Bolton Valley, VT 23DEC2014

A picture of Erica skiing in fresh snow on the Show Off trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A few inches of dense snow at Bolton Valley today produced some great skiing

It started snowing last night on the front end of our current storm system, and although we only had about a half inch of snow here at the house, the mountains picked up a good 3 to 4 inches containing some real substance. I hadn’t prepared much of our gear ahead of time since I was unsure whether or not this storm was going to deliver, but everyone got up and rolling pretty quickly once we’d made the decision to hit the mountain. I checked the Bolton Valley website for the latest on the lifts and trails, and our timing was looking good because lifts didn’t start running until 9:00 A.M. It really feels like it’s a holiday today because we’re so close to Christmas and school is out for E and the boys, but at for the resort it was just a standard midweek day. We don’t get to ski a lot of those though, so we were excited for that.

Precipitation had been a light mix of snow and rain, but it had generally tapered off by the time we arrived up at the Bolton Valley Village. I dropped E and the boys off at the Village circle and was able to easily grab a parking spot right in the top lot because there were only a couple dozen cars in total. Apparently today really was just another midweek day. I met E and the boys near the back of the base lodge and we headed up to Vista for a run.

As we rode the lift you could immediately see that the resort had been plastered with snow overnight. The evergreens had a fresh coat of white that added yet another layer on top of all the rime and snow they already held, the groomed slopes looked great, and even the off piste was supplying quiet turns. It wasn’t until we got near Spillway that we could hear skiers contacting the subsurface, so we knew that the new snow wasn’t quite enough to support bottomless turns on the steepest pitches. Temperatures were comfortable at just a few degrees below freezing, but there was a stiff wind as we got into the higher elevations.

I’d read that Schuss was the run of the day, so for our first run we headed down Alta Vista to make our way toward Schuss. There was a bit of scouring at the very top of Alta Vista, but below that the groomed snow was excellent. Of to the skier’s left we found several inches of fresh powder, with as much as a foot in some spots. We’d been prepared to just take a run or two if the conditions weren’t that great, but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen; the conditions were simply fantastic. Down on Schuss we did come in contact with the base in some spots since it’s quite a steep trail, but fresh snow was plentiful as there was only a track or two or two before we got there. On the lower mountain we caught Bull run to Moose Run to Glades, and the trails were either totally untracked or had a track or two on them. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what those midweek days are like. As we hit the last hundred or so feet of vertical above the base lodge, you could really feel the snow starting to get a bit wet, so the freezing level must have been rising.

On our next ride up the Vista Quad, Dylan proposed that we each take turns picking a route to ski, so Ty went next. He followed up with another trip down Alta Vista, taking us through the lower parts of Vista Glades, and then finally over to Fanny Hill. We really got to rip up the powder there along the skier’s right, dodging in and out of the trees. I stuck with Ty in that powder right along the edge, and by the bottom of the run my legs were definitely getting cooked from Telemark turns.

An image of Dylan with powder snow on his face and helmet at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontDylan’s run choice was next, and he stuck with an Alta Vista start, eventually brining us to Sleepy Hollow. He’d wanted to get in there on our first run, but now that everyone was warmed up, we were ready to rip through those trees. If anyone had been in there up to that point, they must have been few and far between, because it looked like the whole glade was untracked. I directed the group to some lines I know off to the left, and some seriously good turns were had by all. There was no problem with the new snow keeping us off the base on those pitches. Kudos go out to Dylan for a great run choice.

The fourth run was E’s selection, and she really didn’t have much of a preference aside from visiting the Glades run again; she’d really started to connect with her Tele turns there and wanted to get more of that type of terrain. So, for the upper mountain we dropped into Show Off, and we got images of the boys skiing around the rock with the big smiley face on it. On the upper half of Snow Off, the pitch was steep enough that we were making contact with the base snow, but on the bottom half of the run, the pitch had mellowed just enough to let us float through our turns quite well. Glades was nice and still held plenty of untracked snow, although the snow on the bottom half was starting to get a bit wet as the freezing level seemed to have risen.

It was approaching midday after that run and we broke for lunch at the James Moore Tavern next. The bar was hopping, but there were only a few tables with people at them. I had their grilled tuna sandwich, which was nicely done, although I’d probably opt out of the Dijon mustard-style sauce next time since it’s not one of my favorite flavors. Dylan got the homemade macaroni and cheese, and in his case he definitely had to get it with the optional bacon. I tried some and it was really good… and really rich. We had enough extra that I even had to run leftovers down to the car.

