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, VT 28DEC2023

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in soft snow on the Hard Luck trail during the Christmas holiday week at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Today we were happy to find steep slopes like Spillway and Hard luck loaded with soft snow for some fun, steep holiday week turns.

As of mid-December, Bolton Valley had already reported 100 inches of snow on the season, and with most of that falling from mid-November onward, it created a solidly snowy stretch. That period offered a ton of great skiing here in the Northern Greens, so the end of November into the first couple weeks of December was quite a whirlwind of trying to make time to get out for turns while also finishing up the busy fall semester period. It’s always best when the snowstorms keep rolling through, but when snowfall slowed down during the mid-month period, it was actually nice to be able to finally catch up with everything else in life that had been put on the back burner due to all the time spent out on the hill.

The family has been able to catch our breath the past couple of days after a busy period of holiday activities, and since I’ve been hearing about the nice soft conditions out there on the local slopes, E and I decided to head up to the mountain for some turns this afternoon. The snow report indicated that skier traffic was fairly light today, and I guess that makes sense – with no major snowstorms in the past week or so, there’s really no pressure to run out immediately and get after the fresh powder, so I assume a lot of folks have taken the same approach we have. We watched the Bolton Valley Base Area Webcam for a while today and could see that skier traffic was indeed fairly light.

We arrived at the mountain in the mid-afternoon period, and the top tiers of the parking lots were fairly full, but there were some open spots in the first lot due to folks who had already left. We often find that this ends up being the case around mid-afternoon because some people have left, and you’re still ahead of the bump in visitors that arrive as night skiing kicks off.

An image of Erica Telemark skiing on the Hard Luck trail during the Christmas holiday week at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Erica getting in some Telemark turns today on Hard Luck

Skies were mostly cloudy with a few breaks of blue when we started our session, and the top of Vista Peak from about 2,800’ on up was hidden in the clouds. Temperatures were in the upper 30s F, and there wasn’t any wind in the lower elevations, so it was a very comfortable time for suiting up at the car. Even with temperatures in the just the 30s F, the snow was soft at all elevations because it’s been warm enough over the past couple days that the snow isn’t freezing up too thoroughly. You can find some firm patches out there in high traffic areas, but most of the snow is loose, pliable, and nicely carvable.

A black and white image of Jay Telemark skiing on the Hard Luck trail during the Christmas holiday week at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
It may not have been steep and deep today with the relatively mild conditions, but it was at least steep and soft with trails like Hard Luck available.

I was quite impressed with the number of trail options available from the Vista Summit. I remarked to E that compared to when I was last up there on the 12th after one of our larger storms, there are actually a lot more options now. Back at mid-month, many routes were closed due to snowmaking and ski patrol marking obstacles, but with the colder temperatures following that storm, the resort was able to finish up their snowmaking and open up those routes. So while natural snow trails like Vermont 200 that were open at the point are closed because the coverage isn’t quite there, steep favorites like Spillway and Hard Luck are now available with deep coverage thanks to snowmaking. Alta Vista was also open, and I don’t think that’s been open yet on any of the days I’ve been up on Vista.

We heard a lot of foreign accents around the base area and out on the slopes today, so it seems like Bolton has a good number of international visitors for the holiday week. Indeed skier traffic was fairly light, but the scene was definitely lively enough, so the folks who are visiting are getting quite a good mix of soft snow, comfortable temperatures, winter holiday vibes, and elbow room on the slopes. This is a blackout period for folks who have restricted season’s passes, so that’s probably helping to reduce holiday week skier numbers a bit as well.

With the late December daylight period, the night skiing lights were already coming on by about 3:00 P.M. or so, and as we were leaving a bit after 4:00 P.M., low clouds rolled into the base area dramatically, just as I noticed a dense fog advisory on my phone. The fog moving in with the night skiing lights definitely pumped up the solstice vibe at that point.

