Bolton Valley, VT 27JAN2023

An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Spell Binder Trail after Winter Storm Kassandra in the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the base of the Timberline base area after Winter Storm Kassandra at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
It was great to be back at Timberline for some ski touring and powder turns this morning. Thanks to Winter Storm Kassandra and other recent storm cycles, the Timberline area has moved into midwinter form.

I was too busy yesterday to hit the slopes and check out the new snow from Winter Storm Kassandra, but Dylan was out at Bolton for some runs and said the skiing was excellent.  He told me that he and Colin got third tracks down Preacher, which must have been pretty amazing.  The snowfall continued right through the day yesterday though, and there was a decent signal for upslope snow on the back side of the storm cycle, so it seemed like today would hold some promise for great turns as well.  My drive home from Burlington yesterday evening went from partly cloudy conditions in the Champlain Valley, to gradually increasing snowfall as I pushed farther into the mountains, to a pounding of huge flakes by the time I got home.  The roads were snowy, but the visibility was the tougher part of the drive.  When I measured the snowfall rate at our house yesterday evening, it was up in the 2 to 3-inch per hour range for a while, so the flakes were building depth quickly.  And not surprisingly, those huge flakes were stacking up with impressive loft.  When I ran a snow analysis at midnight, the stack density came in at 2.3% H2O.  We haven’t really had a lot of upslope snow on the back side of storm cycles this season, but we got some this time, and it suggested good things by morning with respect to the skiing.

An image from atop the Spell Binder trail with fresh snow from Winter Storm Kassandra at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An untracked Spell Binder ready for some turns this morning

This morning I was on my way up to earn some early turns at Wilderness, when I passed by Timberline and realized the timing was right for the Timberline Uphill Route to be open.  The snowpack has thus far been thin down at those lower elevations, but Kassandra definitely seemed to push it over the top and I had my first Timberline outing of the season.  We had some outstanding powder skiing around here in mid-December, but I think today’s turns might have just edged out that period to set the new bar for the season.  The snowpack was surprisingly robust during that December stretch, but the fact that we’ve now had multiple winter storm cycles, multiple inches of liquid equivalent going into the snowpack, and a skiable snowpack that reaches down even to the Timberline elevations, means a lot.  The turns today were so very bottomless and effortless with all the new champagne on top, so it was certainly one of the premier days of the season thus far.  Bolton is planning to run the Timberline Quad tomorrow for the first time this season, so that’s a sign that we’re really moving into prime time.  They’re also planning on some nice additions to celebrate the day like free coffee, and a visit from the El Gato Food Truck, so it should be a fun way to get Timberline rolling for the season.

An image looking southwest into the Green Mountains from atop the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view to the southwest from atop Spell Binder this morning, with the Green Mountains very much in their white winter mode

Bolton Valley, VT 23JAN2023

An image of ski tracks in powder snow during Winter Storm Jimenez on the Cougar trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Wilderness Liftline trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of Bolton’s fresh powder during this morning’s ski tour thanks to Winter Storm Jimenez

I headed up to the mountain this morning to catch a quick ski tour and check out the snow we’d received from Winter Storm Jimenez up to that point.  Bolton was indicating 4 to 5 inches of new snow as of the morning report, and that’s what I found fairly consistently in touring from 2,100’ up to around 2,700’ on terrain that had previously been packed.  Turns were generally bottomless with 115 mm width skis on low and moderate angle terrain, but the quality of the turns was bolstered by the fact that the subsurface continues to improve with each storm.  That dense mid-month storm really substantiated the base, and Winter Storm Iggy added some drier snow atop that, so the depth and quality of the snowpack is improving by leaps and bounds.  There have been additional accumulations today from a strong cold front passing through the area, and the next synoptic system in the queue is expected to impact the area tomorrow night and has been named Winter Storm Kassandra.  That system seems to have a bit more potential for some upslope snow on the back side, and I’ve seen storm total estimates as high as 12 to 18 inches for the local mountains, which would represent another great addition to the snowpack.

