Although today really was the President’s Day holiday, it didn’t feel like it to me because everyone seemed to have to go to school or work anyway. My plan was to head to the office as well, but being a holiday, it seemed silly to miss out on the fantastic ski conditions that are out there, so I had to stop in at Bolton Valley for a few runs en route.
Today was the third in a string of really nice ski days featuring soft, midwinter snow conditions and temperatures in the upper 20s F at elevation. You really couldn’t ask for much better timing for all the visitors to the resort over this long holiday weekend. Figuring that the powder from our recent storms would be pretty tracked out by the plentiful skier traffic from the big weekend, my plan was to just work the legs a bit with a few on piste Telemark runs.
“…Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.”
But, as soon as I started down Vermont 200 I started began to look off piste and saw that there was simply too much good snow out there to resist. Once I got into the trees I was finding untracked lines everywhere, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of my ski session today.
I visited a number of spots that I hadn’t been in quite a while, including places like Glades Right, Snow Hole, and White Rabbit, and the skiing was so good that I had to visit some of them more than once. I was amazed at how little traffic those places had seen as I glided my way through the powder and thought, “Only at Bolton Valley are you going to be able to find such a ridiculous amount of untracked powder after a busy holiday weekend.” That’s of course one of the things that makes the mountain so great.
After the good conditions I experienced yesterday on my tour of the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network, I knew today had some great potential depending on how Winter Storm Noah performed. It wouldn’t take much to produce some really excellent skiing, and when the numbers finally came in this morning, Bolton Valley was reporting 5 inches of new snow. That was more than enough for the whole family to get together for a tour.
“The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.”
Although it’s already mid-February, today was actually the first day of the season that the whole family would have a chance to ski together. It really looked like a beauty though, with close to 10 inches of snow in the past couple of days, temperatures in the upper 20s F, and snow showers giving way to clearing skies in the afternoon. Arriving up at the mountain in the mid-morning timeframe, the resort was really humming with visitors once again. We were able to get a prime parking spot right along the edge of Broadway, geared up, and we were on our way.
Since I’d like what I found on my tour yesterday, I brought E and the boys on a variation of that trip. We headed up to Bryant Cabin, stopped for a quick break among about a dozen other backcountry travelers, and then headed on above Gardiner’s Lane as I’d done yesterday. My skin tracks had just about disappeared with all the new snow overnight, but there were just enough vestiges of my passage to allow me to use my old track as a guide.
We descended through a lot of glades I knew well, in addition to a few different lines that we found in our explorations. There were definitely plenty of good crashes in the powder, especially by Ty who seemed to enjoy the crashes as much as any aspect of the tour. The powder was typically 10-12” in depth, with some areas even more, and a few open spots with less if the wind had pushed the snow around.
We stopped in for some lunch at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery after the tour, and I got a great shot of Ty grappling with his huge sub. It was great to finally get the whole family out together, and what a day for great ski conditions!
We had some great ski conditions in the area last weekend thanks to a couple of winter storms putting down a solid resurfacing of the slopes. Ty and I hit some beautiful powder on Saturday at Bolton Valley, and the good snow conditions carried right over to our BJAMS ski program session on Sunday at Stowe. Some mixed precipitation moved in as the weekend closed out though, potentially setting up some dicey conditions as temperatures cooled back down during the week. Some new snow would likely be needed to soften up the slopes, but the only real possibility in the forecast was a cold front coming through the area on Friday. It was only expected to drop an inch or two, but true to form, the resorts along the spine of the Northern Greens managed to reel in a solid four inches. A subtle but important aspect of the snow that fell was that it started out dense and wet, then gradually dried out. That held the potential to really bond it to the old snow and actually create a rather soft subsurface that would be great under the new powder. You never know exactly how the layers are going to come together, but the potential definitely piqued my interest enough for a trip to the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network.
“In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.”
We had a morning of blue skies and bright sun, but it was dimming just a bit ahead of incoming Winter Storm Noah as I headed up to the mountain around midday. Arriving up in the Village, there was no doubt that it was President’s Day weekend – it took me several minutes to get a parking spot even down by the Sport Center and Nordic area because the lots were just jam packed. Hopefully that’s a great sign that the resort is going to have a great weekend of visitors. I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get out today though – it was simply spectacular out there with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20s F.
“Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring.”
My first real sign that there might be some great snow on the hill came as soon as I walked to the back of the car to gear up. I’d backed into my parking spot and was pleasantly surprised when I had to remove almost a foot of powder to clear a spot so I could get my ski boots on. The snow had clearly drifted some, but it was obvious that the resort had picked up a good shot of accumulation and I was eager to see what the protected environs of the trees held.
