Today was even a bit warmer than yesterday, with temperatures in the valley this afternoon topping out around 60 F. So, I decided to get in another round of exercise with a Bolton Valley ski tour.
The strip of snow just to the climber’s right of the Timberline Quad base station had broken up even a bit more than yesterday, but I still traversed the gap with skins to start my tour. To mix things up today, I headed up Timberline Run and over toward Brandywine for my ascent. That area is more shaded from the sun, but with the warmer temperatures I figured it might be softened up enough for some smooth turns.
“The slightly warmer temperatures today made the snow quality even better, so the trend has just been one of increasing snow quality of these last few sessions.”
The snow there was fine, but once I got back into the snow below the Timberline Quad near the top, I could see that the exposure to the sun had made the snow just so much better there. I couldn’t resist that snow, so I ultimately ended up descending via Showtime as we’ve done on the past couple of outings. The slightly warmer temperatures today made the snow quality even better, so the trend has just been one of increasing snow quality of these last few sessions.
It’s beginning to look more and more likely that we’re going to get a winter storm toward the end of the week with the possibility of substantial snow for the mountains, so hopefully we’ll be able to get back into some powder skiing. The spring skiing has been very nice, but a change of pace with powder skiing would of course be welcomed as well.
We had another nice day of weather today with some sun and temperatures in the 50s F, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for another ski tour at Timberline. The strip of snow just to the climber’s right of the Timberline Quad base station that we used for skinning during our ski tour on Saturday, was slightly broken up now with a small gap. It was just a few feet of dry grass in the break though, so I easily continued right across it, and coverage was great from there on up.
On Saturday, we stopped our tour at the Timberline Mid Station because it was our first outing in a little while and I figured it was good to take it easy, but today I headed right up to the Timberline Summit. The views were nice with some late day clouds to the west over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. The snow on Showtime was even a notch better than Saturday, I think thanks to a bit more sun to soften it up and create a smoother, more even surface today.
It looks like we’ll have more spring weather in the first part of this week before it becomes wintrier in the latter part of the week.
Our most recent winter storm cycle was Winter Storm Quincy, which took place over a week ago. It brought a couple days of good powder, and D and I were able to get out for some fun turns, but since then we’ve sort of been back in the spring weather doldrums. We haven’t had another significant storm, and it hasn’t really been warm enough to soften up the slopes.
Some warmer, sunnier weather moved into the area today though, with temperatures in the 50s F, so the family headed up to Bolton Valley for a quick tour and some soft spring turns. Timberline still has plenty of continuous lines, so we toured from the Timberline Base, and up to the Timberline Mid Station. Just to the right of the base of the Timberline Quad there’s a thin line of snow that supports skinning right from the base, but that will probably melt out in a couple more days of warm weather. There’s solid coverage on the climber’s left of the quad base though, so that will probably be fine for ascents and descents for a while.
Ty cruised right up the hill on the ascent, with Dylan not too far behind, so the two of them had the chance to hang out at the top for a bit before I arrived. One of the chairs of the quad is nicely positioned at the mid station to make a convenient bench, so the boys really enjoyed hanging out there and enjoying the mountain views.
Showtime is doing the best with respect to coverage thanks to additional manmade snow, so we made our descent there. The snow was nice spring corn that had softened on Bolton’s usual afternoon sun, so the turns were quite good.
We only saw a couple of other cars in the parking lot, although it was fairly late in the afternoon, so most people had probably gotten their turns in earlier.
It looks like the weather is going to cool back down as we head into the latter part of this coming week, so we may be looking at more fresh snow coming to the mountains. We’ll see what happens, but I know everyone would be psyched to get out for some more powder.
We dropped Ty off at work at 8:00 A.M., and the rest of the family headed up to Bolton Valley for some powder runs. We were still well ahead of the 9:00 A.M. opening of the Vista Quad, so we waited in the lodge and were recognized by a gentleman from Connecticut named Tom who follows the reports on our website.