An image of snow from Winter Storm Jimenez on the roof of a house along the access road to Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Views of some of the recent snow from Winter Storm Jimenez on my drive to Bolton Valley this morning
An image of Ty performing a drop tip aerial in recent snows from Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing in powder from Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty cranks a turn in some of the plentiful Winter Storm Iggy powder out there today at Bolton Valley as the Wilderness Chair made its season debut.

In a discussion with my colleague Stephen at work yesterday, I learned that plans were in place to open the Wilderness Chair for the first time this season on Saturday, so Ty and I headed up this morning for a session.  We didn’t really rush out to the mountain, arriving at about 9:30 A.M. for the scheduled 10:00 A.M. opening of the Wilderness Chair, but it turns out that was a bit too late with respect to optimal parking.  People were already having to park down at Timberline because the upper parking lots were full, and since the Timberline Quad isn’t running yet, you had to take the shuttle bus up to the main mountain.  Being the first notable weekend day with fresh snow in at least a couple of weeks, it seemed like everyone in the state was excited to get out for some skiing.

An image of Ty skiing in the trees near Snow Hole at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We spent a lot of our time today in areas between Snow Hole and the Backcountry Network, and the tree skiing was quite ready to go thanks to all the recent snow.

I learned that the Wilderness Chair had actually halted operations for a bit this morning due to a mechanical issue, but that timing worked out pretty well for us – by the time we took one run on Vista to get us over toward Wilderness, the lift was running.  We spent much of our time today on Wilderness, exploring various off piste lines between Snow Hole and the Nordic/backcountry network, and the powder skiing was great.  We could still use a couple more feet of base to cover up some of the usual obstacles and really get the off piste skiing into prime time, but everywhere we went it was pretty much good to go.

An image of Ty jumping over a log while tree skiing in the Snow Hole area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
While we could still use a couple more feet of snow to really get the tree skiing into midwinter form, the recent snows have been more than adequate to put down a decent base and powder on top for some great off piste turns just about everywhere at the resort.

We wrapped up today’s session in the midafternoon with a run back to our car at the base of Timberline, and while having to shuttle up to the main mountain at the start of the day wasn’t our first choice, the run back to the car through endless powder was more than worth it.  It doesn’t look like the Timberline Uphill Route is officially open yet, but we’d seen a number of skiers ascending there when we were waiting for the shuttle.  Practically speaking, the snow at Timberline is ready with respect to ski touring, so it will be interesting to see if the resort officially opens that uphill route soon.  The resort is making snow down at Timberline to presumably open it up for lift-served skiing before long, and if these next couple of winter storms deliver like Winter Storm Iggy did, they’ll probably be able to open it up even before all the snowmaking is done.  The next system coming into the area has earned the name Winter Storm Jimenez due to its anticipated impacts, so we’ll see what it delivers over the next couple of days.

An image of Ty and ski tracks in the Timberline area after Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Although we did have to park down at Timberline today due to the lots filling up in the Village, we did get some great turns when we had to ski back to the car.

Bolton Valley, VT 20JAN2023

An image of some of the condominiums and the hotel at the bottom of the Wilderness Double Chairlift around dusk in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Wilderness Double Chairlift in the late afternoon with snows from Winter Storm Iggy at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy view of the Wilderness Chair greets me today as i begin a late afternoon ski tour to check out the recent snows from Winter Storm Iggy.

As expected, Winter Storm Iggy came through and transformed the ski conditions in the local mountains this weekend.  A survey of the Vermont ski area snow reports revealed surprisingly consistent storm totals running around 10 inches up and down the spine of the Central and Northern Greens, with lower amounts down at the southern resorts due to an influx of some mixed precipitation.

Ty was coming home from NVU Lyndon for the weekend, and with Iggy starting up Thursday evening, E was able to pick him up late that afternoon because he didn’t have any Friday classes.  The timing was perfect because they got home just ahead of when the flakes started falling, and it was a great example of the utility of accurate winter weather forecasting.