Starting my ascent I generally found about four inches atop the old base, very consistent with what the resort had mentioned in the snow report. It was actually tough to gauge the depth of the new snow at times though, because indeed the new snow had bonded so well to the old snow that it was hard to find the interface. In many areas my pole would simply go down 15 to 20 inches to a previous base layer.
I was inspired to try a couple of new areas on my tour today. First, I ascended up the Bryant Trail, then past Bryant Cabin to Gardiner’s Lane. I then ascended up above Gardiner’s Lane at an angle until I hit the evergreen line, and then contoured across at that elevation until I reached the North Slope area. I stopped where I could catch a nice line all the way back down to Gardiner’s Lane, and got in some great turns. Then, instead of continuing along Gardiner’s Lane, I dropped off into one of the glades and skied fresh lines down to the next bench. I contoured on the bench until I found myself entering Gotham City, where I caught a series of various glades back down to Bryant.
Those turns had been so good, and it was such a nice day, that I decided to tack on some more touring. I headed back up Bryant, and ascended back up to the bench near the bottom of A1A. I worked back toward Gotham City and then ascended into some lines above. I finished off my descent heading down Alchemist and back toward the Village for a stop in at the deli for some subs.
The Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery was really hoppin’, but I definitely have to give a shout out to Gus and his crew for some great work managing all the holiday visitors. Thanks Gus, the sandwiches were great!
February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days. The quality of the skiing both on and off piste has naturally taken a huge jump, and unlike the great snow we had back around the holidays, this snow didn’t come with subzero arctic temperatures. Everyone seemed quite excited to get out for our first BJAMS ski program of the season where the mountain was really delivering in quality and quantity of terrain.
We had most of our usual group today, along with Johannes, since he and Stephen were at the mountain to watch some of the Bolton Valley Freeride Team take part in the 2018 Stowe Freeride Challenge. Ty was also with us, since he wasn’t needed for any other coaching responsibilities today.
“February snowfall has been off to a roaring start here in Northern Vermont, with Stowe just coming out of a stretch that dropped 30 inches in 8 days.”
I wanted to make the most of the great conditions and get our crew into some fun terrain, so I set my sights on getting them over to Lookout. Coming over from Spruce Peak, we took the Gondola to Cliff Trail, and I’ve got to say, Cliff Trail had some of the best conditions I’ve seen there in a long time. You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder. Lookout was closed from the top, so I brought the group around via Hayride and we wound up skiing through much of Tres Amigos Glades. There are still some icy sections in there on the heavily used lines, but there were a lot of great soft lines present as well if you just ventured out to the sides a bit. I hadn’t been in Tres Amigos for quite a while, and I’d forgotten how steep and fun it is in there.
As we neared the end of the day we’d whittled down the group to just Wiley, Ty, Dylan, and I, and we finished things off back at Spruce Peak with some runs off the Sensation Quad. Green Acres yielded what was definitely the most consistently great snow of the day, with deep bottomless powder that had us stunned with the fact that it was still untouched after the whole weekend.
“You could just lay those edges over and dig in, and there was nothing there but packed powder.”
Temperatures were great today, running in the range of probably 25 to 32 F, so comfort wasn’t at all an issue there. What was an issue though was the low clouds that were thick on the upper half of the mountain, making visibility really tough in open areas. There was also some light mixed precipitation in the afternoon that compounded visibility issues by leaving droplets on people’s googles and causing fogging. We had to ski with goggles up at times because the visibility was so tough, but fortunately temperatures were warm enough to make that feasible. The snow surfaces stayed nice at just about all elevations though, since the mixed precipitation we were picking up was fairly light.
Base depths are great right now, with five feet of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, so as long as we can keep refresher storms coming we should be in great shape heading into the rest of February.
With the combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo over the past few days, Bolton Valley is reporting 16 inches of new snow and the ski conditions are taking off. E and Dylan were off to Lake Elmore to do a polar plunge today, but Ty and I headed up to the mountain to make use of all the new powder.
“Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there.”
We had snow falling at the house in the morning, and were surprised to see what looked like some brief sleet or rain as we passed through ~1,000’ elevation band on the Bolton Valley Access Road, but as we got to the switchbacks below 1,500’ near the Timberline Base we were hit with a wall of steady light snow. We arrived at Timberline in the 9:30 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. range when the Timberline Quad was just opening, and had light snow falling with a cloud ceiling around 2,200’.
We kicked things off with a quick run through Wood’s Hole and the Corner Pocket Glades. The powder was good, although you could feel that the freezing level had rise to just about the Timberline base elevations. We found that total snowpack and coverage is OK below 2,000’, but those elevations could use one more solid storm to cover up some obstacles that still remain.