“We woke up this morning to reports from the Northern Greens ski resorts touting storm totals of nearly 40 inches at Stowe, and roughly 30 inches everywhere else.”
We headed to Devil’s Playground for our first run, since we hadn’t been in there at all yet this season, and there had definitely been enough snow from Odell to support that steep terrain. As I expected with yesterday being a Friday of the local school break week, the main lines were very much tracked out and packed out. The only real untracked powder we were finding was by heading off into more obscure spots with tough entries, some traversing, or ending in relatively flat areas. The skiing was fine, but even with a bit of additional snow overnight, it was very obvious that yesterday was the day for skiing this storm.
We made our way toward Timberline next, hitting a run off The Knob on the way. There were some nice long untracked lines in there, with the full storm’s worth of powder that had not been touched. The powder skiing was definitely quite good, and enough so that it impressed E above and beyond anything else we’d skied to that point.
At Timberline we were surprised to find a lot of untracked snow on Tattle Tale, even the steep upper headwall, so we did a couple runs in there before even thinking about going into the trees. As much as I wanted to bring D and E to check out some of my favorite tree lines in the area, it was too hard to pass up so much quality powder right on trail. It was really just walk-on skiing from the Timberline Quad with no queue to speak of, and the powder was much more plentiful than what we’d seen off the Vista Quad, so we just stayed there and skied the good snow until we had to leave to pick up Ty.
“There were some nice long untracked lines in there, with the full storm’s worth of powder that had not been touched.”
The skiing had been good enough that D and I actually headed back out for another Timberline session in the late afternoon. We visited spots that we hadn’t had a chance to check out in the morning like Doug’s Solitude and Adam’s Solitude. It certainly wasn’t insane over-the-head powder skiing since it’s fairly low elevation and somewhat south-facing, but it was definitely worth getting out for a bit more powder in spots that we’d missed in the morning. The overall skiing is just really nice with the thorough resurfacing from Winter Storm Odell, so even if one was just out skiing the soft snow on the groomed runs it was a fantastic day to be out. Another bonus of the late session was of course grabbing some take-out from Fireside Flatbread to bring home to everyone for dinner.
I decided to go for a quick tour at Timberline, and arrived to find some fairly steady snowfall continuing. Temperatures were pretty comfortable, although there was a bit of wind that had filled in the skin track with a few inches of new snow since it was last used. I knew that elevation was a notable factor with this storm, and indeed that was verified with my measurements of the powder during my tour. I found about 6 to 7 inches of powder down at the Timberline Base at 1,500’, but 8 to 12 inches up around 2,250’.
I headed toward Spell Binder for my descent, and the huge drifts at the top suggested that a lot of snow had fallen. I dropped in and cut huge, bottomless arcs down the left side of the headwall. It felt like I’d just covered a third of the trail in seconds. The 8 to 12 inches of powder I’d found on level ground led to areas as deep as 20 inches in some spots, and there was plenty of density to ensure that I was nowhere near touching the base. I know I let out some “Woo Hoos” during the descent, not that anyone else was around to hear it. I spotted a couple vestiges of old tracks that had nearly been obliterated by the wind and continuing snowfall, but as far as I could see I had the only tracks on the trail.
“I dropped in and cut huge, bottomless arcs down the left side of the headwall. It felt like I’d just covered a third of the trail in seconds. The 8 to 12 inches of powder I’d found on level ground led to areas as deep as 20 inches in some spots, and there was plenty of density to ensure that I was nowhere near touching the base.”
I learned today on the Bolton Valley website that skinning at Timberline is actually closed in the 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. period for mountain operations. It was actually around 9:00 A.M. when I was starting my tour late today, so I was after that closed window, but it’s something to consider if you’re planning to earn turns at Timberline. During that window when Timberline hiking is closed, visitors are supposed to hike on the Wilderness ascent route.
