Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 17FEB2024

An image of Ty skiing in deep champagne powder from a February snowstorm in the Moose Glen area of the Nordic and Backcountry Network of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty on Telemark skis jumping off a rock into deep powder in the Moose Glen area of the Nordic and Backcountry Network during a February ski tour at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty launches into some fresh powder off a jump in the Moose Glen area.

With the off piste conditions being so much better than what’s available on the trails right now, Ty and I had plans to take a ski tour up to Stowe View today and hit some of the Moose Glen terrain at Bolton Valley. I was just up there a couple of weeks ago, and there are many acres of high elevation glades that I’d expect to have fantastic snow with the way the spine has recently been getting round after round of heavy snowfall.

It was dumping huge flakes at the house when we left this morning, and 1”/hr. snows in the valley turned to 1-2”/hr. snows as we ascended the Bolton Valley Access Road. The snow was falling so hard and fast that the access road was absolutely covered. Even down by the Catamount Trail parking area before the big S-curve below Timberline, vehicles were already lined up due to some cars not being able to get enough traction on the grade. I’m not sure where they were in the plowing cycle for the road because there wasn’t a plow around that we saw, but with the rate the snow was falling, it almost wouldn’t have mattered. Cars were turning around to descend, and some were evening having to back down in the downhill lane because they couldn’t turn around. Descending cars were moving at an absolute crawl to avoid sliding, and some still struggled with sliding just due to the crown of the road. After about 15 minutes we made it up to the base of the S-curve and started the ascent there, and I saw that a line of cars were stopped about halfway down from the top of the grade. That’s one of the steepest parts of the access road, and you don’t want to have to restart there from a dead stop if you can help it.

An image of cars backed up on the Bolton Valley Access Road as heavy snowfall from a February snowstorm stops traffic below the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Traffic was at a total standstill on the steep parts of the Bolton Valley Access Road this morning due to heavy snowfall that made the road too slick for most vehicles.

I could see that the whole situation was going to be trouble, and there was no immediate sign of the next plow, so we made the split second decision to turn around and simply park at the Catamount Trail parking area about 100 yards below us. We were going to be ski touring anyway, so we figured we’d just start our tour from there instead. It does add a couple of extra miles to the route, but we had the time, and it was far better than sitting in traffic and risking an accident on the road. And as bad as the driving was at that point, the snow simply continued to pound down and make the road worse. While gearing up for our tour at the car, we met another couple of guys who had decided on the same plan.  They weren’t too familiar with the resort, but I assured them that the Nordic and Backcountry Trail Network connected right up to the Nordic Center and Village, and from that point they could head wherever they wanted on the network.

An image a cabin in heavy snowfall during a February snowstorm near the parking area for the Catamount Trail along the Bolton Valley Access Road below Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Heavy snowfall envelopes us near the start of today’s ski tour as we pass a cabin near the parking area for the Catamount Trail.

The ascent to the Village was beautiful along the Nordic trails, and the very heavy snowfall was with us for the first mile or so before it tapered down at least a bit. I’d actually never skied that full connection before, so it was great to be able to experience the route. We didn’t need to stop in at the Nordic Center, so we simply cut right up to the Bryant Trail along with a couple of women who were out on a similar tour. From there, it was just the usual route on up to Stowe View with some water and snack breaks. Ty hadn’t had any breakfast, so with the extra distance, he quickly made use of the snack he’d brought, and I dove heavily into the reserves in my pack to get him additional calories. It was about 4.5 miles and over 2,000’ vertical up to Stowe View by that route, so that’s roughly double the vertical and triple the distance relative to a typical tour to that area starting in the Village. That increase definitely required more calories.

An image of Ty slicing through powder while Telemark skiing in the Branches glade area of the Nordic and Backcountry Network of trails at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty slices through another powder turn as we make our way through the Branches glade area of Bolton’s Nordic and Backcountry Network during part of today’s ski tour.

We skied various parts of the Moose Glen glade areas as planned, and the powder was simply fantastic. Even down at 1,200’ there was a solid 12” of settled powder, and up around 3,000’ it was typically in the 17-18” range. It was champagne light, so it actually worked well on a variety of different slope angles. As long as you had first tracks, even steeper terrain was in play for bottomless turns. We had a long, long run, with glade after glade of powder, down through areas like White Rabbit and Branches, and eventually we reached the Village where we could take a quick break and plan our next move.

