Bolton Valley, VT 10MAR2018

An image of E and Dylan in the car at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Snowfall over the past few days has built up some great powder at Bolton Valley, and today was a day for getting out and finding it!

Although Bolton Valley was only reporting an inch of new snow in this morning’s report, they’ve picked up more than a foot of snow in the past couple of days from Winter Storm Quinn.  Combined with modest midweek skier traffic, that was already a recipe for some great skiing today, but even more snow was expected to arrive as the day wore on to further freshen up the slopes.

E and Dylan had some obligations in the morning, but Ty and I were free to ski and had plans to meet up with Stephen at the resort.  We parked at Timberline, alerted Stephen with a text, and headed up the Timberline Quad for a run.  Although I couldn’t find any slopes that hadn’t been thoroughly resurfaced at the resort during yesterday’s outing, I can finally say that I found at least one today.  I figured we could try a run on Lost Girlz, which would be a really tough test of the resurfacing.  Unfortunately, the combination of dense evergreen canopy above, and very steep pitch were too much; the coverage just wasn’t enough.  So, we high tailed it over to Tattle Tale for a run.  The snow was certainly good there, but in general it had seen much more traffic than usual because the Tattle Tale headwall was open.

An image of Ty skiing in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Fun in the Villager Trees

We met up with Stephen and did a full run of Tattle Tale so that we could really take in the headwall experience.  It was a bit windblown at the very top, but coverage was quite good overall and it was definitely worth the trip. 

An image of Stephen skiing in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Stephen getting just what he was looking for today… powder for his fat skis!

The rest of the morning was dedicated to getting Stephen some deep untracked powder, and that we delivered in spades with trips to The Crack, Villager Trees, and White Rabbit.  Stephen seemed quite happy floating around on his fat alpine touring skis.  The powder was easily a foot or more in untracked areas, and it was definitely delivering great turns with that right-side-up density gradient that Winter Storm Quinn had set up.  In addition, new snowfall was ramping right up as we approached midday due to an incoming mountain upslope snow event that’s developing in the area.

An image of a water bottle and some ski gloves at the Fireside Flatbread bar at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThe three of us headed to Fireside Flatbread for some lunch, and E and Dylan joined us for a bite once they arrived at the resort.  We all did a Cobrass/Five Corners run together before Stephen had to head back to pick up Johannes, and the rest of us finished off the day with some Timberline runs.  E and Dylan had skied Spell Binder earlier and it got a great recommendation.  It lived up to the expectations, especially that skier’s left that Dylan enjoyed ripping up so much.

“As mentioned earlier, the big weather news in the coming days is the mountain upslope snow event that’s poised to bring another hefty shot of snow to the area.”

As mentioned earlier, the big weather news in the coming days is the mountain upslope snow event that’s poised to bring another hefty shot of snow to the area.  There’s a vertically stacked low pressure sitting in Northern Maine, and that’s typically a great setup for snowfall in the Northern Greens when the low pressure wraps in deep moisture from the Atlantic.  You know there’s some potential for continued snowfall when the National Weather Service in Burlington speaks about difficulty in finding the off switch for the snowfall in their forecast discussion:

“Another good problem to have is trying to find the off switch to the upslope snow machine…looks like a brief break develops Sunday afternoon into Monday…before more accumulating snowfall for Tuesday into Weds.”

Bolton Valley, VT 10FEB2018

an image looking down Bolton Valley toward the Winooski Valley at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty skiing powder in the Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The Northern Greens are definitely back at it now, with Bolton Valley picking up 16 inches in the past few days from Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo.

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’.

An image of the depth of the powder after Winter Storm Liam and Winter Storm Mateo at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Liam + Winter Storm Mateo = Let’s Go!

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.

An image of Ty skiing the Glades trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dropping into some great snow on Bolton Valley’s Glades trail

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!

An image of fresh snow on evergreen branches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThere 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.

An image of Ty spraying powder while skiing at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Pow!

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!

Bolton Valley, VT 25MAR2017

An image of Dylan Telemark skiing in powder snow in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Jay skiing in the Villager Trees area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Friday’s new snow was still yielding some great turns this afternoon at Bolton Valley.

