We had a winter storm at the end of the week that brought over a foot to some of the local ski resorts, and it created quite a powder day by Friday morning. Fortunately (for some of us that didn’t get out Friday) most of the lifts at Bolton Valley were on wind hold all day, so much of the powder was still sitting there as of this morning. With that in mind, we got a relatively early start up at the mountain today, getting there by roughly 9:00 A.M. One great aspect of the day was that Dylan has been given a clean bill of health after his recent viral illness, so he was ready to jump back on the skis and go wild with the rest of the family.
The wind was already somewhat vigorous ahead of today’s incoming storm as the four us loaded onto the Vista Quad, and although temperatures were in the 20s F and fairly comfortable, the east wind blowing in our faces on the wasn’t pleasant. We started off on Alta Vista, and while there seemed to be less powder off to the sides than usual due to extensive grooming, the actual groomed trail had some of the best snow we’ve encountered on it. Oftentimes, traffic and wind make it pretty scratchy at the start, but not today. Down lower on the trail, we got into some powder toward the Vista Glades, and it was quite good. We worked our way over toward Wilderness and caught some of the first tracks in Wilderness Woods. The powder wasn’t overly deep, but it had such a beautiful density gradient associated with it that it was bottomless everywhere. Indeed there’s a ton of soft snow out there now, essentially everywhere I tested the depth of snow with my measurement ski pole off piste, I was able to push it down to around 40 inches before hitting any hard surfaces. There’s really been a good amount of snow in the mountains this month. We eventually made our way out onto Lower Turnpike, and although it had seen a thorough grooming, even that was super soft and there was untracked powder available on the sides.
When we arrived down at the base of Wilderness there were about 15 minutes to go before they loaded it, so E went in for a bathroom break, while the boys and I went for a Mid Mountain run. It turned out that Mid Mountain was on wind hold, so we made a Snowflake run instead. We caught some lines in the Bonus Woods and then met up with E for the loading of the Wilderness Chair. From the Wilderness Summit we decided on Bolton Outlaw, and from what we could see even before we got there, the good powder was in protected areas. The Outlaw Woods yielded some excellent snow. We worked our way down via Cougar for another run in the Wilderness Woods like our first one, and the snow was still excellent, even if we weren’t in the realm of first tracks the way we’d been earlier in the morning.
E and the boys were ready for a break from the wind, so they headed in for some snacks while I took another run on Super Snow Hole. Being by myself, it was the perfect opportunity to dial in the traverse there, and avoid having to drag the family around looking for it like last time. This time I found one of the main traverse tracks leading to the area and hit it from the top. The snow was beautiful in there, and so well protected from the wind. The snow had started to pick up with the approaching storm, and in the trees I got to experience some of those big fat flakes floating straight down in the dead calm. It was a world of difference in those protected areas. It was a great run in which I got to hit some nice lines that I’d explored in the off season.
I met up with E and the boys back in the lodge, and found out that they’d actually had a good bit to eat during their break. I eventually convinced them to come for a run with me on Super Snow Hole, especially since I had a track in place and could guarantee that the traverse would be simple and productive. They actually loved the run, especially with the really high quality powder, so I don’t think I’ll have quite as hard a time convincing them to go with me next time.
Everyone was game for one more run, so we took a trip up Vista and headed to Maria’s Woods. We didn’t take the hike up the crack, but the snow was really good on the main lines anyway. Sometimes you can get in there and find powder that just doesn’t seem to work, but not today. In fact, I was really pleased in general at the high quality of the snow today. I’d brought my Amperages, hoping that the snow was going to be of enough quality that they would be a good fit, and indeed they were. They had that “no width” feeling, and everything was quick and effortless. There’s something about the consistency of the snow that just seemed to work with them, and I’m still figuring out just what days allow them to shine. A great example of when they weren’t a great fit was last Saturday, when the powder was dense in general, and the lower mountain having bit of wetter snow. One would think that fat skis would be great in that dense stuff, but I found that it was just too stiff in most places for their width. Perhaps I’m getting used to how quickly they move around in high quality, fluffy snow, but definitely found myself wanting my mid fats that day. In any event, I’m definitely starting to dial in the type of days that work best, or at least “feel best” with the fats, and it’s not simply the deep days. The quality of the powder seems to be the biggest factor.
I checked on the interest in any additional runs, but everyone was ready to leave, so we skied to the car, packed up, and headed down the access road. As we passed by Timberline, we saw that it had finally gotten off wind hold, and people were loading. It was very tempting to stop in and check out all the snow that had been sitting there for the past couple of days, but I couldn’t convince anyone to make the stop, they were happy to call it a day. It did plant in my mind the possibility of heading back out after lunch though…