Bolton Valley, VT 20MAR2010

This afternoon up at Bolton was very much like last Saturday: generally overcast, but warm enough to keep the spring corn soft and enjoyable.  Temperatures were again in the 40s F and there was some breeze in the higher elevations.  The biggest changes I saw from last week were in snow coverage.  After yet another week with warm temperatures and no snow, significant bare spots are starting to show up at the Timberline elevations.  From what I saw in my daily Bolton Valley email snow report from today, the mountain is still 100% open in terms of on piste terrain.  But, if we have another week like the past three, it would be very likely that they would have to start closing some terrain heading into next weekend.  It still may not be possible to keep everything open, but fortunately, this week doesn’t look as though it will continue the recent weather trends.  We actually could have some snow down at the house by tomorrow morning, which would be the first time in three weeks.  That’s a sign that something is changing.  Also, the NWS point forecasts for the higher elevations of the Green Mountains around here have some sort of snow in them almost every day this week.  We haven’t seen anything remotely like that since back in February.  There’s still a lot of questions as to where the moisture will go and where the freezing levels will be, but at least the mountains have got the chance to accumulate some snow this week.  Also, much cooler temperatures are going to slow down the melting we’ve seen so far this month.

In terms of skiing, after focusing on his Telemark skiing last weekend, Ty wanted to get back in the bumps today.  So, with warm temperatures I said we’d hit some of the steep bump runs off Vista, and E and the boys would get a good workout.  With a puzzled look, E initially asked me what bump runs I was talking about, because she had no clue.  I was sort of surprised, but what I did was simply run upstairs and grab my laptop to show her my current desktop background.  It’s a shot I picked up from the Bolton Valley Facebook Page a couple of weeks back:

After three weeks with nothing in terms of snowfall, the snowpack isn’t quite as bounteous as in the picture, but the coverage is still great aside from a few isolated pockets, and the bumps are still there – except I think on Hard Luck.  We didn’t ski it, but it looked like it had been groomed.  I laughed at the fact that I had to show E and the boys that picture.  In almost four seasons at Bolton, I’ve yet to bring her and the boys down any of the runs like Spillway, Show Off, Hard Luck etc.  I know that we’ve touched on a few edges of the runs in our travels through the off piste, but we certainly haven’t hit the runs together or hit the bumps.  I know that Ty has skied Hard Luck before, but that was in powder back in the middle of April 2007 when we earned turns with Dave, and there were no bumps to be seen.  Up to this point when the whole family has been together, there hasn’t been an occasion to ski any of those trails, since Dylan hasn’t been quite ready to tackle them.  Also, I don’t recall those trails developing bumps like that every spring, probably due to the combination of too much snowfall/too little traffic, etc.

Anyway, Dylan has progressed this season to the point that he’s got the skills and stamina to tackle just about any bump run, so tackle them we did.  We started off down at Timberline, but quickly made our way over to the main mountain and up to the top of Spillway.  Having not skied Spillway with bumps in I don’t know how long, I’d forgotten how steep some of those pitches are.  The bumps were huge at times; it felt like you were dropping several feet in the air per turn.  Ty was definitely challenged; with the combination of very steep pitch and huge bumps, he had plenty of crashes as he tried to take them aggressively and find out what worked for him.  Dylan was more conservative, but very smooth and he didn’t even seem to be phased by the pitch at all.  Although it’s not as long as Chin Clip, Ty definitely found the steep pitches and huge bumps on Spillway more challenging than when we’d skied Chin Clip a couple weeks back.

We moved over to Show Off for more bumps on the next run, and compared to Spillway it was easier skiing judging by the way Ty handled it.  We also hit the Vista Glades, which the boys consider a playground because of all the terrain features.  Vista Glades had some good sections of bumps, and then we added more by skiing Schuss below it.  On the lower mountain we teamed each our upper mountain runs with the bumps on the Vista Quad lift line, and then a run through the smaller terrain park below it.  With just Spillway, Show Off, and Schuss, E and the boys got a good sampling of bumps off Vista, and they had a lot of fun.  Now that Dylan is ready to handle them, I’m sure we’ll visit those runs more frequently when conditions warrant.  Dylan’s stamina has grown by leaps and bounds this season, and is certainly one of the hallmarks of his improvements this spring.  Ultimately that’s going to enable longer days with more varied terrain as we move forward.