“Lower Turnpike has a nice skier packed base with 4 to 6 inches of medium weight powder on it, and the areas of untracked snow offered fantastic turns.”
Although Ty was at work today, E and Dylan and I decided to head up to Bolton Valley to check out the new accumulations and overall conditions. Temperatures have been quite chilly over the past couple of days, with highs only around 10 F or so, but today they were getting nicely up into the 20s F in the afternoon.
Lift-served trail options are fairly limited right now since natural snow trails off Vista don’t have nearly enough snow to support those levels of skier traffic, but we rode the Vista Quad and eventually made our way over to Wilderness to see what the terrain over there offered With mostly skinning traffic on that part of the mountain, many areas on the lower slopes of Wilderness are in great shape. Lower Turnpike has a nice skier packed base with 4 to 6 inches of medium weight powder on it, and the areas of untracked snow offered fantastic turns. We only saw three folks skinning up during the course of our descent, so skier traffic seemed light, in line with the conditions we found.
We stopped in for some slices at Fireside Flatbread before leaving, and there was modest midafternoon crowd enjoying the atmosphere. The pizza was fantastic as always!
The forecast actually looks fairly benign over the course of the next week, but the weather models due hint at a couple of possibilities for snow. We’ll be watching to see if anything develops.
On the way home this afternoon, I stopped in at the mountain to make a few turns and check out the conditions in association with today’s new snow. Even in the mountains, temperatures rose above freezing yesterday on the front end of our current storm system, and that was likely to mean firm snow surfaces as the temperatures came back down today. Fortunately some snow also fell on the back side of the system, and Bolton Valley was reporting 4 inches as of this morning. Depending on the density of those 4 inches of snow, and how they fell, they could make for some nice skiing.
“…I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely.”
The skies were overcast today with on and off snow in the mountains and rain/snow in the valleys. Temperatures were hovering around 35 F in the Winooski Valley as I made my way eastward into the mountains, but once I arrived up in the Bolton Valley Village at 2,100′, the temperature was in the upper 20s F and grainy snow was falling. The clouds were low, sinking right down to the elevation of the Village, and combined with precipitation and late-day December light, visibility was very poor. The clouds only seemed to get thicker as I ascended on the Vista Quad, and if the visibility wasn’t already low enough, rime was precipitating out of the clouds and forming on everything… including my goggles. There was a brisk northwest wind in effect by the time I got to the Vista Summit, and temperatures must have been in the low 20s F – it was feeling extremely wintry up there.
“…I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.”
From the lift, my initial impressions of the skiing weren’t all that favorable – I could hear the sounds of snowboarders on Butterscotch, and it didn’t sound good. But, once I actually got on the snow and got down through the windswept areas above Sherman’s Pass on my first run, I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely. I could smoothly glide right through the powder without hitting anything underneath. I found this same snow on the edges all along Sherman’s, and I was surprised at how much snow had been left untracked at the end of the day. I guess traffic had been somewhat lighter since it was a midweek day. The snow was good, but what made the skiing challenging was the visibility. If you ever wanted to work on your balance while skiing, this afternoon’s low light and fog as dusk approached would get you there. The visibility was the main consideration when I was thinking about taking that next run, but indeed the snow had been good enough that I headed up the lift for another. I took the same route, and even though the light had faded to darkness and the night skiing lights were all that was available, I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.
I definitely give a thumbs up for this latest round of snow in terms of covering up the old base, and it sounds like Powderfreak’s impressions at Stowe were very much the same. It looks like this is going to be about it for snow chances until we get into a storm next week, but fortunately there’s some decent powder out there. It should have plenty of staying power based on its density.
It was already obvious from my outing on Thursday at Bolton Valley that the snow from Winter Storm Vulcan had fallen in a fairly dense state in this area. It hadn’t been warm during the storm, but snow growth just hadn’t been all that great around here, and the small flakes packed together to produce snow in the 10-11% H2O range. When combined with some wind, the snow had definitely been settled, and that was already evident even though I was skiing while the storm was still finishing up. And of course, snow generally just gets denser over time, so with temperatures predicted to be in the 30s F today, we weren’t expecting light and dry powder everywhere.
