Bolton Valley, VT 03MAR2021

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow below the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of fresh powder snow in front of our house in Waterbury, Vermont after a quick overnight dump of nearly half a foot
We picked up a quick half foot of champagne powder at our house last night, with water content in the 1.5 to 3.0% H2O range, prompting a quick trip up to the mountain today to make a few turns.

I had just a bit of time to stop in at Bolton Valley for some turns on my way in to Burlington today, so I visited Timberline to see how the conditions were faring with the addition of the fresh powder.  We expected to get at least an inch or two, but when we picked up roughly 3 inches at the house last night in less than an hour, and had close to a half foot by this morning, it seemed it was worth a trip to the hill.

My plan was to hit some low-angle stuff on my fat skis, and that was indeed about the only terrain that offered up bottomless turns today.  Anything above that angle and you were hitting the subsurface – and that subsurface snow on anything that hadn’t been groomed is indeed loud.  Moderate angle turns were still decent with that new snow to push back on, but the low-angle powder was the best.  I had some nice turns on the mellow inclines of Villager and Spur in the fresh snow.  Groomed terrain was also pretty nice where they’d been able to till up the old stuff and get some new snow into it, although that depended on the time they’d groomed.  Some spots were groomed before the new snow fell, so it was powder on top of that.  The resort was being cautious and hadn’t even open the ungroomed terrain today, and that was probably wise, since the powder made it dangerous in some cases by simply hiding the moonscape below.

“I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range. I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.”

I think they had reported about a half foot of new snow in the morning report, but I was generally finding 6-8” in my depth checks in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ elevation range.  I see they’re reporting 9” in the past 48 hours at this point.

My boys headed up for some turns in the afternoon, and my younger son said it was pretty hilarious in that “It was like skiing powder, but still skiing on the base.”  We were talking tonight at dinner about how what they skied was literally the antithesis of “bottomless powder”.  I guess one could call that “bottomful powder” in that line of terminology.  “Dust on crust” also gets that point across, although I typically don’t think of 6-8” of snow when I think of dust.  With those snow ratios in the range of 30 to 1 or even 70 to 1, and the temperature cycling that the existing snow had seen, I knew it was going to be pretty much a “dust on crust” setup.  But with a half foot of snow, at least it’s more of a “Northern Greens” sort of dust on crust experience.

In any event, it was a good aesthetic refresher for the pack both down at the house and up on the hill, and hopefully we’ll have a bit more to add in the next couple of days.

Bolton Valley, VT 10FEB2021

Dylan skiing powder by a small evergreen tree in the Doug's Solitude area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing through powder after Winter Storm Roland in the Doug's Solitude area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty blasting through a bit of our surprise powder at Bolton Valley this morning.

While we haven’t really had any of those stretches this season where snowfall has really gone off the hook by Northern Greens standards, what we’ve had in the past few weeks has been a nice steady pace of snowfall from bread and butter systems intermixed with the occasional larger synoptic storm.  And that snowfall has indeed been steady – since the start of the calendar year at our house, we’ve only had four days without snowfall.  Indeed we also haven’t seen any massive blockbuster storm cycles in the area yet this season, but in many ways, it’s felt like a fairly classic Northern Greens winter period since about the start of the calendar year.  Part of the climatology here is getting those little surprises throughout the season, such as Winter Storm Roland dropping over 8 inches here, when only about half that was expected.  It’s good to take advantage of Mother Nature’s surprises when you get the chance.

An image of Dylan skiing powder in some open trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Skier traffic was fairly low this morning, so we had acres and acres of powder to ourselves.

To that point, I certainly hadn’t planned to ski today.  But, with the way it was dumping huge flakes here at the house this morning, and after watching it snow 2.5” in an hour, I started to reconsider.  I checked out the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam, saw just a whiteout of massive flakes, and that pretty much sealed the deal.  I told the boys that if we they didn’t have any meetings this morning, we definitely needed to head up to the mountain for some turns.  And so we did.

An image of Ty dropping off a ledge while powder skiing after Winter Storm Roland at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping one of those powdery ledges today

We just stuck to Timberline, and skier traffic was low enough that there really wasn’t any need to go anywhere else.  We started with a run on Adam’s Solitude, but spent the rest of the day in Doug’s Woods and Doug’s SolitudeBolton is reporting 12” in the past 48 hours, but we were typically finding 12-16” off piste in the areas we were skiing.  The snow was absolute champagne, definitely in line with the ~2% H2O I’d gotten from my previous three snow analyses at the house, so it skied like a dream.  The boys had fun throwing themselves off just about any stump, bump, log, tree, ledged, or cliff they found.  And, Mother Nature even decided to treat us with some sun during the morning to let us get a bit more pop out of the photos from the session.

Bolton Valley, VT 07FEB2021

An image of Dylan skiing powder from Winter Storm Peggy in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty and Dylan approaching the mid station area of the Wilderness Double Chair at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The boys approaching the Wilderness Mid Station on one of our runs today

It had just started to snow when I headed up to Bolton Valley with the boys this afternoon for a session.  We had planned to start at Timberline, but we were surprised to find that the Timberline Quad wasn’t running.  It must have been a mechanical issue because it didn’t seem like there were any issue with the wind.

Today wasn’t the obvious powder day that yesterday was, but the snow continues to be fantastic.  We just had to travel farther afield to get into fresh stuff around the resort today, hitting areas like White Rabbit, Snow Hole, The Knob, Maria’s, various Fanny Hill Glades, etc.  The only spot on our list that we didn’t get to hit was Adam’s Solitude, since the Timberline Quad wasn’t running.

