Brandon Gap, VT 02FEB2019

An image showing Erica, Ivan, Dy;an, and Ty skiing powder in one of the great backcountry glades created by the Rochester/Randolph Area Sport Trail Alliance at Brandon Gap in Vermont
An image of Ivan jumping in powder snow at RASTA's Brandon Gap backcountry recreation area in Vermont.
Ivan blasts through some of the powder we found today on our ski outing at RASTA’s Brandon Gap backcountry recreation area.

Today the family headed to Brandon Gap for some backcountry skiing.  Dylan’s friend Ivan is visiting, and he joined us as well for his very first backcountry skiing experience.  He doesn’t actually have any backcountry ski gear, but we were able to set him up with some Alpine Trekkers and a pair of Erica’s older skins that fit his skis almost perfectly.  We also had the advantage of nicely warming temperatures today, so we waited until the afternoon, and arrived at the Bear Brook Bowl Access and Trailhead on Vermont Route 73 to cloudy skies and temperatures around 20 F.

There are multiple trail pods at Brandon Gap, but for this tour I chose to stick with the same No Name Backcountry Area that I’d visited last March.  It’s an efficient touring area that heads right up from the parking lot with almost zero approach, and I didn’t expect we’d have too many curves thrown at us since I had a good idea of the lay of the land.

An image of Ivan and Dylan looking at the map at one of the trailheads at RASTA's Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area in Vermont
Dylan and Ivan check out the map as we begin our ski tour at RASTA’s Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area this afternoon.

“The powder we found was beautifully light and dry, and generally 12 to 24 inches in depth, with the highest reading I obtained at 26 inches.”

The skin track was well established as usual, and in this case it was almost a bit too well packed because there was some occasional slipping on the steeper pitches.  We quickly found that all you had to do was slide a bit to the left or right into the untracked snow and you’d find sufficient purchase.  Ivan had to get used to using the Alpine Trekkers, but by the end of the ascent he was really getting it down.  There had been about a dozen other vehicles in the parking area, but we only saw one other group out in the No Name pod.

An image of Erica removing the skins from her skis at the top of the No Name section of RASTA's backcountry recreation area at Brandon Gap in VermontFor our descent we headed far to the skier’s left, father than I’d traversed on my previous visit, and we got to ski one of the leftmost glades that had perhaps three or four previous tracks.  The terrain is generally in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range or so, and the snowpack is quite prodigious.  It was too deep for me to easily estimate based on any pole measurements, but there really aren’t any deficiencies and everything you could possibly want to be covered certainly is.  The powder we found was beautifully light and dry, and generally 12 to 24 inches in depth, with the highest reading I obtained at 26 inches.  The composition of the subsurface was pretty inconsequential because you just weren’t having to get anywhere near it, but from what we could tell it didn’t seem overly crusty.  Temperatures stayed very comfortable, and the skies were just cloudy until about midafternoon when it started to snow in association the new small system that’s coming into the area.

An image of Erica and Dylan helping Ivan out of the powder snow during a ski tour at the Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area in Vermont
Erica and Dylan have fun chaining up to try to help Ivan out of the powder today at Brandon Gap.

We stopped off in the Mad River Valley for some Mad Taco on the way home, and business appeared to be booming based on how packed it was.  I’m sure resorts throughout the state were loaded with visitors today thanks to the great conditions and moderate temperatures.

Bolton Valley, VT 30JAN2019

An image of the spell Binder trail with ski tracks in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of the Timberline Mid Station area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Touring up to the Timberline Mid Station today with a bit of light snowfall in the air

We’ve been under the effects of Winter Storm Jayden since yesterday, with a half foot of snow or more falling in the area as of this morning.  I decided to get a short ski tour in at Bolton Valley, where they were reporting a foot of new snow.

There were several cars at the base of Timberline, with a very nice skin track in place, and the trip up to the Timberline Mid Station was quick.  Depth checks revealed 6 to 8 inches of powder at the base elevations of 1,500’, and 8 to 9 inches up at the mid station elevations.  Although the powder wasn’t especially deep today, there was enough of it that I wasn’t worried about hitting the subsurface, and the base is actually quite soft anyway due to snow from other recent storms.