An image of Ty reaching for his next pole plant while Telemark skiing in deep powder from a February snowstorm during a ski tour on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe were on contact with Dylan, who had parked at Timberline and we decided that instead of heading back to the car via the Nordic and Backcountry Network, we’d complete our tour using the alpine trails. We got a lift assist off the Vista Quad, and made our way from Cobrass to Maria’s where there were still plenty of untracked lines to ski. Lower Tattle Tale was also still really good along the edges where we found untracked snow.

An image of the Timberline Base Lodge through heavy snowfall from a February snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another round of very heavy snowfall was pounding the resort today as we were finishing up our ski tour near the Timberline Base area – Mother Nature has really been on a roll with the snowfall in the Northern Greens over the past couple of days.

We found Dylan at the Timberline Base Lodge and caught up over some El Gato burritos. We’d planned to ski down to our car at the Catamount Trail parking area if necessary, but we just caught a ride with Dylan and it made for pleasant finish to a tour that was almost 10 miles in total and brought us literally from one end of the resort to the other using the Nordic, backcountry, and alpine trail networks. It was a great way to make use of all the recent snows and great powder conditions that have developed.

An image of a Google Earth map with GPS tracking data for a ski tour out on the Nordic and Backcountry Network of trails at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The map of today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network with GPS tracking data on a Google Earth map

Bolton Valley, VT 16FEB2024 (Night)

A view of some of the night skiing terrain and part of the Village from down in the lower parking lots during a night skiing session at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Valley Road terrain and the Vista Quad Chairlift during a night skiing session in  February after an Alberta Clipper system at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The Alberta Clipper system from this morning had departed, but we were back up on the hill tonight for some night skiing with friends.

E wanted to catch up with some friends who were doing some night skiing at Bolton Valley tonight, so on top of my morning session of ski touring followed by riding the lifts with Stephen and Johannes, I ended up right back up at the mountain in the evening. It was very busy for a Bolton night skiing session, and we wound up parking in the lower tennis court lot because the others were so full. It’s very dark down there, but it does provide some neat views of the resort at night. It’s also right along the Nordic trails, so it makes for a fun evening ski to get back to the car. With so many visitors at the resort tonight, I assume all the new snow and the kickoff to the holiday weekend came together to really ramp up people’s interest for getting out for turns.

An image of a snowboard in the snow with the text "YES." on its base during a night skiing session at the main base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Combining fresh snow from earlier today and the start of school vacation week meant that the resort was really hoppin’ with visitors tonight. People and their equipment were all around the base area, including this fun snowboard that we came across.

I doubt I would have headed up for this evening’s session were in not for getting out to make some turns with friends, because I would only have expected the on piste conditions to deteriorate further after a full day of traffic. And at night, only the most popular trails are open, so that means extra traffic in the high-traffic areas. One thing about the end of a long day though, especially when there’s been new snow, is that you do get those terrain areas where the snow collects due to skier traffic. Directly under the Mid Mountain Chair was one of those spots tonight. Patrol has set up marking poles right beneath the chair because the snowpack is deep enough that you might run into people’s skis, and even after that caution area, people never return to skiing the center near the lift towers and they just push a lot of snow there. So, that held some of the best snow we found in the Beech Seal area.

Areas with those skier traffic-related accumulations and low-angle terrain were definitely the best bets when we were out there this evening, but when possible, I’d recommend just heading out in the day and venturing off piste if you can. The off piste conditions are just so much better right now, especially on moderate-angle terrain and anywhere that is untracked. The subsurface is definitely firm, so do watch out for places where the wind has scoured the powder or evergreens are dense enough that they’ve reduced accumulations – those areas can leave you bottoming out on some unforgiving snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 16JAN2024

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder on the Wilderness Lift Line with the Wilderness Double Chairlift in the background as heavy snow falls from Winter Storm Heather at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty laying down a ski track in fresh powder while Telemark skiing on the Wilderness Lift Line with heavy snow falling from Winter Storm Heather at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Heather blasted into the are this morning, with up to 8 inches of new snow already down by midafternoon to set up some great powder skiing at Bolton Valley

It wasn’t even snowing this morning when Ty and I headed off to Burlington for an early appointment, so we knew we’d be giving Mother Nature some time to get rolling and freshen up the slopes. The snow from Winter Storm Heather started up a couple hours later, and by midafternoon we decided to head up to Bolton Valley for some turns.

