Bolton Valley, VT 06FEB2021

An image of Ty jumping off a ledge on skis in the Wood's Hole area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks on a powder morning after Winter Storm Peggy on the Spell Binder trails at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Early tracks and some sunshine on Spell Binder this morning

With Bolton Valley reporting 8” in the past 24 hours due to various rounds of snow from Winter Storm Peggy, we headed up for a session at the opening of Timberline this morning.  It was bright and sunny when we got there, but before long it clouded up and flakes started to appear.  For the rest of the morning it was generally cloudy with a bit of snow and the occasional appearance of the sun.

My depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ range revealed new snow depths in the 6-9” range, which was definitely consistent with the snow report.  The powder was pretty dry (3-5% H2O) so the new stuff alone wasn’t quite bottomless on piste on steep terrain, but it skied really well.

An image of Erica skiing powder from Winter Storm Peggy in the Wood's Hole area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Erica dropping through some powder today in the Wood’s Hole area

We ended up spending the entire morning and into the early afternoon at Timberline, starting off with powder runs on the trails, and gradually moving into the trees.  We hit some favorites that we had yet visited this season, like the KP Glades, Lost Girlz, and the Corner Pocket Glades.  Anywhere off piste that hasn’t seen heavy traffic, the new snow just bolstered the depth of that already bottomless snowpack that’s out there.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 31JAN2021

An image of snow-covered branches overhanging a ski trail after Winter Storm Nathaniel on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow covering a stump in the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Out on my ski tour today at Bolton Valley, I found that there was still lots of powder stuck to everything.

I hadn’t been up to the mountain for a couple of days while I waited for the arctic hounds to head out of town, but things were definitely warming up this afternoon, so I hit the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network for a tour.  Temperatures were in the mid-teens F, and with brilliant sunshine and no wind, it was definitely getting much more comfortable out there.

I wanted a relatively quick tour and hadn’t yet visited the trails on the western side of the network below the North Ridge this season, so I headed out in that direction.  At the 2,000’ elevation around the Village I was quite consistently getting settled snowpack depths right around 24”, and in the 2,300’ – 2,400’ elevation near the top of my route, I got a 26” measurement.  Although that’s not especially deep, there’s a lot of liquid in the snowpack, so everything is surprisingly well covered and there aren’t any major ground obstacles to worry about.  Even steep terrain like C Bear Woods and the Holden’s Hollow Glades had plenty of coverage.  I’m sure there would be a few coverage issues on steep terrain for lift-served levels of skier traffic, but with just backcountry traffic, there’s more than enough coverage to ski everything without concern.  Although it had only been a couple of days since the last snows, there had actually been a pretty good amount of traffic on the main routes I traveled, so I had to go off the edges for fresh powder.

A map showing GPS tracking data on Google Earth for a ski tour on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network superimposed onto a Google Earth map

There has definitely been some settling of all the fluff in the forest over the past few days, but there’s still a lot of snow covering everything.  It will be interesting to see what the snow from this next storm does in terms of sticking to what’s out there already.

Bolton Valley, VT 20JAN2021 (P.M.)

An image of Ty and Dylan skiing powder snow left by upslope precipitation during a January storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing trees in the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont during a January snowstorm
Ty charging through the trees of Timberline today as we get out for some turns during our most recent rounds of snow this week at Bolton Valley.

The turns this morning at Bolton Valley were so good, that as soon as I got home, I checked to see if the boys had finished all their school meetings and schoolwork to be able to head up for an afternoon session at Timberline.  I had a midday Zoom meeting anyway, so that gave them time to finish up any remaining work, and once everyone was set, we headed back up to the mountain.

For the afternoon, I switched over from Telemark to alpine gear, since that’s what the boys wanted to do.  It was just great to be out with the boys on a snowy afternoon enjoying some turns, getting some pictures, goofing around in the powder, etc.  I had to break it to them that the turns weren’t quite as insanely good as what I’d encountered in the morning, but that was splitting hairs of course.  The trails were a bit more tracked up due to a few more hours of skier traffic, but we started heading into some of our favorite tree stashes anyway, where the powder was deep and plentiful.