Temperatures edged up into the mid-30s F down in the mountain valleys today, and that had me curious about how much warmth there was in the higher elevations.  Ty and I had some great turns in the fresh snow last night at Bolton Valley, and if that snow was holding its consistency it would definitely be worth getting out for more skiing.  We were attending a bridge-breaking competition at Lyndon Institute in support of some of the BJAMS students in the morning, but while I was there, I checked on the Village temperatures at Bolton Valley and saw that they were holding below freezing even down at 2,000’.  That meant the powder would probably be staying in great shape.

“We found that the condition of the snow did deteriorate a bit as we got down toward the freezing line, but with the density of this snow it actually holds up quite well even at those temperatures.”

Ty had some work to do at home with E, but Dylan and I headed up to the mountain in the afternoon for a few runs.  Temperatures were just above freezing at the Timberline Base (~1,500’), but we hit the freezing line somewhere between 1,500’ and 2,000’.  Up at the Vista Summit (3,150’) it was actually pretty chilly, and it was amazing how much of difference there was in air temperature between the base and summit elevations.

An image of Dylan skiing powder snow in the Villager Trees area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan starting in on another line in the Villager Trees

We found that the dense powder from yesterday had indeed held up quite well, especially in the elevations above the freezing level, so Dylan and I had a great time exploring lines in the Villager Trees.  I’d been thinking that my fat skis would have been great in that type of snow, so I brought them today and they really did the trick.  We found that the condition of the snow did deteriorate a bit as we got down toward the freezing line, but with the density of this snow it actually holds up quite well even at those temperatures.   This latest snow should be a nice addition to the snowpack as we head into April.

Bolton Valley, VT 24JAN2015

An image of Ty skiing powder snow in the KP Glades area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty spraying some powder snow in the KP Glades area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
January cold has kept the powder in great shape this week.

We’ve only had an inch or two of new snow since Monday’s winter storm and our last Bolton Valley outing, but as is typical of January, it’s been consistently cold so the powder has just been sitting there. Heading out for some backcountry turns today was certainly a reasonable option, but I also suspected there would be plenty of lift-served powder available at Bolton Valley; with only a few midweek days since the storm, skier traffic should have been relatively low. Dylan’s very much on the mend from his recent bout of Strep, but he’s certainly not to the stage where he should be heading out on the slopes, so E decided to take him to BJAMS to get some work done. That left me and Ty in the mix for some skiing, and it made the choice easy – I know Ty would lean toward some lift served turns, and I was happy to hedge that way as well knowing that we’d be able to get into a lot of powder.

“The snow was fantastic – I stuck my poles in the snow to hold my gloves while I ran the camera, and the poles sunk up to the handles.”

We grabbed some fairly fat boards and headed up to the mountain in the late morning.  My plan was to start us down at Timberline, which turned out to be an appropriate choice because the resort already had signs up indicating that the parking areas at the main mountain were full. There was ample parking in the Timberline lot though, and the attendant directed us to one of the spots in the circle right below the Timberline Quad. Temperatures were right around 30 F and skies were partly cloudy, so it was a choice day to be out there.

We headed right to the Timberline Summit to get us on our way to the main mountain, and on our way down we made a quick visit to the Lower Villager Trees to sample some of the powder lines – there was 12″+ of soft snow above the base, topped off with a coating of the most recent bout of champagne snow that we received yesterday. Ty chose a neat line under what looked like a beech tree that had been bent into an arc. His biggest issue with the line was the photographer getting in the way.

An image of Ty skiing udner and arched tree in the Lower Villager Trees at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The line that Ty chose in the Lower Villager Trees went under an arching tree.