An image of a car roof top cargo box with stickers from various locations in North America located in one of the parking lots of the Village during the Christmas holiday week at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We heard a lot of foreign accents out on the slopes today, and saw a lot of people from out of state, so visitors were definitely livening up the resort for the holidays. It was hard to guess where the owner of this fun cargo box hailed from , but the license plate on the car was New Jersey!

Tomorrow might be the last day to catch this soft snow, because it sounds like snow and colder temperatures are in the forecast starting tomorrow night. With that shift we’re going to need to get enough fresh snow down to get back to soft skiing, but at least the dividends of all those early season winter storms are still present in the form of the snowpack in the higher elevations. It won’t take too much new snow to get a lot of natural snow terrain back in action, so we look forward to Mother Nature helping out soon.

Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2023

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Bull Run trail after a December snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Glades trail after a December snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Coverage and snow quality were excellent today on natural snow trails like Glades off the Mid Mountain Chair

With last night’s continued snowfall on the back side of the system, Bolton Valley reported 18” for their storm total as of this morning. Since I’d missed out on the chance for any lift-served turns yesterday due to the power outages, I popped up to the mountain for some runs this morning since power was fully restored and the lifts were back in action. The resort is still somewhat in early season mode though, and they’re not running all lifts on weekdays, but the Vista Quad was running, which serves the bulk of the main mountain’s terrain. I haven’t been up to Vista at all yet this season, so this was a chance for me to see how the snow was doing up there.

The resort obviously got a boatload of snow from this most recent storm, with another excellent shot of liquid equivalent for the snowpack thanks to all the dense snow that fell on the front end of the system. Even with all the snow, there was a ton of terrain that was roped off this morning. The snow report indicated that between the warm front end of the storm and winds that came through, there were areas of water bars, melting and scouring that need some work to be safe for skiers. I’m sure ski patrol will be working hard to open as much terrain as they can as they have time to sort it out.

The standard snowmaking/groomed routes off Vista were definitely the main pipeline of open terrain, and the snow report noted that nothing else had been groomed. While so much terrain was roped off, there were some gems that had made the cut, such as Vermont 200 and Glades. I think Vermont 200 is sheltered enough that it holds the snow despite strong winds, and let’s just say, without any grooming, it was a great example of how spicy the terrain is out there. Vermont 200 normally has a lot of contour with plenty of rocks and ledges and stumps and dips and all that, but it feels exaggerated 10-fold with the current snowpack. There is plenty of snow in there though, and it’s a wild ride. Glades was another great ride because the Mid Mountain Chair wasn’t running, so getting to the top entry of Glades meant a bit of skating was required across the Mid Mountain Flats, and most people weren’t interested in that. So, the top of Glades had seen very few skiers and held a lot of fresh powder. Lower down, people were coming in from Upper Glades/Moose Run, so the conditions were more tracked, but still excellent.

An image of members from the snowmaking crew working to put snow down on the steep Spillway trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Members of the the Bolton Valley snowmaking crew were hard at work today augmenting the natural snow that is already present on the steep slopes of Spillway.

The snowmakers were out working hard on Spillway, so that seems to be where they’re putting their efforts for additional manmade snow at the moment. Even with all this new natural snow, Spillway still needs that snowmaking base because it’s wide and exposed to the wind so that it’s constantly getting scoured. Additional snow is falling today with the cold front and northwest flow squalls that are coming through, and then it looks quiet for the end of the week before a potential larger storm affects the area Sunday night into Monday.  The models still seem to have some sorting out to do with that system though.

Bolton Valley, VT 26MAR2023

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in powder in the Valley Road area after a late March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Dylan performing a 360 ski jump in the Valley Road terrain park after a late March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan sailing his way through a 360 during today’s session with the family up at Bolton Valley. Our most recent spring snowstorm brought excellent conditions for both powder skiing and hitting the terrain parks.

We haven’t seen much snow here in the Northern Greens since last weekend, and from what I’ve heard, the conditions on the slopes haven’t been all that remarkable.  A more substantial winter storm started to affect the area yesterday however, and it seemed to hold some promise with respect to putting down several inches of snow in the mountains.