We decided to take a final run after lunch to see how the Wilderness area was doing. We took the Vista route over, but were surprised to see that the Wilderness lift was actually running. That meant that the terrain wasn’t quite as untracked as it might have been with just Vista access, but there was we caught some good lines on Work Road and in Wilderness Woods. The freezing line had continued to creep upward though, so the quality of turns in the lowest elevations had dropped a bit more.

There’s no doubt that the morning offered the best turns of the day today, and that was the time to be out because they were really good. Temperatures are going to be warm with this system for the next couple of day before they cool down, so some snow will be required at the point to get surfaces back to something soft. There are some chances for snow though over the next week, so we’ll see what falls.

Bolton Valley, VT 21DEC2014

An image of Ty skiing powder on the Timberline Run trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Back out in the powder at Bolton Valley today

We had family staying over with us this weekend, so we hadn’t really planned on doing any skiing, but they’d actually departed by late morning today. E and Dylan happened to be out until later in the afternoon due to a birthday party, so Ty and I found ourselves unexpectedly home alone. I finished up some cleaning from the weekend, but we really had no obligations until a Christmas party in the evening, so as you can probably imagine based on this report, we found our way up to the slopes. Bolton Valley has actually expanded their terrain substantially in the past couple of days by opening up the Wilderness Chair, but the mountain had still seen a weekend’s worth of traffic by this afternoon. With that in mind, and recalling the good snow that I’d found during my ski tour on Friday, I figured that a little more touring would be a quiet way to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon. With the knowledge gained from my previous outing, I also realized that I could further optimize the tour I’d done to get Ty the best powder with the least effort.

“The roughly eight inches of dense powder that I’d encountered on Friday was still sitting there…”

Timberline was very quiet as we arrived in the early afternoon – aside from a couple of workers dealing with some equipment in the lower parking area, there was only one vehicle parked in front of the base lodge. We’ve had slate gray skies in the area today but no snow falling, and with temperatures in the 20s F and winter solstice light, it’s one of those days where it’s easy to stay indoors if there isn’t something to lure you out. Fortunately, that powder is still out there, and we were thankful for that as we began our tour and got the blood pumping. We followed the skin track up Twice as Nice and got to watch a group of four skiers and snowboards descending the last pitches of the trail. They were encountering some crust and it was making the turns difficult. Ty was cringing a bit at the conditions he saw, and most notably heard, but I told him they were descending in totally the wrong location. They at least seemed to be having fun, enjoying the descent as a group, but they clearly hadn’t poked around on the terrain enough to find where the good snow was located. Even if they’d skied over on our side of the trail they’d be finding much better snow; you just needed to avoid the most exposed areas to stay away from the crust.

An image looking down toward the Winooski Valley from the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view down the valley from Timberline

We stopped our ascent at the Timberline Mid Station instead of heading up to Brandywine as I’d done on Friday. I hadn’t encountered much in the way of good snow in the extra terrain above that point, and I knew that Wood’s Hole would offer some great snow due to the way it’s so sheltered. We took a short break as we switched over for the descent, and once we got going we indeed found that Wood’s Hole had nice snow. The passage through Wood’s Hole was a bit more challenging than it should have been though, as there are a few trees down across the trail. Presumably they fell due to some of that heavy snow from Winter Storm Damon.

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in the Lost Boyz glade at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty makes use of that durable powder left by recent December snowstorms

We continued across to Lost Boyz, finding it in essentially the same condition as it was when I’d skied it on Friday. There were a couple of tracks on their in addition to mine, but it really didn’t look like there had been much for skier traffic in there. We were fine with that of course, and found plenty of untracked lines to ski. The roughly eight inches of dense powder that I’d encountered on Friday was still sitting there – that rather dense snow really holds its own in terms of staying consistent, which is generally the case when the snow doesn’t have much settling to do. Ty was even feeling comfortable enough to send himself off some of the ledges in there, and at one point he pulled quite the acrobatic move as he skied with one leg behind himself after his ski tip got caught in the snow.

“…that rather dense snow really holds its own in terms of staying consistent…”

Below Lost Boyz we stuck to the same route I’d used for my tour on Friday, since I’d found generally good snow where I’d traveled on Spur and Timberline Run. Even though it was essentially the same route, it was fun exploring it with Ty, since he’d have different takes on the terrain and it got me venturing into pockets of snow that I might not have otherwise encountered. It was a great reprise of that route that served me well on my solo outing. The forecast calls for some warming during the middle of this week, but until that happens, it looks like that powder is going to stay where it is for those that want to get some smooth turns.

