Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 05FEB2022

An image of some glades with powder snow to the west of the Holden's Hollow area during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing some of the recent snow accumulations from Winter Storm Landon on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Now that the back side of Winter Storm Landon has passed through the area, the local backcountry is loaded with beautiful accumulations of feathery powder that provides some fantastic skiing

With today’s high temperatures expected to be in the single digits F at elevation, touring seemed like the far better ski option, so I paid a visit to the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network.  Overall ski conditions remain excellent thanks to the 1½ to 2 feet of snow that the local mountains just picked up from Winter Storm Landon, so despite the chilly temperatures, it’s time to get out there and make use of that great snow.

Today I toured over in the Holden’s Hollow area of the network, approaching from the back side of the ridge using the Telemark trail, and then sampling some descents on both the west and east sides.  Today’s tour had me in the 2,000’ – 2,500’ elevation band, and I’d say total snowpack depths at those elevations are in the 2 to 3 foot range.  In terms of surface snow, we’ve got enough different layers in the snowpack now, and they’re blending together enough, that it’s getting a bit tricky to actually decide what constitutes surface and subsurface snow/base.  If you’re very delicate with your measuring, you can find a bit of a dense layer about 16 inches down.  I think it’s safe to say that top section of the snowpack is the settled powder from Winter Storm Landon.  The dense layer below that is presumably some denser precipitation, perhaps from the start of the storm when temperatures were coming down and there was a mix of rain and snow.  Based on Powderfreak’s observations from Thursday, it doesn’t sound like there was too much rain at elevation, and since that layer is rather subtle, that would argue for that and/or a very good transition/blending with the drier snow above.

An image showing the depth of the powder after Winter Storm Landon in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Even down near 2,000′ in elevation the depths of powder in the backcountry are in excess of 20 inches, requiring slopes with decent pitch for good turns in the untracked snow

Past that denser band, you’re into another 6 to 8 inches of powder before you hit something more solid that can really serve as a potential base.  That’s typically where I’d find that my poles could finally gain purchase, and it sounds like that’s similar over at Bretton Woods based on Alex’s comment yesterday here in the thread.  Having backcountry baskets would probably help a little bit in that regard.

There are a couple of other dense bands down in the snow there that I could detect when probing carefully, but I’d say the solid base is down there in the 22 to 24-inch range for those low to mid elevations, and I’ve got an image of my pole hitting that approximate depth with this report.  So if you’re first on an ascent and breaking in the skin track, plan on a good workout.  Thankfully, most of the route for my tour had seen some previous traffic, and I only had to break one section with perhaps 100’ of vertical, but it was a good deal of extra work.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data of today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

Right now in terms of the backcountry skiing around here, I’d argue that you really need black pitches or greater to have a reasonable descent without getting too bogged down or simply having to straight-line it too much.  I was on 115 mm skis that I’d just waxed, and I still had to seek out those pitches if the snow was untracked.  As long as you get the right pitch though, the powder skiing is excellent as one would imagine.

Bolton Valley, VT 04FEB2022

A close-up shot of Dave skiing the powder of Winter Storm Landon at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dave spraying powder while skiing during Winter Storm Landon at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Landon’s potential was enough to lure Dave up north to Bolton Valley today, and the powder didn’t disappoint!

From several days out, the weather models suggested that Winter Storm Landon was going to target Northern New England with more than a foot of snow.  Unlike last weekend’s Winter Storm Kenan, this wasn’t a coastal system that needed to line up perfectly and might affect only a small geographical area; this was a large overrunning system stretching up all the way from the Southwest, through the Midwest, and into the Northeast with an almost nation-wide swath of wintry precipitation.  By Wednesday, it was obvious that Northern Vermont was on track for a solid snowfall, and late in the afternoon, I got a quick text from Dave that led to the following exchange:

Dave:  “Any thoughts on this storm?”

Jay: “I would say 12”+ is a good bet for around here.”

With that, the plan was on.  Dave was heading to Killington to ski on Thursday, and then he’d make his way up to our place to stay Thursday night, with the hope of being able to get some turns together on Friday.  This was exciting, because Dave’s schedule and obligations haven’t really lined up for a visit in a while.  A search on our website revealed that his last trip up for skiing was in 2018 when we skied Stowe on March 14th and Bolton Valley on March 15th.