We spent time over at the main mountain after that, with a couple of great runs connecting from Hard Luck to Show Off, which hadn’t seen much traffic and had excellent snow. The main mountain was well above the freezing level and base depths are plentiful up there. We had a quick break with some slices at Fireside Flatbread, and then we finished off at the main mountain with a trip through the Villager Trees before heading back to Timberline. Eventually we took a lunch break at the Timberline Lodge before we finished off the day skiing over there, and it was definitely disappointing to see that South of Solitude isn’t running in the lodge – we were really amped to have some burritos!
There was light snowfall when we first arrived, and it ramped up to moderate intensity at times, but the flakes were fairly small early on. We had a period of heavier snow with big flakes near midday, but snowfall was typically on and off through the day. The freezing line was climbing during the day, and at least based on the temperature’s effect on snow surface consistency, I’d say it was around 1,700’ around midday, and 2,000’ by the time we were leaving near 3:00 P.M.
Overall the skiing is excellent right now as one would expect, but I’d say the biggest improvements have been on piste. The groomed terrain is skiing very nicely. Off piste there has been a nice shot of snow (probably 16 to 18 settled inches above 2,000’) from that combination of Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo, so there’s plenty of powder out there. There really wasn’t a lot of champagne to top it off with this last storm, so I can’t put it up there with those primo dumps where you get that amazing density gradient of powder, but the powder skiing was still great.
It’s nice to have some more typical Northern Greens conditions back in the house. We’ve got some big flakes falling here at our place this evening, so hopefully we’ll get a nice addition for more fun on the slopes tomorrow!
Light snow fell yesterday during the daylight hours while we were at Stowe, but the snowfall intensified after dark and we picked up more substantial amounts of snow in the evening. Knowing that the same thing was going on at the local resorts, it seemed like this morning would be an excellent time to catch some turns in the fresh powder. So, I decided to head up for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley.
When I’d left the house the temperature was still right around freezing, but by Bolton Flats I hit winds associated with the cold air moving in, and by the time I got up to Timberline the temperature was down around 20 F. I found several cars in the usual parking spots off to the right, and they belonged to various skiers and riders coming and going from trips in the new snow.
“Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.”
On my ascent I found a nice skin track in place on Twice as Nice, and I frequently checked the depths of the powder. Wind had pushed the snow around a bit, but I generally found depths of 5 to 8 inches with spot amounts up to 10 inches near the Timberline Mid Station. I opted for Spell Binder on the descent, and even though the headwall had seen a lot of its snow blow around, the usual spots that hold the snow yielded excellent turns. Throughout the trail, turns were bottomless aside from a few contacts with the subsurface here and there, and I found protected spots with depths of over a foot.
Today yielded some of the best turns in at least a couple of weeks, and it looks like the skiing is only going to get better with another storm predicted for Wednesday.
Snow from our incoming winter storm began in the area this morning, and maintained a steady light intensity through our arrival at Stowe a bit before noontime. After the family had some lunch at the Great Room Grill, everyone gathered up for the afternoon’s sessions. With the past couple of week’s program sessions having rather stale snow, there was a bit of a buzz in the air with the incoming storm, even if new snow accumulations were still on the minimal side at that point.
Molly was continuing with her snowboarding, so Ty snowboarded as well, while Dylan and I went with Telemark skis. E feels that Molly is progressing really well with her turns, and just needs time on snow, so that’s exactly what we gave her. We did several runs off the Meadows Chair, which provided Molly with great terrain for her boarding, and it was an excellent area for Dylan’s Telemark practice as well. I drilled him using a technique that he actually invented, which involves skiing all turns in both directions in the same Telemark stance. In this case I made him work on his weaker stance, which is left foot in the back.
We had a good hot chocolate break back in the Great Room Grill before finishing off with a couple of bigger runs off of Sunny Spruce. The snow continued to fall lightly, but ended up adding a couple inches to freshen up surfaces before we left. We only took the occasional quick jaunt into the off piste, but it skied quite nicely with about 6 inches of powder, even down near the base elevations. The snow’s been chugging right along this evening at a slightly invigorated pace, so tomorrow should be another excellent day for turns.
Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day. I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in. Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour. I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City. I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical. I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches. The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area. The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.
Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more. We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.
Today, E set up a special Sunday morning session of snowboarding instruction for Molly based on the progress she’d made last week. It was one of those situations where Molly was progressing quickly and wasn’t quite going to have a group that would be a perfect fit for her abilities. Dylan was under the weather, but E giving the early session mean that she, Ty, and I headed off early today to Stowe.
It was sort of strange starting things off in the morning on a ski program Sunday, but while E went off to her session with Molly, Ty and I made good use of our early visit to the mountain by checking out some of the breakfast offerings at the Great Room Grill. Ty got their huge breakfast sandwich, and I got their hearty breakfast burrito, which was so filling that I could have easily skipped lunch and been fine all afternoon. We of course headed out for some turns as well, and were lucky enough to run into Jack, so we spent the morning doing some runs with him. He’s on the Rice Memorial High School ski team now, so we go to catch up on lots of his season’s adventures thus far.
