Tag Archives: Winter

Stowe, VT 09DEC2017

An image of the Spruce Camp Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Spruce Camp Base Lodge today with the sun disappearing as clouds approach from Winter Storm Benji.

Today was our annual training day for the local ski programs at Stowe, and since Ty has now graduated from BJAMS and is out of the age range for being a student in the program, he’s actually going volunteer as a chaperone.  So, Ty joined E and I for the training today, which added a nice new dimension to the annual session.

“ There was one section where Ty and I decided that our midfats were definitely the tools for the job vs. our groomer skis…”

We certainly had a decent November with respect to snow in the Northern Greens, and while the snowfall slowed down a bit for the first week of December, a big change in the overall weather pattern this past week brought a large trough to the eastern U.S. and the snowfall is ramping back up.  Lake-effect snows from Lake Ontario drifted into the northern parts of Vermont in the midweek timeframe, bringing several inches of fresh snow to the resorts.  The recent snows were very obvious today at the resort, with 6 to 8 inches or more of powder available off piste at elevation, and several inches visible even near the base elevations.  The base depths aren’t quite there to do too much exploring the off piste yet, but it was easy to get into plenty of powder simply by sampling the edges of many trails.

An image showing ski tracks in powder snow in the Meadows area of Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Tracks in powder showing some of the recent snow picked up by the local ski resorts

Those samplings aside, our main focus today was definitely on piste with our instructor Steve that we’ve had a few of these sessions now.  E, Ty, and I had the rare treat of checking out some fresh corduroy as we kicked off the day at Spruce Peak, and the recent snows have been mixed into the snowpack quite nicely to produce some pretty decent groomed surfaces.  We did a lot of fairly “free” skiing with Steve as he focused heavily on safety, and the minimal crowds at Spruce Peak kept the snow in really good shape.  Some terrain off the Gondola is available, so we skied Perry Merrill as a group.  Unfortunately, with only part of Gondolier open, the skier density on Perry Merrill was really too high to keep the snow in good shape.  The good part about the number of skiers on Perry Merrill was that they had already pushed a good amount of snow to the edges of the trail, which combined with the available powder, made for some really soft skiing.  There was one section where Ty and I decided that our midfats were definitely the tools for the job vs. our groomer skis, but overall, the skinnier carving skis were the right call for today’s outing.

That one run on Perry Merrill was enough to show us how good we’d had it over at Spruce Peak, so we headed back there for the rest of our session.  The main training drill that we practiced with Steve was a double pole plant drill that will aid students in getting their weight forward.  Lunch at the Great Room Grill was great as always.  The Taqueria was open, so Ty and I each got a burrito – they had three kinds of meat and we massive.  Two people could easily split a single order if they wanted.

Early morning sun today was pretty quickly obscured by Winter Storm Benji, which was approaching the area from the south.  The more notable accumulations have certainly been off to the south and east of our area, although we have picked up almost an inch of snow from the storm at our house.  The forecast suggests that we’ve got more snow coming this week, and with wintry temperatures in place, the ski conditions should make a nice increase in quality with surfaces softening even more.

Bolton Valley, VT 28NOV2017

An image of ski tracks in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A couple of quick storms over the past couple of days brought the Northern Greens some of their best skiing of the season.

Sunday into Monday we had a couple of small systems that combined to deliver some respectable amounts of snow to the Northern GreensBy Monday morning, resorts were already reporting roughly a foot of snow, and the snow continued to fall.  The usual suspects had been out at Stowe throwing up big clouds of powder, and by midday Monday, the resort was reporting 14” of new snow, and the power skiing was looking quite good.  Mother Nature was putting a little extra effort into the event up at Jay Peak, producing some great turns, and a reported storm total near two feet as of this morning.

“The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season.”

While I didn’t have time to head out for any turns yesterday, I was able to find a little time for a ski tour at Bolton Valley this morning.  Overnight low temperatures were down in the teens F, pretty chilly by November standards, but the air was calm so it was quite comfortable, especially while skinning.  I headed up the Lower Turnpike ascent route, which had a well-established skin track.  There had been a decent amount of traffic on Turnpike itself, so when I got up to the final corner of Peggy Dow’s, I headed toward the Wilderness Lift Line where skier traffic had been rather light.