When Dave got to our house late yesterday afternoon, he said that he’d almost bailed on skiing at Killington when he arrived there in the morning to find it raining.  Thankfully, it was much more wintry up high on the mountain, and the conditions just got better as the day went on.  He met up with another guy that was skiing solo, and ended up having a fantastic time roaming around and even getting some video shots with the guy’s camera.

“At our site, I recorded 6.0 inches of new snow from 6:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M., and then another 5.2 inches between 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. Our storm total at that point even down at the house was over a foot of new snow, and 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent, so it was clear that the storm was putting down a very solid resurfacing of the slopes.”

There were no concerns about rain for Friday at Bolton though.  Here in the Northern Greens, it had already been snowing at elevation for a while, and Stowe had flipped to snow even at the base elevations as of midmorning yesterday.  The precipitation had switched to snow even at our house in the Winooski Valley by midday.  When Powderfreak sent in a report with Stowe’s accumulations at the end of the day, he said there was 5” in the higher elevations, 3.5” at the top of the Lookout Double, and an inch at the base elevations.  My 6:00 P.M. observations at our house revealed that we’d picked up an inch of snow even down at the 500-foot elevation.  The snow just continued to pick up as the evening wore on.  Dylan was up at Bolton for some night skiing yesterday evening, and he said that his drive down the access road was hairy – with a number of cars off the road.  That was some great winter driving experience for him though.  From his report, it was obvious that the storm meant business, and with everyone in the north over to 100% snow by that point, the only things to wonder about were snow density and just how much we were going to get.

As expected, the snowfall really turned on around here yesterday evening.  At our site, I recorded 6.0 inches of new snow from 6:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M., and then another 5.2 inches between 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M.  Our storm total at that point even down at the house was over a foot of new snow, and 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent, so it was clear that the storm was putting down a very solid resurfacing of the slopes.  Between getting gear together, snow blowing the driveway, solidifying Dave’s ski plans, getting his ticket, and everything else that goes into a storm morning, it was quite busy.  But we easily made it to the Vista Quad lineup for the planned 9:00 A.M. opening.

An image of skiers in the parking lot preparing for a day of skiing the fresh snow of Winter Storm Landon at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A powder morning in one of Bolton Valley’s parking lots as eager skiers get ready to experience the snows of Winter Storm Landon

It was chilly out there on the mountain, with temperatures probably in the 10 F range.  We were happy to discover that winds weren’t strong at all though, so there were no wind holds, and the lifts seemed to start right up at their planned times aside from the usual smaller delays of getting the later lifts rolling on a storm day.  We were all set to head over toward Timberline on our second run, but we ran into a patroller on Cobrass who said that it wasn’t quite ready yet, so we gave it one more run and the timing worked out beautifully.

An image of Erica skiing powder on the Tattle Tale trail during Winter Storm Landon at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E was out on her fat skis today enjoying the powder of Winter Storm Landon

The new snow was undoubtedly a solid resurfacing of the entire mountain at all elevations.  Indeed, that 1.4 inches of liquid equivalent that we’d picked up at our house meant that the resort had at least that much, and you could feel it by the girth of the massive cushion beneath your skis.  The snow had started out quite dense at the very initial stages of the storm as temperatures were still coming down, and then it seemed to settle down to roughly medium-weight powder for the bulk of the overnight accumulations.  My 6:00 A.M. analyses revealed snow density at 9.4% H2O, which is solidly in that medium-weight powder category.  There hadn’t really been any fluff at that point to set up an impressively right-side-up powder accumulation, so you were generally riding in that medium weight snow, and we found the best skiing on steeper terrain.  Low angle slopes were just a bit on the slow side with the available snow density.  Thankfully, with that 1 to 2 inches of liquid equivalent down, it was game on for even the steepest terrain, and steep areas that we hit such as Vermont 200, the Spell Binder headwall, and the Tattle Tale headwall all delivered.  You could attack those pitches as aggressively as you wanted, without concern.  Another great example of the resurfacing was hitting Cobrass on our second run to find that even the usual ledges and ice bulges were covered.  Initially, I’d gone in with the usual strategy of negotiating those obstacles, but quickly saw that they were irrelevant, and I was able to ski like they weren’t even there.  That’s the sign of a solid resurfacing.  With depth checks, I was generally finding settled accumulations of about a foot at that stage of the storm, which I think was right in line with what the resort had noted in their morning report.