“All in all I’d describe the turns as mostly bottomless, quite surfy, and that powder was all atop that bomber base that was present from the previous storm cycle, so you could really have confidence in what was below the new snow.”

Dylan and Colin only have one early class on Fridays, so after they were done with that, Ty joined them, and the three of them headed up to Bolton for some turns.  They scored quite a day with the fresh snow and minimal midweek visitors on the slopes.  They had such a blast that after coming home, eating dinner, and watching some GoPro videos from the day, they switched up to some different gear and went back out for night skiing until last chair.

I didn’t have a chance to head out earlier in the day today, but I did get up to the mountain with about an hour of light left, so went for a tour on Wilderness to check out all the new snow.  The storm was still ongoing, but at that point I found the following surface snow depths:

2,000’: 6”
2,500’: 7-8”
2,800’: 8-9”

An image of snowflakes in a street light during Winter Storm Iggy in the Village parking lot at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
One of the street lights in the Bolton Valley Village parking lot illuminates the snow from Winter Storm Iggy as darkness falls this evening.

I decided not to tour all the way to the Wilderness Summit because I was losing daylight, but the quality of the powder I encountered was excellent.  I was surprised to find that I could feel a difference in snow density below about 2,500’, but it was fairly subtle and the turns were really great from top to bottom.  All in all I’d describe the turns as mostly bottomless, quite surfy, and that powder was all atop that bomber base that was present from the previous storm cycle, so you could really have confidence in what was below the new snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16JAN2023

A shuttle bus with a bit of January snow in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Bolton Valley Access Road in January just below Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There’s a solid base of snowpack in the mountains and there’s even been a bit of new snow to set the wintry scene. Conditions should really take off with accumulations from even a modest winter storm.

After getting out to the hill on Saturday to check out the snow conditions, I hadn’t really planned to ski any other days over the weekend – the conditions on the groomed terrain were fine, but definitely on the firm side.  And, the off piste just isn’t very viable at the moment, because while the snow from this most recent storm contributed a fantastic addition to the base snowpack, it needs another good round of snow on top of it or else you’re just skiing on a dense, crusty moonscape.  But, a couple of my students alerted me that they’d be up at Bolton Valley this morning and asked if I wanted to join them, so I said I catch up with them for some turns.  E had the holiday off and joined me, and we met up with them in the late morning period and had a great time catching up after the holiday break.  Light snow fell much of the time from the system off the coast, and it certainly made the mood even more wintry, even if it didn’t add much in terms of accumulation.

A road sign with a bit of fresh snow stuck to it along the Bolton Valley Access Road below Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontAlong with the bit of snow today, we’d also had a little light snow from that coastal system over the previous day or so, but all in all, ski conditions weren’t really all that different from what I’d experienced on Saturday.  Groomed terrain with manmade snow had some bright spots (like Alta Vista again), but most was fairly firm as it had been before.  One very notable positive change that took place over the course of the weekend was that the resort had opened a lot more terrain.  A little (like Hard Luck I believe) was due to snowmaking, but the vast majority was simply natural snow terrain that patrol had been able to check and mark.  They opened all the lower Wilderness terrain that is accessible from the Vista Quad, as one would expect, but I couldn’t believe that even Cobrass was open.  It’s quite steep in spots, has a decent amount of southern exposure, and seemed to be mostly operating on natural snow.

“The snowpack is there. At least based on what I saw at Bolton over the weekend, if these storms deliver even half of the snow that’s currently modeled, lift and trail counts are likely to explode over the course of the next week.”

All the natural snow terrain they opened is just a testament to how durable a resurfacing this most recent winter storm was.  The only thing holding back the off piste skiing (although some folks were jumping into the woods in areas) is just the crusty, dense nature of the snow.  It’s simply not all that much fun right now because it’s a bit upside down and crunchy, but boy are both the on piste and off piste areas going to be ready to go with just one decent storm.  With three possible winter storms in the queue over the next six days, ski conditions are really set to take a quantum leap if the accumulations come through as the modeling currently suggests.  The snowpack is there.  At least based on what I saw at Bolton over the weekend, if these storms deliver even half of the snow that’s currently modeled, lift and trail counts are likely to explode over the course of the next week.