Conditions were just about perfect for being out on the slopes today, with temperatures around 20 F, no wind, and light snowfall filling the air.  We’ve got some cold temperatures on the way for the next couple of days before they moderate over the weekend.

Stowe – Spruce Peak & Smuggler’s Notch Sidecountry, VT 27JAN2019

An image showing very heavy snowfall in the Mansfield parking lot at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image of the Sunny Spruce Quad at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Snowfall was the name of the game today at Stowe, with the flakes intensifying throughout the afternoon and freshening up the slopes on every run.

While the snowy weather at Stowe today was just what we’d all expected, the makeup of my ski day turned out to be dramatically different.  I was scheduled to work on the Magic Carpet with Harrison this afternoon, but he ended up being a bit under the weather and we were informed that he wouldn’t be coming to the BJAMS ski program.  Ty was supposed to be working with another group, but two out of the four student there didn’t show, and one of the remaining students was the son of the chaperone, so they were all set without Ty.  When all was said and done, and we’d waited for any late arrivals, Erica said that Ty and I should just head off and ski together.

Wind holds were rampant today, with the Fourrunner Quad, the Gondola, and the Sensation Quad down at a minimum.  Winds actually weren’t bad at all down low, but the Sunny Spruce had quite a lift queue with so many other lifts on hold.  After a warm up run on the Meadows Quad, Ty and I decided to wait in the Sunny Spruce queue once, then go adventuring and take an exorbitantly long run to avoid dealing with any lift lines.

“As we finished up and headed back toward our car in the Mansfield Parking Lot, snowfall was in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range and slowed traffic leaving the resort, but it sure was impressive and will no doubt be freshening the slopes even further.”

Since we had all afternoon, my plan was to explore the lines that dive off toward the notch from the top of Sunny Spruce.  I’d seen the obvious lines many times before, but I’d never take my group down there without some reconnaissance first.  With just Ty and I, today was the perfect day to get that done.  The route starts off steeply, with some obvious trimmed lines through mixed evergreens and hardwoods.  The pitch then moderates a bit, and you get into hardwoods where natural lines abound everywhere.  The new powder was only about 6 inches deep, so Ty and I sought out some of the shallower lines, but there are countless steep lines in there that would support powder of any depth.

An image of the Barnes Camp building near Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching a view of the Barnes Camp area as we return from our adventures in Smuggler’s Notch

We generally kept to skier’s left, shallowing out our lines and knowing that we had to head that way eventually.  There were several sets of tracks in there, so it was clearly a traveled area, but I was bit surprised as we approached the bottom and saw a river instead of Route 108.  It turns out that we were on the near side of the valley away from the road, but we were easily able to cross the frozen river, then hook up with the boardwalks coming from near Barnes Camp, and get back to the resort.  We headed to the Midway Lodge for a break and a snack, and with the wind holds the Lodge was nearly deserted.

A Google Earth map tracing a ski tour from Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort down into the Smuggler's Notch sidecountry in Vermont
A map of today’s ski tour from Spruce Peak down into the Smuggler’s Notch sidecountry along the West Branch of the Little River and back to Barnes Camp

We finished off the day with a few more runs on Spruce Peak, and any lift queues had essentially evaporated by that point.  The snowfall continued to intensify though, and the skiing just kept improving every run.  As we finished up and headed back toward our car in the Mansfield Parking Lot, snowfall was in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range and slowed traffic leaving the resort, but it sure was impressive and will no doubt be freshening the slopes even further.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 26JAN2019

An image of evergreens bent over with loaded snow in the backcountry near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow in a glade off the Heavenly Highway trail on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dropping into one of the glades off Heavenly Highway today to take advantage of the ample powder in the higher elevations at Bolton Valley.

