley ski resort on Vermont
Everyone who as at the mountain today got treated to one of those low-key late-season powder days.

Temperatures edged above freezing down in the valley, but the freezing line really stayed below 1,500’ this morning from what we saw, so that kept surfaces wintry at all elevations of the resort.  The snow was certainly less dense the higher you went, but it wasn’t until probably below 1,800’ that the quality of the powder skiing started to fall off a bit – it was just getting a bit too dense for optimal turns.  Really though, that’s just last few hundred feet of vertical at Timberline, and everything at the main mountain was well above that.  It snowed all morning to keep the wintry appeal going and keep things fresh.  The flakes were small so additional accumulations weren’t too hefty, but it was definitely coming down at times – we had to pull out the lens hoods for some photography sessions because of the intensity of the snow.

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan having fun after catching the rope drop for Upper Tattle Tale

We started off on the morning on the main mountain with a trip up the Vista Quad, but we knew that by the time we’d worked our way down the trails we’d be able to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad.  We had a good time down there, catching the rope drop on Upper Tattle Tale, just after we’d skied the lower half from the crossover.  We did some exploring and found the entrance to House Line, a shot I’ve been looking to ski for a while.     Dylan decided to go Telemark again today, and he was definitely ripping up that powder.  We eventually made our way back to the main base and finished off the ski day on Wilderness, then grabbed some food at the main cafeteria and the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.

An image of the central circle in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
In the Bolton Valley Village today

Bolton’s got their 48-hour total at 9 inches for the higher elevations, and I’d say 9 to 10 was where we found things topping out with the addition of this morning’s snow.  Anyway, it was a great way to start off this month’s skiing, and of course another perk of the day was the fact that we’re in April, and visitation at the resorts really starts to fall off.  There were certainly visitors, but there were still a number of trails with just a few tracks on them when we were leaving around midday, so folks who were out really got treated to one of those kind of powder days. 

Dylan was anxious to do some photography with one of the DSLRs today, so I had the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, and he had the Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM  lens.  Toward the end of the morning, we swapped lenses to mix things up a bit.  Dylan got some great images, so enjoy the gallery!

Stowe Sidecountry & Bruce Trail, VT 26MAR2017

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Today’s BJAMS ski program featured a great run on the Bruce Trail.

It’s March, the season for deep snowpack and long days in Northern Vermont.  That also means that it’s prime time to make use of that ample snowpack and enjoy some of our legendary sidecountry and backcountry ski routes.  For last week’s BJAMS ski session we focused on The Chin and put together a nice tour featuring Profanity Chute and the Hell Brook Trail.  Today it was time to switch action to The Nose for a combination of Old Nosedive and the Bruce Trail.  We’ve had a great run of storms and wintry weather during this second half of March, and it’s definitely time to make hay.

An image of Joe and Gianni out on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in VermontA number of students were unable to attend ski program today, so there were some small groups, and any of them that were interested in a trip down the Bruce joined up with us.  From the top of the Fourrunner Quad, those that wanted to ascend joined me for a trip up Old Nosedive, which I find is a nice way to get in a bit of hiking and extra turns before diving into the Bruce.  The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour.  It was quite wintry up top, but even in the lowest elevations the snow was dense enough to hold up well for fresh turns, just like Dylan and I had experienced yesterday at Bolton Valley.  There was still ample untracked powder available off the sides of the Bruce, and as usual once we were down into the open hardwood areas there were lots of great lines to explore in the trees.

“The condition of the snow was really excellent today – all the way from around 4,000’ to down at roughly 1,000’ at the bottom of the tour.”

This morning, Dylan said that we should go with Telemark skis for today’s session if our focus was going to be the Bruce Trail, and while I’d planned to go alpine, I agreed and ended up going Tele.  It was totally the right choice, especially since the coverage and snow conditions were so optimal.  I was happy because I felt really dialed in and my transitions felt incredibly quick, and Dylan was also really psyched because he skied so well today.  He says that he always wants to run the Bruce on Telemark gear now.  Of course he got to experience it on a great day.  I’d put today in the top 25% of conditions for the Bruce – there was so much soft snow and powder around, and even those most difficult to cover, south-facing shots were virtually blemish free.