As usual, I made an effort to monitor snow depths throughout the ascent, and what I found should represent the state of the snow with yesterday’s additional snowfall, plus settling through this morning.  It was a bit tough to discriminate between the newest snow and what was below, so the numbers I’m reporting below represent what I found for total snowpack depth starting at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road.

340’: 2”
1,500’: 8-9”
2,100’: 10-12”
2,500’: 12-16”
3,000’: 12-18”

An image showing the snow depth at 2,500' elevation at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont

Although it was hard to get an idea of where the base snow stopped and where the surface snow began, I do have some info.  Down at 1,500’ it seemed like there was maybe an inch or so of base, so most of that was new.  Up at 2,100’ there were a couple of inches down, and probably around four inches at 2,500’.  I’d guess six inches of base at the 3,000’ level.  The wind in the higher elevations made for a larger range of depths, but I didn’t find a huge increase relative to 2,500’.  Now that the resort has reported in with 10 inches, that seems like it makes reasonable sense.  There may have been a bit of settling, but I’d say snowfall of 10-12” was probably what they picked up.

With respect to the descent, the skiing was great!  The turns were definitely the best I’ve had this season.  The upper mountain had that substantial base with close to a foot of powder on it, and while overall depths were a bit less on the lower mountain, it was fine on the lower angle terrain there.  The snow was definitely on the dry side, so the fat skis were certainly in order for maximizing floatation, minimizing contact with the base, and planing on the lower-angle terrain.

Bolton Valley, VT 21NOV2017

An image of ski tracks in powder snow and snowflakes in the air at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Thanks to a surprise storm yesterday afternoon, Bolton Valley offered up some fluffy powder turns this morning.

I certainly hadn’t anticipated skiing today, but yesterday afternoon into the evening, Mother Nature dropped a surprise storm on us that really put a fresh coating down on the slopes.  Things began looking a bit suspicious yesterday in the late morning hours, and by midday it was snowing in the Champlain ValleyEven the National Weather Service in Burlington was caught off guard, and before we knew it, it was snowing 1 to 2 inches per hour out in the mountains, and travel on I-89 was getting tricky.  By the time the storm was tapering down in the evening, we had a new half foot of snow at the house, with more in the mountains.

“Even with fat skis, it can be a challenge to float in snow that dry unless you’ve got a lot of it.”

I wanted to see how the storm played out on the slopes, so I stopped for a quick ski tour at Bolton Valley this morning.  My calculations had revealed that the snow was very dry, down around 2% H2O, so fat skis seemed to be in order this time around.  Arriving up at the Bolton Valley Village, I’d describe the weather as having a very Colorado-esque vibe.  The ground was covered with desert-dry, champagne powder and temperatures were in the mid-20s F.  Even before the sunshine hit you, the air just had that comfortable feel, and with the clear skies, the day just held that promise of being sunny, dry, and warm.  I guess it also reminded me of a March ski day to some degree.

An image of fresh snow in a streambed at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontI haven’t seen an official report on snow accumulations from the resort, which is not too surprising since they’re still in pre-season, but based on settled depths of the new powder and the rate of settling I’d seen at the house, I’d guess the Village elevations around 2,000’ picked up a half foot of snow.  That’s similar to what we picked up down at the house.  I’d tack on another couple of inches higher in the mountain, which would put accumulations there similar to the 7” reported at elevation for Stowe.  With the 7-8” of fluff, the total snowpack depth I was finding on the upper half of the mountain was in the 10-12” range.  I see that the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake came in at 11” as of tonight’s reading.  The high temperature up there was only 32 F, so that snow probably didn’t undergo much melting and is likely comparable to what I found at Bolton this morning.

An image of fat Telemark skis in snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Changing over for the descent at around 2,800′

The skiing was good, although the powder certainly wasn’t bottomless on every turn.  Even with fat skis, it can be a challenge to float in snow that dry unless you’ve got a lot of it.

Bolton Valley, VT 18NOV2017

An image of a skin track on the Cougar trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ski touring up at Bolton Valley this morning, I found some great turns and more snow than I’d expected.