A black and white image of Dave in the powder of Winter Storm Landon at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontWe actually skied with an associate from PeakRankings.com who was getting info for his report on Bolton Valley, so we showed him around for a few runs.  His ski jacket has something like “WE RANK PEAKS” written in huge letters on the back, which quickly gets your attention and lets you know what he’s up to.  We hooked up with him just as we were finally planning to head over to Timberline, so we showed him the Maria’s route to get there.

An image of Colin and Dylan riding a chair lift and denying they're out for some powder on their snow day during Winter Storm Jaden at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
“NO” Mom, we’re not up here at Bolton riding the lifts, so pay no attention to this picture.

I had to head out around midday, but Dave and E did eventually catch up with Dylan and his friends out on the mountain for some skiing.  When E texted to see if the boys were on the mountain, they couldn’t help but have some fun by replying with a picture saying “NO” that was an obvious shot of them riding the lift.  The boys waited at the Vista Summit for the others to catch up, which shows a nice touch of class on a powder day.  Dave and E said they had a great time that afternoon, and E even had a some sense of where they were going on the mountain.  She recalled some trail names, and was remembering the character of many trails enough to give people an idea of what they were going to ski.

I have to give the boys a hard time for not getting out right at the start of the morning, but Dylan’s friend Parker did pull off a classic dual resort visit to really maximize a powder day.  He headed to Stowe first thing for the typical “hour of power”, where you can get some good fresh runs before it’s all tracked up and the lift queues grow, and then he headed to low-key Bolton where you can enjoy powder for the rest of the day in peace.  I’d say he’s wise beyond his years.

An image of a snow-laden pickup truck during Winter Storm Landon in one of the parking lots at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy truck at Bolton Valley reveals some of the accumulations from Winter Storm Landon

Dave said that his drive home to Boston was fine on I-89, but I-93 was tough with lots of people off the road.  Those areas to the south apparently got a lot of mixed precipitation and it was quite a mess.  We were all happy to be well north of that stuff up here.

Bolton Valley, VT 30JAN2022

Erica Telemark skiing in some chopped up powder on the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Timberline Quad Chair and Timberline Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view down the Timberline Run trail toward the Timberline Quad Chair and the Timberline Lodge. The Timberline made it’s season debut today and offered up some really nice snow with plenty of powder hanging around from recent storms.

Today was forecast to be the warmer of the two days this weekend, with highs in the 10-15 F range, so E and I headed up to Bolton for some turns.  There wasn’t much more than a trace of new snow around here from Winter Storm Kenan, the recent coastal system, but Bolton did pick up an inch or two from a cold front that came through the area on Friday.  That was nice to freshen up the snow surfaces a bit, but more notable was the fact that it was the first day of lift-served skiing at Timberline.  A bit of touring traffic was all the Timberline area had seen up to that point, so it was pretty much a bonus powder day for that entire section of the resort.

The snow we found on today’s Timberline outing wasn’t quite on par with a fresh powder day, since a lot of the powder had been sitting and settling to a degree, and some exposed areas had taken on a bit of wind crust.  Areas that hadn’t seen any wind certainly had 10-12” of dry powder that had been well preserved in the arctic cold.  The opening of Timberline also meant that the resort finally had 100% of its lifts running for the first time this season.  Bolton put down manmade snow for the main Villager/Timberline Run route, and that surface was fine, but the rest of the trails were running on natural snow and even the packed surfaces were far softer than the manmade route.  There are still a few of the steepest wind-scoured spots like the Tattle Tale headwall that will need one more large synoptic-level event to be fully opened.

Bolton Valley, VT 23JAN2022

An image of a couple of people sitting in the Gazebo in the Village Circle at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of untracked snow in the Snow Hole and Branches area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Getting ready for some lines in the untracked powder around Snow Hole today as I hit Bolton Valley for the first weekend of Wilderness Chair operation

Stephen and Johannes had planned to head up to Bolton Valley for some skiing today to take advantage of the opening weekend of the Wilderness Chair, and I headed up in the late morning to hopefully catch up with them and get in some rides the Wilderness Chair myself.  Temperatures were up into the teens F today, so a bit warmer than yesterday, and riding the lift was reasonably comfortable.