An image of Dylan skiing powder during a January snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIndeed, while it continued to snow during our afternoon session, it was more in the ½-1”/hr range, so certainly decent, but not quite up to the level of what I’d experienced in the morning.  That was until we were leaving though – when we were packing up at the car, the snowfall rate was back up in that 1-2”/hr range again and combined with light heading more toward dusk, visibility dropped way down.

An image of snow falling outside the Timberline Base Lodge during a January snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The snowy scene at Timberline today as we were finishing up for the day.

The Northern New England ski resorts are definitely having the sort of great run of snowy days that we needed to make up for some slower snowfall earlier in the season, and the snow looks to continue right into the coming weekend.

Bolton Valley, VT 20JAN2021 (A.M.)

An image of deciduous trees loaded with fluffy upslope snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the ski patrol hut at the Timberline Summit area during some heavy morning snowfall at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the ski patrol hut at the Timberline Summit as the heavy snowfall pours down this morning at Bolton Valley

LOL, Mother Nature and her snowy ways definitely changed up my plans a bit today.  When I arrived up at Bolton’s Timberline area this morning, I knew it was going to be good – in the parking lot is was snowing big fat flakes, it was in the 20s F, and there wasn’t a trace of wind.  I guess one could make an argument for sunshine being the primo setup vs. the flakes, but I’m definitely partial to the potential for constant refreshing of the surfaces when it’s dumping.

My initial plan was to catch a couple of runs on my way to work for a meeting, and it was just dumping 1-2”/hr snowfall with ski conditions that were off the hook.  It was the kind of snowfall where if you don’t move around much during the lift ride, you find a half inch of accumulation pouring off you when you disembark from the lift.  Although there was no wind down at the base at 1,500’, up at 2,500’ there was a touch of wind, but nothing too serious – all around the mountain you could just see the upslope snow stacking up on everything.  Even the deciduous branches were just loaded with snow, and it was too such a degree that you couldn’t see a thing through areas of the forest that normally let you catch glimpses of adjoining trails.  The heavy snowfall helped to make everything intensely quiet; between the snow piled on the trees, the air filled with huge, fat flakes, and the ground covered with powder, sounds were muffled to almost nothing.

“The heavy snowfall helped to make everything intensely quiet; between the snow piled on the trees, the air filled with huge, fat flakes, and the ground covered with powder, sounds were muffled to almost nothing.”

It’s midweek of course, so the mountain is virtually deserted, and there were powder refills on every run.  It was so good that I had to stick around for an extra run, and then just headed back down to the house for the meeting instead (it was a Zoom meeting anyway).  You know it dumped even in the valley, because I found a fresh 2.2″ on the measurement boards at home

Bolton Valley, VT 18JAN2021

An image of Ty as he about to jump through some tree branches on the Hard Luck trail during Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Erica skiing the Hard Luck trail in snow from Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
E amidst the powder and falling snow of Winter Storm Malcolm as she descends Hard Luck this morning.

We’d already been planning to head back to the mountain today for an early morning start, since Bolton’s highest elevation lifts (Vista Quad and Wilderness Double) never ran yesterday due to high winds.  They both ran fine today and delivered some great skiing on the upper mountain.  Conditions already would have been great, but that extra 3-4” of sub-4% H2O champagne we picked up early this morning put the icing on the cake, and it continued to snow much of the morning on the mountain as well.

” I did a snowpack depth check right around the 3,000’ mark in the Outlaw Woods, and found 32”, which seemed somewhat reasonable with a depth of 30” reported from the Mt. Mansfield Stake.”

I already summed up the VT resort snow totals for Winter Storm Malcolm in a post in the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forum, but ultimately, all the ski areas along the Green Mountain Spine seemed to be in that 1½ to 2 foot range.  Without a heavily consolidated based below what just fell from Malcolm, it’s tough to get settled depths from just this storm because there’s no clear demarcation in the snowpack.  Depth checks of the settled snowpack that I made yesterday were all in the 20”+ range, and it was certainly deep up around 3,000’.  I did a snowpack depth check right around the 3,000’ mark in the Outlaw Woods, and found 32”, which seemed somewhat reasonable with a depth of 30” reported from the Mt. Mansfield Stake.