While the storm had only dropped an inch or two of snow down here at our house in the valley as of this morning, that snow contained almost a half inch of liquid equivalent, and with the temperatures being marginal in the lower elevations, it was easy to see that the accumulations were going to be elevation-dependent.  The Bolton Valley snow report was only indicating a few inches of new snow as of this morning, but that was enough to at least get us to head up to the hill and check out the conditions.  It seemed like a toss-up with respect to whether or not the snow would really be enough to kick the conditions into high gear, but there had to be more than a half inch of liquid equivalent from the storm at elevation, and that’s certainly enough for a decent resurfacing of the slopes.

An image of snow bikes near the Timberline Base area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontWe parked at Timberline, and right from the start, we were encouraged by what we saw.  There were 2 to 4 inches of dense accumulation even at those lowest elevations, and as we rode the Timberline Quad and watched and listened to the skiers below, their relatively quiet turns suggested that the new snow had bonded well to the subsurface.  Our plan was to head up to the main mountain, get a good assessment of the conditions at all elevations, and then take it from there.  Up at 2,500’ when we got off at the Timberline Summit, it was immediately obvious that the conditions were going to be good.  The new snow had clearly put down a resurfacing that was incorporated well into the grooming and created a soft, quiet surface that let you cut right into it with your carves.  We next took a trip up the Vista Quad, and the conditions above 3,000’ were even better.  The sides of Alta Vista yielded excellent turns, and my depth checks were coming in with 6 to 7 inches of new snow.

An image of a house in the Village area along the side of the Villager trail during a late March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We were treated to wintry scenes and great snow all around the resort today compliments of our latest winter storm.

We’d met up with some colleagues from work and their families, and our group spent much of the afternoon roaming around the main mountain, venturing from Vista to Wilderness, with a lot of time spent on Snowflake.  The boys were having some great fun on the jumps in the terrain park, and with the usual low traffic of Snowflake, the trails held plenty of untracked lines.  When we were over on Wilderness, just about everyone hit the Wilderness Woods and had some great turns, and those of us inclined to hit the trees off Snowflake were treated to run after run of untracked powder through some very nice lines.

An image of Dylan jumping into some powder skiing in the trees of the Snowflake Lift after a late March snowstorm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
We spent a lot of time today catching up on some powder skiing in the trees today, and the conditions were excellent thanks to this most recent winter storm.

We finished off our day with a long run down from the Vista Summit to the Timberline Base, and based on that run it was very evident that the main mountain was the place to be today for the best powder and groomed surfaces.  The snow below 2,000’ was still decent, but as we’d seen, the accumulations were a bit less, and the powder a bit denser.  Up on the main mountain was definitely where the best snow was located, and skier traffic was quite light.  It’s March after all, and since this wasn’t an obvious slam dunk storm cycle, I’m sure there were many folks that opted not to make the trip to the mountain for conditions that probably could have gone either way.

Bolton Valley, VT 18FEB2023

An image of a taco salad from El Gato Cantina in the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of snow guns making snow near the base of the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Bolton Valley was making a lot of snow at the Timberline Base are today, which should really set up those lower elevations of the resort with a snowpack that will last well into the spring ski season.

Our most recent system was named Winer Storm Nova, and while it wasn’t especially warm in our area, the storm still contained some mixed precipitation.  Some of the mixed precipitation was freezing rain, which I experienced on my way to Burlington yesterday morning.  After getting the car out of the garage, I‘d only driven for a couple of minutes before my windshield suddenly started to ice over very aggressively.  I switched to the defroster and that took care of it quickly, but it was clear that our area was getting a shot of freezing rain.  Thankfully, the roads had been well maintained and they remained ice free, but everything else was taking on a glaze.

All the precipitation eventually changed over to snow, but with some freezing rain in the mix, I really wanted to see how much snow fell on top of it to decide whether or not it would be worth skiing this weekend.  Down at our house we picked up a total of 1.5” of snow on the back side of Winer Storm Nova, and with Bolton Valley only reporting a couple of inches, it didn’t seem like that would really be enough to redeem the snow surfaces from the icing they’d likely seen.  This is also the President’s Day holiday weekend, so skier traffic would likely be even higher than usual.  With all that, I figured it would be a good weekend to stay off the slopes and instead go snowshoeing or something along those lines.