Bolton Valley, VT 19DEC2014

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Timberline Run trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Today’s ski tour at Bolton Valley’s Timberline area features some smooth turns in that recent round of dense snow.

On my way back down from the mountain yesterday, I stopped off at the base of Timberline to check on the depth of the new snow and assess the prospects for skiing in the Timberline area. The terrain looked like it had been well covered with a smooth coat of snow when I had driven by earlier during daylight hours, but I wanted to check first hand to see the just how much new snow had been picked up down there. There was easily 2 to 3 inches of that dense snow in place, with even more in some spots. It certainly seemed like it was worth a visit, so at that point I knew I’d head up for a ski tour if I could find the time.

“…I cut into the trees and really hit pay dirt on Lost Boyz – the entirety of the glade was covered with 8″ of that dense snow without crust, and it skied beautifully.”

My fat Telemark skis have actually been sitting in a ski bag with their skins on for several days – I had them prepared for some skiing last week during the big cutoff low pressure system, but I never quite found the time to get out and use them. This morning I decided that I had time to make some turns before heading in to Burlington, so I loaded the rest of my gear into the car and headed toward Bolton Valley. I was a bit leery of the potential ski conditions because we picked up a bit of freezing drizzle at our house along the Bolton/Waterbury line last night. If that sort of stuff had fallen up on the mountain, it would put a crust atop the snow. In fact, the freezing drizzle did affect parts of the mountain, but there was quite a lot of variability with respect where its effects were felt.

An image of rime and ice on a branch at the base of the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontAt the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road, in roughly the 300′ – 700′ elevation range, the trees didn’t really have any sort of accumulations on them; presumably down at these elevations it was warm enough to melt everything off. From around 700′ up to 1,200′ along the road, the trees actually had a coating of fluffy snow. Then suddenly at around 1,200′ near the bottom of that big S-curve in the road, the trees all had a coating of ice on them. This was the situation I found at the base of the Timberline area at 1,500′, and there was an ice crust on the snow there as well. That observation left me pretty skeptical with regard to the quality of turns I’d be able to get on the slopes, but the crust was thin enough to be breakable, so I figured I’d head out for the tour anyway. It wasn’t immediately obvious, but as is typical, there was a well-established skin track along the edge of Twice as Nice.

An image showing a depth of 10 inches of new snow from the middle elevations of the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThere was ice on the trees as I headed up the skin track, and then remarkably at around 1,800′, it quickly switched from ice to rime. The trees all become white, and the crust atop the snow dissipated. As I continued along the skin track, I was pushing my measurement pole down into as much as 10″ of that dense snow. It didn’t look especially drifted or anything, so I was really curious as to how I wasn’t running into the old base at a shallower depth. The snow definitely wasn’t as deep in areas that had been hit by the wind, but I found those areas with such deep snow quite surprising. There was little if any ice until I approached the Timberline Mid Station at ~2,250′, and then the snow surface started to get crusty again. That crustiness was around up to where I finally stopped my ascent in the 2,300′ – 2,400′ elevation range.

I began my ascent on Brandywine, and found the snow highly variable – you could get good snow on one side of the trail, but much of the rest had crust. Sheltered areas seemed to have missed the crust, so I cut into the trees and really hit pay dirt on Lost Boyz – the entirety of the glade was covered with 8″ of that dense snow without crust, and it skied beautifully. I continued my descent on Spur and then Timberline Run, and got in a lot of quality powder turns. All the best turns today were creamy and smooth thanks to that dense powder, and it’s got plenty of staying power to hang around for a while.

I can tell you one thing – that dense snow from the cutoff low pressure system last week is going to be paying us dividends for a long time. I was able to go over ledgy areas today on Lost Boyz that I would never expect to be so well covered with this amount of snow, but that storm put down such a shellacking of dense material that it covered underlying objects really well. Anyway, there is plenty of good snow out there at Bolton Valley right now; if you choose wisely and avoid the areas with crust, you are in for a treat.

Bolton Valley, VT 18DEC2014

An image of trees with rime and snow at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Fresh rime and snow among the low clouds this evening at Bolton Valley.

On the way home this afternoon, I stopped in at the mountain to make a few turns and check out the conditions in association with today’s new snow. Even in the mountains, temperatures rose above freezing yesterday on the front end of our current storm system, and that was likely to mean firm snow surfaces as the temperatures came back down today. Fortunately some snow also fell on the back side of the system, and Bolton Valley was reporting 4 inches as of this morning. Depending on the density of those 4 inches of snow, and how they fell, they could make for some nice skiing.