An image of Ty skiing through fresh snow from Winter Storm Malcolm on the Hard Luck trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe had a fantastic first run down Hard Luck, where we found just a few tracks ahead of ours – it was nice to show the boys what getting out a bit earlier can get you!  I think they might have some manmade snow under there, but it was hard to tell with all the snow from Winter Storm Malcolm providing a very thorough resurfacing.  The resort also opened the Wilderness Chair for the first time this season, and there was a notable queue as it was finally getting ready to open, but it was a fun wait because there was an excited energy among the skiers for it to make its season debut.

An image of a line of people waiting for the Wilderness Double Chair to open for the first time during the 2020-2021 ski season at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An excited crowd awaits the opening of the Wilderness Double Chair for the first time this season.

I can’t speak to the financial aspects, but in terms of snow conditions, it was definitely a solid holiday weekend for Bolton Valley and the Vermont ski areas in general. 

Bolton Valley, VT 17JAN2021

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm while we wait for the Timberline Quad chair to start loading at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing in fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Once the Timberline Quad started loading this morning, we got in some great turns in the fresh powder from Winter Storm Malcolm, as Ty shows here on Spell Binder.

The family was up at Bolton Valley for a ski session this morning, and the mountain reported an additional 6” of snow as of their early report today, making for a 14” storm total at that point.  That will probably go up a bit more for tomorrow since it was still snowing while were there, and indeed the snowfall was heavy at times.

They had a resort-wide power outage in the morning (presumably some heavy, wet snow and/or winds brought something down on the Bolton Valley Access Road), so that delayed opening a bit.  We’d planned to just do lift-served skiing on alpine gear today, but catching wind of the power outage via the snow report, we brought Telemark gear as well, and ascended via the Timberline uphill route to make a quick run there while we waited for the Timberline Quad to open.

An image of Erica skiing on the Twice as Nice Trail during Winter Storm Malcolm at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow from Winter Storm Malcolm continues to fall as Erica enjoys some morning Telemark turns on Twice as Nice.

We switched over to alpine gear once the Timberline Quad started loading, and the skiing was great.  While we were hanging out, we checked total snowpack depth on the Spell Binder trail at around the 2,000’ elevation mark, and generally got depths of 18-20”.

An image of a snow depth measurement stake in Waterbury Vermont with delicate upslope snow sticking to the top and sides of the stake
Back at the house, delicate upslope snow clings to one of our snow stakes out in the back yard. This morning’s liquid analysis revealed the most recent snow came in at 3-4% H2O.

Due to high winds, the uppermost lifts (Vista Quad and Wilderness Double) never opened, so we ended up skiing in just the 1,500’ to 2,500’ elevation range on Timberline.  I know from my experience at the resort yesterday that the snow was notably drier on the upper mountain, so what we skied today in those lower elevations was a bit on the denser side.  The powder had certainly become drier overall with the overnight addition of upslope snow vs. just the dense snow from yesterday, but I bet the snow is even drier in the upper elevations of the main mountain.  With that said, the snow at Timberline was still fantastic, with lots of untracked powder available as ski patrol did their checks and other work to get new trails open.

The mountain is planning to run all the lifts tomorrow as long as the winds die down, so there could be some nice turns on the lifts that didn’t open at all today.

Bolton Valley, VT 16JAN2020

An image of a jeep with trees in the background covered with heavy wet snow from Winter Storm Malcolm at the Timberline Base Area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Timberline Base Lodge during Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Timberline Base Lodge amidst the snow this afternoon.

With Winter Storm Malcolm moving into the area early this morning, there was a major PNW vibe around in the valley – we had huge, moisture-laden flakes falling all morning at the house, and driving through just 2-3” of unplowed snow on the road felt like you were moving through concrete.  It reminded me of being back at Snoqualmie Pass/Alpental.

I gave Mother Nature some time to continue putting down the new snow, then headed up to the mountain for a session this afternoon.  I’d brought gear for both skinning and lift-served skiing, unsure about whether or not there would be COVID-19-related lift queues.  When I reached the Timberline Base and saw the Timberline Quad running for the first time this season with virtually nobody around, it was an easy decision to opt for lift-served skiing.  There were actually no queues at any of the lifts this afternoon, and it was walk-up all the time with numerous empty chairs, so presumably the opening of more terrain took care of any issues that had been creating backups.

