Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2020

An image of a snow-covered tree against a brilliantly blue sky in the background at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a ski track in powder snow after some small storms dropped 8 to 10 inches at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
This morning’s ski tour revealed some excellent ski conditions with up to 8-10″ of powder on the upper mountain in undisturbed areas.

Today turned out to be sort of a bit of a midwinter gem, which is pretty nice considering winter just started.  I hadn’t expected it to be quite so stunning, but with the recent snows, it was clearly a good day to head up to Bolton for a tour and check out how the powder had settled in.

In the morning, before any clouds rolled it, the sun and sky were simply brilliant.  And that’s the first thing I noticed when I got out of the car at the mountain.  And I couldn’t believe how hot the sun felt.  We’re up near 45 N latitude, and this time of year is just about as low a sun angle as we get, so all I can think is that I’m just not used to actually having the sun shining on my face.  I had a 23% VLT lens in my goggles, figuring that sure, it was sunny, but it’s late December way up here in the north.  Well, I could have easily gone with something sub-10% VLT; it was that bright.

“The powder definitely exceeded expectations today – I found settled depths of roughly 5-7” above the subsurface at 2,000’, and many spots with 8-10” up near 3,000’.”

The powder definitely exceeded expectations today – I found settled depths of roughly 5-7” above the subsurface at 2,000’, and many spots with 8-10” up near 3,000’.  I initially couldn’t figure out where all of it had come from, but then I realized that since the 4-5” from Winter Storm Gail, it’s just continued to snow with these past couple of smaller systems.

An image of someone pushing a stroller on snow with a ski on the front wheel at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Out for a snow stroll around the base area

The Wilderness skin track was in excellent shape, and it almost looked like the resort had groomed the adjoining Turnpike trail because it was so smoothly packed.  It’s possible that it was just very nicely packed by skier traffic, but for folks looking for groomed turns in the Wilderness area, it’s good to go.

Off the main route though, there was tons of untracked powder available, and it was definitely right-side-up, midwinter quality stuff.  That synoptic snow from Winter Storm Gail, topped off with the drier snow from these last couple of systems has really put together a quality surface.  Low-angle stuff is good to go, and even moderate-angle slopes are nice if the snow is protected from the wind and there hasn’t been any skier traffic.  Above those angles though, the snowpack is definitely not ready yet; the base is just not deep enough.

An image of the exterior of the Mad Taco restaurant location at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We can’t wait to try out the Mad Taco outpost that they’ve added to Bolton Valley this season!

It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out for this next week.  This next storm looks to consolidate the base, and there are a couple of potential systems behind it that could make some nice conditions atop that if they came to fruition on the snowy side of things.

Bolton Valley, VT 18NOV2017

An image of snowy chairs on the deck in front of the Deli in the Bolton Valley Village at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
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.