Stephen saw me in my car as I was arriving, and unfortunately they were just heading home because Stephen’s heel was bothering him a bit, but I got some solo runs and did some exploring.  For the terrain above the Wilderness Mid Station, only the Peggy Dow’s side is open.  The conditions weren’t bad, although the usual wind scoured areas were slick.  Below the mid-station was where I found the best conditions, with nice soft surfaces on piste and powder depths of about a foot, similar to what we encountered yesterday.  The Wilderness Woods were in nice shape, as was the Wilderness Lift Line, and for untracked powder, I enjoyed some nice variations in the Snow Hole and Branches area.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 22JAN2022

An image of Ty getting in some Telemark ski turns in powder near the Bolton Lodge on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan riding powder snow on his snowboard during a tour of the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan surfing some powder near the Bolton Lodge during today’s backcountry tour

Today is Ty’s birthday, and the whole family was around with time to do something together.  Ty’s broken collarbone has healed to the point where he doesn’t have to wear a sling, and light activities that don’t put stress on it are fine.  On Sunday, Ty and E and I went for a snowshoe tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network, and after some discussion today, we decided that some ski touring on mellow terrain would be fine.

A nice, gently-sloped section of Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network is the part where the Catamount Trail heads upward to Caribou’s Corner from the parking area at ~1,200’ on the Bolton Valley Access Road.  We’ve been on this part of the network a couple of times, and  E and I visited this section last February as part of a tour up to the Buchanan Shelter.  The approach trails up to Caribou’s Corner have just enough pitch to cruise along and make some powder turns on fat skis, and you can detour off the sides of the main descent at areas like the Bolton Lodge for terrain that’s a bit steeper.

D is still trying to find some new Telemark boots that fit better, so he just hiked in with his snowboard – most of the approach is either road, or packed trails, so it didn’t turn out to be a problem.  Ty did give D a ride on the backs of his skis at times, which was sort of neat.  Ty said it was a lot of work, but D could help out the process a lot by using his poles.

A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

I’d found total snowpack depths of ~18” at the 1,500’ elevation when I toured in the Timberline area on Tuesday, and even starting down at an elevation of 1,200’ today there were no major issues with the base.  The powder out there in the backcountry is still in excellent shape – depth checks I did today in the 1,200’ – 1,700’ elevation range revealed powder depths of 12-13”.  That’s actually a bit deep for some of the lower angle spots on today’s tour, but the descent was still nice.  We also hit some of those slightly steeper shots around the Bolton Lodge, and those pitches offered up some great powder turns.

Bolton Valley, VT 18JAN2021

An image of the Timberline Base at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm Izzy
An image of the Timberline Mid Station at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont with snow from Winter Storm Izzy
The snows of Winter Storm Izzy covering the Timberline Mid Station

Temperature in the single digits combined with wind seems a bit cold for riding lifts this morning, but the back side of Winter Storm Izzy came through with several inches of additional snow atop what fell yesterday, so I was definitely interested in getting out for some skiing.  With Bolton reporting 16 inches of new snow, just about any terrain at the resort would be able to support some decent turns.

I was unsure about whether I was going to aim for touring on Wilderness, the Backcountry Network, or even Timberline.  On my way up the access road, I saw several cars parked at Timberline from people who were earning turns, so I decided to check it out.  The parking lots weren’t really plowed, so it was little tough moving around all the new snow, but enough cars had packed down areas to make it manageable.

An image of snowy evergreens in the Timberline area o Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont after Winter Storm Izzy
The trees were loaded with snow thanks to Winter Storm Izzy

Although the Timberline Uphill Route is not listed as officially open, it seems like it’s seen a lot of traffic – it’s well established and in very good shape.  The coverage on Twice as Nice was excellent, with just a few tracks.  Upon reaching the Timberline Mid Station, I decided to continue on to the Timberline Summit – the Intro trail looked somewhat scoured as is often the case, but there were still some decent areas of snow on the skier’s right.