A map showing the GPS track overlayed onto Google Earth from a ski tour on the Bruce Trail near Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of today’s tour down the Bruce trail overlayed onto Google Earth

We capped off the run with a trip to the Notchbrook General Store for snacks, and a ride on the Mountain Road Shuttle back to the Spruce Peak Village.  Greg said that the last time he skied the Bruce Trail was about 35 years ago, so it was really neat that he got the chance to do it again after such a long hiatus.  We had time for a few more runs on Spruce once we got back, and found that the quality of the snow was still really nice.  This was just the way a March ski day should be!

Bolton Valley, VT 25MAR2017

An image of Jay skiing in the Villager Trees area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Friday’s new snow was still yielding some great turns this afternoon at Bolton Valley.

Temperatures edged up into the mid-30s F down in the mountain valleys today, and that had me curious about how much warmth there was in the higher elevations.  Ty and I had some great turns in the fresh snow last night at Bolton Valley, and if that snow was holding its consistency it would definitely be worth getting out for more skiing.  We were attending a bridge-breaking competition at Lyndon Institute in support of some of the BJAMS students in the morning, but while I was there, I checked on the Village temperatures at Bolton Valley and saw that they were holding below freezing even down at 2,000’.  That meant the powder would probably be staying in great shape.

“We found that the condition of the snow did deteriorate a bit as we got down toward the freezing line, but with the density of this snow it actually holds up quite well even at those temperatures.”

Ty had some work to do at home with E, but Dylan and I headed up to the mountain in the afternoon for a few runs.  Temperatures were just above freezing at the Timberline Base (~1,500’), but we hit the freezing line somewhere between 1,500’ and 2,000’.  Up at the Vista Summit (3,150’) it was actually pretty chilly, and it was amazing how much of difference there was in air temperature between the base and summit elevations.

An image of Dylan skiing powder snow in the Villager Trees area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan starting in on another line in the Villager Trees

We found that the dense powder from yesterday had indeed held up quite well, especially in the elevations above the freezing level, so Dylan and I had a great time exploring lines in the Villager Trees.  I’d been thinking that my fat skis would have been great in that type of snow, so I brought them today and they really did the trick.  We found that the condition of the snow did deteriorate a bit as we got down toward the freezing line, but with the density of this snow it actually holds up quite well even at those temperatures.   This latest snow should be a nice addition to the snowpack as we head into April.

Bolton Valley, VT 24MAR2017

An image of Ty night skiing in a snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Fresh snow under the lights tonight at Bolton Valley

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.

An image of snowfall at the Vista Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
At times we had some huge flakes tonight at Bolton Valley

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.

Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 19MAR2017

An iimage of Dylan descending Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan makes his way down Profanity Chute today

With the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake back around the 100-inch mark, it was finally time to bring my BJAMS ski group up into the Mansfield alpine for our weekly Sunday session.  My initial plan was a run down Profanity Chute with a return toward Chin Clip, followed by a trip to the Outer Planets.  Nolan wasn’t going to be with me since he was still in the process of returning from Montreal, but fortunately Rick was going to join us and that gave me a second adult.  With Rick’s added knowledge of the area, I felt comfortable enough to kick things up a notch and bring the boys to the Hell Brook Trail for the bottom part of the run.

An image of Dylan skiing Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
More Dylan action in Profanity Chute

The weather forecast was also a big part of opting for the alpine today – highs up around 4,000’ were expected to be in the 20s F and wind was supposed to be minimal.  The Climbing Gully was in great shape, with lots of snow and one of the best boot ladders I’ve seen.  The March sun had done some work on slopes with southern aspects, but up high the effects seemed to be pretty minimal – the packed snow in Profanity Chute was quite wintry, and there was some nice powder still available in the open area on the right side of the chute.  I wish I’d had the camera out for when Rick skied that because the powdery turns looked fantastic.