I was attending the BJAMS Thanksgiving lunch with Dylan on Thursday, and that gave me a chance to check out how the snow was doing in some of the local mountains.  From what I saw at both Stowe and Bolton Valley, the natural snow was just a bit too thin for skiing, but it was getting close.  As of Friday morning though, the mountains had picked up a few more inches, and today I had a chance to head back up to Bolton Valley to see if the slopes were ready for some turns.

“…with the snowpack I found, I just kept going right on up to 3,000’.”

I headed up for a ski tour at the mountain this morning because it seemed the best part of the day to catch some winter snow before warming temperatures affected it.  At the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) the snow depth is similar to what we’ve got here at the house – generally 1 to 2 inches.  As the recent snow reports from the local ski resorts suggested, there wasn’t a massive increase in snowfall amounts with elevation from our storm earlier this week.  Snow depths increased slowly as I headed up the access road, with about 2” at the Bolton Valley Welcome Sign (1,000’), 2-3” at the Timberline Base (1,500’), and then 3-4” around 2,000’ in the Bolton Valley Village.

An image of a Bolton Valley shuttle bus with a coating of snow in the Bolton Valley Village

There were a few other skiers in the Village who were coming and going on tours, so that seemed like a good sign that the snow was decent.  Indeed, as I headed up Lower Turnpike, the snow depth increased to a half foot at the 2,500’ level.  I had actually planned for a quick tour up to ~2,500’ if the snow wasn’t that good, but with the snowpack I found, I just kept going right on up to 3,000’. 

Below I’ve got a summary of what I saw for snow depths today with respect to elevation:

340’: 1-2”
1,000’: 2”
1,500’: 2-3”
2,000’: 3-4”
2,500’: 6-7”
3,000’: 7”

An image of the snow depth at 2,500' elevation at Bolton ValleyThere was a crust on the snow in places, and I couldn’t figure out the trend in its distribution for a while, but I eventually figured out that areas with the most northwest exposure has the most crust.  The crust wasn’t actually too thick, so it was still fairly easy to ski the snow there, but there’s no doubt that the very best turns were in the crust-free zones – the snow was smooth, mid-weight powder in those areas.  I had some really nice turns on parts of Sherman’s Pass, and probably the day’s best on Work Road, but Lower Turnpike offered the longest consistent lines.

One last bout of snow for October

A radar image showing snow falling in the Adirondacks and in the Green Mountains of Vermont on Halloween
Radar image on Halloween night snowing snow in the Adirondacks and along the spine of the Green Mountains that prompted me to check on the type of precipitation we were receiving at the house.

After our big autumn storm that brought substantial wind and power outages to Vermont (including our house), cold air came into the area today and brought one last snowfall for the month on Halloween.  Powderfreak is out of town, but his colleagues at Stowe kept him apprised of what was going on at the mountain with pictures of the fresh snow.

As is typical for this type of weather setup with a flow from the Great Lakes, the areas around the mountains often get the most vigorous precipitation, which can lower snow levels down to the valleys.  I wasn’t home during the day to see if anything frozen fell at our house, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got something.

There was additional precipitation while we were out in town for Trick-or Treating with the boys, with fairly heavy rain at times, and when we got home I saw that the moisture was still pushing into the mountains.  With the temperatures dropping into the 30s F I went out to check the precipitation during one of the heavier bursts, and sure enough, there were some partially frozen aggregates coming down, which confirms a trace of snow for today’s records. 

It’s interesting to note that if we hadn’t picked up any frozen today that would have been the first time in the 12 years we’ve been at this location that we didn’t get any frozen precipitation in October.  So that streak continues for now, but it’s still 12 days later than the mean, and of course it’s the latest “first frozen precipitation” we’ve seen here.  I guess with as warm as this October was, it’s nice to even get anything frozen, and at least the snowfall season is officially underway here.

Now it’s on to November, with more substantial chances for snow growing by the day.

