Bolton Valley, VT 02APR2022

An image of Erica and Ty on the Wilderness Lift line after a spring snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in some powder on the Wilderness Lift Line area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty was out with us for some Telemark skiing today, and reported that he was making some of his best Tele turns that he could recall!

With the snow from this latest storm, E and I headed up to Bolton for a session today with Ty, who’s back from school on spring break.  We got to the mountain reasonably early, with some concern about how the powder was going to hold up as the day warmed, but even as of midday that wasn’t a concern at elevation.  It was probably in the 20s F when we arrived, and combined with the breeze, it was chilly.  It was excellent touring weather, and the powder stayed cold and dry.  Even at midday, the higher elevation snow was dry, although snow in the mid to lower elevations in directly sunlight was starting to be affected by the sun.

An image of Ty out on a ski tour after an April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThe mountain was reporting 4 inches of new snow, but I’d say that was a fairly conservative report – I was finding 5-6” new at the 2,000’ elevation, and as much as 8” up above 3,000’.  We started our session with a tour at Wilderness up to ~2,800’ or so.  Wilderness is 100% natural snow, so the decent amount of base in many spots was impressive, but the usual windswept or sunny spots were lean on coverage.  Those areas of lean coverage were fine for grassy and/or low angle slopes, but you wouldn’t have wanted to tackle anything steep that didn’t have existing base.

I’d say the very best snow we encountered yesterday was on Alta Vista – the ridgeline and skier’s right of the headwall were windswept as usual, but the protected left side of the headwall held some nice, semi-packed snow.  Below that though was the real gold mine.  They had groomed the skier’s left of the trail, but the skier’s right held about 8 inches of chowder that was mostly bottomless, and we couldn’t believe how good the skiing was there.  We were wishing they hadn’t groomed anywhere if it could have meant the snow would have been like that.  The Vista Quad was on wind hold until about midday though, so we were up on Alta Vista not too long after the lift started running, and I think that helped set up the incredible snow quality there.

An image of ski tracks in fresh snow from an early April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We found some great areas of midwinter snow out the mountain today in areas of the main mountain where good base was still in place.

It was great to catch a day of skiing with Ty while he was back.  Although he’s got plenty of breaks between Thanksgiving, the long holiday break, sinter break, and spring break, you still never know when schedules and good snow might line up.  Ty said today was probably his best Telemark day ever in terms of comfort level and confidence with his turns, so that was exciting to hear.  He’s still learning and improving, even at this age.  He also finally got to visit the Miso Toh Kome stand for the first time, and he’s a total sushi fiend, so he loved it.  I’ve been sending him pictures every time I’ve gotten food from there over the past few weeks to build it up… and maybe give him a bit of a hard time about missing out as well!

Bolton Valley, VT 28MAR2022

An image of heavy snowfall taking place during a March snowstorm in the village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a sign about ski touring with some fresh snow during a March snowstorm near the base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
This morning saw some additional snow accumulations from our ongoing storm cycle.

With the way it was pounding heavy snow when I left Bolton yesterday, and their morning report indicating a foot of snow for the storm total at that point, I figured another ski session was in order today.

Snow levels had dropped all the way to the valleys yesterday, but they really didn’t start picking up much accumulation at those lower elevations until the evening.  Even the valleys were coated in white this morning, so accumulations started there, and the mountains just tacked on more.

When I first got up to the mountain this morning, I encountered blizzard like conditions due to the snowfall and wind, and the wind was certainly stronger than I saw at any point yesterday.  Like yesterday, the snow would often come in pulses – you’d have light to moderate snowfall with a brightening of the sky, and then visibility would drop and you’d encounter heavy snow.  At one point on today’s tour, intense snow came on so fast that visibility dropped to ~100 feet in just seconds.  I was in the middle of taking some photos, and had use some of the initial exposures because part of what I was shooting about 200 feet away literally became invisible behind the snowfall, and I just had to move on.

An image of a bike ramp in the Wilderness Woods area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
I got this image just before heavy snowfall hit and literally made this whole scene disappear before my eyes.

The temperatures this morning was pretty cold, down in the single digits F, so I found the snow a bit slow except for the less settled/lower density areas.  The more consolidated areas of powder with the finer grains or wind-based compaction were just on the slow side due to the combination of temperatures and the snow density

“Based on my ski sessions from yesterday and today, I wouldn’t put the current skiing in the top 20% of the season’s turns, but probably into that next quintile down. It was definitely good, but even in this fairly lackluster season, we’ve had a number of better storm cycles in terms of both total liquid equivalent, subsurface quality, and powder quality/dryness.”