An image of the snowpack depth at the 2,000 foot elevation depth at Bolton Valley Ski Resort after Winter Storm IzzyI chose Twice as Nice for the main part of the descent, and the turns there were outstanding.  The powder was deep and the consistency was fantastic for turns on the powder boards.  I checked the snow depth in various spots on both the ascent and descent, and my best estimates of overall settled snowpack depth were ~18” at 1,500’, ~22” at 2,000’ and ~24” at 2,500’.  The resort wasn’t making snow at the Timberline Base, but they were making it up at the Timberline Summit, so I assume they’re on the way towards opening the area if temperatures continue to stay cold.

Bolton Valley, VT 17JAN2022

An image of Colin getting covered in snow while riding the Vista Quad Chair at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont as Winter Storm Izzy produced snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour
An image of Dylan skiing powder during Winter Storm Izzy at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan out surfing some powder today on the slopes of Bolton Valley. Winter Storm Izzy kept refreshing the surfaces all day with impressive 1 to 2 inch per hour snowfall rates.

Up at Bolton Valley today, wind holds were in effect at the resort’s normal opening time.  By mid-morning though, the winds had died down, the lifts started running, and we headed up for what was hopefully going to be a great day of skiing.  We were right in the midst of Winter Storm Izzy, the resort had already picked up several inches of snow, and more snow continued to pour down.  Right from our house it was obvious that snowfall rates were pretty impressive with the system.  Snow was falling at about an inch per hour down in the valley, and they ramped up as we headed into the higher elevations.  With the snowfall rates, it was hard to keep pace with plowing the Bolton Valley Access Road, so it was snow covered and giving some vehicles trouble making the ascent.  We had to head around stopped vehicles in a couple of different spots on the access road; one car was actually working on turning around to head back down and presumably wait for the plow/sander to make a pass.

“By the time we arrive in mid-morning, those winds from earlier had settled down to almost nothing across many areas of the mountain, temperatures were very comfortable in the upper 20s to around 30 F, and it was pounding snow somewhere in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range much of the time. ”

As far as ski days go, you had a number of factors that made today an amazing one.  By the time we arrive in mid-morning, those winds from earlier had settled down to almost nothing across many areas of the mountain, temperatures were very comfortable in the upper 20s to around 30 F, and it was pounding snow somewhere in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range much of the time.  The snowfall meant that surfaces were getting constantly refreshed, atop of what had already been a solid resurfacing of the slopes with probably 0.50 to 0.75 inches of liquid equivalent in the form of medium-weight powder.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont during Winter Storm IzzyWith the overnight shot of snow and the continued heavy snowfall, patrol was opening up trails all over the main mountain that had not been available yet this season.  It was hard to know which ropes had been dropped before opening time, and which ones were done on the fly, but just about everything on Vista was open.  Even Cobrass was open, offering options all over that side of the mountain.  The resort had completed their snowmaking and preparation of Spillway, which is certainly a steep, signature trail on Vista, but it takes a lot of snow to cover its width, notable pitch and plentiful amounts of obstacles.  Getting Spillway open definitely marks a big point of the winter’s progression at Bolton.  With Spillway getting all the new snow atop the base they’d made, it offered up some excellent steep skiing today.  You could still contact the harder manmade snow below at times, but it was snowing so hard that the manmade stuff was quickly getting buried.

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Wilderness Lift Line at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont during Winter Storm Izzy
Dylan getting some powder turns on Wilderness today

E and I headed up by ourselves to start the day, but we were planning to ski with Dylan and his friend Colin, who came up the road just behind us.  We saw them in the parking lot, and quickly caught up to spend the day with them after our first run.  Only the Vista Quad and Mid Mountain Chair were running today, but we touched on just about every main area that was available as we toured Colin around the mountain and introduced him to numerous trails that he’d yet to ski.  Up to this point he’s really only been night skiing with Dylan, so with the typical daytime options and all the new trails opening, it was quite a whirlwind tour for him.  Some highlights were definitely the steep turns on Spillway, lots of fresh snow and great conditions on Cobrass and Cobrass Run, and heading over toward Wilderness where there was lot of fresh powder as usual.  We even brought Colin into the Wilderness Woods to that he could get a taste of what tree skiing was like.

