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.

Bolton Valley, VT 18DEC2018

An image of a ski track in powder snow in the Wilderness Woods area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of snow drift near the Wilderness Summit area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
One of the impressive snow drifts I found while ski touring near the Wilderness Summit today at Bolton Valley. Our recent bout of upslope snow brought some nice accumulations of powder, but also a shot of wind as well!

This week, the pace of winter storms and snowfall has slowed down a bit here in the Green Mountains compared to what we were seeing at the beginning of the month, but the weather models have been suggesting the chance for some of our classic upslope snow on the back side of this latest system.  Scott put together a nice summary of the event’s potential at Braatencast, and it certainly looked like we’d have a chance for some decent powder turns today.

With the intensity of the snowfall at our house yesterday evening, it was pretty clear the mountains would have at least a few inches of new snow, so I planned to catch some turns in the morning.  When I checked the Bolton Valley snow report this morning, I was sort of surprised to see the mountain only reporting 4 inches of new snow, especially since we’d already picked up about 5 inches down at the house.  I figured that they might have missed out on some of the snow because it was blowing downwind of the Green Mountain Spine, but after touring around at the resort today, I can say that definitely wasn’t the case.

An image of the Bear Run street sign in deep snowbanks along the Bolton Valley Access Road near Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
As I drove up the Bolton Valley Access Road, it was very obvious in places that hadn’t been scoured by wind that the mountain had seen a good shot of fresh snow.

I was actually planing to earn some turns and ski tour a bit before the lifts opened at 9:00 A.M., but I was up there later than I’d hoped and it was right around opening time.  That didn’t matter too much though, because winds were fierce and the Vista Quad wasn’t even running, so I just headed off to Wilderness for a tour as I’d initially planned.

An image showing the depth of powder found on the Peggy Dow's trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont after a mid-December upslope snowstormWith those harsh winds, you’d be hard pressed to know that much snow fell at all from just looking around the base area parking lots.  The accumulations were really patchy on a lot of snowbanks because the new snow had been ripped away and sent elsewhere.  Once I got onto the skin track on Lower Turnpike and out of the wind though, the actual snow accumulations became apparent.  Indeed I’d say that the 4 inches reported was a safe way to go in terms of being conservative, but aside from scoured areas, that definitely represented the low end of accumulations I encountered.  Omitting the extremes of drifts and scoured areas, my checks revealed settled snow depths of 4 to 10 inches throughout my tour.  That wasn’t really elevation dependent, it seemed to just be a factor of how the snow sifted down in various areas.  Drifts I found up around the 3,000’ elevation were generally in the 2 to 3-foot range, though there were some bigger ones as well of course.

“Omitting the extremes of drifts and scoured areas, my checks revealed settled snow depths of 4 to 10 inches throughout my tour.”

The skiing was obviously much different than what you would get from just four inches of fluff.  With a number like that I’d be expecting to get good turns on only low angle terrain, but bottomless turns were pretty standard all the way up to about single black diamond pitch as long as the subsurface was smooth.  I was on my 115 mm boards, but one could certainly still float on something skinnier.  I’d say the storm must have put down a half inch of liquid or so on the mountain based on what I was skiing.

Upon reaching the Wilderness Summit on my tour, I started down Bolton Outlaw, thinking it would be pretty smooth from minimal early season traffic.  It wasn’t long before I realized that the Wilderness Lift has indeed run this season (I actually rode it with Stephen on opening day), so there’s been enough skier traffic to produce some moguls.  I was definitely hitting the subsurface with the steep pitch and moguls, so I quickly dove off into the Outlaw Woods, and the turns in there with a smooth subsurface turned out to be just about perfect.  I was also able to get first tracks in the lower Wilderness Woods, and they were excellent as well.  Getting into the trees was generally a great option because the snow had settled in there very nicely thanks to protection from the wind.  I hung around for a couple of lift-served runs off the Snowflake Lift, and with the typical low traffic there I found plenty of untracked snow.

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow on the Lower Turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
In areas where winds hadn’t affected the snow today, the turns were simply wonderful in up to 10 inches of powder.

This was definitely an upslope snowfall event that was focused on the mountains.  When I left the resort and headed west toward the Champlain Valley, snow accumulations really tapered off.  There was just a bit of accumulation in the Richmond Village area and it seems like just a trace to nil in the Burlington area.

We’ve got a warmer weather system expected to affect the area at the end of the week, so the next chance for snow won’t be until Saturday afternoon into the evening on the back side of that storm.

Bolton Valley, VT 29NOV2018

An image of a truck along the Bolton Valley Access Road covered with snow from Winter Storm Bruce
A trail sign covered in snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A sign of the times – dense snow sticking to anything and everything thanks to Winter Storm Bruce

It’s been snowing now for four days, but Winter Storm Bruce is finally starting to wind down.  Bolton Valley is reporting a storm total of roughly 32 inches, and based on the 2.26 inches of liquid equivalent we’ve picked up here at the house, the new snow at the mountain must contain at least that much liquid.  That’s a fantastic addition to the early season snowpack.