Cold temperatures in the single digits F were in the forecast today on the back side of the storm, but Dylan and I decided to head up for a few runs anyway – the bounty of new snow was just too good to miss. Our timing was pretty good such that we took our first run off the Vista Quad and headed right down to Timberline to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad. The top of Vista was absolutely frigid, with an air temperature below zero, but as we made our way down toward the Timberline Base we found that the temperature went up significantly.
“We generally found about 18 inches of powder, and at one point Dylan probed the total depth of snowpack down near the Timberline Base at ~1,500’ and found close to 30 inches of snow.”
At Timberline, the sun was out, the snow was great, and there was essentially no line at the Timberline Quad, so we simply stayed down there and skied until we were ready to go. We generally found about 18 inches of powder, and at one point Dylan probed the total depth of snowpack down near the Timberline Base at ~1,500’ and found close to 30 inches of snow. So, the snowpack is ready for prime time from the top to bottom elevations of the resort.
Ty wasn’t scheduled to work today, so the whole family had the chance to ski together and we decided to head up to the mountain early enough to hit the lift openings. The Vista Quad was opening at 9:00 A.M., and we got there right as folks began loading. We had an excellent run down Alta Vista, and especially Fanny Hill, and everywhere that hadn’t been groomed held several inches of dense powder that contributed to a solid resurfacing of the slopes.
“That was probably my favorite run of the day, with a lot of fresh snow on trails that had hardly been touched by anyone.”
Timberline has finally come on line this weekend thanks to the recent snows, so we next chose to head over that way and catch it near the lift opening. Cobrass still isn’t open, but we were able to take Preacher and a combination of various glades to get us over to Five Corners and onward to Timberline. That was probably my favorite run of the day, with a lot of fresh snow on trails that had hardly been touched by anyone.
Timberline still needs a bit more snow to open all the terrain, but we had an excellent run down Sure Shot and in and out of various sections of trees and nearby trails. Being a holiday weekend with fresh snow, people were arriving at the resort in droves, and when we stopped in at the Timberline Lodge for a quick break, the ticket line inside was roughly 150 feet long. That line was a sign of what was going on throughout the resort, and indeed a substantial lift queue was forming at the Vista Quad when we returned to the main base. Seeing that, we did a couple of quick, powder-filled runs on Snowflake and called it a day because we’d had our fill.
Cars full of holiday visitors continued to stream into the resort as we were leaving, and the Timberline lots must have been filled because they were already starting to have cars parallel park on the access road. The number of visitors today must have been great for the resort, even if it meant there were some lift queues at times. We’d seen Stephen and Johannes right when we’d arrived, and we didn’t get to do any runs with them, but they apparently had a big group with a number of Johannes’ friends. Stephen also said that he rode the Wilderness Chair, so the opening of the Wilderness area must have been a nice addition to disperse all the holiday visitors.
Since yesterday morning, Winter Storm Henry has been bringing snow to our area, and Bolton Valley reported several new inches as of this morning. With the passage of the system came some wind however, which was enough to keep the Vista Quad on hold. Watching the Bolton Valley Live Web Cam from home, we could see that the Vista Quad closure led to long lines for the Mid Mountain Chair and Snowflake Chair. My colleague Stephen said that he’d been skiing in the morning, but the lift lines grew to 30 minutes as more people arrived and he’d eventually decided to call it a day.
Our family had planned to head up for some lift-served runs this afternoon, but the wind hold made that impractical and I ended up heading to the mountain to skin up for some turns instead. I figured this latest storm would be just about enough to get Timberline in reasonable shape for turns, so with the crowds at the main mountain, I decided to check it out.
“In general, I found 6 to 7 inches of powder in protected areas along the route, which was enough for mostly bottomless turns on low and moderate angle terrain.”
The main skin route on Twice as Nice was well established, but I could see that in general the west-facing trails had seen just a bit too much wind to provide really nice turns. Having seen that, I ended up descending by the more protected Wood’s Hole and Brandywine route, and that worked out well. In general, I found 6 to 7 inches of powder in protected areas along the route, which was enough for mostly bottomless turns on low and moderate angle terrain.