“The terrain off Sunny Spruce was soft top-to–bottom.”
In terms of conditions, as expected, they were much like what we’d experienced last Sunday, and similar to what I’d found at Bolton Valley yesterday. Temperatures were well up into the 30s in the lower elevations, so surfaces ranged from spring-like softened snow on sunny aspects, to full on winter snow on the more northerly aspects. The terrain off Sunny Spruce was soft top-to–bottom, and we had a lot of fun on the skier’s left of Gondolier, where the sun had worked the snow into a beautifully soft consistency.
After lunch, which were able to keep on the small side thanks to that breakfast, we met up with our group and hit essentially the same terrain that we’d found to be optimal on the morning. Colder air did start moving in as the afternoon wore on, so the snow began to firm up a bit, but the places that had really softened stayed excellent right through the end of the day. There is off piste skiing to be had, as we saw in images from Scott Braaten yesterday, but we still need a storm to get it where it should be, so we’re waiting on that to happen. There’s clearly some terrain that still has issues with respect to conditions, because the mountain doesn’t have 100% of its trails open. Chin Clip was an example we saw today – for some reason it’s not open, because it was clearly roped off. It sounds like we’ll finally start to break out of the recent lull in snowfall this week, so we’ll see if we can get any snow down to give the surface conditions a boost.
Ski conditions have been in sort of a holding pattern here in Northern Vermont. We just haven’t had any big snowstorms in the past couple of weeks, and that’s what we need to get the off piste terrain back in prime shape. With that said, there’s certainly some decent off piste skiing out there in various spots. Powderfreak highlighted how good some of the tree skiing was at Stowe today, despite the fact that Winter Storm Jaxon had a substantial amount of mixed precipitation. It was just one of those storms that finished off with some dense sleet to snow that really resurfaced whatever lay beneath.
I was sort of curious about the conditions up in the mountains today, and when temperatures rose up into the 30s F even at elevation, I decided that there would certainly be some soft snow out there. I headed up to Bolton Valley in the midafternoon timeframe and parked at the Timberline Base to start my outing. With the main base of the resort at 2,100’ up into the 30s F, I knew it would have warmed down there at 1,500’. The scene at Timberline was quite mellow, with generally calm winds under cloudy skies, and just a sprinkling of skiers visible.
“As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all.”
As I rode the Timberline Quad, the conditions below me on Showtime looked, and even more importantly, sounded very good. I couldn’t hear a thing from the turns of the skiers below me, so I hopped right off at the mid station and went for a run. Indeed the snow on Showtime was great, probably softened a bit by the moderate temperatures, but it was immediately obvious that a major portion of the snow quality came from the fact that the resort had just blown a ton of snow on it.
“…it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder.”
That snow on Showtime was worthy of being lapped for quite a while, but I still wanted to find out what the snow was like in the higher elevations, so I headed all the way to the Timberline Summit. As soon as I got off, I headed into the trees a bit off to the right of Villager, and low and behold there was some powder in there and the skiing wasn’t bad at all. I hadn’t seen Powderfreak’s post and photos about the snow at Stowe at that point, and I really wasn’t expecting much, so it was indeed sort of a pleasant surprise. It did make me think back to something I’d read in the Bolton Valley snow report earlier in the day:
“Updated Saturday, January 27th at 7:57 AM – News and Notes: Come and get it folks. The sun will make an appearance today and the trails have a pleasant surprise feel to them making for a fun combination. If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
If you take a little time to explore, you will find some powder in the glades and wooded areas off of our open trails such as the Wilderness Liftline and Preacher.”
The report literally had “pleasant surprise” in it, and I can absolutely see what they were getting at. With that commentary, and what I’d encountered off piste, I decided to head off to check out the powder over at Wilderness. What I found was that even areas that had seen some skier traffic over there were offering up some nice soft turns, but untracked areas with that coating of a couple inches of powder were very nice. It’s really the dense, yet soft, material underneath that is providing the good turns vs. the couple inches of powder on top, but hey, the combination really comes together.
I gradually worked my way back to the Timberline Base to complete my tour of the resort’s terrain, and it was kind of fun to span the gamut from some almost spring-like softened snow to midwinter powder. Despite the good conditions I found in many spots, high-traffic and windblown areas are definitely in need of a resurfacing. The worst spots will need a couple inches of liquid equivalent, but good base is in place in most areas, so all we really need is a decent storm with about an inch of liquid equivalent and we’ll really be back to more typical on and off piste conditions. We’re expected to get into a more active wintry pattern in February, so we’ll see if any storms swing through to bring what we need.