I had some time this morning, so I headed up to the Bolton Valley Village for a ski tour from the main base.  Temperatures that were a degree or two above freezing in the valley with easy driving conditions gave way to temperatures in the upper 20s F, snowfall, and wind at 2,000’.  The main skin track on Lower Turnpike was in great shape, so the going was easy on my ascent.  Although there’s been more snow since my Tuesday outing with Ty, it’s settled now, so the overall feel is definitely denser.  The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits.  There’s also been more wind over the past couple of days, so protected areas definitely offer the best turns.  The skiing definitely has a Pacific Northwest feel – that feeling that you can basically go anywhere you want and you’re not going to hit anything below because the dense snow is going to protect you.  The feel in the valleys fits right in as well, with temperatures right around freezing, and dense, dripping snow caked on all the trees – and any other objects upon which is sits.

“The checks I made throughout my tour revealed a settled depth of 22 inches pretty consistently, so I’d say that’s where the recent snow sits.”

As of today’s snow report, Bolton is indicating an impressive season snowfall total of 84 inches.  In terms of the local mountain snowpack, the snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake hit 46 inches today, which appears to be the deepest November snowpack on record.  What a November it’s been on the slopes!

Bolton Valley, VT 27NOV2018

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in 18 to 20 inches of fresh powder from Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of one of the chairs on the Wilderness Chairlift filled with snow from Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Bruce unloaded its snow on Bolton Valley today – we measured 18 to 20 inches of new snow during out afternoon ski tour at the resort.

Today our area has been under the influence of Winter Storm Bruce, a low pressure system that’s crossing through New England and bringing copious amounts of moisture with it.  School was cancelled for Ty due to the storm, so I came home a bit early in the afternoon with the hopes of getting together for a ski tour up at Bolton Valley.  There was some very heavy snowfall in the early afternoon period that was easily putting down an inch or two of snow an hour, so I was a bit leery about trying to negotiate the Bolton Valley Access Road under such conditions.  But, the heavy snow let up a bit in the midafternoon timeframe, and we figured the plows would be able to keep up with it so we headed out.

The Bolton Valley website indicates that the Timberline area is strictly closed to traffic right now (perhaps due to chairlift work) so we headed up to the main base for our tour, and that turned out to be a great starting point.  The amount of snow that the Village picked up from this storm was quite impressive – we both did numerous depth checks and found 18 to 20 inches of snow at 2,000’.  The depth of the new snow was essentially the same all the way up above 3,000’, so I’d say that everything from this storm fell as snow at least down to the Village level.

An image of snowplow piles and snowy trees during Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Up in the Bolton Valley Village today, the scene was incredibly snowy thanks to Winter Storm Bruce

There was a great skin track set on Lower Turnpike, which was a godsend with so much fresh snow.  Temperatures were in the upper 20s at 2,000’, so all the snow up there was quite dry.  It certainly wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluff, but it was medium-weight powder with a right-side-up distribution and the skiing was fantastic – definitely a day for the fat boards.  Ty was on E’s 115 mm Black Diamond Element Telemark boards, and he really likes the way they handle the powder.  I knew we’d need some steep pitches to handle this snow, so that’s what we sought out, and the skiing was simply fantastic.  This storm brought plenty of liquid equivalent in the snow (1.5 inches of total liquid form the storm even down at our house in the valley) so it’s covered everything really well and there’s not much to worry about with such a substantial base already in place ahead of this storm.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing during Winter Storm Bruce at Bolton Valley Resort on Vermont
Ty enjoying the float of Mom’s 115 mm Black Diamond Element skis on our ski tour today as he tackles the snow from Winter Storm Bruce

The actual action photography was quite a challenge today because we’re talking fairly late afternoon, late November light, and snowfall, but I used my brightest lens (Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM) and we did our best with the light we had.  Bolton Valley is now reporting 66 inches of snow on the season, which is a great way to get rolling in November.

An image of Ty finishing a ski tour at dusk with the glow of the Bolton Valley Village behind him at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Finishing our ski tour toward the glow of the Bolton Valley Village as darkness descends.

Bolton Valley, VT 21NOV2018

An image of Dylan skiing powder after a snow squall at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of ski tracks in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today’s ski tour was quite an outing with heavy snow squalls and lots of fresh tracks.

The big synoptic snowstorms from last week put down a lot of base on the slopes, and this week has followed up with some modest refresher storms to keep the powder fresh.  Today’s feather weather event was the passage of an arctic cold front with very impressive snow squalls that reduced visibility to near zero at times – and we were on a ski tour at Bolton Valley just as the first barrage of heavy snow hit the mountains.