My ski plans changed though when Erica told me that her niece Allie was staying up at Bolton with some friends.  It’s hard to pass up the chance to see friends and family at the hill when we’re just a few minutes away, so we headed up in the afternoon to make some turns with Allie.  E and I parked down at Timberline with the intention of heading over to the main base to meet Allie, and I could tell today was going to be trouble when I nearly killed myself attempting my first three Tele turns on Villager after getting off the Timberline Quad.  My skis aren’t totally without edges, but I just couldn’t get a decent bite of the snow; the area that I’d chosen over on the skier’s right was just too slick.  Thankfully, we did encounter some areas during the day where skiers had pushed snow to provide a skiable surface (middle of Beech Seal by the lift towers, parts of Sherman’s Pass, parts of the Snowflake trails), but those were relatively few and far between.  I think the only other day that I’ve been out this season with really poor snow conditions was back on January 14th, which I rated as a 2 out of 10.  Well, today wasn’t a total zero, but it was somewhere in the 0 to 1 range.  I had a number of other close calls with slick surfaces simply kicking my skis out from under me due to lack of grip, and the surfaces simply felt far more dangerous than they were fun.

A sign from El Gato Cantina at the Timberline  Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontThankfully, there were some bright spots on the day.  It was great to get to hang out with Allie on the slopes and catch up with her.  Temperatures were nice and comfortable up in the 20s F, and when you were in the sun it was especially pleasant.  Bolton was making lots of snow down at Timberline, so they are really setting up the base there at their lowest elevations to be able to last well into the spring ski season.  And, it looks like that base snow could soon be put to good use – the weather modeling suggests we’ve got a good run of winter storms on the horizon.  The most recent GFS run shows about seven storms lined up over the next couple of weeks.  Perhaps our favorite part of the day was when E and I discovered that El Gato Cantina has now moved into the food service area of the Timberline Base Lodge.  We had an excellent taco salad along with chips and guacamole, and having some great food in the newly expanded lodge is definitely something we’re looking forward to doing again.

Bolton Valley, VT 16JAN2023

A shuttle bus with a bit of January snow in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Bolton Valley Access Road in January just below Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
There’s a solid base of snowpack in the mountains and there’s even been a bit of new snow to set the wintry scene. Conditions should really take off with accumulations from even a modest winter storm.

After getting out to the hill on Saturday to check out the snow conditions, I hadn’t really planned to ski any other days over the weekend – the conditions on the groomed terrain were fine, but definitely on the firm side.  And, the off piste just isn’t very viable at the moment, because while the snow from this most recent storm contributed a fantastic addition to the base snowpack, it needs another good round of snow on top of it or else you’re just skiing on a dense, crusty moonscape.  But, a couple of my students alerted me that they’d be up at Bolton Valley this morning and asked if I wanted to join them, so I said I catch up with them for some turns.  E had the holiday off and joined me, and we met up with them in the late morning period and had a great time catching up after the holiday break.  Light snow fell much of the time from the system off the coast, and it certainly made the mood even more wintry, even if it didn’t add much in terms of accumulation.

A road sign with a bit of fresh snow stuck to it along the Bolton Valley Access Road below Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontAlong with the bit of snow today, we’d also had a little light snow from that coastal system over the previous day or so, but all in all, ski conditions weren’t really all that different from what I’d experienced on Saturday.  Groomed terrain with manmade snow had some bright spots (like Alta Vista again), but most was fairly firm as it had been before.  One very notable positive change that took place over the course of the weekend was that the resort had opened a lot more terrain.  A little (like Hard Luck I believe) was due to snowmaking, but the vast majority was simply natural snow terrain that patrol had been able to check and mark.  They opened all the lower Wilderness terrain that is accessible from the Vista Quad, as one would expect, but I couldn’t believe that even Cobrass was open.  It’s quite steep in spots, has a decent amount of southern exposure, and seemed to be mostly operating on natural snow.