I really hadn’t planned to ski today.  During the midweek period we picked up some snow from Winter Storm Indra, but there was mixed precipitation with that system that would certainly require some resurfacing to softened up the slopes.  Between the dense, backside snow from that storm cycle, as well as additional lake-effect snow from the past day or so, we’d picked up 2 to 3 inches of new accumulation at the house, but I really hadn’t thought the mountains would be quite ready for prime time.  I was thinking the bit of snow we’re expected tomorrow would just about be enough, so I was happy to relax and spend the day inside getting some work done.

Well, things changed a bit when I was reading through the Northern New England thread at American Weather Forums, as saw Powderfreak’s post noting up to 8 inches of accumulation at Stowe.  I quickly checked Bolton Valley’s report and saw 7” in the past 72 hours, as well as the powder tracks on their web cam and realized it was definitely time to go for a tour.

An image from Bolton Valley's live webcam on January 26th, 2019
I checked Bolton Valley’s webcam today and things looked quite good, but when I saw those ski tracks in the powder on Valley Road, I knew it was time for a visit.

It was midafternoon by the time I’d figured out about all the snow, but just so Mother Nature could drive the point home about how much she’d been doing in the snow department, I arrived in the Village to find a steady light snow falling.  A quick check on the powder depths at the 2,000’ Village elevations revealed 6 inches, and as I began my trip up the Bryant Trail I found that the trees all around me were loaded with snow.  The recent snows had fallen with minimal wind, so evergreens and deciduous trees alike were just caked in fresh powder.

“The new snow depths continued to increase with elevation, and by the time I was getting up near the 3,000’ mark I was finding 8 to 9 inches of powder in many places.”

The new snow depths continued to increase with elevation, and by the time I was getting up near the 3,000’ mark I was finding 8 to 9 inches of powder in many places.  I’d initially been thinking about a fairly low-angle tour like the one I’d done back on December 27th, but my plans quickly changed when I saw how deep the powder was getting.  I continued on up past the Bryant Cabin to Heavenly Highway to extend my tour a bit more and incorporate some steeper terrain.

I put together a classic descent that brought me through Gotham City as well as a host of other glades, it definitely delivered some great powder turns.  In terms of bottomless quality, there were certainly differences between those depths up around 3,000’ and the depths down around 2,000’ – there was a lot more flexibility with respect to slope angle up high, with moderate and even steeper angles easily in play.  Another important factor that I discovered during my tour was that open areas and deciduous trees were the way to go for the deepest powder.  The dense evergreen areas, which are often an excellent bet for snow protection when it comes to wind, offered much shallower powder today.  Since the snow in the trees had been unloaded during the midweek storm, and the recent snows fell with minimal wind, the boughs had been reloaded with all the powder, keeping a lot of it off the ground.  Open glades with substantial amounts of deciduous trees like Gun Sight were great examples of the effects of letting the new snow get down through the trees.

An image of the Gun Sight area on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With the way the evergreens captured snow snow from our recent storms, open areas like Gun Sight offered some of the best powder today

I did stop by the deli after the tour today, but we already had dinner planned so I decided to grab some of their maple lattes for the family.  That’s definitely a fun offering that they have now, and the flavor is certainly very “Vermonty”.  E described it as “homey” compared to some other maple lattes she’s had.

An image showing 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 map with GPS Tracking data from today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network overlayed onto Google Earth

On the weather side of things, we’ve got a small system and associated cold front expected to come through the area tomorrow, and then a bit larger storm in the midweek period that should continue to improve the powder even further.

Bolton Valley, VT 20JAN2019

An image of Ty skiing the Lost Girlz area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica spraying powder as she skis in fresh snow from Winter Storm Harper at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
E throws up some powder today during our Timberline adventures in the snows of Winter Storm Harper

The current weather system affecting our area has been named Winter Storm Harper, and its snowfall began around here yesterday afternoon.  There was a long lead up of light snow into the evening, but overnight it finally started to unload snowfall at roughly an inch per hour.  The snowfall density hovered around a fairly standard 10% H2O because the flakes were quite small and temperatures were in the single digits F, but those small flakes still managed to accumulate at quite a pace throughout the morning.