We’ve got yet another modest system coming through the area tomorrow, so that should bring conditions up another notch.
I haven’t been out for any turns since our Bruce Trail trip at Stowe on the 24th because we’ve been in one of those periods of spring weather doldrums. There haven’t been any substantial winter storm in the area, but we also haven’t had any of those obviously warm and sunny days that really soften up the snow. Today was warm enough to tempt me out for some turns at Bolton Valley though.
We were relatively cool and cloudy at our house in the valley, but I saw that temperatures had already climbed above 40 F at the weather station alongside Sure Shot by late morning, so I headed up to Timberline. Temperatures were warm enough to soften the snow from top to bottom on Timberline, and the best turns I found were on snowmaking terrain that had seen skier traffic. In those areas, the snow had seen sufficient temperature cycling combined with compaction and manipulation that it was granulating to reasonable spring corn snow. In other areas though, the snow was less consolidated, and recent spring accumulations added to make it a bit sticky. It was still serviceable snow in terms of skiing, and a lot of people were skiing the trees, but it certainly wasn’t the premium surface that I was finding on the groomed terrain.
Today was Bolton’s last official day of lift-served skiing, but we’ve got more potential snow in the forecast this week, and the weather models indicate additional storms beyond that. So, we’ll hopefully have plenty of good long run of spring skiing as we head farther into April and May.
Well ahead of our current winter storm, the weather models were predicting it to be quite a whopper of a system. Multiple upper-level lows were expected to consolidate over the area, then a low pressure center would move up the coast and into Northern Maine before finally departing. Low pressure systems in that area are in a very sweet spot for our local mountains, since it’s excellent positioning to allow Atlantic moisture to be grabbed and wrapped around to the north until it slams into the Green Mountain Spine. It wasn’t surprising that storm totals were expected to approach 30 inches in the mountains. Indeed the local peaks got pounded with snow yesterday and overnight, and when the reports came in this morning, storm totals reached and even exceeded 30 inches.
Our plan was to head up to Bolton for some turns today, but all the lifts were initially on wind hold except the Mighty Mite, so we packed Tele and alpine gear and were all set to skin at Timberline until they started running things. By midmorning though, the resort was announcing openings of the Mid Mountain Chair and the Timberline Quad, so we’d be able to start lift-served skiing once we got there. Unfortunately, they were still plowing out the Timberline parking lot and asking people to park up at the main base. This meant connecting over from the main base to ski Timberline, however the Snowflake Chair, which is the best way to connect over, was down for maintenance. This made for a big line at the Mid Mountain Chair, and that connection still requires a short hike anyway, so we made the hike up Villager to get over to Timberline. We chatted with a patroller coming down Villager, and he wasn’t thrilled about our hike because it wasn’t a designated uphill route, but he understood under the circumstances. He just reminded us to stay to side, well out of the way of any resort vehicles that might be using the trail. It’s not really a long hike, but it did have the benefit that we got in some of our cardio today even though we didn’t end up skinning.
“Indeed the local peaks got pounded with snow yesterday and overnight, and when the reports came in this morning, storm totals reached and even exceeded 30 inches.”
In terms of the skiing, I’d say that the quantity of the new snow was absolutely there – it was a fantastic resurfacing and the groomed slopes were skiing as beautifully as one could imagine. The powder skiing definitely left something to be desired relative to our typical off piste conditions from a storm though. The snow was quite dense, and often windblown. We found that the trees offered some protection from the winds, so we typically got our highest quality turns there, but it was still Sierra Cement/Cascade Concrete type stuff and it would toss you around easily if you weren’t on your game or as it became more chopped up. It actually looked like a nice day to be on a snowboard with the dense snow. The skiing was still awesome of course, but it was just surprising that the backside champagne never developed enough to set the impressively right-side-up turns we’d anticipated. Presumably the parameters for optimal snow growth didn’t come together everywhere as the storm was finishing up