Bolton Valley, VT 14JAN2023

An image of a tree covered in snow and rime after a recent winter storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the upper part of the Wilderness terrain pod at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With the dense snow put down by out most recent winter storm, it looks like much of Bolton Valley’s terrain would be set to open with the help of one more wintry system.

I hadn’t been up to the mountain since that fantastic period of skiing from mid-December through the holidays; no major winter storms had come through the area since Winter Storm Elliot, and the skiing just hadn’t seemed good enough to pull me away from other things.  That changed with this most recent storm though – Bolton’s snow report from this morning indicated that they’d picked up half foot of new snow in the past couple of days.  Although the storm did contain mixed precipitation, it delivered 1.33” of liquid equivalent down here at our site in the valley, with most of that as snow/frozen.  Assuming the local mountains exceeded that as they usually do, that’s a storm cycle that has all the makings of a solid resurfacing/base building event.

“…I gave the typical on piste conditions a rating of 2 on a 0 to 10 scale, but I have pretty high snow quality standards…”

With this latest storm, Bolton Valley indicated that the Wilderness Uphill Route was officially open again, which is a good sign that there had been a substantial addition to the snowpack.  My observations from today while I was out touring definitely reinforced that notion.  With the effects of this most recent storm, the base snow is actually so dense that I couldn’t do any depth checks, but I’d say you’re looking at probably a foot of base depth at the 2,000’ level.  If the snow density is that same as what I’ve cored down here at our site in the valley, that would have about 2 inches of liquid equivalent in it.  Since the snowpack is just too dense to do any easy depth readings, I don’t have an estimate for the increases of snowpack depth with elevation.  The Mt. Mansfield Stake up at 3,700’ is indicating a snowpack depth of 20 inches as of today though, so I’d assume you’re looking at something in that range once you’re up at the local summit elevations above 3,000’.

An image of the Wilderness Double Chairlift during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A view of the Wilderness Chair while out on today’s ski tour

In terms of the skiing, I wasn’t really expecting much real powder with how dense the snowfall was from this past storm; my tour was really a chance to get out for some exercise and see how the off piste snowpack and snow surfaces were looking.  I only found about an inch or so of lighter snow above the base, and that was pretty consistent at all elevations in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ range.  Snow coverage of the natural terrain is actually quite good though with that impressively dense base, and Lower Turnpike with a good amount of skier-packed areas has great wall-to-wall coverage.  Steeper terrain with ledges, obstacles, and wind scouring/drifting is not as consistent in its coverage, but the base snow is just so dense that most of the natural terrain is going to be good to go with the next decent storm.  The best snow quality I found was actually in natural snow areas that had been skier packed, since areas of undisturbed/unpacked snow still held the potential to punch through the uppermost layers of the base.  On my descent I definitely employed a mix of alpine and Telemark turns, and the safety of alpine turns with that full width of surface area for both skis in the center was the way to go when navigating snow that hadn’t been packed by skiers.

I stuck around for some lift-served skiing since I’d seen that Alta Vista had been opened, and I think it had seen some of the more recent snowmaking, because it had some of the best conditions I found.  The best snow by far was what people had pushed to the side, but the main surface was better than elsewhere.  Most of the on piste surfaces were typical of what you’d expect for manmade snow that had seen lift-served skier traffic, so really nothing to note in terms of quality.  When I got home and Dylan asked me about the conditions, I gave the typical on piste conditions a rating of 2 on a 0 to 10 scale, but I have pretty high snow quality standards, so he knows where a value of 2 would stand.  Even without any big storms over the past couple of weeks, the resort has been expanding their terrain with runs like Spillway, and they were blowing snow on Hard Luck as well.  The recent snow was substantial enough that even some natural snow terrain had been opened.  Surprisingly, they don’t have to lower areas of Wilderness open yet to lift-served access, which is pretty typical under these conditions, but they would need to groom it first, so that may take some extra time.

