Bolton Valley, VT 19JAN2014

An image of a snow-covered car at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A couple of modest storms have helped replenish the powder at Bolton Valley over the past few days, and there could be more on the way tonight.

It’s been two weeks since I was last out on the slopes, because there hasn’t been much to draw me out in the interim.  We finally got a small snowstorm on Wednesday though, and with another few inches of snow at the mountain overnight into this morning, it seemed like it was time to check out how the powder was building up.  Actually, the potential exists for a few more inches of snow tonight with the passage of an arctic frontal boundary, so my real goal was to make a reconnaissance run to see how the snow might be set up for tomorrow.  If things come together to offer up some quality turns, it could be time to entice E and the boys up to the hill.

“The snow wasn’t overly deep
with just 4 to 5 inches, but the
 pitches fit that depth quite well,
the turns were mostly bottomless
 on the fat skis, and it was some
 damn fine powder skiing.”

After hanging out at home and watching some of the AFC Championship game featuring the Patriots, it was almost 4:00 P.M. before I got headed up to Bolton Valley.  I knew that it was going to be getting toward dusk by the time I got on the snow, but I also knew that it would be quite peaceful, and I’ve really been enjoying these tours that I get to finish off while descending to the lights of the Village.  Comfortable temperatures in the upper 20s F down at the house in Waterbury, gave way to somewhat chillier temperatures and snowfall as I ascended the Bolton Valley Access Road.  Our little system from earlier today had dropped a couple inches at the house, and 2 to 3 up at Bolton, but there had been a snowfall lull during the middle of the day.  As evening approached however, snow associated with the upcoming frontal passage was making its presence felt, and as usual, it was starting in the higher elevations.  The intensity of the snow increased as I ascended, and the road began to take on a light accumulation of snow at ~1,200’.  With no night skiing going on tonight, numerous cars inched their way down the road as they finished off their ski day.  I made a brief stop at the Timberline Base to check on the snow situation at 1,500’, and indeed as expected, I found that the snowpack is still a bit too lean down at that elevation to be supporting comfortable skiing without rock skis or junkboards.  There was only 1 to 2 inches of powder down at the base lodge, and that was on top of a fairly thin base.  The snowpack was much improved up in the Village at 2,100’ though, where there was a decent base of several inches, and a consistent 4 inches of powder.

An image of snowbaorders hiking up the Lower Turnpike Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Other late-day turn-earners

I geared up and began my ascent of Turnpike, watching three snowboarders ahead of me that appeared to have similar thoughts.  In a couple of minutes however, they stopped along the trail just after the junction of Turnpike and Wilderness Lift Line, cracked open some beers, and kicked back in the snow.  Good times.  We exchanged greetings as I passed, tossing around comments on the joys of the new snow, and I continued upward.  There was a nice skin track at times, although it did get disrupted as ski tracks merged and diverged from it, or the end of the occasional deeper water bar forced it away from the trail’s edge.  Steady light snowfall continued, and an occasional gust of wind worked its way into the protected confines of the trial.

Being a trial run, and paying some respect to the growing darkness, a decided to stop at the connector between Turnpike and the Wilderness Lift Line around 2,500’.  The depth of the powder had increased just a bit by that point, and measurements were in the 4 to 5-inch range.  There was some untracked snow still remaining on Turnpike, but despite being a bit more exposed to winds, the Wilderness Lift Line had seen a lot less traffic and seemed like the way to go for fresh tracks.  There were some tracked areas off to the left and right, but excellent lanes of powder showed themselves near the middle of the trail, even in the darkened view allowed by my goggles.  The turns, as I’d later describe them to E, were what I’d call “par for the course” for that area over the past few weeks.  The snow wasn’t overly deep with just 4 to 5 inches, but the pitches fit that depth quite well, the turns were mostly bottomless on the fat skis, and it was some damn fine powder skiing.  The only complaint would be that the snow was a little cold and slow in spots, so maybe an extra coat of wax would be in order if we try something similar tomorrow.

There were no signs of the snowboarders by the time I reached the bottom of my run, but the Village was abuzz with lights, and televisions that were probably set to the Patriots game.  I stopped in for a few minutes at the big screen set up next to Fireside Flatbread in the lodge, and it wasn’t looking good for the Patriots – the Broncos were up 20 to 3.  Outside, the snow had redoubled its efforts, and was coming down at a moderate pace.  I had to take some time to wipe the snow off the car, as there was a good coating on the leeward sides.  Snowfall that was initially more minimal down here at the house has picked up as the evening has progressed, so we’ll have to see where things stand tomorrow with the new snow.  Winter, and fortunately powder skiing, is certainly back after its earlier hiatus.

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