We were happy to see that the Timberline Quad was running, so were able to park and start our session right there. Snow was simply pouring down at that point, and my initial measurements revealed storm totals of 4-5” at 2,500’ and 6-8” at 3,000’.

An image of heavy snowfall from Winter Storm Heather at the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Thanks to the arrival of Winter Storm Heather, snow was simply pouring down out of the ski at 1 to 2 inches per hour when we arrived at the Timberline Base today, and it just kept going like that all through the afternoon and into the evening.
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in the trees near Maria's in fresh powder from Winter Storm Heather at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The tree skiing was excellent today with constant refills of fresh powder thanks to heavy snowfall from Winter Storm Heather.

The snow was light and dry (my past couple of liquid analyses from down here in the valley averaged right around 4% H2O), so it was very high quality powder. With such cold smoke snow, you weren’t getting bottomless turns on steep terrain, but you could on low and moderate angle terrain, and the turns were great even if you were contacting the subsurface.

An image of heavy snowfall and accumulations on vehicles in the Timberline parking lot during Winter Storm Heather at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontIt was pounding 1-2”/hour snow the entire time we were on the mountain, so one could easily tack on another couple inches or so to the storm totals by closing time, and it even kept snowing into the evening.

Bolton Valley, VT 07JAN2024

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder from the beginning of Winter Storm Ember in the Hide Away area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder from the beginning of Winter Storm Ember in the Hide Away area at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty drops a knee as he dives into some of the Bolton Valley powder delivered by the start of Winter Storm Ember today.

January snowfall is rolling along now with the appearance of our first major weather system of the month, and thus our first big event of the new year. Winter Storm Ember began to affect the area last night, and Bolton Valley was indicating that an additional 3 to 4 inches of new had fallen as of their early morning report. E and I headed up with Ty a couple hours later to catch the opening of the lifts, and there was probably another inch or two down by that point because it was snowing at a decent clip. Even more notable though was the wind – it was easterly and quite strong, and it was hitting you right in the face while riding the Vista Quad. Combined with temperatures in the teens F, our storm gear was definitely earning its keep and was highly appreciated.

Based on my analyses from the house, the mountain had seen probably about a half inch of liquid equivalent by that point. Combined with the several small storms we’ve had over the past week as we’ve kicked off January, it was a decent contribution to resurfacing, but certainly not at the point where patrol could simply drop the ropes on all the natural snow terrain. The snow was enough to open up certain natural snow areas like the Enchanted Forest, but at that point of the storm there just wasn’t enough liquid equivalent down to get the steepest terrain going. There was plenty of terrain open to enjoy the fresh powder though, and we knew additional trails would open as the storm continued to deliver more snow.

An image of Ty catching some air in the Hide Away terrain park area during the beginning of Winter Storm Ember at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty catching some air in the Hide Away terrain park area today as we enjoy the fresh snow from Winter Storm Ember
An image of a snowcat with fresh snow falling during Winter Storm Ember in the Village are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some midmorning accumulations on the Village snowcat as Winter Storm Ember starts to deliver fresh powder to the slopes of Bolton Valley

In the late morning Ty had to head off to work, but Dylan son and his college friends who are staying over for a mini ski vacation were headed up for some runs, so we got to ski with them. The fierce winds from the morning had abated to essentially nothing, so that made the lift rides much more comfortable. A depth check I made around noontime in undisturbed snow at about mid-mountain elevation revealed 9 inches of surface snow, which was probably the combination of what had fallen from this storm on top of the lighter amounts from our other recent storms.

