Bolton Valley, VT 03APR2022

An image showing the trails of Whiteface Mountain in New York viewed from the Wilderness are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the mid station area for the Wilderness Double Chairlift after an early April snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the drifted snow at the Wilderness Mid Station while I was out on today’s ski tour at Bolton Valley

After skiing yesterday’s fresh powder out on the hill, I hadn’t really planned to ski today, since the forecast called for gray skies and temperatures heading above the freezing mark.  We were thinking we might have left one of our water bottles up around 2,800’ on Wilderness during yesterday’s ski tour though, so that was incentive enough to get me out for another go.  If in doubt, it’s generally good to get out and get some exercise anyway.

I made my way up to Bolton Valley around midday, and whereas temperatures yesterday were in the upper 20s F when we’d arrived, today they were in the upper 30s F.  Some of the new Friday/Saturday snow had definitely melted back, and that effect decreased with increasing elevation, but the freezing line was still somewhere above the 3,000’ mark.  So, I never encountered any snow yesterday that had been fully preserved below freezing.  With that said, the snow skied really well.  On the upper mountain, the new snow had seen little settling, and untracked areas skied like dense powder vs. any sort of mush.  At all elevations, even where the snow was transitioning due to the above freezing temperatures, it seemed to be doing it in a subtle way.  It wasn’t sticky, just dense, and perhaps that slow change was due to the cold overnight temperatures and the overcast keeping away dramatic warming from direct sunlight.  In thinner areas where the new snow had melted back, the skiing typically transitioned right to the underlying corn snow, and that skied really well.  It was sort of strange to move from areas of dense powder skiing, right to spring corn snow, but somehow it worked.

An image of a roof with snow in the Bolton Valley Village after and early April snowstorm hit Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A scene from the Bolton Valley Village showing some of the recent snow while I was up at the resort today.

In any event, the water bottle ended up being right where we thought it was, so that part of the tour was quite successful!  I of course used the opportunity of being up at the resort to grab another Spicy Tuna onigiri from the Miso Toh Kome stand, and I brought some onigiri home for the boys 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 20MAR2022

An image from the top station of the Mid Mountain Double Chairlift with snow piled up on a March day at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Spillway trail rising into the clouds while riding the Vista Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of Spillway today from the Vista Quad. Clouds were raising and lowering on the upper half of the mountain this afternoon before snow started falling at the ridgeline elevations.

The forecast this weekend seemed generally on the dreary side, but I did want to get out for some turns and exercise, and early this afternoon seemed like a decent window.  The colder air and snow were expected to move into the area later in the afternoon, so midday offered the chance at spring snow that wouldn’t have tightened up, and it would be ahead of any rain that might fall on the lower elevations of the mountain.

Indeed I found some nice spring conditions today at Bolton Valley, all the way up above 3,000’.  There’s a lot of good corn snow out there, but some trails have those still slick areas of denser snow and ice underneath that you have to watch out for.  It wasn’t warm enough (generally in the 30s to near 40 F at 2,000’+ where I skied on the main mountain today) to really soften those densest spots, so the best skiing involved working your way around those areas and using the available corn snow.  Some trails (like Alta Vista and Hard Luck) had more corn snow available and fewer slick spots, while others (like Spillway and Beech Seal) had more of those icy/dense spots to work around.

The good news is that all that dense snow is going to last quite a while as we head into the spring.  Most natural snow trails had some coverage issues, so skiing was generally on routes with manmade snow today.  There’s still a lot of natural snow in the elevation range of the main mountain though (the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is around 40 inches), so a lot of terrain would be in play with natural base for any large storm cycles that come through in the next few weeks.

An image of a resort employee on a snowmobile in the Mid Mountain area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A Bolton Valley employee on his snowmobile today at Mid Mountain in front of a closed Glades trail

When I first got to the mountain this afternoon, the cloud ceiling was up and down in the 2,500’ – 3,000’ range and there wasn’t any precipitation.  On my last run though, it was snowing up at ridgeline level, and by the time I was leaving, the frozen precipitation was just starting to make it down to the Village elevations.  The snow level must be well below 2,000 now though, because I can see that the precipitation is all snow on Bolton’s main base area webcam.

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 06MAR2022

An image of Dylan performing a jump on his skis in soft spring snow on the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan carving on his skis in soft spring snow on the Showtime trail under the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan laying out a carve on Showtime in today’s soft spring snow at Bolton Valley

I hadn’t planned to ski today, thinking it was just going to be a rainy one, but the sky cleared out in the afternoon to produce a beautiful, warm, early spring day.  Seeing that, Dylan and I popped up to the mountain for some runs.  In a classic reversal of Saturday, this was a situation where the terrain with manmade snow provided the superior skiing.  Manmade snow is dense enough that it generally transitions quickly to an appropriate spring snow surface, while the natural snow initially gets sticky with warm temperatures and requires some freeze/thaw cycles before it really primes up.  Trail pitch mattered today as well, and low angle terrain was the toughest in terms of movement.  We talked to a couple of guys in the parking lot who said that the flat terrain was brutally slow.