An image of skis at the Timberline Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontTemperatures were only expected to stay in the single digits F today, so I had initially planned on heading for some backcountry skiing to stay warm, but once we saw that there was zero wind and all of Bolton Valley’s lifts were running, our plans shifted to riding the lifts.  We headed up to Timberline around midday and found continued snowfall that was robust enough to challenge both the road and parking lot plows to keep up with it.

“…with the storm cycles we’ve had recently it’s just been resurfacing after resurfacing. So, you can certainly go fast and big on the slopes, and that’s just what the boys had fun doing today on the steep and deep terrain.”

We started off with a quick run on Spell Binder to get warmed up, and the depth of the powder seemed to range from 15 to 25 inches.  I’d say the low end values would represent what had come from this storm, with the deeper areas including snows from previous storm cycles.  Anything in that range of depths was more than enough to keep you floating though, since it was fairly hearty mid weight powder.

An image of Dylan skiing powder snow in the KP Glades are of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan plowing through lots of untracked powder today out in the KP glades

That introduction on Spell Binder set the tenor for the day though, and it less us know that both the depths of the powder, and the degree of resurfacing called for steep terrain and plenty of it.  With that in mind we spent the afternoon visiting a ton of powder-filled, steeply-sloped favorites like Lost Girlz, Thundergoat Pass, KP Glades, Sure Shot Trees, Doug’s Solitude, etc.  Off piste coverage is excellent, and with the storm cycles we’ve had recently it’s just been resurfacing after resurfacing.  So, you can certainly go fast and big on the slopes, and that’s just what the boys had fun doing today on the steep and deep terrain.

An image of Dylan jumping on his skis in the Thundergoat Pass area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan catching some air on Thundergoat Pass today as we focused on the steep and deep terrain thanks to our recent storm cycles

We took a mid-session break in the Timberline Base Lodge to have some food and pop in some hand/boot warmers, and seats were just about filled, but we were able to get a table within a minute or two.  Food options are fairly minimal now from what we saw, but there were fries and chicken fingers for hot items.  I’m sure it’s hard for the resort to manage the availability of food services at the Timberline Base Lodge because of the variability in its opening schedule, but we’d certainly be ordering more food if they had more available.  We’d love to go back to the South of Solitude days as well!

An image of Ty skiing powder snow in the trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty slicing up the powder in the trees today

Overall all though, it was simply fantastic to get the whole family out for a lift-served Timberline powder day, and I think this was our first one of those this season.  As usual, Ty was very impressed with how the lot was quite full of vehicles, but people seemed to be nonexistent on the slopes.  I guess the message is that they were well spread out.  E was cold and didn’t come out for our last run, but it was a big hit with the boys, especially Dylan.  We hit Doug’s Solitude to Adam’s Solitude, and he jumps off big ledges, lots of untracked powder, and a chance for Dylan to ride his favorite return track to the base with all its whoops, jumps, walls, and endless halfpipe nature.

Bolton Valley, VT 10JAN2019

An image of drifted snow and some heavy snowfall behind the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing ski tracks in powder snow on the Spell Binder trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Catching first tracks this morning on Spell Binder during our ongoing winter storm

We’re in the midst of a long, strung out winter storm system that began way back on Monday evening.  The storm has already dropped 20 inches of snow down here at the house, and I’d expect some of the local resorts to report totals in the 30-inch range by tomorrow morning.  With the northwest winds driving the moisture into the mountains, I wasn’t surprised to find that the Vista Quad was on wind hold again this morning, just as it had been when Ty and I went out for some runs yesterday.  I’d been contemplating both lift-served turns up at the main mountain, or touring down at Timberline, but the Vista Quad remaining on wind hold sealed the deal on some skinning at Timberline.

“Snow had settled in there nicely and I measured about 22 inches of surface snow atop the headwall.”