“The snowpack is there. At least based on what I saw at Bolton over the weekend, if these storms deliver even half of the snow that’s currently modeled, lift and trail counts are likely to explode over the course of the next week.”

All the natural snow terrain they opened is just a testament to how durable a resurfacing this most recent winter storm was.  The only thing holding back the off piste skiing (although some folks were jumping into the woods in areas) is just the crusty, dense nature of the snow.  It’s simply not all that much fun right now because it’s a bit upside down and crunchy, but boy are both the on piste and off piste areas going to be ready to go with just one decent storm.  With three possible winter storms in the queue over the next six days, ski conditions are really set to take a quantum leap if the accumulations come through as the modeling currently suggests.  The snowpack is there.  At least based on what I saw at Bolton over the weekend, if these storms deliver even half of the snow that’s currently modeled, lift and trail counts are likely to explode over the course of the next week.

Bolton Valley, VT 14JAN2023

An image of a tree covered in snow and rime after a recent winter storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the upper part of the Wilderness terrain pod at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
With the dense snow put down by out most recent winter storm, it looks like much of Bolton Valley’s terrain would be set to open with the help of one more wintry system.

I hadn’t been up to the mountain since that fantastic period of skiing from mid-December through the holidays; no major winter storms had come through the area since Winter Storm Elliot, and the skiing just hadn’t seemed good enough to pull me away from other things.  That changed with this most recent storm though – Bolton’s snow report from this morning indicated that they’d picked up half foot of new snow in the past couple of days.  Although the storm did contain mixed precipitation, it delivered 1.33” of liquid equivalent down here at our site in the valley, with most of that as snow/frozen.  Assuming the local mountains exceeded that as they usually do, that’s a storm cycle that has all the makings of a solid resurfacing/base building event.

“…I gave the typical on piste conditions a rating of 2 on a 0 to 10 scale, but I have pretty high snow quality standards…”

With this latest storm, Bolton Valley indicated that the Wilderness Uphill Route was officially open again, which is a good sign that there had been a substantial addition to the snowpack.  My observations from today while I was out touring definitely reinforced that notion.  With the effects of this most recent storm, the base snow is actually so dense that I couldn’t do any depth checks, but I’d say you’re looking at probably a foot of base depth at the 2,000’ level.  If the snow density is that same as what I’ve cored down here at our site in the valley, that would have about 2 inches of liquid equivalent in it.  Since the snowpack is just too dense to do any easy depth readings, I don’t have an estimate for the increases of snowpack depth with elevation.  The Mt. Mansfield Stake up at 3,700’ is indicating a snowpack depth of 20 inches as of today though, so I’d assume you’re looking at something in that range once you’re up at the local summit elevations above 3,000’.

An image of the Wilderness Double Chairlift during a ski tour at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A view of the Wilderness Chair while out on today’s ski tour

In terms of the skiing, I wasn’t really expecting much real powder with how dense the snowfall was from this past storm; my tour was really a chance to get out for some exercise and see how the off piste snowpack and snow surfaces were looking.  I only found about an inch or so of lighter snow above the base, and that was pretty consistent at all elevations in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ range.  Snow coverage of the natural terrain is actually quite good though with that impressively dense base, and Lower Turnpike with a good amount of skier-packed areas has great wall-to-wall coverage.  Steeper terrain with ledges, obstacles, and wind scouring/drifting is not as consistent in its coverage, but the base snow is just so dense that most of the natural terrain is going to be good to go with the next decent storm.  The best snow quality I found was actually in natural snow areas that had been skier packed, since areas of undisturbed/unpacked snow still held the potential to punch through the uppermost layers of the base.  On my descent I definitely employed a mix of alpine and Telemark turns, and the safety of alpine turns with that full width of surface area for both skis in the center was the way to go when navigating snow that hadn’t been packed by skiers.