Next October snow as we approach Halloween

An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont with some October snow as viewed from the University of Vermont in Burlington
Mt. Mansfield and its latest coating of snow seen from Burlington

We’ve had plenty of pleasantly benign weather days this month, but yesterday was one of those raw October days that really speak to the seasonal progression.  Temperatures in the valleys even stayed well down in the 40s F, and a storm passing through the area brought bouts of heavy rain that made walking around outside a rather rough experience.  I wasn’t sure if this storm was actually cold enough to bring in some snow to the area, but sure enough, Powderfreak was already posting snowy images from Mansfield this morning and letting us know that the snow level was down to 3,000 feet.  Once the clouds began to break away from the mountains in the afternoon I was able to snap an image from my office of the new white near the peak of Mansfield behind some of the colorful foliage still hanging on in the Champlain Valley.  We’ve got a potent storm coming into the area Sunday that is expected to bring a lot of wind and rain, and next week there’s the chance for a bit more snow in the area as we get some cooler temperature and a flow that could bring moisture over from the Great Lakes.

Bolton Valley, VT 08APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
We were treated to another winter storm and more powder today at Bolton Valley.

Just like last Saturday, another storm came through the area over the past couple of days and dropped a round of fresh snow to give us some great April powder.  For the first time in quite a while, the whole family was available to ski, so we headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for some turns.

Down at the house, snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain.  There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontIn terms of the snow we found, I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range.  More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations, although I did find up to two feet in spots.  The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry.  It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures – it was well below freezing at all elevations of the resort this morning.  It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session.

An image o Dylan Telemark skiing in powder at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, and this Saturday was even more extreme.  For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it.  It was hard to pull ourselves away.  While we were finishing up back at the main base area and getting ready to hit the Village Deli to grab some lunch, we were able to watch some of the snowmobilers in the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb.  The Village parking lots were full of snowmobile trailers, so the resort got a great additional influx of visitors.

Bolton Valley, VT 01APR2017

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in powder snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today we got out in the powder at Bolton Valley thanks to Winter Storm Theseus.

The latest weather system to come into the area has been named Winter Storm Theseus.  Snow associated with the storm started up on Friday and left nearly a foot of at some of the local ski resorts, so Dylan and I headed up to Bolton Valley this morning for what we hoped would be some great powder skiing, and we weren’t disappointed.

An image of skiers on the Timberline Chairlift at Bolton Valley ski resort on Vermont
Everyone who as at the mountain today got treated to one of those low-key late-season powder days.

Temperatures edged above freezing down in the valley, but the freezing line really stayed below 1,500’ this morning from what we saw, so that kept surfaces wintry at all elevations of the resort.  The snow was certainly less dense the higher you went, but it wasn’t until probably below 1,800’ that the quality of the powder skiing started to fall off a bit – it was just getting a bit too dense for optimal turns.  Really though, that’s just last few hundred feet of vertical at Timberline, and everything at the main mountain was well above that.  It snowed all morning to keep the wintry appeal going and keep things fresh.  The flakes were small so additional accumulations weren’t too hefty, but it was definitely coming down at times – we had to pull out the lens hoods for some photography sessions because of the intensity of the snow.

An image of Dylan skiing powder on the Tattle Tale trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Dylan having fun after catching the rope drop for Upper Tattle Tale

We started off on the morning on the main mountain with a trip up the Vista Quad, but we knew that by the time we’d worked our way down the trails we’d be able to catch the opening of the Timberline Quad.  We had a good time down there, catching the rope drop on Upper Tattle Tale, just after we’d skied the lower half from the crossover.  We did some exploring and found the entrance to House Line, a shot I’ve been looking to ski for a while.     Dylan decided to go Telemark again today, and he was definitely ripping up that powder.  We eventually made our way back to the main base and finished off the ski day on Wilderness, then grabbed some food at the main cafeteria and the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery.

An image of the central circle in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
In the Bolton Valley Village today

Bolton’s got their 48-hour total at 9 inches for the higher elevations, and I’d say 9 to 10 was where we found things topping out with the addition of this morning’s snow.  Anyway, it was a great way to start off this month’s skiing, and of course another perk of the day was the fact that we’re in April, and visitation at the resorts really starts to fall off.  There were certainly visitors, but there were still a number of trails with just a few tracks on them when we were leaving around midday, so folks who were out really got treated to one of those kind of powder days. 