Based on my ski sessions from yesterday and today, I wouldn’t put the current skiing in the top 20% of the season’s turns, but probably into that next quintile down.  It was definitely good, but even in this fairly lackluster season, we’ve had a number of better storm cycles in terms of both total liquid equivalent, subsurface quality, and powder quality/dryness.  With the continued snowfall, today’s additional liquid equivalent was enough to bump up the resurfacing to really encompass blue and some black terrain.  The biggest bump I think this most recent event gets when it comes to the overall quality of the ski experience was due to skier numbers, which were way down.  I was touring in the late morning today and there were only 3 or 4 tracks coming down Lower Turnpike where the Wilderness Uphill Route is located.  A typical midseason day would definitely have seen more activity by that point.  Sure, it was a Monday, but yesterday was sort of the same; it’s just that time of year when many people don’t have the drive to ski because it’s not wintry where they are, or they’ve moved on to other activities, or whatever.  That’s of course one of the reasons March and April are so great in the mountains – we keep getting snow, and the availability of fresh tracks is a little easier.

I’ve updated yesterday’s accumulations profile with the additions I saw this morning:

340’:  0” -> 1-2”

1,000’: T -> 2”

1,200’:  1” -> 2-3”

1,500’:  2” -> 3”

2,000’:  4” -> 5”

2,500’:  5” -> 6”

3,000’:  6”

3,300’:  6”+

Today’s tour only brought me up to ~2,700’, so I can’t update those numbers from the higher elevations, but the trend between the additional snowfall and settling seemed to be to tack on another inch or two to what was present yesterday afternoon.

We may have another storm coming into the area for next weekend, so we’ll see if we get some turns out of another spring storm cycle.

Bolton Valley, VT 27MAR2022

An image of heavy snow falling and a snowmobile covered with snow during a late March snowstorm at the main base are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in fresh powder from a late March snowstorm on the Cougar Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Checking out some of the fresh tracks in the new snow while out on my ski tour today.

Even with Powderfreak’s timely snow updates providing knowledge of how much snow fell and how it was skiing on Mansfield today, you never really know quite how it’s going to be until you get up on the mountain.  I’d seen Bolton’s initial morning report of 1-3” in the 2,000’-3,000’ elevation range, so when I found 2” at the Timberline Base at 1,500’ on the way up the Access Road, I knew the accumulations had been increasing through the morning.

Arriving at the main base, I started out the ski day with a tour up to the Wilderness Summit at ~3,150’, and someone had also broken trail up Ricker Mountain, so I followed that for a bit and probably topped out around 3,300’.  This was one of those days where it was definitely nice to be able to start touring above 2,000’ with the elevation dependence of the snowfall.

The powder skiing was great, so after my tour, I hung around for some lift-served laps as well. There was plenty of fresh snow in those runs, since I was able to connect over to parts of Wilderness on those runs for powder laps.  As of midday, there was already a solid resurfacing of the low angle terrain, so aside from any scoured areas, the powder on that terrain was skiing beautifully.  Even low-angle terrain that had been skier packed was excellent, so this new snow had adhered nicely to the subsurface.  On one of my lift-served runs, I saw this in play with the quiet turns of skiers on Bear Run and Sprig O’ Pine as I passed over on the Vista Quad.

An image of snowfall and drifting snow at the Wilderness Summit during a late March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Up at the Wilderness Summit today, with some interesting snowdrifts starting to form

I’m not sure how much liquid equivalent has been put down at elevation with this storm, since we’re certainly not getting as much liquid down here in the valley as the mountains are.  We’ve had about 0.12” of liquid from this event down here, but based on how the powder turns felt today, the mountains had probably seen 0.3-0.5” up high as of midday?  Anyway, medium angle terrain was a mixed bag in terms of sufficient resurfacing.  In areas of untracked powder over at Wilderness, I was generally getting bottomless turns even up to some single black terrain.  There were some great turns in areas that hadn’t been scoured.  When I was over skiing the lift-served terrain on Vista though, you were definitely getting down to the old base on the blues and blacks – there certainly hasn’t been enough liquid equivalent put down with this event to hold up to those levels of skier traffic.