An image of a couple of snowboards in the Valley Road Terrain Park area during Winter Storm Malcolm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A couple of snowboarders enjoying some new snow below the Valley Road as dusk approaches

In terms of the snow, it was unquestionably dense down at 1,500’.  I was actually happy with my choice to go with lift-served turns because I appreciated having some packed snow in places and the ability to wander off to the sides into the powder as desired.  The powder would have been a bit easier on my fat skis, but on my midfat Teles it was definitely a workout staying for long periods in the deep, dense untracked snow.  I was happy for some quick reprieves on the groomed areas.  Groomed terrain was skiing very nicely – the packed snow was certainly dense, but not to the level of that slick, wet pack snow that can get rather grabby.  The snow got substantially drier with elevation – in the top 500’ of vertical, say from the Vista Summit on down to 2,600’ or 2,700’, the snow was in a totally different league relative to the base.  Jumping into untracked powder made for smooth, easy turns; the snow had just lost enough density that it just wasn’t pushing me around on my midfat Teles.  Down below those elevations, the powder began to get a bit denser, but you could definitely give yourself and extra margin of comfort on a pair of alpine fat skis, or especially a snowboard.

As of this afternoon’s additional snow from the storm, we’d picked up 1.09” of liquid equivalent down at the house, so the mountains must have had at least that much, and whatever they did get, it represented a major resurfacing of the slopes.  Ropes were dropping all over the place, and within one trip over to the main mountain, I came back to find that they’d opened up Tattle Tale, apparently even the steep headwall section, which speaks to how meaty this snow was.  They even had Spillway open on all natural snow, and that’s a steep minefield of boulders and stumps.  I figured people were just poaching it until I saw the rope opened at the top.

In terms of the depth of new snow that fell from Winter Storm Malcolm, it was difficult to tell because there was already some decent loose snow below this new stuff, and there hasn’t been a major thaw in quite a while to consolidate the base.  When I got off the top of the Timberline Quad at the Timberline Summit, I stuck in my measurement pole and it went up to 18”.  This represented the entire snowpack at that elevation from what I could tell.  Based on occasional probing around and measuring during the afternoon, I came to the conclusion that there must have been at least 8” that had fallen up high, and the resort’s afternoon report says 8” at elevation, so that makes sense.

An image from the main base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A scene from the main base of Bolton Valley as I near the end of my afternoon session today

Bolton Valley, VT 03JAN2021

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John while ski touring in the Wilderness area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan in a little powder during today’s tour as he tests out his Rossignol Soul 7 HD skis for the first time. The powder from Winter Storm John is getting harder to find with lots of people touring at Wilderness, but the snow is holding up well on low and moderate-angle terrain.

Yesterday delivered some decent lift-served turns, as well as a quick Wilderness tour with some powder, so today I headed back up to the mountain for a ski tour with Dylan.  With more time than I’d had yesterday afternoon, we went a bit farther afield in the Wilderness area in search of untracked powder.  The untouched snow was definitely harder to come by this afternoon, because there has been heavy ski touring traffic this weekend.  The amount of traffic is relative of course, and nothing like you’d get with lift-served skiing, but after an entire holiday weekend worth of people touring, the untracked snow on the trails of Wilderness had been just about picked clean.  One factor in the apparently heavy traffic is that folks aren’t yet using all the acreage of tree skiing; the trees were generally untouched because people know that it’s still just a bit too thin in there for the skiing to be practical.  I saw an occasional track of people who had headed into the trees, but you could tell they weren’t quite ready.  If we get one more good snowstorm with an inch of liquid, then the low-angle trees will be in play.

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Although the trails in Bolton’s Wilderness area have seen a lot of skiers due to extensive use of their uphill route, Dylan and I were still able to get into some very nice powder from Winter Storm John on our tour today.

We picked up some take-out from Fireside Flatbread for the first time this season, and the process is similar to what the resort is doing at the Village Deli and The Mad Taco – they’re not taking orders in person.  In this case it looks like the preferred method is to go through the Toast online ordering service.  I actually found this approach to be quite quick though; I was easily able to put in my order on my phone, and they accept Apple Pay, so all I had to do was authorize that with my fingerprint, and we were good to go!