“…I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely.”

The skies were overcast today with on and off snow in the mountains and rain/snow in the valleys. Temperatures were hovering around 35 F in the Winooski Valley as I made my way eastward into the mountains, but once I arrived up in the Bolton Valley Village at 2,100′, the temperature was in the upper 20s F and grainy snow was falling. The clouds were low, sinking right down to the elevation of the Village, and combined with precipitation and late-day December light, visibility was very poor. The clouds only seemed to get thicker as I ascended on the Vista Quad, and if the visibility wasn’t already low enough, rime was precipitating out of the clouds and forming on everything… including my goggles. There was a brisk northwest wind in effect by the time I got to the Vista Summit, and temperatures must have been in the low 20s F – it was feeling extremely wintry up there.

“…I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.”

From the lift, my initial impressions of the skiing weren’t all that favorable – I could hear the sounds of snowboarders on Butterscotch, and it didn’t sound good. But, once I actually got on the snow and got down through the windswept areas above Sherman’s Pass on my first run, I got to side of the trail and found out that indeed there were 3 to 4 inches of dense snow covering the old base. And, it skied quite nicely. I could smoothly glide right through the powder without hitting anything underneath. I found this same snow on the edges all along Sherman’s, and I was surprised at how much snow had been left untracked at the end of the day. I guess traffic had been somewhat lighter since it was a midweek day. The snow was good, but what made the skiing challenging was the visibility. If you ever wanted to work on your balance while skiing, this afternoon’s low light and fog as dusk approached would get you there. The visibility was the main consideration when I was thinking about taking that next run, but indeed the snow had been good enough that I headed up the lift for another. I took the same route, and even though the light had faded to darkness and the night skiing lights were all that was available, I think that run was even better because I knew where all the best pockets of powder were hiding.

I definitely give a thumbs up for this latest round of snow in terms of covering up the old base, and it sounds like Powderfreak’s impressions at Stowe were very much the same. It looks like this is going to be about it for snow chances until we get into a storm next week, but fortunately there’s some decent powder out there. It should have plenty of staying power based on its density.


Bolton Valley, VT 14DEC2014

An image of Ty skiing dense snow left by Winter Storm Damon at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Getting out to Bolton Valley this afternoon to surf some of the bounty left by Winter Storm Damon

‘Tis the season for being very busy around our house, but the boys and I did find a bit of time to head up to the mountain this afternoon to see what Winter Storm Damon had done for the slopes. We’ve had some periods of sun this weekend, such as the ones we experienced at Stowe yesterday, but temperatures have been staying generally at or below freezing in the mountains to keep the recent snow in midwinter form. So, we anticipated finding some great conditions today on the slopes of Bolton Valley, which thanks to winter storm Damon, has most of its terrain open on the main mountain. A couple feet of dense snow can do that.

“With 2 to 2 ½ feet of dense snow, the ascent was easily twice as hard as it would have been on skins.”

Low clouds hung over the upper half of the mountain as we rode that Vista Quad, and being well into the afternoon, the mountain was really starting to quiet down. The overall feel at the resort was exactly in line with one of those dark December days; the base was plentiful, the snow surfaces were well preserved, and the low clouds seemed to lock in an intimate feeling across the mountain. It’s the holiday season before the commotion of the main holiday week, and with the current amount of terrain and quality of snow surfaces available, it’s a great time to be skiing the resorts around here in Northern Vermont.

An image showing a rock with a smiley face on the Show Off trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThe coverage and snow quality was saw from the lift looked simply outstanding, even on the steep trails of the upper mountain, so the boys and I jumped right onto Hard Luck to test out the snow with some real pitch. All you can say is that Damon set down a really solid resurfacing – there’s just a lot of deep, dense snow out there. You can just carve the surface snow away and be confident that there’s simply more of that below. The only real downside that I’ve seen from the storm was that the powder skiing hasn’t been quite up to the quality we typically get around here with lighter snow. The rounds of fluffy snow at the end of the storm cycle weren’t quite substantial enough to keep you off of the denser snow below, so you’re still getting into that thicker stuff, and of course it doesn’t ski like champagne powder. Still, I don’t think I’d trade this recent storm for fluffier powder; it was just too perfect for setting up the core of this season’s base snow.

