Temperatures were expected to warm above freezing today, so I was thinking of heading up to the mountain in the afternoon to catch some turns in soft snow. Dylan and his friends headed up to Bolton Valley in the morning, and said that things were indeed softening up by the time they’re returned in the early afternoon.
Since Ty wasn’t working today, he decided to join me for some skiing, and based on the limited terrain that was open, I recommended that he bring his Telemark gear so that he could get in some practice. With only the Mid Mountain and Snowflake Chairs running along with the Mighty Mite, there were actually some lift queues, but we still had a fun session getting in a few fun runs on the available terrain. We didn’t encounter much in the way of soft snow though. I’m not sure if we’d just missed the window of softening, but looking at just how low that sun was with its November sun angle, it made me wonder how much softening could actually occur – even on a sunny day like today. The only softened snow we actually found was on the south facing terrain near the top of Bear Run.
Ty had a good time working on his Telemark turns, and he commented that what he needed to work on was smoothing out his transitions from one turn to another. I told him that’s exactly what Mom and I had discovered when we first started Telemark skiing. The transition from one Telemark stance to the next is much more challenging than a typical alpine turn, because it’s a longer duration, a longer distance, and there’s a lot more body movement to do. But, once you get a smooth transition down, your Telemark turns can really flow and you can have a lot of fun with it. It’s still a tremendous workout compared to alpine skiing, and that’s part of the allure if one goal of your outing is to get in some exercise.
After some initial frozen precipitation at our house this morning, we’d had on and off rain in the valley heading into the afternoon. It had been steady at times, but nothing too heavy. I got a bit worried though when I encountered a couple of downpours while driving through Bolton Flats, because the thought of skiing in the pouring rain wasn’t all that enticing. I was happy to see that the rain changed over to snow around 1,500’ at the Timberline Base, so that alleviated the concerns about having to potentially be out on the mountain in a downpour. The drive up the Bolton Valley Access Road definitely gave its usual introduction to the local temperature profile – the temperatures ticked right down at a steady pace and dropped from the lower 40s F in the valley to the lower 30s F by the time I hit the base village.
I was getting concerned that the snow surfaces were going to be quickly tightening up as colder air moved in, but the lower mountain seemed to be just enough around the freezing mark that the snow remained soft. I could tell it wouldn’t be too long before the surfaces would be getting firm though – the wind had really picked up as the back side of the storm system was pushing through, and the Mid Mountain Chair appeared to close early because of it.
The settled snow depths depended heavily on the underlying surface – grassy areas that insulated the snow from the ground tended to have a couple more inches of depth, so it really seemed like there was some consolidation/melting due to warm ground.
Even at 2,000’ in the Bolton Valley Village area it edged above freezing this afternoon, and it was somewhere in the 2,700’ elevation range where temperatures finally dropped below the freezing mark. The snow above the point was much less consolidated, so the snow below that elevation is actually better set up to serve as a base. Liquid equivalent thus far at our house for this storm is 0.70”, so the mountain should be somewhere in that range or higher.
The most notable jump in accumulations was between 1,500’ and 2,000’, and perhaps somewhere between there was when consolidation jumped a lot due to the temperatures. The increase in depth was really quite slow above 2,000’, and it was hard to see much of a change until I hit the freezing line around 2,700’ – the depth got a bump there because above that point it was still quite dry and hadn’t seen any consolidation.
The freezing line was dropping as the afternoon wore on, and backside snows had started up rather vigorously when I was heading home. That snowfall appeared to be confined to the higher elevations around here though, because I haven’t seen any back side snows yet down here at our house.