Bolton Valley, VT 16FEB2024

An image of two skiers walking through heavy snowfall during a February Alberta Clipper snowstorm near the base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A couple of skiers trudge up toward the Vista Quad amidst the very heavy snowfall delivered by our most recent Alberta Clipper system.

The clipper that began affecting the area yesterday evening was definitely potent – by the time I headed up to the mountain early this morning, we’d already picked up 7 inches of new snow at the house. I couldn’t really get a sense for accumulations heading up the Bolton Valley Access Road, but up in the Bolton Valley Village elevations around 2000’ I was measuring 8 inches of new snow. That was definitely a transient number though, because it was snowing at a rate of at least an inch per hour. Visibility was so low in the heavy snowfall that you could only see a distance of about a dozen chairs on the Mid Mountain Lift – beyond that the lift simply disappeared.

An image of a snowcat returning to the operations area amidst heavy snowfall from a February Alberta Clipper system as I set off on a morning ski tour using the Wilderness Uphill Route at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowcat returning to the operations area as I set off on my morning ski tour from the based of Wilderness

I started off my session with a quick tour up to about 2,500’ using the Wilderness Uphill Route. Powder depths didn’t seem to increase drastically with elevation, as I measured about 9 inches at the 2,500’ level. Being a weekday morning, it was very quiet and I don’t recall seeing another soul until a lone rider appeared as he descended the Wilderness Liftline off in the distance. The Vista Quad had started loading, and the appearance of the rider meant that people were starting their first descents. It was a good sign that it was time for me to descend as well. I descended on Lower Turnpike, which hadn’t seen much skier traffic, so there were plenty of fresh turns to be had. I’d brought my 115 mm fat skis, and they were definitely the right tool for the terrain, keeping me surfing at a nice pace on the lower angle slopes. My analyses from down at the house indicated that we’d picked up about a third of an inch of liquid at that point, and assuming something similar for the mountain, that meant the powder was somewhere in the 3 to 4% H2O range. It offered little resistance with respect to slowing my descent, and fat skis were more than enough to keep the turns bottomless.

An image of the Miso Kome food hut viewed through heavy snowfall affecting the base area during a February Alberta Clipper system at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Miso Kome hut as I return from my morning ski tour and the heavy snowfall continued to hit the resort
An image of Stephen and Johannes walking up from the base lodge to the bottom of the Vista Quad Chairlift amidst heavy snowfall from a February Alberta Clipper snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Stephen and Johannes head up through the snowfall to meet me at the base of the Vista Quad

After my descent I caught up on texting with my colleague Stephen about getting together for some turns. He and his son were just finishing suiting up in the lodge and they met up with me near the base of the main mountain lifts a few minutes later. We rode the Vista Quad and hit Alta Vista followed by Fanny Hill. The subsurface out there is really firm due to the extended period we recently went through without much snowfall. Aside from the areas of powder along the trail edges, Alta Vista was really firm. Fanny Hill was much better – after the initial steep chute area, the rest of the trail was out of the wind and had seen little skier traffic. It had a mid-angle pitch that skied perfectly for bottomless turns in the available powder. I couldn’t stay too long at the mountain, but from what I was able to sample, that mid-angle terrain was great. You really wanted to be getting fresh tracks though for quality turns – there just wasn’t enough liquid equivalent down at that point to really hold up to multiple skiers before you’d be contacting the base. A third of an inch of liquid can’t go too far in that regard, but thankfully it was midweek, so there were plenty of opportunities for untracked snow.