The powder was still skiing reasonably well for being rather dense, so we headed over to Wilderness on our next run to get into some untracked snow. Although we were only skiing in the top few inches of the snow, untracked areas were silky smooth and a lot of fun. It was enough fun that when I asked the boys if they wanted more, I was hit with a resounding, “Yes!”

An image of some delicate rime crystals on a tree branch at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWith that in mind we set off on the next run for the summit of Wilderness. There was a skin track in place for the ascent, and a bit of a boot track that comingled with the skin track in places, but that boot pack wasn’t very well established. Since we hadn’t brought our skins, that meant we had to go the boot pack route, which was a real slog at times. The rudimentary boot pack that was in place helped us some, but it contained plenty of post holes that required extra effort to climb out of, and then there were times when I’d post hole my way into the snow unexpectedly, which is always a big waste of energy. With 2 to 2 ½ feet of dense snow, the ascent was easily twice as hard as it would have been on skins. I made sure to explain to the boys that this was the perfect example of why you want to skin up the mountain whenever possible vs. trying to walk in your boots.

An image snowing 28 inches of snow depth on the Upper Crossover Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont thanks to Winter Storm Damon
Ty uses his measurement pole to reveal just how much snow was in our path.

After a brief break at the summit, we descended via Bolton Outlaw in the gathering dusk. The powder was dense like we’d experienced elsewhere, but there were plenty of good turns to be had. This is where the boys would have profited from having their powder skis, but they were on their regular carving alpines based on the fact that we’d planned on mostly on piste skiing. Dylan had a couple of prereleases that send him crashing into the powder, and I’m sure the skinnier nature of the skis wasn’t helping the matter. But some good turns were had by all, despite the fact that it was really dark and foggy as we descended the lower half of the mountain.

An image of Dylan skiing powder in the Wilderness are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan riding atop some of that dense powder from Winter Storm Damon

I had to head off to a Christmas party once we got home, so I’d actually tried to call in a pizza order from Fireside Flatbread for E and the boys when I was up on the Wilderness Summit. I didn’t have a great signal, but it didn’t matter… unfortunately they don’t open until Friday. I ordered instead from Zachary’s in town, but it meant we had to go a couple miles past the house. The James Moore Tavern seemed to be running at full steam tonight though, so that’s currently an option for those seeking après ski fare.

On the weather front, it looks like we’ve got a weak system coming through in the midweek period, and the models show the potential for another storm toward the end of next weekend, but that’s a long way out so we’ll have to see what develops with that one over the next several days.

Stowe, VT 13DEC2014

An image of the some of the trails in the Gondola area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A gorgeous day at Stowe for our annual ski program training

Today was our annual training day for Stowe’s ski program with the local schools, and indeed it was a great one. We’ve often had fresh snow on these mid-December training days, but the past few days featured a cutoff nor’easter that delivered 2 to 2 ½ feet of snow to the Northern Vermont ski resorts. And, the snow wasn’t just fluff either; there were roughly three inches of liquid equivalent in that snow, so it was a major boost to the natural base depths. The snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake just pushed past 30 inches with that storm, and it probably won’t be settling too much due to the density of the snow.

“…there was just so much of that deep packed powder that it didn’t even make you want to head off the beaten path for untracked snow.”

The forecast for today was looking great; with the low pressure system finally weakening, there was the chance for some sun, and temperatures would be in the 20s F. With the hefty amount of construction going on over at the Spruce Peak Base Area, the meeting place for today’s session was in the Midway Lodge. The space actually felt much better than the old day lodge where we would typically meet, and a lot of that seemed to be because the space was simply configured better. Everything was well organized when we arrived, and since we had almost an hour before we’d get together with our group, I headed over to the Spruce Peak Base for a bit to eat at the Great Room Grill. The new structure that’s going in over there is still at the stage of steel framework, but it should ultimately have plenty of space for the children’s programs and whatever else they’ll be putting in there.

We got together with Joe and Emile from BJAMS for our ski group, and had Steve Dever as our instructor for today, who is actually Emile’s neighbor. Each year we seem to get a little something different out of the training session, and this year Steve spent a lot of time on techniques for safety, such as strategies for where to stop on the trail and how to position your body to ensure maximal visibility of oncoming skier traffic. On the technical side, we talked a lot about pole work and “finishing” turns with regard to speed control.