I arrived at Timberline to find fairly heavy snowfall and not a lot of plowing.  I had to wrap around to the far entrance to gain entry, but I plowed my way through 8 to 12 inches of snow in the Subaru and got over to the main parking area.  There were a few cars present, but I was worried that I’d be breaking trail on the ascent when I found no signs of a skin track next to the Timberline Base Lodge.  Fortunately, the lower areas of the track had just been erased by the winds, and once I got to Twice as Nice there was a great track in place.

An image of the depth of the powder on Spell Binder at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWinds had definitely affected the snow, but after looking around at the options by the Timberline Mid Station, I found that Spell Binder was entirely untracked and decided to the skier’s right would offer up some great turns.  Snow had settled in there nicely and I measured about 22 inches of surface snow atop the headwall.  The turns were great, but even there the snow had been affected by the winds, so the powder wasn’t quite as light and airy as it was in the trees.  I’d popped into the trees briefly at the top of my ascent to take off my skins out of the wind, and it was dead calm in there with beautifully fluffy snow.  The trees should really offer up some great skiing in the coming days!

Bolton Valley, VT 09JAN2018

An iamge of Ty skiing powder in the Bonus Woods at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder in the trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Today’s trip to Bolton Valley revealed some nice accumulations of dense powder in the trees.

A long, strung out winter storm system has been affecting our area for the past couple of days.  It started out with some snow from a warm front overnight into yesterday morning, then there was a bit of a lull, and today the main part of the storm came through.  Ty was off from school today due to the storm, and I decided to work at home, so we had a chance to head up to the mountain in the afternoon for a few turns.

The first part of this storm had some mixed precipitation, so we were really in no rush to jump out on the slopes early, instead deciding to let some of the new snow build up during the day.  Today’s snow here at the house was quite dense, coming in in the 10-13% H2O range based on my analyses, so while it wasn’t going to be the ultimate in fluffy powder, it certainly had the potential to further resurface the slopes.

“I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches.”

While working today, I watched the Bolton Valley Live Webcam, and saw that the Vista Quad stopped running at some point around midday.  I figured it was on wind hold, but Mid Mountain and Snowflake were still running, so we still headed up for a few lower mountain runs.  The wind was certainly whipping around up there, but most of the lower mountain areas were reasonably sheltered, and the trees were especially nice because it seemed like a lot of snow had settled in there.  I did some depth checks in the trees and frequently found surface snow depths of 12 to 15 inches.  I’m sure some of that is from a previous storm or two, but as their afternoon report, the resort was indicating 7 inches of snow and overall there have been some healthy, dense accumulations from these past couple events.  Indeed we found the new snow on the mountain to be dense as my analyses had suggested, but boy did it constitute a resurfacing of the slopes.  If you were on the new snow there was no touching the subsurface, and you typically sunk into the powder just a few inches anyway because of the density.

An image of Ty skiing powder in the trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty out in the trees slashing up some of that dense powder from this latest winter storm

As of about 9:30 P.M. this evening, the flakes falling have become much larger down here at the house, so the snow is getting fluffier.  This drier snow on top of the dense stuff from earlier today is just what we like – the perfect right-side-up deposition for those powder turns.

Stowe, VT 06JAN2019

An image of Dylan and Molly getting ready to ride their snowboards in some powder on the Competition Hill area of Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan snowboarding in powder on Upper Meadows at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan charging through some of this afternoon’s powder on his new snowboard as we kick off the BJAMS ski program for the season at Stowe.

Today was our first BJAMS ski program day of the season at Stowe, and I was assigned a snowboarding group consisting of Dylan and Molly.  Molly has been riding for a couple of seasons, and Dylan has been snowboarding before, but it looks like the plan is to have him work on it more this year.  He’s used Erica’s snowboard in the past, but this fall at the Waitsfield ski swap we got him his own brand new board, a Rome Mini Agent Rocker.  It’s a bit smaller and lighter than E’s board, it’s got a softer flex, and it has some rocker as well, so we expected it to be a much better fit for him.  He could already feel the differences when we were installing the bindings yesterday and he put on the board – he could flex it easily and said it felt great.