After we left in the early afternoon, I heard that they began to open some steep terrain like Schuss, so the storm was definitely having an impact on replenishing coverage in areas that needed it. The resort was reporting 9 inches of new snow as of closing bell, but with the way it’s been snowing around here this evening, I’m sure they’ll have picked up more by tomorrow morning.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 15DEC2023

An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder in mid-December in one of the glade areas on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Bryant Cabin in mid-December during a ski tour out on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Bryant Cabin while Ty and I were out on our backcountry ski tour at Bolton Valley today

I haven’t been up to the mountain since Tuesday, but Dylan was out for some lift-served turns on Wednesday with friends and he said that Bolton’s conditions were fantastic. Similar to what I’d observed on Tuesday, he said there was a still a lot of roped terrain due to various hazards, but he also noted that his group was able to ski lower down on Preacher, and the untracked powder was going strong. That area is well protected from winds, and with the lower traffic due to the current need to traverse in, he said that conditions in there were better than he often sees in midwinter. The resort had also opened up the lower part of Wilderness that can be easily accessed from Vista, and he said the powder there was excellent as well.

Since it hasn’t snowed for a couple of days, I decided that the timing would be good to head out onto Bolton’s Backcountry Network. This was my first time out on the Network this season, so it was a great opportunity to see where the snowpack stands. In terms of skiing the glades, coverage is quite good, and there are no major issues there. Out in the glades is feels like something that is approaching a midwinter snowpack, but what gives it away that we’re not quite there yet are the water bars on the main access trails. Some water bars are fine, but there are many that seem like they are stuck in early season condition, probably because they got blown out somewhat by the warm start to the last system. I haven’t noticed that issue quite as much on the lift-served terrain, likely because the grooming and greater skier traffic help to pack in the water bars more, but those factors aren’t there to tamp down the snow on the backcountry terrain. There are a number of spots on the Bryant Trail where people have diverted the skin track around the water bar area instead of trying to bridge it.

A copy of the 2018-2019 Nordic and Backcountry trail map from Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry trail map which lists a lot of the glades.

Today we toured up the classic route to the Bryant Cabin, and then descended through some of the more popular glades. I was surprised to find that even above 2,000’ the temperature was edging above the freezing mark, so the snow was getting a bit thick in some areas. This effect seemed to diminish with elevation, and thankfully most of the powder skied well and wasn’t sticky, probably because the air is still fairly dry. As we descended below 2,500’, we started to run into areas where the powder became sticky, and I figured it was due to elevation, but we got back into drier powder in lower areas and that makes me think the stickiness was just in areas that had seen the sun. In any event, even with the temperatures being a bit marginal, there’s still plenty of good powder out there at elevation if you avoid areas that got hit by the sun.

A an image of a Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from a ski tour on December 15th, 2023 on the Nordic and Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A Google Earth map with GPS tracking data from today’s ski tour out on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

It’s not surprising that the backcountry snowpack is getting a midwinter feel, because the snowpack depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is at 40 inches, and that’s the depth at which people start to feel comfortable skiing most off piste terrain around here. Those water bars in certain areas do seem to give it away that we’re still in early season though. Bolton’s snow report indicates that they are just shy of 100 inches of snow on the season, and I see that Jay Peak is reporting 115 inches on the season, so both resorts seem to have done well with these early season storms we’ve had thus far. We’re within a couple inches of average snowfall to date down at our site in the valley, but I bet those numbers from the resorts are ahead of their average pace due to the substantial elevation-dependence we’ve see with these recent systems. In any event, 100” of snow by mid-December is a solid start to the season, even at elevation in the Northern Greens.

Bolton Valley, VT 09DEC2023

An image of some of the base area condominiums with plentiful snow in early December in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of some of the houses and snow piles in early December in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
During a break from skiing today at Bolton Valley, I took a short walk around the Village and remarked at how the snow is piling up as we move toward mid-December.

It’s a busy weekend for me and I wasn’t certain if I was going to get out for turns, especially since I was unsure if surfaces were going to be soft with temperatures in the 30s F, but comments about the great snow in the New England subforum at American Weather helped tip the balance. If we’d had a notable thaw-freeze, then 30s F probably would have cut it with respect to softening things up, but the snow hasn’t really cycled above freezing for a while – it’s already in such good shape that it doesn’t need to soften. With the next storm moving in soon to make the weather more questionable tomorrow, today also seemed like the better day to hit the slopes. That aspect helped motivate us to get out while the weather was relatively stable.