Arriving at the main base we could see that there really wasn’t much in the way of lift queues; with all the lifts running, even a full parking lot doesn’t seem to do much to back things up. There was an event going on atop the main deck at the base lodge; I’m not sure what it was, but the deck was full of people. Ty and I headed right over to Wilderness, and my plan was to take him to Stanton’s, or at least that general area to get some steep powder turns. I told Ty how I was taking him to a line that he’d said was too steep for him several years ago – it was January 6th, 2008, so he would have been four years old at the time. I guess we can cut him some slack for feeling it was over head at the time. When I told him about that story today, he sort of laughed and said that he doesn’t run into much that fazes him now because of steepness. Even way back on that day when he did find it too steep, we suspected where things would eventually end up. Sliding into position atop Stanton’s, we could tell that, not surprisingly, it had been hit by plenty of traffic, so we headed a few yards back to one of the lines that was still untracked. I dropped in to set up for some photos and found that there was plenty of powder, even for those steep shots. Ty skied a nice line, but we didn’t really pull any keepers out of that photo session.

The remainder of that run was one of the most enjoyably adventurous parts of the afternoon. We just continued on down below the chutes and let our noses guide us toward fresh tracks. We were in a bunch of seldom used terrain areas, working our way through the trees among Lower Crossover, Coyote, and Work Road. I laughed at one point and said to Ty, “I have no idea where we are!” Actually, I knew we were in the Fanny Hill Woods, but we were following a streambed that I’d never skied before, so we never knew quite what was going to come around the next bend. We eventually wound up at the junction of Fanny Hill and Abenaki Trail, and of course Ty said he knew we’d end up in that area all along. I wasn’t convinced. In any event, that area sees very little skier traffic, so we saw hardly a track. Our first run of powder exploration was a rousing success.

An image of Ty looking out from behind some snow-covered evergreens in the Villager Trees area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe headed to Vista next, and found Cobrass in really good form, especially off to the right side where the soft snow usually collects. We came screaming around the big bend below the headwall, where the snow was beautiful and you could just sink in those edges and let it rip. Next it was off to sample the Villager Trees, where Ty skied Heaven for the first time this season. The snow was fantastic – I stuck my poles in the snow to hold my gloves while I ran the camera, and the poles sunk up to the handles. We headed to the Sixth Corner area and then to some lines in Gump’s on our way back to the Timberline Base.

It was mid afternoon at that point and we’d discovered that in sun-exposed areas there was just the slightest of melt layers atop the powder in the last few hundred feet of vertical above the Timberline Base. That wasn’t surprising with the temperature so close to freezing down there, but it hadn’t reached the stage of making the snow sticky, and it still skied like dry powder, so we decided to do a little more Timberline skiing. We visited more of Gump’s, the KP Glades, and the Corner Pocket Glades with the usual powdery results. We rode up with an older couple from South Burlington that saw our skis and inquired about rocker in skis and whether it was worth it. I told them that most of the skis still have camber in the middle of the ski, so they’re very versatile, and indeed the rocker is great for powder. For us the choice was a no brainer since we spend so much of our time off piste in the powder, with today being a perfect example. We talked about width as well – I was using my Rossignol Sin 7 skis, which are close to 100 mm at the waist, but said that if they spent a lot more time on piste, something with a width somewhere in the 80-90 mm range would be a good fit.

All told, Ty and I had a great day of exploring some new lines, visiting some old favorites, and generally catching a lot of powder. For today’s action photography it was definitely the Ty show, but that’s often how it goes when he’s the only one along for the ride. I didn’t get a chance to give him the camera since I was usually tracking down lines for him to ski, but perhaps we’ll get one of the boys behind the camera next time.

Bolton Valley, VT 22MAR2014 (AM)

An image of Dylan skiing powder snow in the Wilderness Woods area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Wind holds at Bolton Valley yesterday meant lots of untracked powder today.

We had a winter storm at the end of the week that brought over a foot to some of the local ski resorts, and it created quite a powder day by Friday morning.  Fortunately (for some of us that didn’t get out Friday) most of the lifts at Bolton Valley were on wind hold all day, so much of the powder was still sitting there as of this morning.  With that in mind, we got a relatively early start up at the mountain today, getting there by roughly 9:00 A.M.  One great aspect of the day was that Dylan has been given a clean bill of health after his recent viral illness, so he was ready to jump back on the skis and go wild with the rest of the family.