Even if the snow quality isn’t there yet in terms of typical Northern Greens surfaces, it was definitely nice to get back on the slopes after the break.  We had light snow falling during the morning with some blue skies, and some nice snow/rime on the trees.  With that base in place, terrain is likely to expand heavily if these next couple of potential systems in the coming week deliver any substantial snow.

An image of a tree covered in snow and rime, as well as the clock tower at the Village circle after a recent winter storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another beautiful rime-covered tree with the clock tower in the background at the Bolton Valley Village Circle

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 26DEC2022

An image of the Mt. Mansfield State Forest sign on the Broadway trail entering the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow on evergreens during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the snow on the evergreens along the route of my backcountry tour today

I hadn’t been out to the mountain since Winter Storm Elliot finished up, and although it was a mixed system in terms of precipitation, I was encouraged by how it played out for the local snowpack.  The storm brought roughly 8 inches of snow to our place down in the valley, and represented a net gain in both snowpack depth and snowpack liquid equivalent.  Bolton Valley was reporting 12 inches of new snow from the system, so the mountains must have fared at least as well as the valleys.

With some rain during the middle part of the system, I was wondering about the condition of the snow surfaces, so today I decided on a relatively low angle tour on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network to get a feel for how the new snow had settled in.  I started at the Catamount Trail access point on the Bolton Valley Access Road, which is down around 1,200’, and toured up to around the 1,800’ elevation a bit above Caribou Corner.  Those are relatively low elevations overall, and 1,200’ is below even the Timberline Base, so it would certainly be a challenging stress test to speak to the quality and utility of the snowpack.

At 1,200’ at the parking area I found about 4 to 5 inches of powder above the base snow, and most notably, I couldn’t really find a rain crust.  There was a clear demarcation between the consolidated base and the surface snow, at least around the parking area where the snowpack is a bit more exposed to snow maintenance and sunshine.  The depth of the powder quickly increased as I ascended, and by about 1,500’ I was easily finding 6 to 12 inches of powder.  It became hard to judge the depth of the surface snow though, because I typically couldn’t even find an interface between the new snow and the underlying snowpack; the wetter precipitation from the storm must have either drained well or transitioned smoothly to snow.  I’d say total snowpack depth was probably around 10 to 12 inches at 1,200’ and 12 to 16 inches at 1,800’, but there’s plenty of substance to it, so it’s quite skiable up to moderate angles in maintained areas, and obviously it’s going to be notably deeper up above 2,000’.

An image of a cabin during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy view of a cozy cabin along the route of my ski tour today

In terms of the skiing, the powder was actually too deep for the lowest angle sections on the tour, and I’d have to use existing skin tracks or other skier tracks to maintain or pick up speed.  The next tier of pitches skied great with the snow though.  I typically like that tour up to Caribou Corner when there’s about 4 to 6 inches of powder over a consolidated base, so this really was a bit deeper than that, and I’d say folks should move on up to moderate angle terrain for the best backcountry turns, especially with additional snow falling over the next couple of days.  There was light snow falling during my tour in the form of those big fluffy flakes, and I see that the resort reported an inch of new this morning.

The season snowfall seems roughly on track at our house observations site as of Christmas.  Snowfall to date on the 25th was 40.1” vs. a mean of 40.4”, and snowpack depth at 10.5” was a few inches above average.  The SDD for the season were a little behind average pace at 146.5 SDD vs. the 162.2 SDD average.  I can see in the data that the SDD deficiency is largely due to that slow first half of December, because we were still ahead of average SDD as of the end of November, and then the pace started to fall off before picking up again in the second half of the month.