E and I headed up to the mountain in the midafternoon period, and we were a bit leery about parking because the snow report indicated that Bolton had already filled their upper lots and people were parking down at Timberline. We were late enough that plenty of spots were opening up though as others finished their day and headed home.

The resort is definitely humming as they start to move to every day operation this week. They had all the lifts going except Timberline, where I don’t think they’ve made much snow yet, and the natural depths down at 1,500’ aren’t quite there to support lift-served traffic. Patrol has opened up just about everything else though – low angle, moderate angle, steeps, trees, people are skiing it all. Some steep, and even moderate natural snow terrain requires various levels of negotiation around the usual patches depending on whether you’re using rock skis or not, but you really can ski just about anything.

An image of roofs piled up with snow in early December in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Snow has been piling up at the resort as displayed by some of the roofs in the Bolton Valley Village

The snow quality we encountered was fantastic, soft and carvable but not sticky at all, and there’s no ice anywhere to speak of because of the huge resurfacing we got from those recent storms. The resort has all of Wilderness open with zero grooming, so they’re just letting people have at it as nature intended. That means that there’s plenty of uneven terrain and occasional water bars to negotiate, but the snow quality is so good that it’s simple to deal with any obstacles you encounter.

Dylan was up with a bunch of friends from UVM, so while we were waiting to meet up with them at the bottom of Wilderness, I walked around the Village a bit and grabbed some additional photos. It’s been a few days since the last storm, but there’s tons of snow all over the place up there that’s piled up and sticking to things. The snowpack is certainly in good shape for early December. We’ll soon see what this next storm does for the slopes – Winter Storm Warnings are already up as it approaches.

A map of New York and Vermont from the National Weather Service Office in Burlington, VT showing the various weather alerts posted for the area, including a Winter Storm Warning for Northern Vermont ahead of a December snowstorm coming into the area.
Winter Storm Warnings are already up in our area ahead of the next big wintry system that is expect to impact the area.

Bolton Valley, VT 29NOV2023

An image near sunset off to the west toward the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks of New York from the Wilderness Summit during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder from a late November storm in the Outlaw Woods are of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty rides through some of the fresh powder we encountered today in Bolton’s Outlaw Woods

Last night we picked up another 4 to 5 inches of snow here in the valley from the weak cold front swinging through the region, and not surprisingly, the local mountains picked up twice that amount. Bolton Valley was reporting 10 inches of new snow atop the 15+ inches they’d received from the storm at the beginning of the week, and this new snow came in around 5% H2O according my morning liquid analyses. The new drier snow atop the base was a recipe for some great skiing.

Ty was off from work this afternoon, so we popped up to the mountain for a ski tour on Wilderness. Relative to the last storm, the Winooski Valley down by the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road did better with this event; whereas the coverage was somewhat patchy after the last storm, it was generally continuous with a few inches present this morning. I checked snowpack depths during the tour as usual, and it’s getting tougher to get measurements as the snowpack gets deeper, but with settling through the afternoon, depth increases seemed to be as follows relative to what I found yesterday:

2,000’: 10-12” –> 15-16”
2,500’: 15-16” –> 18-20”
3,000’: 18-20” –> 20-24”

So essentially, the snowpack depths I found today were about 500 feet lower in elevation than equivalent depths I found yesterday.

An image of a snowcat with a snow gun in the background at the main base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowcat/groomer works around Bolton’s main base area as snow is being made in the background. The resort had lots of mountain operations taking place as they get ready for resumption of lift service on Friday

The Wilderness Uphill Route had seen plenty of skier traffic, and there was a dual skin track all the way to the Wilderness Summit that made conversation easy while we ascended. I was hoping to bring Ty over toward Fanny Hill again in line with the tour I’d done yesterday, but ski patrol had fenced off Upper Crossover.  They really want touring to be confined to Wilderness, and I guess that’s not too surprising with the amount of operations they have going on Vista. With the amount of activity we saw going on all around the resort, it’s obvious that they’re going full tilt in preparation for re-opening on Friday with their partial-week schedule. I’m not sure how much of the mountain they’re going to open, but with the amount of natural snow out there, they’re going to have a lot of options.

An image of a pickup truck covered in snow from recent November snowstorms in one of the parking lots at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A truck in the parking lot holds some of the recent snow that Bolton Valley has received.