I stuck around for some lift-served skiing since I’d seen that Alta Vista had been opened, and I think it had seen some of the more recent snowmaking, because it had some of the best conditions I found.  The best snow by far was what people had pushed to the side, but the main surface was better than elsewhere.  Most of the on piste surfaces were typical of what you’d expect for manmade snow that had seen lift-served skier traffic, so really nothing to note in terms of quality.  When I got home and Dylan asked me about the conditions, I gave the typical on piste conditions a rating of 2 on a 0 to 10 scale, but I have pretty high snow quality standards, so he knows where a value of 2 would stand.  Even without any big storms over the past couple of weeks, the resort has been expanding their terrain with runs like Spillway, and they were blowing snow on Hard Luck as well.  The recent snow was substantial enough that even some natural snow terrain had been opened.  Surprisingly, they don’t have to lower areas of Wilderness open yet to lift-served access, which is pretty typical under these conditions, but they would need to groom it first, so that may take some extra time.

Even if the snow quality isn’t there yet in terms of typical Northern Greens surfaces, it was definitely nice to get back on the slopes after the break.  We had light snow falling during the morning with some blue skies, and some nice snow/rime on the trees.  With that base in place, terrain is likely to expand heavily if these next couple of potential systems in the coming week deliver any substantial snow.

An image of a tree covered in snow and rime, as well as the clock tower at the Village circle after a recent winter storm at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Another beautiful rime-covered tree with the clock tower in the background at the Bolton Valley Village Circle

Bolton Valley, VT 22DEC2022

An image of Erica Telemark skiing in packed snow on the Wilderness Lift Line trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
An image of Ty Telemark skiing in some packed natural snow on the Wilderness Lift Line at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Ty getting down in a Telemark turn as he enjoys the natural snow over at Wilderness during today’s lift-served ski session

Today we decided to do some lift-served skiing for a change of pace, and E joined Ty and I for some Tele runs in the afternoon.  Bolton has opened a number of additional trails due to all the recent snow, but the main route off the Vista Summit is still Sherman’s Pass, and we started with that since we wanted to warm up with some mellow terrain.  The manmade snow on Sherman’s was pretty typical and firm, but we did venture over toward the lower slopes of Wilderness to check out the natural snow options.  There was plenty of coverage since those lower slopes of Wilderness are only up to moderate angle, and the quality difference in the snow was night and day.  At Wilderness you had nice chalky snow where it was skier packed, and powder off to the edges – it was soft and quiet snow, and unlike the terrain with manmade snow, you could really sink your edges in easily.  That was unquestionably what kept us coming back for more, and if we could have gotten to that terrain more easily by just riding the Mid Mountain Chair instead of the Vista Quad, we certainly would have done it.

Ty was extremely excited about his Telemark turns today, and he really felt that he was getting them dialed in.  He talked a lot about the nuances of technique with E and I after the session.  One of the comments I made was that this fairly concentrated period we’ve just had in which he’s had several outings on his Telemark skis has been really good for his development.  We’ve often seen with students that getting in more back-to-back ski days vs. having them more spread out can really assist in improving their skills, and I think that was the case here.  The great snow we’ve had in the backcountry and on piste has helped in that regard as well, since he’s had the confidence to work on his turns without worrying about much else getting in the way.

An image of the Wilderness Double Chairlift with snow on the chairs at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Wilderness Lift today. Although the resort hasn’t fired it up this season, the lower slopes are accessible by left service, and the entire area is available for ski touring.

Bolton Valley, VT 16DEC2022

An image Ty schussing through some of the fresh powder during Winter Storm Diaz near Mid Mountain on Sherman's Pass at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the village circle with fresh snow and snowfall in mid-December during Winter Storm Diaz at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A snowy day in the Bolton Valley Village with some nice soft turns thanks to the ongoing accumulations from Winter Storm Diaz

I decided to wait until the afternoon to head up to Bolton today, figuring I’d let the snow depths continue to build up through the morning thanks to Winter Storm Diaz, but Dylan and his friends hit the mountain around opening time.  They stayed until midday, and said that they enjoyed some nice soft conditions.  When we asked which way to lean in terms of ski width, the word was to go on the wider side. 