An image of the Ski Patrol Headquarters area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont with fresh snow from Winter Storm Izzy
Accumulations from Winter Storm Izzy down at Ski Patrol HQ in the Village

The heavy snowfall rates were certainly one of the most impressive parts of today’s outing.  The pace of accumulations was very evident while riding the lifts because of how fast you would get coated with snow.  On one of our rides on the Vista Quad, Colin stayed still to catch the accumulation, so that was a lot of fun to see, and of course we had to get a picture.  By the time we left around mid-afternoon, the resort must have picked up in the range of a foot of fresh snow, so the skiing just kept getting better.  This is our first big, synoptic winter storm in a while, and it was just what the local resorts needed to really get the base depths up to snuff, and they should now be able to open up most of their terrain.

Bolton Valley, VT 08JAN2022

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in some powder on the Wilderness Lift line during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica ascending via the Wilderness Uphill Route at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E on the ascent of the Wilderness Uphill Route today during our ski tour at Bolton Valley – the base depths and coverage are now getting quite good on the lower slopes of Wilderness, and the resort is even beginning to open some of these trails to lift-served skier traffic.

It continued to snow after my session at Bolton yesterday, and with the impressive conditions I found during the touring part of my trip, E and I decided to head up for some touring today.

The recent rounds of snow have been great overall for the resort, and they’re reporting 7 inches of new in the past 48 hours.  All the new snow is a bit of a mixed blessing with respect to touring on the Wilderness terrain though.  In this morning’s Bolton Valley snow report, it was already announced that a number of natural snow trails had been opened on Vista, so I assumed it was only a matter of time before ski patrol opened up lift-served access to the lower slopes of Wilderness as they typically do in these situations.

An image of the Wilderness Lift line during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view down part of the Wilderness Lift Line during today’s ski tour.

With temperatures hovering around 0 F in the early morning we waited until late morning to head up to the mountain to take advantage of the warmer part of the day.  While we were on our ascent we could see that the terrain was already getting rather tracked up, and indeed a big part of that was likely because patrol dropped more ropes, and lift-served skiers were coming over from Vista.  The resort did have an associate checking passes at the base of the Wilderness Lift though, so they were enforcing the need to have your pass on you, even for touring.

“The recent rounds of snow have been great overall for the resort, and they’re reporting 7 inches of new in the past 48 hours.”

In terms of conditions, natural coverage is quite good on the lower slopes of Wilderness, as the trail openings for lift-served skiers would suggest.  I’d say the depth of the powder was about the same as what I found yesterday – a couple more inches had been added with the additional snowfall, but there was probably a similar amount of settling.  The snow was slower though today due to the colder temperatures, so that knocked the flow of the turns down a bit on the low-angle terrain of lower Wilderness.

An image of Erica skiing in some powder on the Wilderness Lift Line trail during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Cold temperatures and sunny skies greeted us for some turns in the powder on Wilderness Lift Line today.

Although the Timberline Uphill Route isn’t open yet down at the 1,500’ elevation, the terrain there is actually looking pretty close to being ready for non-lift-served traffic based on what we saw as we passed by.  Barring any major warming events, even a moderate storm would probably get that terrain in play for touring.

Bolton Valley, VT 07JAN2022

A view from the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont during Winter Storm Garrett
An image of the surface powder depth near the Wilderness Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont during Winter Storm Garrett.
Checking on the snow near the Wilderness Summit on my ski tour today revealed that recent accumulations brought 6 to 7 inches of powder

I haven’t been up to the hill since last week as I’ve been waiting for conditions to pick up, but Bolton’s morning snow report indicated 3-4” in the past 24 hours, and that seemed like enough to head up for a ski tour to check out the new snow.

Since yesterday’s snow was feather-light with ratios in the 60 to 1 range based on my analyses down here at our site, I was wasn’t expecting it to contribute much in terms of building up the powder depths.  I’m sure the depths I found today were bolstered by some of the additional smaller events we’ve seen in the past week, but whatever the case, the combination of those events, yesterday’s snow, and now the addition from Winter Storm Garrett has been substantial.  Right off the bat I was finding 4-5” of surface snow at 2,000’ and up at 3,000’ it was 6-7”.  The powder wasn’t just fluff either – there was a good deal of substance to it and a great right-side-up gradient with the current upslope snow falling.  I was on midfats today, and powder turns were easily bottomless on low and moderate angle terrain that was untracked/unscoured.  This past week, and especially these past couple of storms, have been an absolute game-changer for the Wilderness terrain up at the resort.