He confirmed those impressions today after his first run on Spruce Peak.  I was still getting on my gear in the lodge, but he took an early run with Ty in the Meadows area and said he loved the feel of the board.  He also indicated that the overall riding was fantastic with all the new powder out there, and that can’t help but make any appropriate board feel sweet.

“Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session.”

Indeed we had a small weather system in the area that started dropping snow overnight, and there was easily 4 to 6 inches of fresh powder out there for today’s session.  There have been some rounds of fluffy snow with this system, but overall I’d say the snow settled in to produce some medium-weight powder, and it did a great job of resurfacing the slopes from what we experienced in the Meadows area.  We stuck to the Meadows Quad all afternoon because there really wasn’t a need to go anywhere else.  There’s a top-to-bottom continuous fall line with no significant flat areas to deal with on the boards, there’s a gradient of pitches to use across the big open face, and we were essentially getting free refills on powder each run.

An image of Molly snowboarding on the Upper Meadows trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Molly dropping in for another round of powder thanks to Mother Nature’s refills

“The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder.”

The riding was simply glorious, and you could see how much fun Molly and Dylan were having as they surfed the powder.  Most of Dylan’s previous snowboard experience was in rather marginal/firmer conditions, so he really hadn’t experienced a day like this.  Today he was on a new board with appropriate size and flex, and he was floating on powder.  So as you can imagine, the snowboarding experiences of the past compared to today were like night and day for him.  He was blow away by how much fun it was, and said he would love to snowboard a lot more if the experience was like today.  I let both the kids know that this was the kind of riding that snowboards were initially designed for, so these are indeed great days to pull out the board.

An image of Dylan snowboarding in soft snow at Stowe Mountain Resort in VermontMolly and Dylan are very competent making turns in both directions on their boards, and they can handle slopes up to black diamond pitch – especially with quality snow like we had today.  You could see the confidence in their turns knowing that they wouldn’t have to deal with the hard subsurface.  They’re at the stage where they’re just trying to smooth out their transitions and remove any jerky movements, so I discussed that with them and simply let them ride.  Smoothing out those transitions will come with time on snow, and there’s no better time to enjoy that than with some good powder.

An image of Molly snowboarding in powder on the Upper Meadows trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Molly jumps into some of the powder on Upper Meadows today as the group worked on their turns with the great snow conditions.

As noted, the snow conditions really were fantastic at the mountain, so the only weather-related issue we really had to combat today was the wind.  It was strong, and blowing right at us as we rode the Meadows Quad.  Dylan and I had brought our new Anon MFI balaclavas today to use with our M2 goggles, and I simply can’t overemphasize how great they were during each lift ride.  Having that magnetic seal between the balaclava and the bottom of the goggles seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread as the wind washed over us.  If you hate having to fiddle with your facemask or neck gaiter on every lift ride as you try to seal up those crevices where the biting wind gets in, definitely check out one the MFI-type magnetic systems.

An image of Dylan slashing through some powder on his snowboard at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Slash that pow Dylan!

We’ve got what looks like a snowy week coming for the mountains, so barring some drastic changes to the forecast, we should be looking at some great skiing and riding in the coming days.

Bolton Valley, VT 03JAN2019 (Night)

An image of Jay and Ty having pizza at the Fireside Flatbread restaurant at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty night skiing on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Night lights and snowfall set the scene as Ty rips up some of today’s new snow at Bolton Valley.

Ty and I headed up to Bolton Valley for a few runs this evening to catch up with my friend James and his kids Jack and Lizi.  James is one of the chaperones for their school’s ski program, which has their sessions on Thursday nights at the resort.  They’ve actually had some great Thursday nights so far with respect to conditions.  They had a couple of nice days before the holidays, and they scored again tonight as well with the resort reporting 6 inches of new snow as of this evening.

