Bolton Valley, VT 24DEC2011

A westward view of Whiteface Mountain above the clouds from Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Looking out across Lake Champlain and the sea of clouds toward Whiteface in the Adirondacks.

We picked up a final 0.4 inches of snow overnight to finish off this event at 3.7 inches of total snow at the house and somewhere around a half foot up in the mountains.  With the opening of the mountain from the top for the first time this season, we decided to stop in for a few morning runs today to check out the conditions.  The snow on the upper half of the main mountain was really looking promising when I skinned up during my morning session at yesterday, and I even had the chance to get into some of the new powder.  At that point all the snowcat and snowmobile traffic had left the groomed surfaces full of track marks down the center of the trail, but we knew they’d take care of that with the groomers overnight.

We arrived up at the hill around mid morning to find that the latest rounds of snow had certainly continued the trend of setting up the natural snowpack and holiday scenery.  In the main village lot at around 2,100’ the snowpack was 4 to 6 inches in depth, although a lot of it was new, fluffy snow.  It was very pretty, even if it didn’t add a ton of liquid equivalent atop the old base.  We headed up the Vista Quad for our first trip to the Vista Summit for the season – the views were spectacular, with blue skies above, and clouds covering the valleys below.  Looking over to the Adirondacks to see the trails and slides of Whiteface hovering above the clouds was quite a sight.

Unfortunately, as inspiring as the views were, the conditions found on the new manmade snow on the upper mountain were the exact opposite.  The surface of Sherman’s Pass was hard, and full of death cookies in many areas.  After mentioning to E how great things had been yesterday with the fresh snow, and expecting the untouched snow that the mountain had put down to groomed into something really nice, it was a huge letdown.  The much was apparent pretty quickly, and after a few dozen turns E broached the topic by commenting, “No offense, but these conditions are crappy.”  There was no offense taken, as she was exactly right.  I popped off to the side of the trail near the bottom of Vista Glades and found a bit of powder, but the groomers had really hammered the slope from wall to wall and there was barely a scrap of fresh snow to find.  Both the morning and afternoon/evening sessions from yesterday had been so much fun, but this was more of a teeth-chattering slide across corduroy that was way too hard. 

Fortunately, at least the bottom half of the mountain was in nice shape, since that hadn’t seen the new manmade snow.  Without the constant freshening of trail and spirit that all the new snow had provided yesterday though, the experience just wasn’t elevated to quite the same level.  E and I enjoyed some pleasant Telemark turns, and the boys had their first chance of the season to be out on their new carving alpine skis, so that was good.  There was no need to return to the top after what we’d experienced up there, so we just did one more run off the Mid Mountain Lift.  That provided another round of decent turns, but with holiday obligations calling, we decided that we’d head home and just finish food preparations and get ready for the travel we have coming over the next couple of days.  Our first stop is going to be South Burlington for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  The good news is that more snow is expected to come into the area tomorrow, and it looks like there are a lot of potential storms of varying sizes stacked up for the holiday week.

A sign on the lower terminal of the Mid Mountain Lift at Bolton Valley that says "I Dream of Nor'easters"
We couldn't agree more, and we're ready for the upcoming storms over the holiday week in Northern Vermont.

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