An image of Ty jumping into some untracked powder in a ski line off The Knob at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty comes flying into the picture during a run through some of that deep powder off The Knob.

The powder really just keeps piling up with each round of snow, making all the untouched areas more and more bottomless.  We had on and off light snow during the afternoon that accumulated to less than an inch, but it started dumping those huge flakes when we were leaving due to approaching Winter Storm Quade, so there should be some additional accumulation tomorrow.

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, VT 03FEB2021

An image of a fence covered with snow from various winter storms, including Winter Storm Orlena, near the Timberline Base Area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snowy evergreens and ski trail signs at the Timberline Summit area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With the addition of last night’s burst of snow from Winter Storm Orlena, the mountains just continue to build up powder on all surfaces.

With that period of 2”/hr snows we had yesterday afternoon, I stopped in at Bolton for some runs this morning to see how the powder was skiing.  When I got there about 30 minutes after the opening of Timberline, it seemed curiously busy for Bolton Valley on a weekday morning, but I must have caught part of the initial burst of arriving skiers, because it was back to walk-on by my second run.

I was surprised to run into freezing mist and drizzle as I was heading through Bolton Flats, and that was the main precipitation type right on up to the mountain.  My experience was similar to what I’d heard from skiers at other local resorts, in that it was pretty inconsequential with respect to the overall snow quality.  It was irrelevant on the groomed terrain, and in the powder out in the open, while you could tell the layer was there, it was so thin that it just didn’t make a difference with respect to turns.  The powder overall was denser than I thought it would be with my evening snow analyses coming in roughly 5 to 6% H2O, but perhaps the freezing drizzle had its effects there in terms of compacting things a bit.  In the trees, the powder was essentially untouched by any of the mist because of the way the foliage catches most of the mist/drizzle.

While the snow was relatively unaffected by the precipitation, the biggest hassle I found with the freezing drizzle was visibility.  My goggles would glaze up pretty nicely during a lift ride.  The great solution I found was to simply pop out my lens for the lift ride (another nice benefit of magnetic lenses), stick it in my coat, and by the time I reached the top, it was thawed and clear to start another run.

“At the Timberline Base I found about 5” of new snow, and depth checks I did around the mountain in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ range revealed roughly 5-8” of accumulation.”

At the Timberline Base I found about 5” of new snow, and depth checks I did around the mountain in the 1,500’ – 2,500’ range revealed roughly 5-8” of accumulation.  I think was a bit more than what they mentioned in the snow report, but I’m currently seeing a report of 9” in the past 48 hours, so I’d say that’s pretty similar overall.

The precipitation was changing back over to snow as I was heading out, and then later in the day that next round of backside upslope finally came through to finish off the storm.

Even with that bit of freezing drizzle that came through, we really haven’t had too much weather to specifically knock down the fluff or push the snow off objects, so it just continues to stack up on various surfaces and looks quite scenic.

Bolton Valley, VT 28JAN2021

An image showing heavy snowfall on the back side of Winter Storm Nathaniel as it interacts with the Green Mountains and drops snow on the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the base station of the Timberline Quad Chairlift through heavy snowfall on the back side of Winter Storm Nathaniel in January at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the base station of the Timberline Quad as heavy snowfall greets me upon my arrival at the mountain today

We had snow here at the house most of the morning, and it was generally light, but at times it would pick up with a burst of intensity with larger flakes.  Toward the afternoon, the snowfall became a bit more persistent, and we were having longer periods with the large flakes, so it started getting to the point where I was wondering how much the mountains were getting.  As it was snowing more heavily here, I checked out the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam and saw what looked like really heavy snowfall, so I decided to hit the mountain for a couple of runs.  Indeed, the local radar showed that another push of moisture was right on the doorstep as well, so that held the potential for additional snow.

A weather radar image of snow pushing eastward from the Champlain Valley into the spine of the Northern Green Mountains on the back side of Winter Storm Nathaniel
Another pulse of moisture is set to push into the spine of the Green Mountains today as I head up to Bolton Valley for a few runs.

The radar didn’t look that outrageous in terms of snowfall intensity, but I got up to Timberline and the snowfall was very heavy, probably 1-2”/hr with visibility of a few hundred feet.  It was hard to tell how much had fallen recently, but I was finding 4-6” in many areas on the trails since the previous grooming.  In any event, it was definitely a mini powder day up there, with that 4-6” easy to find essentially anywhere that hadn’t been skied recently.

“It was hard to tell how much had fallen recently, but I was finding 4-6” in many areas on the trails since the previous grooming.”

Very steep or windblown areas on piste definitely need another synoptic storm or two before they’re in prime shape, but the snow has continued to build up this week in the off piste areas.  In areas that haven’t been skied in the past week or two, you’re essentially looking at 30” of unconsolidated snow down to elevations as low as 2,500’ now.  I made a trip through Maria’s and I was finding that depth consistently.  There is some dense snow in there form the front end of Winter Storm Malcolm, but since we haven’t had any major thaws in more than a month, there’s no layer in the snowpack that is fully solidified.  My depth checks just went right down through the 30” to what I suspect is the ground, or perhaps a base of a few inches of old base snow depending on the location.  You really need at least moderate pitch to ski these areas because you’re sinking too deep for shallow slopes.  I was on midfats today, so fat skis would help, but pitch is still going to be necessary.

I hadn’t been out on the mountain since my tour on Saturday, and certainly wanted to get some exercise, but the continued snow we had today, and the chance to beat the arctic hounds that are coming in for the next couple of day, definitely made the timing right.

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 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