“…Vulcan dropped what was likely close to two inches of liquid equivalent in the mountains in the form of snow, so we knew that the mountain had received a full resurfacing.”
Although we weren’t expecting feathery, “Champagne Powder®” on the slopes today, Vulcan dropped what was likely close to two inches of liquid equivalent in the mountains in the form of snow, so we knew that the mountain had received a full resurfacing. That meant it was a perfect time to hit all the steep terrain that just hasn’t been well covered yet this season. Because we’re still waiting on Dylan’s physician to give him the go ahead for doing the most vigorous activities, such as skiing, Dylan and E planned to go swimming in the Bolton Valley Sports Center, while Ty and I planned to ski.
E dropped Ty and I off over at the base of Wilderness, and for me, it was quite a treat to get the chauffeur service that the rest of the family usually has. We found out that the Wilderness Double Chair was still on wind hold though, so we headed up to the Vista Quad for a run. Our first stop on the steep terrain tour was the Preacher Woods. The coverage there is definitely sufficient now, even up in the big open areas with multiple ledges. There are still some aspects of the ledges that one needs to dodge here and there, but when the terrain is small cliffs, that’s often the way it’s going to be. The snow was packed, and the untracked powder was sort of thick and dense, but the skiing up there was really pretty decent. There just wasn’t any fluff factor to speak of, so things felt very “settled”. It was really just fun to take virtually any line and not worry about coverage around the next corner; we’ve been waiting for a while to get to that stage this season. Our run brought us down through the Cobrass Woods, and then Deer Path, and finally the Bear Run Woods. The lower half of the mountain had warmer temperatures and snow that was somewhat wet, so that made it a bit more challenging. I’d brought my fat skis, and while I liked them a lot in the dense powder and chowder up high, I was less than thrilled with them on the more packed snow in the lower elevations.
When we arrived back at the base, we found a big lift queue at the Vista Quad, and a similar queue at the Snowflake Chair. The Wilderness Chair was still on wind hold, so we decided to go for a run off the Mid Mountain Lift to get ourselves over to Timberline. We used Deer Run to get there, and Ty had an excellent crash in some of the powder that appeared to be to the amusement of some of the little kids in one of the ski programs. As we headed lower and lower in elevation over toward Timberline, the snow got wetter and wetter, and we could tell that it was really getting warm down in those lowest elevations. We encountered a huge queue at Timberline, probably because of other people that had left the main mountain to find shorter lift queues, but after seeing the drop in snow quality down low, I bet many of them headed back to the relative cool of the main mountain. I took Ty down the steep terrain of Lost Girlz, followed by Thundergoat Pass. We generally skipped the untracked powder down at Timberline, as it was just getting too dense and challenging. The partially tracked up snow was much easier to ski.
We made our way back to the main mountain after that, and finding that Wilderness still wasn’t open and there were substantial queues at the other lifts, we decided it was time for lunch. I called down to E and Dylan, and we met them for lunch at the Deli. I suspected that with all the patrons the resort had today, the lodge would be quite packed, and even the usually very quiet deli was hopping, so it was definitely a busy one out there. I actually think it’s interesting that so many people would come out after President’s Day, but Vulcan was a big storm and it caught a lot of people’s attention. After lunch, Ty headed down for some swimming with E and Dylan, and I contemplated another run or two. Finding the lift queues still fairly substantial, I decided to just call it a day. The skiing certainly wasn’t phenomenal enough that it warranted waiting in lift queues, especially since the snowfall was picking up and the possibilities for tomorrow were looking decent with cooler temperatures. I toured around the Village a bit and got some pictures, returned the pizza pans that Fireside Flatbread had lent us when we ordered pizza last Saturday, and finally worked my way down to the Sports Center. I worked on a jigsaw puzzle that was out in the recreation room while I waited for the others to finish swimming, and when they arrived, the battle was joined in a game of foosball. I forget how much fun stuff there is to do down at the Sports Center – we don’t visit to often because we’re usually headed home after skiing, but we’ll have to remember that there’s a lot more than just swimming.