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

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 18DEC2022

An image showing snow on one of the buildings near the start of the Nordic and Backcountry Network with a covering of fresh snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Things were looking nice and snowy as I passed the old ticket booth near the start of my tour today on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley

After discovering such impressive snow coverage when touring at Wilderness yesterday, today I actually headed out onto the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.  Part of the afternoon was spent clearing out a tree that had come down in our yard during Winter Storm Diaz, and after that was done I had just enough time to hit the backcountry network for a quick exploratory tour.  I wasn’t absolutely sure what to expect, but I was going to be touring entirely above 2,000’, and unless the conditions over at Wilderness were a fluke or something due to aspect, the adjoining backcountry was likely in similar shape.  The backcountry snow report didn’t even have any notifications about poor coverage or closures, it just indicated that coverage was variable.

I was still planning to be conservative in my initial explorations, and my time was limited with dusk approaching, so I opted for a quick tour with a descent of the Telemark Practice Slope.  On my ascent though, it was immediately obvious how good the coverage was in the surrounding glades, and with just a few tracks here and there in the relatively deep powder, it was too good to pass up.  I ended up skiing some of the glades to the skier’s right of the Telemark Practice Slope, and they skied beautifully.  I was initially not expecting such a sublime ride, since we’d really needed at least black diamond pitches yesterday to avoid getting bogged down, but there must have been a bit more settling of the snowpack, and the addition of the upslope fluff that’s been falling was really just icing on the cake that added a little cushioning with minimal resistance.  The resulting snowpack came together to provide just the right speed for the glades, and it was obvious at that point that a lot more of the gentle and moderate terrain is going to be in play for some excellent powder turns.

A Google Earth map of a backcountry ski tour on December 18th, 2022 with GPS tracking data on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of today’s quick tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network mapped onto Google Earth

Bolton Valley, VT 17DEC2022

An image of Ty skiing fresh powder on from Winter Storm Diaz on the Bolton Outlaw Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder on the upper slopes of Wilderness after Winter Storm Diaz at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty Shredding some of today’s fresh powder on the upper slopes of the Peggy Dow’s run at Bolton Valley. Winter Storm Diaz dropped a good 16 inches of fresh snow on the upper slopes of Bolton, and the wind direction was perfect to avoid the scouring often seen on the upper pitches of Wilderness.

Since Winter Storm Diaz dropped another good shot of snow overnight, our plan yesterday was to head up to Bolton for more lift-served skiing.  Making a final check on the snow report before heading up though, I discovered that the resort had lost power like a lot of other spots around the area.  With that news, and the announcement that the Wilderness Uphill Route was open, we switched our plans over to ski touring at Wilderness.  When we got to the resort, power was back on and the lifts were running, but since we’d already taken the time to gear up for it, we stuck with the ski touring plan since it held the potential for a lot more untracked snow anyway.

A snowy chair after Winter Storm Diaz at the base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWith the existing base snow from ahead of the storm not entirely consolidated, it was tough to get a sense for how much new snow the resort had picked up specifically from this cycle.  But, we were able to get total snowpack depths, and with repeated measurements by both Ty and me, we came in with total settled depths of 16” at 2,000’ and 20” around 3,000’  The resort updated their storm accumulations and reported 12” new at 2,000’ and 16” new at 3,000’, so that fit perfectly with what our measurements were suggesting.

The skin track  Wilderness Uphill Route was nicely set from previous traffic, and there were actually two tracks that let us skin side-by-side for easier conversation.  Traffic on Lower Turnpike had been moderate, and we counted about 20 descent tracks.  I wasn’t sure if we were going to go all the way to the Wilderness Summit depending on how scoured the upper elevations were, but with a lot of the flow with this event coming from the east, there was essentially zero drifting even at the highest elevations, so that set up some potentially great skiing on the upper slopes.