An image of Dylan jumping on his skis on the Showtime Trail under the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan was enjoying the soft spring conditions today by hitting the jumps just about any time he found them.

“…we just spent the rest or the time lapping the good snow on the Showtime trail under the Timberline Quad. The snow was great for railing carves and generally having a fun springtime ski session.”

We spent our whole session today at Timberline, and Bolton Valley had recently put down a bunch of manmade snow under the quad that provided great turns in the warm temperatures.  We did venture off to flatter terrain on one run per Dylan’s request, just to see what it was like.  Thankfully, we didn’t actually find that conditions on the flats as bad as the guys we’d talked to in the parking lot, and I’ve definitely seen it worse.  I was on Teles, which can be brutal with respect to the effort required to keep fore-aft balance and prevent yourself from going over the handlebars all the time on really sticky snow, but I found that today was at least reasonable compared to some days we’ve been out in the past.

The difficulty in traveling on flat terrain was still made abundantly clear after that run, and we just spent the rest or the time lapping the good snow on the Showtime trail under the Timberline Quad.  The snow was great for railing carves and generally having a fun springtime ski session.  Also, there was hardly anyone at the resort, probably because they had assumed it was going to be a dreary day like we’d thought.  When we arrived in the early afternoon, there were just three cars in the upper Timberline lot.

An image of a few cars on a spring day in the uppermost parking lot at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We assume everyone thought that today was going to be dreary, because there was hardly anyone with us in the upper parking lot at Timberline

Stowe, VT 16MAY2021

An image from near the Mt. Mansfield Base Lodge showing Smuggler's Notch and various clouds on a spring ski day with thunderstorms in the area near Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Lower Standard trail with late-season leftover snow in mid-May at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading up Lower Standard today, I found a little something extra that someone left alongside the snow.

On Friday, we got another update on the state of the snow on Spruce Peak from one of Powderfreak’s frequent Stowe hikes, and I could definitely see that the width of the available snow had contracted some since when I was there on my Sunday outing.

I had enough extra time today, so I headed back out to Stowe for a hike and some more turns.  Based on what I’d seen on Spruce on my last outing, as well as the views across to Mansfield at that point, I decided it was time to check out something by the Mountain Triple.  There’s some easy access snow right down to the base over there, and that fit the time I had.

An image at the junction of the Crossover and Standard trails in mid-May at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Topping out near the Crossover Trail on today’s hike

As I walked along past the Triple, I surveyed the snow situation and headed toward Lower Standard, which seemed to have the best coverage.  That area makes for a pleasant stroll because it’s generally quite grassy with modest pitches.  Somebody had built the shape of a heart out of rocks on the ground near the ropes course, so that was kind of a nice accent to the area.  The snow on Lower Standard is definitely more broken up than what it was a week earlier, and there are a couple of gaps near the bottom that are really best walked vs. trying to skip across on your skis.

That afternoon we had thunderstorms in the area, and as usual, there were some great views surrounding the resort and toward the Notch as the peaks worked their magic and forced the clouds around.  While I was hiking I started to hear thunder to the east and northeast, off past Spruce Peak and over toward Madonna and Sterling.  Eventually I started to see some tendrils of virga over there, and the thunder was becoming more expansive.  I was just getting up toward the Crossover elevation, which was about where I was going to stop anyway because the snow petered out there, but the timing seemed good with the thunder building.  I started seeing the first visible flashes from lightning just as I was getting back to the car, and the first drops of rain began to fall, so that timing really did work out well.  I would have stayed around for some lightning photography over toward the Notch, but none if was producing visible bolts, it all seemed to be well up in the clouds or too distant.

Stowe, VT 09MAY2021

An image of the snow on the Main Street Trail on a May ski day at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image showing some of the remaining snow on May on the Spruce Peak trails at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Looking up at the slopes of Spruce Peak today to get a sense for the best areas to put together some turns.

I haven’t been following the state of the snowpack at Stowe too closely over the past couple of weeks, but Powderfreak’s recent post on American Weather forum definitely provided a nice look at some of the snow on the slopes of Spruce Peak.  I probably wouldn’t have even had Spruce Peak in the mix of top spots to head for turns if I hadn’t seen how much snow was still there, but it was obvious from the post that there was plenty.

Today I had time to get out for exercise, so I chose to enjoy a hike and ski in the Main Street area.  The snowpack is certainly not continuous top-to-bottom of course, but there’s several hundred vertical feet worth of nice turns with deep base as Powderfreak’s image showed.  The snowpack there is starting to get a bit sun cupped, but it’s nothing that really hurts the experience yet at this point, unless perhaps you were to stray the extreme edges where the snow has taken a bigger hit and there’s been no skier traffic.