Today it was snowing all the way down to the valley floor, but accumulations didn’t start until ~1,000’.  Here’s the new snow accumulations profile I found around midday:

340’:  0”

1,000’: T

1,200’:  1”

1,500’:  2”

2,000’:  4”

2,500’:  5”

3,000’:  6”

3,300’:  6”+

Once above the 2,000’ level, there weren’t any massive increases in accumulations that I saw, just sort of slow, steady increase, as the profile shows.  The powder was meaty as Powderfreak had indicated in his report, so powder turns were great.

The snowfall today ranged from huge, pounding flakes, to lighter episodes where the snow continued, but the sky would brighten.  It was really pounding when I left, and made me want to stay for another run or two.  I’m not sure if it can keep up at today’s snowfall pace overnight, but tomorrow would obviously be another great day if it did.

An image of heavy snowfall near the base of the Wilderness Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another view of some of the heavy snowfall coming down today near the base of the Wilderness Chair

In terms of not quite knowing what it’s going to be like until you get there, today definitely delivered.    Overall, the snow was great, and so was the scenery.  It was often snowing hard with those big flakes, but the light levels and visibility were often pretty high because it’s now late March.

Bolton Valley, VT 13MAR2022

A black and white image of Jay skiing powder after Winter Storm Quinlan on the Spell Binder trail in the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing the powder from Winter Storm Quinlan in the KP Glades area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
As long as you knew the areas that have held onto good base snow, there was some great off piste skiing today thanks to Winter Storm Quinlan, as E demonstrates in the KP Glades.

Today was the day after the storm (Winter Storm Quinlan), and the weather had settled down.  E and I headed up for morning turns at Timberline, and the conditions were great.  It was still cold by March standards, somewhere in the teens F in the morning.  The storm total reported by Bolton Valley was around 18 inches.

We spent our entire morning at Timberline, and just stayed there since there was plenty of snow even down to 1,500’, and there was still some wind around as we hit 2,500’.  My depth checks generally revealed about 12” of new snow after settling down in the Timberline  elevations, which with the density at the beginning of the storm was plenty to cover most on piste terrain.  Initially, the headwalls of the steepest terrain areas were closed, since they had been scoured by the winds and thus not covered as well as they otherwise would have been.  The traverses below them were in good shape though, so that gave you access to run after run of untracked powder on trails like Spell Binder.  Eventually, patrol even opened the Spell Binder headwall, but you had to be quite cautious going down the most scoured sections.

An image of Jay skiing powder from Winter Storm Quinlan on the Spell Binder Trail of the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Jay enjoys some of that Winter Storm Quinlan powder today on Spell Binder

For off piste runs, you had to know the areas with good base depths, but the skiing in those areas was excellent.  The usual steepest areas were still sketchy of course, as one storm can only do so much to cover up areas with poor base depths.  E and I had a great run in the lower KP Glades, and when we showed it to Dylan and Parker once they arrived it the early afternoon, they were pretty impressed with the conditions as well.  E and I left around 1:00 P.M., but the boys did a lot of off piste exploring in the afternoon, and my Dylan’s ski got a solid core shot to show for it.

“My depth checks generally revealed about 12” of new snow after settling down in the Timberline elevations, which with the density at the beginning of the storm was plenty to cover most on piste terrain.”

The parking lots up at the Village were already full when we arrived in the morning, so the Timberline Quad had intermittent periods with a lift queue as the people arriving made their way up to the main mountain, but thankfully those died off as people dispersed.  Bolton opened the new expansion to the Timberline Lodge for the first time this weekend, and it looks quite nice.  I hear they are also going to use it as rentable space for conferences and events, but it’s going to be a great addition to the space in the lodge.​

Bolton Valley, VT 12MAR2022

An image of the parking lots containing cars covered with snow during Winter Storm Quinlan at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing strong winds and heavy snow drifting during Winter Storm Quinlan at the Wilderness Summit area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
40 to 50 MPH winds and heavy snowfall from Winter Storm Quinlan raked the Wilderness Summit today.

Our latest system, Winter Storm Quinlan, was just getting going today, but once it got rolling, it was quite a ride, and I’d say that term applies to both the skiing and the driving.  Snowfall rates down here at the house were running at around an inch an hour during earlier day, and the higher elevations were obviously doing at least that well.  With that in mind, I decided to hit the mountain in the afternoon, by which point there should have been a good chance at a solid resurfacing of the slopes.  I had no idea how long the lifts were going to hold out in terms of the wind, so I packed midfats and fat skis, with skins for both.  It’s always a good insurance policy to have the skins on hand for these types of storm days.