An image of Ty sitting on a bench with snow at the Wilderness Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty enjoys a snowy seat this afternoon at the Wilderness Summit

The snow from this storm cycle certain fell right-side-up, and there was a lot of substance to the lower layers, but it skied DEEP.  We quickly discovered that even on 115 mm fat skis, low and moderate angle pitches just didn’t cut it.  You had to hit black diamond pitches or higher, and once you did, the powder skiing really rocked.  We hit the steepest pitches we could find, like the upper slopes of Peggy Dow’s and the Cougar Headwall, and even when we tried to test the limits of the snowpack by attempting to get down to the ground on turns, you just couldn’t.  We picked up about 1.30” of liquid equivalent from this storm down at our site in the valley, so the mountain must have had at least 1.50” of liquid atop the previous base.  I’m not quite sure how this storm brought the slopes to an almost midwinter feel in terms of substance and coverage, but the combination of liquid equivalent, right-side-up snow, and whatever existing base there was, just hit the sweet spot to make that happen.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in deep powder from Winter Storm Diaz on the Bolton Outlaw Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping into some powdery Telemark turns on Bolton Outlaw

When we were about halfway through our first descent and only had moderate and lower angle terrain below us, I suggested we stop the descent there and hit the Wilderness Summit again to try Bolton Outlaw for our next descent.  Bolton Outlaw is quite steep with a lot of obstacles, and it often gets scoured and/or skied enough to make coverage an issue, but from what we’d seen of it, and what we’d experience with the skiing up to that point, it seemed like it might be just the ticket.  And it was – it had just the pitch we needed, and coverage was too good to be true.  Each time I’d come over a rise and over a ledge I’d expect to hear a rock, or a log, or something under my skis… but that just didn’t happen.  We’re of course talking touring levels of skier traffic here, but whether you were skiing packed or untracked snow, you just didn’t break through to whatever was below.  It’s still hard to figure out how the coverage got so good without a real consolidated base below, but I’d put it right up there with some of the best runs we’ve had on Bolton Outlaw during any part of the season.

Bolton Valley, VT 16DEC2022

An image Ty schussing through some of the fresh powder during Winter Storm Diaz near Mid Mountain on Sherman's Pass at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the village circle with fresh snow and snowfall in mid-December during Winter Storm Diaz at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy day in the Bolton Valley Village with some nice soft turns thanks to the ongoing accumulations from Winter Storm Diaz

I decided to wait until the afternoon to head up to Bolton today, figuring I’d let the snow depths continue to build up through the morning thanks to Winter Storm Diaz, but Dylan and his friends hit the mountain around opening time.  They stayed until midday, and said that they enjoyed some nice soft conditions.  When we asked which way to lean in terms of ski width, the word was to go on the wider side. 

An image of snow accumulating from Winter Storm Diaz in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Building accumulations from Winter Storm Diaz in the Bolton Valley Village this afternoon

Ty and I headed up toward midafternoon, and temperatures were right around freezing down in the valley with the snow accumulations on the dense side, but temperatures dropped right down into the 20s F in the Bolton Valley Village.  The Bolton Valley Access Road was just wet in the lower elevations, with easy driving up to about 1,500’, and above that point it was snow covered.

With only so much terrain open, the main center portions of the runs had a bit of the new snow, but there was enough traffic that you were generally skiing on the base snow.  The sides and lower traffic areas of the trails held plenty of soft snow though – places where the snow had either been untouched or pushed there by skiers would definitely get you off the subsurface.  The snow was of course much drier than what we were getting down in the valley.  We were quickly reminded it was a storm day in mid-December when the night skiing lights started coming on not too far after 3:00 P.M., and it was getting dark enough that it was nice to have the lighting assist at that point.

An image of Ty skiing powder on Spillway Lane during Winter Storm Diaz at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dives into some of the powder on Spillway lane this afternoon as we ski some of the new snow from Winter Storm Diaz

I didn’t really make any attempts at officially measuring the new snow, but Ty and I both estimated the accumulations at the mountain as of this afternoon were somewhere in the 6-12” range.  I’m surprised to see the mountain coming in with a report of 4-6” new, since we’d already had 6 to 7” down at the house by this afternoon, so I’d say that’s a conservative snow report based on what we encountered.  While we were up there the snowfall rate was close to an inch per hour based on what we found on our car, but nothing outrageous in terms of what the mountains can get for snowfall intensity.  The snowfall was definitely more intense up there than down the valley at our place, as the afternoon period had lighter snowfall than the morning.