An image of late-season snow left over from snowmaking on the Main Street Trail in the Spruce Peak area of Stowe Mountain Ski Resort
I was encouraged by plenty of spots with deep snow on my ascent of Main Street today.

Even if natural snowpack on Mansfield is still below average for this time of year, I have to think the coverage there on south-facing Spruce had got be at least typical for this far into May.  From the view across the resort, I could see that the usual spots like Nosedive and some of those areas around the Mountain Triple still have some decent coverage, so it would be fun to mix it up with something over there next.  That Main Street snow has some very deep areas, but it’s just getting a bit too broken up into segments that one eventually has to make the call to go with something with a bit more continuity for efficiency and longer flow of turns on the descent.

An image from Spruce Peak showing the snow in mid-May on the Nosedive trail on Mt. Mansfield at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Checking out the snow on Nosedive as I look across from Spruce Peak toward Mt. Mansfield

It is always fun this time of year getting to see which parts of the resort are holding the snow best for those late season turns.  It’s different each season depending on the combination of where Mother Nature deposited snow and where the guns were blowing when temperatures were optimal as has been noted in some of Powderfreak’s comments in ski-related discussions at American Weather.

Bolton Valley, VT 01MAY2021

An image of the Village Circle on May 1st, 2021 filled with snow from a recent spring snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing snow accumulations from an early May snowstorm around the peaks of the Winooski Valley in Vermont
This morning’s views created by our latest spring snowstorm were quite intriguing, with snow accumulations frequently varying in terms of both elevation and aspect.

Another spring storm moved into the area on Wednesday, and it resulted in a protracted period of precipitation that started to change over to snow yesterday afternoon into the evening.  It was snowing at our house this morning with a bit of accumulation, and the visible snow line here in the Winooski Valley  reached down to around 1,000’.  The views from the Bolton Valley Main Base Webcam showed the slopes covered in a fresh coat of white, so I decided to get a bit of exercise and headed out for a morning ski tour.

An image showing snow accumulations from an early May snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow accumulations increased quickly up above 2,000′ with this recent spring storm.

As soon as I left the house and rounded the first corner on Route 2, I was shown a bright visage of white-covered peaks across the valley.  These elevation-based snowstorms typically produce some great views, and the accumulations from this one varied a bit with aspect, so that made for some exciting scenery as I headed through the Winooski Valley.

An image showing accumulations in the Village after an early May snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontOnce I was on the Bolton Valley Access Road, the first traces of white appeared at roughly 900’, and the accumulations slowly increased to 2-3’ at the Timberline Base, and 3-4” in the Village.  Temperatures were below freezing from probably 1,000’-1,500’ on up, so the new snow above that point was dense, but dry.  There was a notable jump in accumulations just above 2,000’ or so as the profile below shows.  Above that though, there wasn’t a lot of increase, so presumably the snow line crashed down to that ~2,000’+ level pretty quickly without spending a lot of time at 3,000’+.

Here’s the accumulations profile observed on this morning’s outing:

340’: 0”
500’: 0”
900’: T
1,000’: T
1,200’: 1-2”
1,500’: 2-3”
2,000’: 3-4’
2,250’: 5-6”
2,500’: ~6″
2,800’: ~6-7”
3,100’: ~7”

“I’d planned on a quick tour over in the lower elevations of the Wilderness area, but once I was over there out of the wind, I saw that the accumulations were solid enough to warrant a more extended tour into the higher elevations.”

I’d planned on a quick tour over in the lower elevations of the Wilderness area, but once I was over there out of the wind, I saw that the accumulations were solid enough to warrant a more extended tour into the higher elevations.

As mentioned, the snow was dense but dry, so it skied fairly well.  On 115 mm fat skis I was typically sinking in a couple of inches, and there was a surfy consistency to the setup that really let you have some fun and smear your powder turns easily if you wanted.  The snow provided plenty of cushion for low to low/moderate-angle terrain, and up above 2,800’ or so, old snow and snow bridges were still in place, so that made any water bars less of an issue.

An image showing some ski tracks in powder snow from an early May snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Several inches of new dense snow up on the mountain today made for some nice turns on my tour.

“As mentioned, the snow was dense but dry, so it skied fairly well. On 115 mm fat skis I was typically sinking in a couple of inches, and there was a surfy consistency to the setup that really let you have some fun and smear your powder turns easily if you wanted.”

There were a few folks out and about in the Village, but out on the mountain itself it was pretty quiet.  All I saw was a red fox that ran in front of me on Lower Turnpike, and a guy on a fat bike up near the summit.  I was surprised to see him up at that point because there was a half foot of snow, and due to their weight those fat bikes are total dogs with respect to climbing, so I’m sure he’d put in plenty of work.  There were some packed areas of snow due to resort operations traffic and wind scouring, so I’m guessing he made good use of that.

We’ve had a few nice snowstorms over the past few weeks, and this latest one was a nice way to kick off the month of May with a ski tour.