We cut left following the normal Profanity route, and then traversed below the east face of The Chin containing the Hourglass Chute and connected to the Hell Brook Trail.  The north-facing aspects in the Hell Brook area held some fantastic snow, but surface conditions deteriorated the more southerly the aspect.  At times we had to ski some of those more southerly-oriented aspects, so that made for some very challenging turns on either crusty snow or powder with a sun crust on it.  But the boys all did quite well on what is a very challenging run that simply goes on, and on, and on.  By the time we traversed back to Gondola and headed over to Spruce Camp we’d covered over 5.5 miles and 2,900’ of vertical.

A map showing the ski route taken on a tour of Profanity Chute and the Hell Brook Trail above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of our ski tour today mapped onto Google Earth

Although there are roughly 100 inches of snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake right now, I don’t think coverage on Profanity was quite where it was on our last visit with the kids a couple of seasons ago.  With Winter Storm Stella we really just made back the snow that had settled or melted during the previous couple of weeks, so the snowpack doesn’t seem to have quite the coverage of a 100-inch pack that grew throughout the full season.  In any event, there’s a lot of snow up in the high elevations and things look good for the slopes heading into spring.

Bolton Valley, VT 18MAR2017

An image of Erica Telemark skiing chopped up snow on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Back out on the slopes of Bolton Valley for another beautiful day

We finally had the chance to get the whole family together today for some turns, so we headed up to Bolton Valley around midday.  We’d planned to head to Timberline, but as it turned out the resort was asking people to park there anyway because the upper lots had filled up.  The weather was much like yesterday, with clear skies and temperatures in the upper 20s F, so lots of people were interested in getting out to ski.  It’s actually pretty impressive to have such a large number of people visiting the slopes this late in the season, so that should be good news for the resort.

We made our way to the Vista Summit and then took a run down Cobrass and ventured into the Villager Trees.  The condition of the snow remained excellent thanks to temperatures staying consistently below freezing.  There was still plenty of powder skiing off piste, and the boys spent some time jumping into the powder from some of their favorite ledges.

Heading back to Timberline we found lots of partially cut up powder still left on the lower half of Tattle Tale – Dylan had decided to use his Telemark skis today, and he really ripped it up on that snow.  The lower reaches of Timberline were getting a bit affected by the sun, and we found this to be the case on Twice as Nice.  It hadn’t been groomed, so it was skier packed, but there was lots of terrain contour still present.  Dylan struggled with his Telemark turns on that surface, so for the bottom half of the run he and I switched over to the groomed surface of Showtime and he fared much better.

An image of Dylan having skied backwards into a bunch of chairs outside the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan… of course!

Around 2:30 P.M. or so we stopped in at South of Solitude for some food, but they’d clearly had a lot of patrons today because they were just about out of everything.  They put together some plates of burrito and taco ingredients along with tortilla chips for us for a reduced price of $6 and that worked out really well.  The mountain was definitely humming with business today.

Bolton Valley, VT 17MAR2017

An image of Ty taking a huge jump off the railing of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut into deep powder below at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Making more use of all the great powder left by Winter Storm Stella

The boys and I had a field trip this morning, but we were done with enough time left to make it to Bolton Valley for a short photo session with some of the resort staff.  Indeed today was a great one for ski photography – there was plenty of snow from Winter Storm Stella, clear blue skies, and temperatures in the upper 20s F.

We met Josh at his office, and he let us know that we’d be working with Tucker and Kyler today.  The plan was to get some shots over at Wilderness with the afternoon views, and we started with some scenic photos from the deck of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut.  After the photos, we still needed to wait for another family to arrive up top, so the boys promptly decided to make use of the deep powder sitting just below the deck by launching themselves into it.  Some of the folks coming up on the lift felt that it looked like so much fun that they joined in as well.  By the time everyone was together it was just about time to shut down the Wilderness Lift, and we watched as they put the “Last Chair” sign in place.