We were generally on piste today, but conditions were simply fantastic on the groomed runs as one might expect after two feet of dense snow. Those first couple of runs on Perry Merrill were simply divine as far as groomers go. We headed over to the Fourrunner Quad for the second half of the morning, skiing some of the usual routes out toward Sunrise. Steve stopped us above the Chapel Glades, pointing out how that was a great one to do with the kids, and the snow looked good enough that a number of our group headed in and met up with everyone else on the other side of the glade. I checked with my measurement pole and found 21 inches of snow there, so there was more than enough coverage. We’re well past the 24-inch mark at the stake, and the fact that so much of that is dense snow makes it even more substantial. Coverage really wasn’t an issue in there, and there were areas of packed snow where there had been enough skier traffic. There was plenty of powder in there was well though, so getting into the powder off piste is definitely an option on appropriate terrain now.

The sun was out a good bit this morning, and with temperatures probably around 30 F at the base, you couldn’t really ask for much more. You could certainly see the quality of the groomed snow drop a bit on the popular routes as the morning wore on, but there was just so much of that deep packed powder that it didn’t even make you want to head off the beaten path for untracked snow. If I’m not searching out powder to ski in, that’s a definite sign of some seriously good snow on piste. It was a little hard to pull away in the early afternoon, but we wanted to pick up the boys from Norris’ house in time for him to get off for his Nordic skiing program. The next snowstorm appears to be coming in the middle of the week, so we’ll see what we get out of that one.

Bolton Valley, VT 06DEC2014

An image of snow on roofs and trees in the Bolton Valley Village in Vermont
Taking in some of the snowy views in the Bolton Valley Village this afternoon

Last night a storm began to affect the Northeast, and it was very similar to the type of storm we had Wednesday. Snow was anticipated on the front end, with some mixed precipitation in the middle, and then more snow on the back end. This time however, we remained on the cold side of the storm for the entire time, so there was little if any mixed precipitation among the snow. It snowed lightly all day today at the house in Waterbury, and later in the afternoon we headed up to Bolton Valley to see what the storm had done and hopefully make some turns. Everybody in the family was able to go today, so that meant E would get her first turns of the season. We were also thinking of picking up our season’s passes, but we were heading out a bit too late to really have a chance at that.

An image of Dylan sitting on the closed Wilderness Double Chairlift at the start of a ski tour at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontTemperatures down in the Winooski Valley were a few degrees above freezing, but it was right around the freezing mark up in the Bolton Valley Village at 2,100′ and there was some very light snow still falling. After gearing up at the base of Wilderness, E began to lead the ascent, and hopped onto a track taking her up Lower Fanny Hill. I was actually thinking we’d take our usual route up Lower Turnpike, but E’s selection gave us the perfect opportunity to mix it up a bit. We began the ascent with 3-4″ of powder above just a bit of old base at the elevation of the Village. The snow had some heft to it, so I suspected that it would do a decent job of keeping us from touching down too much, especially with some help from our fat skis. We continued on up Fanny Hill, and the depth of the snow increased pretty quickly. By 2,500′ the depth was about 5-6″, and when we finally called the ascent at around 2,700′ on Lower Crossover due to fading light, the powder was roughly 8″ deep. I’d say that snow depth is actually due to the past couple of storms combined, but the weather has been cool enough in the past few days to keep all the snow in good shape.

For the descent we started off down Work Road, finding some excellent turns in the dense, but fairly dry snow. We would occasionally hit a rock here and there, but really that was in those windswept spots like the junction with the Wilderness Lift Line that just didn’t have the snow depth. Keeping to the well-covered portions of the trails yielded some excellent turns, and after dealing with the wet snow last Saturday, Ty definitely enjoyed the chance to try out his new Telemark gear on this higher quality powder. He was looking extremely confident and comfortable with his Telemark turns, and even Dylan was making some excellent turns. They both made sure to work on those turns on their weak sides to keep improving them. E said that she had some great turns, but did take it easy at times with some alpine turns in tricky spots just to make sure she didn’t stress her back; it had been giving her trouble last week and she didn’t want to go back to that state. For the last 200-300 vertical feet of the descent, the snow was starting to get a bit wet and wasn’t offering quite the same quality of turns as higher up, but it was still quite decent and much drier than what Ty and I skied last weekend. The biggest challenge during the descent was the fading light and the fact that some fog had just come in. The fog at dusk made for a surreal experience, especially was we arrived back down to the lights of the Village. There had been enough snow and minimal plowing that E felt we could ski right back to the car in the parking lot, and she was right. Cars were actually having trouble getting around the Village due to the new snow and minimal plowing. It was a great day to finally get the whole family out skiing together, and due to the good conditions and snow making temperatures, the mountain is actually planning to open on Friday, which is ahead of schedule.