The wind was already somewhat vigorous ahead of today’s incoming storm as the four us loaded onto the Vista Quad, and although temperatures were in the 20s F and fairly comfortable, the east wind blowing in our faces on the wasn’t pleasant.  We started off on Alta Vista, and while there seemed to be less powder off to the sides than usual due to extensive grooming, the actual groomed trail had some of the best snow we’ve encountered on it.  Oftentimes, traffic and wind make it pretty scratchy at the start, but not today.  Down lower on the trail, we got into some powder toward the Vista Glades, and it was quite good.  We worked our way over toward Wilderness and caught some of the first tracks in Wilderness Woods.  The powder wasn’t overly deep, but it had such a beautiful density gradient associated with it that it was bottomless everywhere.  Indeed there’s a ton of soft snow out there now, essentially everywhere I tested the depth of snow with my measurement ski pole off piste, I was able to push it down to around 40 inches before hitting any hard surfaces.  There’s really been a good amount of snow in the mountains this month.  We eventually made our way out onto Lower Turnpike, and although it had seen a thorough grooming, even that was super soft and there was untracked powder available on the sides.

When we arrived down at the base of Wilderness there were about 15 minutes to go before they loaded it, so E went in for a bathroom break, while the boys and I went for a Mid Mountain run.  It turned out that Mid Mountain was on wind hold, so we made a Snowflake run instead.  We caught some lines in the Bonus Woods and then met up with E for the loading of the Wilderness Chair.  From the Wilderness Summit we decided on Bolton Outlaw, and from what we could see even before we got there, the good powder was in protected areas.  The Outlaw Woods yielded some excellent snow.  We worked our way down via Cougar for another run in the Wilderness Woods like our first one, and the snow was still excellent, even if we weren’t in the realm of first tracks the way we’d been earlier in the morning.

An image of Dylan skiing in the Outlaw Woods area of Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Finding some beautiful snow in the Outlaw Woods

E and the boys were ready for a break from the wind, so they headed in for some snacks while I took another run on Super Snow Hole.  Being by myself, it was the perfect opportunity to dial in the traverse there, and avoid having to drag the family around looking for it like last time.  This time I found one of the main traverse tracks leading to the area and hit it from the top.  The snow was beautiful in there, and so well protected from the wind.  The snow had started to pick up with the approaching storm, and in the trees I got to experience some of those big fat flakes floating straight down in the dead calm.  It was a world of difference in those protected areas.  It was a great run in which I got to hit some nice lines that I’d explored in the off season.

I met up with E and the boys back in the lodge, and found out that they’d actually had a good bit to eat during their break.  I eventually convinced them to come for a run with me on Super Snow Hole, especially since I had a track in place and could guarantee that the traverse would be simple and productive.  They actually loved the run, especially with the really high quality powder, so I don’t think I’ll have quite as hard a time convincing them to go with me next time.

Everyone was game for one more run, so we took a trip up Vista and headed to Maria’s Woods.  We didn’t take the hike up the crack, but the snow was really good on the main lines anyway.  Sometimes you can get in there and find powder that just doesn’t seem to work, but not today.  In fact, I was really pleased in general at the high quality of the snow today.  I’d brought my Amperages, hoping that the snow was going to be of enough quality that they would be a good fit, and indeed they were.  They had that “no width” feeling, and everything was quick and effortless.  There’s something about the consistency of the snow that just seemed to work with them, and I’m still figuring out just what days allow them to shine.  A great example of when they weren’t a great fit was last Saturday, when the powder was dense in general, and the lower mountain having  bit of wetter snow.  One would think that fat skis would be great in that dense stuff, but I found that it was just too stiff in most places for their width.  Perhaps I’m getting used to how quickly they move around in high quality, fluffy snow, but  definitely found myself wanting my mid fats that day.  In any event, I’m definitely starting to dial in the type of days that work best, or at least “feel best” with the fats, and it’s not simply the deep days.  The quality of the powder seems to be the biggest factor.

I checked on the interest in any additional runs, but everyone was ready to leave, so we skied to the car, packed up, and headed down the access road.  As we passed by Timberline, we saw that it had finally gotten off wind hold, and people were loading.  It was very tempting to stop in and check out all the snow that had been sitting there for the past couple of days, but I couldn’t convince anyone to make the stop, they were happy to call it a day.  It did plant in my mind the possibility of heading back out after lunch though…