In terms of the skiing, it was great. Conditions were already excellent yesterday, and now Mother Nature threw another 10 inches on top of that, so it’s about what you’d expect – lots of bottomless powder. We hit the Wilderness Summit just as sunset was approaching, so the views to the west were stupendous on such a fine afternoon. With the snow remaining deep, you wanted to shoot for intermediate pitches and above for decent turns. Based on my experience from yesterday, we did have full fat skis today, so that helped a lot with floatation and the ability to turn on those lower-angle slopes a bit more.

Bolton Valley, VT 22NOV2023

A black and white image of Ty Telemark skiing in powder from a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm while ski touring in the Wilderness area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in some fresh snow from a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm up at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty was free this morning and joined me for some ski touring in the fresh powder up at Bolton Valley.

The mountain snowpack that had been building up over the first half of the month melted back somewhat in the middle elevations at the end of last week, but this latest winter storm seemed to have the potential to replenish it. As of this morning, we’d picked up roughly 4 inches of new snow composed of 0.6 inches of liquid at the house, so the local mountains should have added enough new snow to set the table for more low-angle touring in the powder. Bolton Valley was reporting 3 to 4 inches of new snow overnight, and 5 inches in the past 48 hours. Assuming a similar density of snow to what fell at our house, plus whatever snow was in place before, it definitely felt like it was worth a visit. I didn’t expect the snow quality to be outstanding enough to suggest that E or the boys should join me, so I expected it to be a solo tour.  As I was about halfway through preparing my gear, Ty woke up and let me know that he was actually interested in getting in some turns before work, so that meant I’d have some company!

An image of snow sliding off a car as temperatures warm in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Some of today’s snow sliding off the windshield of a car as temperatures warm in the Bolton Valley Village

In the Winooski Valley at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road, we found 1 to 2 inches of new snow from this most recent storm, and up in the Village, total depths were 4 to 5 inches. Temperatures this morning were around the freezing mark, with a mix of wintry precipitation types as we set out on our tour. We found that snow depths increased a bit with elevation, hitting 5 to 6 inches around 2,500’ and 6 to 7 inches where we topped out around 2,700’.

The powder skiing was decent, with snow that was relatively dense but not sloppy or soggy on the upper half of our tour. The density did increase a bit more as we descended back toward the base around 2,000’, but the snow still hadn’t progressed to that spring-style sticky stuff. I had freshly waxed up my skis in the morning, and that did appear to help give me an slightly easier time than Ty, who hadn’t waxed.

An image of a snowman and snow on some rooves of condominiums after a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Folks had clearly been out having fun with all the new snow in the Bolton Valley Village

While today’s powder was decent, the snow I found while out ski touring last week was definitely superior. I think that last week there was a touch more base, the snow overall was a bit deeper, and most importantly, the snow was notably drier. All those factors came together to set that skiing above the quality of what we found out there today. This dense snow that we just received does have the water content to set up a more substantial base though, and it’s really going to be great with some additional rounds of snow on top. The models do suggest that there are some events in the pipeline over the next week, so we’ll see what the mountains get from those.

Bolton Valley, VT 09APR2023

An image showing a shadow of a skier on the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of skiers riding the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Spring temperatures have arrived, and the snow coverage is still in good shape even down at the Timberline elevations at Bolton

With systems like Winter Storm Uriel coming through the area, the weather and ski conditions had generally been staying on the wintry side of the spectrum, with no sustained periods of spring warmth.  Ty and Dylan were up at Bolton Valley on Friday for a session, and the word was that the conditions remained hard both on and off piste.  Yesterday was probably a bit warmer, but with valley temperatures topping out in the upper 30s F, that still wasn’t going to cut it with respect to softening the snow.

An image showing part of the Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont viewed from the top of the Timberline Quad Chairlift
A view back toward the main mountain from the top of the Timberline area

Today showed more potential though, and I headed up to the mountain for an afternoon session that saw temperatures pushing well into the 40s F at 1,500’ at the Timberline Base.  That was definitely enough to soften the snow into pleasant spring conditions, especially on west-facing terrain with afternoon sun.  The boys were up at the main mountain with friends for some terrain park runs, and I thought about heading over to see them, but it was well into the afternoon so I just stuck around Timberline for a few Telemark laps.  Temperatures certainly cooled with elevation, but the snow was soft enough everywhere to produce great turns.  In some spots with direct sun, the snow was even getting a little sticky since it hadn’t gone over to 100% corn, but in general the snow quality was excellent.  Coverage is still quite good on piste even down to 1,500’, but there are a few bare spots opening up on natural snow terrain at those low elevations.