An image of snow accumulating from Winter Storm Diaz in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Building accumulations from Winter Storm Diaz in the Bolton Valley Village this afternoon

Ty and I headed up toward midafternoon, and temperatures were right around freezing down in the valley with the snow accumulations on the dense side, but temperatures dropped right down into the 20s F in the Bolton Valley Village.  The Bolton Valley Access Road was just wet in the lower elevations, with easy driving up to about 1,500’, and above that point it was snow covered.

With only so much terrain open, the main center portions of the runs had a bit of the new snow, but there was enough traffic that you were generally skiing on the base snow.  The sides and lower traffic areas of the trails held plenty of soft snow though – places where the snow had either been untouched or pushed there by skiers would definitely get you off the subsurface.  The snow was of course much drier than what we were getting down in the valley.  We were quickly reminded it was a storm day in mid-December when the night skiing lights started coming on not too far after 3:00 P.M., and it was getting dark enough that it was nice to have the lighting assist at that point.

An image of Ty skiing powder on Spillway Lane during Winter Storm Diaz at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty dives into some of the powder on Spillway lane this afternoon as we ski some of the new snow from Winter Storm Diaz

I didn’t really make any attempts at officially measuring the new snow, but Ty and I both estimated the accumulations at the mountain as of this afternoon were somewhere in the 6-12” range.  I’m surprised to see the mountain coming in with a report of 4-6” new, since we’d already had 6 to 7” down at the house by this afternoon, so I’d say that’s a conservative snow report based on what we encountered.  While we were up there the snowfall rate was close to an inch per hour based on what we found on our car, but nothing outrageous in terms of what the mountains can get for snowfall intensity.  The snowfall was definitely more intense up there than down the valley at our place, as the afternoon period had lighter snowfall than the morning.

Bolton Valley, VT 08MAY2022

An image from the Winooski Valley in the Waterbury/Bolton are of Vermont in May, as spring leaves on trees begin to work their way up the mountainsides.
An image looking down the Spillway trail on a ski tour in May at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The snow on Spillway today as I get in some turns on steep spring corn at Bolton Valley

Today I headed to Bolton for turns, since it might be the last weekend for practical/productive touring there.  Based on what I saw on my last Bolton outing a couple weeks ago, I figured the lower mountain would be discontinuous at this point, but the amount of snow on Spillway was obviously going to last a while.  I decided to hike today vs. skinning, and I think that was the right call.  The bottom half of the mountain has some decent areas of snow, but it’s discontinuous enough with plenty of dry ground for walking, such that hiking is the more practical option.  Above Mid Mountain, one could skin up Spillway, but that’s really steep, and they’ve plowed Sherman’s Pass most of the way to the Vista Summit, so I used that for a lot of my ascent today.

An image of a high-elevation view out toward Lake Champlain and the Champlain Valley on a May ski tour at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A high-elevation view out toward Lake Champlain and the Champlain Valley on today’s tour at Bolton Valley

The snow on Spillway is still continuous, and it was skiing great.  There must have been some productive freeze/thaw cycles recently, because it was the best corn snow I’ve skied during this April/May period.  Spillway is quite steep, so you get some of those nice fall-way turns, which are so much fun in good snow.  At Mid Mountain on my way up I met a couple that was on their way down.  They said that “Spillway was about as frosty as it’s been in a while”, and they weren’t kidding.

It’s fun traveling around the area right now and taking in the views as spring begins to make its presence known.  You can see that greenery is appearing in the lower mountain valleys, and it’s just starting to make its slow creep up the mountainsides.

An image from the Winooski Valley in the Waterbury/Bolton are of Vermont in May, as spring leaves on trees begin to work their way up the mountainsides.
You can see that greenery is appearing in the lower mountain valleys, and it’s just starting to make its slow creep up the mountainsides.