Dylan was anxious to do some photography with one of the DSLRs today, so I had the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, and he had the Canon EOS 30D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM  lens.  Toward the end of the morning, we swapped lenses to mix things up a bit.  Dylan got some great images, so enjoy the gallery!

Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 19MAR2017

An iimage of Dylan descending Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Dylan makes his way down Profanity Chute today

With the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake back around the 100-inch mark, it was finally time to bring my BJAMS ski group up into the Mansfield alpine for our weekly Sunday session.  My initial plan was a run down Profanity Chute with a return toward Chin Clip, followed by a trip to the Outer Planets.  Nolan wasn’t going to be with me since he was still in the process of returning from Montreal, but fortunately Rick was going to join us and that gave me a second adult.  With Rick’s added knowledge of the area, I felt comfortable enough to kick things up a notch and bring the boys to the Hell Brook Trail for the bottom part of the run.

An image of Dylan skiing Profanity Chute above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
More Dylan action in Profanity Chute

The weather forecast was also a big part of opting for the alpine today – highs up around 4,000’ were expected to be in the 20s F and wind was supposed to be minimal.  The Climbing Gully was in great shape, with lots of snow and one of the best boot ladders I’ve seen.  The March sun had done some work on slopes with southern aspects, but up high the effects seemed to be pretty minimal – the packed snow in Profanity Chute was quite wintry, and there was some nice powder still available in the open area on the right side of the chute.  I wish I’d had the camera out for when Rick skied that because the powdery turns looked fantastic.

We cut left following the normal Profanity route, and then traversed below the east face of The Chin containing the Hourglass Chute and connected to the Hell Brook Trail.  The north-facing aspects in the Hell Brook area held some fantastic snow, but surface conditions deteriorated the more southerly the aspect.  At times we had to ski some of those more southerly-oriented aspects, so that made for some very challenging turns on either crusty snow or powder with a sun crust on it.  But the boys all did quite well on what is a very challenging run that simply goes on, and on, and on.  By the time we traversed back to Gondola and headed over to Spruce Camp we’d covered over 5.5 miles and 2,900’ of vertical.

A map showing the ski route taken on a tour of Profanity Chute and the Hell Brook Trail above Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
The GPS track of our ski tour today mapped onto Google Earth

Although there are roughly 100 inches of snow at the Mt. Mansfield Stake right now, I don’t think coverage on Profanity was quite where it was on our last visit with the kids a couple of seasons ago.  With Winter Storm Stella we really just made back the snow that had settled or melted during the previous couple of weeks, so the snowpack doesn’t seem to have quite the coverage of a 100-inch pack that grew throughout the full season.  In any event, there’s a lot of snow up in the high elevations and things look good for the slopes heading into spring.

Bolton Valley, VT 17MAR2017

An image of Ty taking a huge jump off the railing of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut into deep powder below at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Making more use of all the great powder left by Winter Storm Stella

The boys and I had a field trip this morning, but we were done with enough time left to make it to Bolton Valley for a short photo session with some of the resort staff.  Indeed today was a great one for ski photography – there was plenty of snow from Winter Storm Stella, clear blue skies, and temperatures in the upper 20s F.

We met Josh at his office, and he let us know that we’d be working with Tucker and Kyler today.  The plan was to get some shots over at Wilderness with the afternoon views, and we started with some scenic photos from the deck of the Wilderness Summit Ski Patrol Hut.  After the photos, we still needed to wait for another family to arrive up top, so the boys promptly decided to make use of the deep powder sitting just below the deck by launching themselves into it.  Some of the folks coming up on the lift felt that it looked like so much fun that they joined in as well.  By the time everyone was together it was just about time to shut down the Wilderness Lift, and we watched as they put the “Last Chair” sign in place.

An image of Tucker and Kyler viewing the Adirondacks from atop the Wilderness Summit at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Wilderness Summit today

Our photo session took place on Peggy Dow’s and the Wilderness Lift Line, and the guys generally did shots of trios of skiers with background scenery.  Once we were done I asked the boys if they wanted to take any more runs, but they said they were good based on the anticipation of skiing more over the coming weekend.  Hopefully we’ll have the time this weekend to get the whole family out together for some turns in all the great snow.