An image of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York taken from the top of the Timberline Quad Chairlift at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Looking out toward Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks today from the top of the Timberline area

Bolton Valley, VT 31MAR2023

An image of ski tracks in powder snow from Winter Storm Uriel while night skiing under the lights at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow from Winter Storm Uriel lit up by evening lights while night skiing at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Winter Storm Uriel brought significant snows into the area right into the evening to set up for some great skiing under the lights tonight at Bolton Valley.

The system currently working its way through the area has been named Winter Storm Uriel, and it’s actually provided a nice addition to the snowpack so far.  There hadn’t been too much coverage of its snow potential in the forecasts, presumably because it was one of those systems passing well to our northwest with anticipated front end and back end snow, but mixed precipitation and rain in the middle.  I was in Burlington yesterday afternoon when the storm started up, and the snowfall came in with some decent intensity right away.  Temperatures were marginal in the Champlain Valley, so the snow didn’t accumulate very rapidly, but there was probably about a half inch of new snow on the UVM campus when I was heading home to Waterbury.

I arrived at the house to find that Parker was with Ty and Dylan, and they had just loaded their ski gear into their car to head up to Bolton for some runs.  Ty son was on his alpine gear, but asked me to bring his Telemark equipment to switch over if I came up to the mountain later.  In my mind, I was certainly not planning to go for a ski session.  It didn’t seem worth it to head up to the hill for what I thought was probably an inch or so of new snow atop the spring base that had probably gone through some freeze-thaw cycles over the past couple of days.

But apparently, Mother Nature was going to convince me otherwise.  It just kept dumping snow at our house, and of course, Bolton’s Webcam at their main base showed the exact same thing as we watched it on the TV.  I couldn’t quite get a feel for the amount of new snow from the webcam, but my snow analyses from the house revealed that we’d already picked up a few tenths of an inch of liquid equivalent in the snow we’d had.  Before long, I texted the boys and let them know that I was on my way up.

I was really curious about the new accumulations up at the Village elevations, so as soon as I parked and got out of the car, I headed to an undisturbed location to check out the depth of the snow.  I was surprised to get a new snow depth of 6 to 7 inches, and I figured there could have been some drifting around the parking lot area as there often is, but the measurement was quite encouraging.

An image of cars in the Village parking lot during Winter Storm Uriel at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
It was clearly a wintry evening with plenty of fresh snow as I arrived up in the Bolton valley Village for some night skiing.

The timing of my arrival was great, and I caught the boys right at the base of the Vista Quad, so we all hopped on together for a run.  It continued to snow steadily, and the conditions were looking really good – folks below us on the trails were making virtually silent turns aside from the usual steep and heavily used spots like the middle of Spillway.  Up at the Vista Summit, I checked the new snow depth in the clearing right below the wind turbine and measured 7 inches.

The snow wasn’t enough for a full resurfacing of all pitches of course, certainly not the center of very steep, high-traffic trails like Spillway, but the periphery of the steep terrain was skiing really well, and mid-level pitches were great.  Based on my snow analyses back at home, I bet the mountain had picked up a half in of liquid equivalent by that point.  I’d say the quality of the skiing was just a touch below the conditions we had back on Sunday with the 6 to 7 inches of new snow that we found then; that round of snow may have had just a bit more liquid equivalent in it.

The boys were mixing things up with a bunch of runs through the terrain park on Valley Road, but fresh tracks were easy to get just about anywhere off Snowflake with the continued snowfall.  While riding the Snowflake Chair, we saw a couple of guys skiing some of the unlit Snowflake trails by headlamp, and those were probably some sweet turns because all those trails were essentially untracked.

An image of a snowbank with night skiing lights in the background during Winter Storm Uriel at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The snowbanks from a long winter season dominating the Bolton Valley parking lots, with the slopes lit up for night skiing in the background