An image of Tucker and Kyler viewing the Adirondacks from atop the Wilderness Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Wilderness Summit today

Our photo session took place on Peggy Dow’s and the Wilderness Lift Line, and the guys generally did shots of trios of skiers with background scenery.  Once we were done I asked the boys if they wanted to take any more runs, but they said they were good based on the anticipation of skiing more over the coming weekend.  Hopefully we’ll have the time this weekend to get the whole family out together for some turns in all the great snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16MAR2017

An image of the Adam's Solitude trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A visit to the Adam’s Solitude trail at Bolton Valley to check out the 58 inches left by Winter Storm Stella

Snow totals from Winter Storm Stella were in excess of four feet at the resorts of the Northern Green Mountains, and Bolton Valley topped the list with an impressive 58 inches.  It wasn’t just the mountains that made out well from this storm cycle though, it left 41 inches of snow at our house, which trumped the 2007 Valentine’s Day Storm to become the largest storm we’ve recorded since we moved here.

Not wanting to miss the chance to check out all that new snow up at the mountain, I headed up to catch a few runs this morning.  The potency of the storm was immediately evident as I saw some of the vehicles that had been parked in the Village parking lots over the past couple of days – they were buried in deep drifts, and some were barely visible.

An image of a car, barely visible under drifted snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There is a car in there somewhere.

“ I stuck my measurement pole into the powder up top there and it went all the way up to the handle – that’s a depth somewhere north of 40 inches.”

I got in line for the opening of the Vista Quad, but the lift operator felt that it was going to be on wind hold for a bit, so I headed up Snowflake and was happy to find that Timberline was already open.  On the way over I cut the traverse over to Tattle Tale, and with two to three feet of snow in the way it took a good deal of effort.  I found Tattle Tale untracked, and the powder very deep.  There were also pockets of super light powder scattered among slightly denser snow, and when you hit one of those pockets, any support you found in the powder would simply disappear as if the floor was dropping out on you.  I had on the fattest skis I own, with 115 mm width at that waist, and even that couldn’t stop the free fall in that snow.  On my first encounter with one of those pockets, I quickly went over the handle bars on my Tele skis and had to extract myself from the deep powder.  The snow was so deep that even with my fat skis combined with the steepest pitches, I had to straight-line it.  I didn’t get to make many turns there, but it was definitely a neat experience.

An image of the handle of a ski pole showing powder more than 40 inches deep at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm StellaI stayed at Timberline the entire morning, and found great turns on Twice as Nice.  It was actually nice as the powder started to get chopped up a bit, because you could keep plenty of momentum going to hop in and out of the untracked areas.  The turns were simply fantastic all around though; Winter Storm Stella definitely provided one of the more thorough resurfacings I’ve witnessed around here.  Since the storm dropped over 2 inches of liquid equivalent down at our house, you know the mountains were well above that.  I did a run on Adam’s Solitude, and it was my first visit there in quite a long time.  I opted for the Secret Solitude option, and got first tracks down one of the lines with a number of small cliffs.  At the top of that section I contoured across the hill, and with the pitch of the slope, the powder was up to my shoulder.  Adam’s Solitude is famous for catching some well-protected powder, and the depth was very impressive.  I stuck my measurement pole into the powder up top there and it went all the way up to the handle – that’s a depth somewhere north of 40 inches.  After seeing that, I knew I could just straight line my way right down through the ledges, and that was indeed one of those lines where the snow is just up and over your shoulders.

By the time the morning was over, the Tele turns had cooked my legs and my body was craving some food, so I stopped in for a burrito at South of Solitude.  I kicked back and did some browsing on my phone while I ate, which seemed to be a popular option for the handful of folks populating the lodge. The Vista Quad was running by the time I got back to the main base, but my legs had definitely had their workout, so I skied down to the car and headed out.

An image of Telemark ski boots in the back of a car at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Packing up the gear and away we go… until next time.

In general, most areas I found offered up powder in the 24 to 30-inch range, similar to what we found at Stowe Yesterday.  There are no major warm-ups in the near future, so we should have some excellent conditions going into the weekend.