An image of Johannes skinning during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontStephen and I had been talking about getting out together for a ski tour at the mountain during this holiday week, and things lined up today so that Johannes and Dylan could join us.  I planned on a tour that would bring us from Timberline up to the trails of the main mountain, shooting for some of those lesser used routes to get everyone some fresh tracks.  We began mid-morning with light flakes falling, and the snowfall gradually ramped up to a steady, heavy level of intensity with big flakes as we made our way toward Cobrass.  While we were switching over our gear for the descent, a big squall enveloped the mountain.  Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times.  It was the kind of snowfall where you put your gear down for a few moments, and small stuff could be easily lost because of how fast it became covered.

An image of Johannes jumping a water bar during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Johannes with a bit of air as he negotiates a powdery water bar on today’s ski tour

“Snowfall rates were off the charts, with visibility down to less than 100 feet at times.”

The descent portion of the tour brought us some great fresh powder on routes like Five Corners, Sure Shot, and Tattle Tale.  It’s getting hard to tell exactly how much base is down now after so many recent storms, but I was generally getting depths of 15 to 20 inches, with much of that powder.  Everything was also topped off with a couple more inches that fell during the tour itself due to the intense snowfall.

Tomorrow is going to be an impressively cold Thanksgiving day, with highs in the mountains around here in the single digits F, so I think it will be nice being inside enjoying some holiday food.  Bolton Valley is actually planning to run the lifts on Saturday, at which point it should be much warmer.

Bolton Valley, VT 10NOV2018

An image showing some of the four-wheel drive vehicles parked at the Timberline base area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont as heavy snowfall fills the arir from a November snowstorm
An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Lower turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Our most recent storm brought plenty of snow for powder skiing in the Northern Greens.

You can put away the rock skis for this storm.  Indeed the Northeastern U.S. has been under the influence of a double-barrel low pressure system that the weather models have been showing for more than a week, and it’s finally delivered a healthy shot of snow to the Green Mountains.  With one low pressure system traveling through the eastern Great Lakes, and another up the New England coast, there was some warm air involved in this event, but the precipitation in the mountains has generally been frozen, and it’s been plentiful. 

“There’s definitely a nice density gradient to give you those easy powder turns with ample protection below.”

Most of the mountain valleys even picked up some snow, but when the snow began yesterday afternoon, the eastern slopes seemed to be the areas getting the most precipitation and notable accumulations even in the valley bottoms.  I was hoping to head up to Bolton Valley for some turns today, but the lower accumulations in the valleys of the western slopes had me wondering how the resort had done with respect to snowfall.  They don’t have their webcam in operation yet, and they’re not making immediate snow reports, so I quickly popped up to the mountain this morning to assess the potential for turns.

Signs of leftover snow like we had at our house disappeared as I dropped down into Bolton Flats, and at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) there was no accumulation.  There weren’t even any signs of white until I hit 1,000’.  So I’d say that indeed, accumulating snow levels were definitely lower in elevation on the eastern slopes – snow at 1,000’ in the Bolton Valley area was about equivalent to 500’ at our house slightly east of the spine.  The snow depths did eventually did go up dramatically with elevation however.  I found 3 to 4 inches at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and up in the Bolton Valley Village (2,000’) there were 6 to 8 inches on the ground with heavy snowfall adding to that by the minute.  The resort was clearly all set in terms of snow, so I hoped to head back up in the afternoon for a tour when I had sufficient time.

An image of November snow in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snowfall and plentiful snow on the ground in the Bolton Valley Village today

After visiting the ski swap in Waitsfield in the early afternoon, I was able to head back up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon period to get in that ski tour.  The accumulations I’d see in the Village in the morning just continue to increase as I skinned up toward the summits, and all told I found the following accumulation profile with respect to elevation:

340’: 0”
1,000’: Trace
1,200’: 1”
1,500’: 3-4”
2,000’: 6-8”
2,100’: 8-9”
2,500’: 10-12”
3,000’: 12-14”

I did get readings as high as 16” on the upper mountain, and one drifted spot with 20”, but I’d say 12-14” is a decent measure of the top end I found for depth.  It seemed like there was some old snowpack up high, but I don’t think it interfered with measurements of the new snow because it should have been pretty solid by now.

An image of afternoon light from the top of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Afternoon light and mountains off to the west as I begin my descent from the top of Bolton Valley

Even base temperatures had dropped into the 20s F when I was up there in the midafternoon, and my thermometer was showing 19 F when I was up at the Vista Summit, so the snow wasn’t wet at all.  Below ~2,500’ there was a thick layer in the snowpack that was only an issue in wind scoured areas.  I’m not sure when that developed (maybe during the warmest part of the storm), but today’s additional snow sort of mitigated that, at least with the 115 mm skis I was on.  Above 2,500’ it didn’t seem like that layer was even present, and turns were fantastic in midwinter snow.  There’s definitely a nice density gradient to give you those easy powder turns with ample protection below.  With tonight’s temperatures, the only enemy of the powder would be wind, so the good snow should be there a while for those who want get after it.