Up at the mountain we quickly caught up with James and made a run off the Vista Quad.  Like my tour at Timberline this morning, the overall weather was quite nice.  Temperatures were well up into the 20s F, and another bout of snow had come in for the evening to further freshen up the slopes.  Wind was pretty minimal as well, except for up near the Vista Summit where it was howling at times.  The off piste was actually a bit better than what I found this morning, presumably due to some additional snow, but the groomed areas were really what I found to be impressive.  You could still find scratchy areas, but a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs.  The steepest slopes like Spillway weren’t open, which is probably a good idea with respect to safety, since that very firm subsurface is still sitting there lurking under the new snow.

“…a lot of new snow had been groomed into the base, and combined with the additional snow that was falling and had been pushed around by skiers, there were some really soft zones of snow throughout the available runs.”

We caught up with Jack and Lizi for a final run off the Mid Mountain Chair, and I was surprised to see that they headed right down Beech Seal vs, the easier Bear Run route.  They get an hour of ski lessons on each of their program days, and it’s obvious that they’re really coming along in the way they easily tackled Beech Seal.  I could tell that Jack was clearly comfortable by the way he flashed me a peace sign as he buzzed the camera while I was shooting photos.

An image of Jack night skiing on the Beech Seal trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Jack is clearly comfortable skiing Beech Seal this evening as he has time to add a bit of flair and flash the camera.

James and the kids had to head out around 8:00 P.M., but Ty and I went for one more run off the Vista Quad before retiring to Fireside Flatbread for some pizza.  We’d snacked at home a bit earlier, but we’d definitely been saving space all evening for some of their great pie.

It looks like we might have another small system coming through on Saturday night into Sunday, and then there’s the potential for another couple of larger systems midweek, so conditions may improve even further over the next several days.

Bolton Valley, VT 03JAN2019

An image of ski tracks in powder at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing a ski track in powder on the Villager Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching first tracks on Bolton Valley’s Villager trail today thanks to some fresh powder from an overnight Alberta Clipper

An Alberta Clipper system came through the area overnight, dropping a half foot of snow at some of the local resorts by morning, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for a morning ski tour this morning.  With roughly 5 inches of new snow found at the house this morning, and the resort reporting the same, it didn’t seem like there was a huge elevation dependence with this event.  Plus, now that the bullwheel replacement on the Timberline Quad and associated operations are finally done, Timberline is back open for ski touring, so I figured I’d get to check out the conditions there for the first time in a while.

“…I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).”

Temperatures were in the mid to upper 20s F with light snow falling and zero wind, so we’re talking super friendly conditions to be out on the hill.  Since wind was pretty minimal during this event, I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).

An image of a car with fresh snow on it in the parking area near the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Today’s new snow on one of the vehicles in the Timberline parking area

The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible.  It’s rock hard, and in a few exposed places that had presumably seen flowing water, there was simply clear ice as the top layer of base.  There was a nice established skin track in place on the Twice as Nice ascent route, but the ascent was definitely the most challenging part of the tour.  Slightly steeper spots with just powder on ice provided little grip, and you could see that in those areas some people had to diverge out from the main skin track and take shallower routes due to lack of grip with their skins.  Fortunately there were only a handful of spots like that, but navigating them was a definite challenge.  It’s good that there wasn’t much wind with this event because scoured areas would be a nightmare.

“The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible.”

After seeing the conditions on my ascent, it was obvious that the best bet for a descent was going to be something that had previously groomed, and had a fairly shallow angle.  So, I headed down Villager from the Timberline Summit, and that was an appropriate pitch.  I still had to hit a couple of blue/black pitches on Sure Shot on my route, and there was no way to avoid touching the hard subsurface there, even on 115 mm boards.

The Lower Turnpike area with its nice mellow pitch would probably have offered up the most consistent bottomless turns today, but it was nice to get a chance to get out on Timberline again.  I can’t imagine there was any point to skiing ungroomed terrain before this latest storm, and this snow isn’t going to be able to hold up to much traffic, but there are definitely some nice powder turns to be had on terrain of the appropriate pitch.