“Right off the bat I was finding 4-5” of surface snow at 2,000’ and up at 3,000’ it was 6-7”. The powder wasn’t just fluff either – there was a good deal of substance to it and a great right-side-up gradient with the current upslope snow falling.”

The skiing was nice enough that I decided to stick around to check out the lift-served terrain as well.  The past week and the most recent couple of storms have made a difference there too, because they’ve now opened some natural snow terrain, and people are definitely skiing the trees and glades on the lower mountain.  I didn’t notice a huge improvement in the quality of the on-piste skiing that I sampled; it was fine, but these recent storms just haven’t delivered enough liquid equivalent to provide a real resurfacing for lift-served levels of skier traffic.

There was more good news in terms of the current weather, because there was plenty of snow coming down while I was there.  At 2,000’ the snowfall rate was moderate, and it was definitely heavy when I was up around 3,000’ on the Wilderness Summit.  Snowfall rates above 2,000’ were notably heavier than what we’ve had down here at the house, and if it keeps up like that for a bit this evening, conditions should move even another notch up tomorrow.

An image from the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont as Winter Storm Garrett winds down
It was a snowy day in the Bolton Valley Village, with the back side of Winter Storm Garrett delivering some additional accumulations

Bolton Valley, VT 19DEC2021

An image of Erica and Dylan getting psyched up helmet-to-helmet as they get ready for some turns in the morning's fresh snow
An image of Dylan skiing in some powder from Winter Storm Carrie on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The 6 to 8 inches of new snow from Winter Storm Carrie provided some nice turns today off the lower lifts of the main mountain at Bolton Valley.

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks finishing up the semester for me, and there haven’t been any notable storms to urge me out to the slopes, but we got out to the mountain today to take a few turns in the new snow from Winter Storm Carrie.

For conditions, there was about a half foot of new snow reported by Bolton in their morning report, although there were probably a couple more inches on top of that with the way it was accumulating while we were there.  Indeed they’re now reporting 8 inches for their weekly total, and I’d say that’s probably the storm total once the backside snows were incorporated.  It was a decent resurfacing of the slopes, with 0.80” of L.E. recorded here at our place.  I suspect they’re in the that ballpark for L.E. up at the mountain as well, although the western slopes probably were a bit lower on storm totals relative to the eastern slopes with the wind flow for the majority of the storm cycle.  In any event, the surfaces we found out there today were nice, although I could see how high-angle terrain or higher traffic resorts could find the slopes getting down to firm surfaces pretty quickly.

An image of skiers heading to the lifts in the Bolton Valley Village during Winter Storm Carrie
The back side of Winter Storm Carrie made for a snowy morning up in the Bolton Valley Village.

The overall feel at the resort was quite wintry with temperatures in the teens F, moderate snow falling, and some wind.  Bolton only had their lower lifts running as they were still prepping the Vista Summit for lift-served levels of traffic, but it looks like this storm put them over the top and they’re opening the Vista Quad in the next few days.  The Wilderness Uphill Route is open, so with the leftover base they had plus this new storm, there’s certainly enough snow to be skinning for turns on the natural snow terrain at Wilderness, so that’s great to have in place for the upcoming holiday period.  They’ll still need another decent shot of liquid equivalent to get more terrain open for lift-served levels of traffic on natural snow terrain, and to get the lower-elevation Timberline area open for ski touring traffic.  I’m sure there are some people touring down at the Timberline elevations with what we’ve got at the moment, but the Timberline Uphill Route isn’t officially open yet.  I think they’d lost most of the natural base snow there, so you’re working with just the accumulations from Winter Storm Carrie, and this one storm with ~3/4” of liquid equivalent isn’t quite enough to get touring into a really comfortable place.

An image of snow from Winter Storm Carrie and the tracks of skiers on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the snow on Beech Seal today, where 6 to 8 inches fell from Winter Storm Carrie