E opted out of heading up with me, since she suspected the driving on the access road was going to be outrageously hairy, and that the storm conditions on the hill were going to brutal.  She was, of course, correct on both accounts.  On the drive up the Bolton Valley access road, I saw two cars that had ditched on their descents.  That wasn’t bad compared to some storms, but it was certainly a sign.  Both vehicles had gone off at those steep bottom pitches of the access road as it makes its final dive into the Winooski Valley, which is a common area for cars to bail.  For one of the vehicles, a tow truck was just getting set up to pull it out, and it looked like the operator was going to need to take up the entire roadway to do it.  Thankfully, he waved me by just as he was about to rig up.  In the midst of the heavy snowfall, the scene felt like something out of “Highway Through Hell”.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a big rig off the road, but the weather fit the bill.  I could see that there were multiple plows working the road to try to keep up with the snowfall, because it was constantly pouring down and making the driving rough.

An image of heavy snowfall in the Bolton Valley Ski Resort Village in Vermont during Winter Storm Quinlan
Heavy snowfall in the Bolton Valley Village this afternoon during Winter Storm Quinlan

Up above 2,000’ at the resort, Quinlan was going full tilt in terms of both snowfall rates and wind.  Obviously the skiers and riders were dressed for it and took it in stride, but you could see that Village elevations had already taken quite a pounding during the day.  By that point, the storm had put down 8-10” of new snow in the Village, and the parking lots hadn’t been plowed since the morning.  Moving through the lots was tough with all that snow, and cars without 4WD/AWD and clearance, were definitely struggling to get around.  I got a spot right in the top lot from someone who had recently left, but I spent a good amount of time packing and checking my spot to ensure that I was going to be able to get out later.

I hopped on the Snowflake Lift and took a run on Sprig O’ Pine to find that indeed there had been quite a resurfacing of the slopes.  That 8-10” of snow certainly wasn’t fluff, and it had started out quite dense, allowing it to bond to the subsurface.  The Vista Quad and Wilderness Chair were already down on wind hold, and just as I skied up to the entrance of the Mid Mountain Chair, it went down on wind hold as well.  When Mid Mountain goes down, you know the wind is serious.

I could have done some additional laps on Snowflake or headed down to the Timberline Quad, but I really didn’t have a sense for how long they might be able to keep running with the winds.  So, I grabbed my skins from the car and headed to the Wilderness Uphill Route.  The Lower Turnpike area was sheltered from the winds as usual, but above 3,000’ on the ridgeline, the winds were just brutal.  The winds had to be 40 to 50 MPH sustained, and when I hit the final traverse of Peggy Dow’s to the Wilderness Summit, I almost couldn’t skin across because there were already waist-high drifts blocking the route.  I had to break trail along the eastern edge of the traverse and cut between the drifts and the trees.  Conditions at the Wilderness Summit were a maelstrom, and even in the most sheltered spot I could find, it was still so windy that packing up my skins was a struggle.  I laughed to even think of the upper lifts running under those conditions.

I’d say the snowfall accumulations at that point were rough 8-10” at ~2,000’ and 10-12” at 3,000’, and the skiing, as one would expect, was excellent.  As noted, there had been dense snow at the start of the storm, and everything of moderate pitch, or even higher angle pitch if the subsurface was smooth, had been resurfaced.  I’d seen a couple small groups of folks descending while I was heading up, but after that, I saw nobody.  I essentially had the entire main mountain area to myself at that point, and it was just point, go, and ski lots of fresh powder.

An image of ski tracks in powder snow during Winter Storm Quinlan at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With all the upper lifts down on wind hold, I had the run of the mountain and plenty of powder on today’s descent from Wilderness.

An image of the Miso Kome restaurant Menu with snow from Winter Storm Quinlan in the base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWith the solitude I’d experienced out on my tour, the intensity of the ongoing storm, and the fact that it was already after 4:00 P.M., I expected to return to a deserted base area.  But that wasn’t the case; the Snowflake Lift and Mighty Mite were still running, and some folks were even skiing.  After being up in the 40-50 MPH winds, the 20-30 MPH winds around the base area did feel a bit tamer.  I couldn’t believe that the new Miso Kome Japanese food stand outside the base lodge was operating, but I’d yet to have a chance to try it, so despite the stormy conditions, I took it as a sign.  If they were willing to stay open during a storm like this, then hey, I’ll take the opportunity to try out their food.  While attempting to read their menu, which was on a sign pitched several feet away from the stand, it was snowing so hard that I had to keep wiping off the new snow just to get through the various items.  It had to be snowing at around 2”/hour at that point.  Inside the lodge, everything appeared to be quite normal, and I was even able to grab a couple of pizzas from Fireside Flatbread to bring home to the family.  So I guess storm or no storm, the services roll on at the resort.