The weather looks generally quiet this coming week, but by the early to middle part of next week we could get back into a more typical Northern Greens bread-and-butter pattern of modest systems to freshen up the slopes.  We still need a solid synoptic storm with an inch of liquid equivalent (or something similar from a series of smaller systems) to really get the base depths to more respectable levels, but Winter Storm John was a godsend to at least get a bit of base down and have some snow to see us through the next week.

Bolton Valley, VT 02JAN2021 (P.M.)

An image looking westward down the Winooski Valley of Vermont near the Bolton Flats area after some snow from Winter Storm John
An image of Holiday lights outside The Mad Taco restaurant in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the snow-covered holiday lights at dusk in the Bolton Valley Village after my ski tour today

With the way it had been dumping inch/hr snowfall when I headed home around noontime, I decided it would be worth another session in the afternoon.  This time I went for a tour on Wilderness, which had its uphill route officially reopened as of today thanks to the accumulations from Winter Storm John.  There had been additional snow, and I’d say 6-10” of powder above the base snow would represent a good summary of what I found overall in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range, which was a combination of the snow from this storm on top of the accumulations from previous events.  With Bolton Valley providing access to the entire Wilderness Lift area of moderate-angle, cut trails all starting above 2,000’, I’m sure a lot of folks see it as a very good option with the rather thin base currently in place at lower elevations.  That, and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, meant that there was a lot of uphill traffic.  Fortunately, there was still decent access to untracked powder along the edges of trails, and the turns were quite good and bottomless on low and moderate-angle terrain with the recent snow we’ve picked up.

An image of the sign for "The Mad Taco" restaurant in Waitsfield, VermontWe’d been looking for an opportunity to try out The Mad Taco Bolton, so I place my order from the car before I started my ascent, and then timed my tour to be able to make the pick-up.  It worked quite well, and I got to see the way they’ve set up the restaurant for the first time.  It looks like there are a number of tables in there that folks will be able to use once in-person dining is back in action, although for now it’s takeout only.  The food was great though, just like we’ve had from their other locations!

An image of a vehicle covered in snow from Winter Storm John in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the snow from Winter Storm John on a nearby vehicle as I start my tour in the Wilderness are today

Bolton Valley, VT 02JAN2021 (A.M.)

An image of the Mid Mountain Double Chair disappearing into the clouds on a snowy morning at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow falling from Winter Storm John in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There was quite the wintry vibe at Bolton Valley this morning as snow continued from Winter Storm John.

With the influx of snow that the area has seen from Winter Storm John since yesterday, the snow conditions improved dramatically this weekend.  Based on the liquid equivalent we picked up here at the house, I bet the local mountains picked up something in the range of ¾” of liquid, which is a game-changer relative to where things were before.

On Saturday morning I decided to go for my first lift-served turns of the season at Bolton Valley.  Only the main mountain is open at this point, since coverage is still too thin down at the lower elevations of Timberline.  It was snowing steadily with some big flakes when I arrived at the mountain, and I found about 4 to 5 inches of new accumulation in the Village areas at 2,000’.  The snowfall tapered off to light snow during the midmorning period, but really picked up to some heavy inch/hr snowfall when I was leaving a bit before noon.  That was when the back side of the storm was coming through, and the wind jumped up a bit there, but prior to that the weather was fantastic with temperatures just a bit below freezing and no wind.  There was obviously some surface snow in place from previous systems because I was generally finding powder depths of 6-9” at the 2,400’ level.  Skiing was good, with enough snow to resurface low to moderate angle slopes, and listening to skiers and riders on that terrain you’d hear absolutely nothing.  On higher angle slopes you could still hear contact with the old base snow, so it was obvious that ¾” of liquid can only do so much with holiday levels of skier traffic.

The conditions had seen such an uptick relative to where they’ve been the past week that I had to head back up for a tour on Wilderness in the afternoon!

An image of some condominiums with snow falling from Winter Storm John at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another shot of the snow falling from Winter Storm John this morning when I was up in the Village area at Bolton Valley.