An image of the base are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont during Winer Storm Quinlan
Despite the fury of Winter Storm Quinlan, a few brave skiers and riders were still out and about around the base area at Bolton Valley this afternoon

The final part of Saturday’s outing was the descent down the access road.  I’ve obviously been down that road in many, many storms, but the timing of this one with the heavy snowfall rates made it one of the more challenging descents I can recall.  We were crawling down the road.  Cars were moving at a snail’s pace because the intense snowfall made it hard for the plows to keep up, and the road surface was so slick that you’d almost be slipping off the edge at a full stop.  On more than one occasion, I opted to ride the crown of the road because just the natural drainage slope in your lane wanted to guide you off.  About halfway down, we caught a nice boost from a plow that was on the way up and set up some added traction to the center of the road.  I used that slice of extra traction as much as possible for the remainder of the descent.

It was great to get home with the food and talk about the whole experience at dinner, and all told, that was certainly one of the more eventful ski outings of the season.

Bolton Valley, VT 26FEB2022

An image of Erica and Tyler getting ready to ski some powder from Winter Storm Oaklee below the Spell Binder headwall at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder from Winter Storm Oaklee in the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty out there charging through the powder from Winter Storm Oaklee at Bolton Valley

This morning, Ty, E, and I headed up to Bolton Valley to check out the snow from Winter Storm Oaklee.  The boys were both asleep as E and I were just about to leave to get in on some of the fresh powder, and we assumed they were just going to sleep in.  Ty just happened to wake up at the right time, and he was excited to join us, so that was fortuitous timing for him!

Having clear skies, comfortable winter temperatures, and about a foot of fresh snow held the potential for some great skiing.  Based on my snow density observations down at the house, the storm cycle progressed from denser 8-10% H2O snow into some impressive 2-4% H2O champagne, and indeed what we found out there at Bolton today was some very high quality powder.  This was also the first chance for E to try out her new Rossignol Spicy 7 HD skis, and she was very happy with how they felt with today’s conditions.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm Oaklee at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E dancing through today’s powder with some impressive contrast between the cold smoke, bright sun, and snowpack

The denser snow from the front end of the storm cycle wasn’t too evident underfoot actually, so the only major downside of today’s powder skiing was that it wasn’t quite bottomless.  Depending on the pitch, you were certainly touching down on the subsurface, but on everything except for the steepest terrain, the powder turns were quite good.  On moderate-angle terrain you could typically get by with 80-90% bottomless skiing, and because the powder was just so incredibly dry, you could ride it on lower angle terrain and it skied really well because of such low impedance.

An image of Jay skiing off piste in the powder from Winter Storm Oaklee at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Jay getting a taste of the off piste Winter Storm Oaklee powder today at Bolton

Measurements throughout the morning revealed plenty of 8-12” powder depths, and we just ended up staying down at Timberline for our entire session because there was rarely a lift queue of note.  A lot of trails weren’t open simply because the headwalls didn’t have quite enough snow to cover them up fully, but routes were available to traverse below them, and all that terrain was just loaded with quality powder.  We generally stayed on piste because there was plenty of powder available there, and it was the better option anyway.  Some off piste areas are dicey because of the recent warmth, but the off piste areas that are typically protected from the warmth and are well manicured were in great shape, so we did have some nice turns in those spots.

Storms like this are where one’s knowledge of their local hill really comes into play for putting together a fun session vs. one where you’re constantly dodging rocks and logs, wrecking your skis, or even worse, potentially wrecking yourself.  Although we did spend most of our time on piste over the weekend because there was plenty of available powder there, our travels also brought us into some off piste lines that we trusted, and we found great turns in those areas.

An image of Ty jumping while skiing the Wood's Hole area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
You wanted to be careful about which off piste areas you skied today due to the recent warmth, but the usual protected spots were skiing quite well with the fresh powder.

From conversations with friends and colleagues who have skied in different spots in the Northern Greens over the past few days, it sounds like with respect to off piste turns, the farther north you go, the better the base gets.  These next couple of bread and butter systems that are coming though this week should only help in that regard, and then we’ll have to see if that mixed system that’s farther out there in time can further substantiate the base.

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 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.