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 12MAR2023

An image showing a snowboarder on a curve of the Blauvelt's Banks race course at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a snowboarder on the Blauvelt's Banks race course in the Timberline area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A rider out on the Blauvelt’s Banks course today at Bolton Valley. Temperatures in the 30s F made for a great day to hold the annual competition.

With no obvious fresh snow in the past few days for the Northern Greens, there wasn’t a huge extra incentive to head out for turns this weekend, but as PF noted with his report on the conditions at Stowe, the quality of the snow that is out there on piste is tremendously high.  We’ve had a few decent resurfacing events this season, but this most recent series of winter storms including that low pressure from the Ontario/Quebec border passing southeast across the region on the 26th, Winter Storm Piper on the 28th, that quick moving system that came across from the Great Lakes on the 1st, and then Winter Storm Quest on the 4th, has probably been the best.  We picked up roughly 30 inches of snow in the span of that week at our site in the Winooski Valley, and of course the mountains did substantially better than that.  Moreover, being the late February/early March period, all that snow came in with a strong snowpack in place, more so than any of the previous resurfacing events.  The snowpack at our house currently has 5 inches of liquid equivalent in it, so the mountain snowpack must be absolutely loaded.  Suffice it to say, the past couple of weeks has been a setup for great ski conditions.

An image of a snowboarder in a turn facing the camera at the Blauvelt's Banks competition at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontE and I found ourselves with some time yesterday afternoon, and the skies were clear with temperatures in the 30s F, so we headed up to Bolton Valley for some on piste Telemark runs at Timberline.  The first thing we noticed was that Timberline was a very popular place for a Sunday afternoon, and that was because the third annual Blauvelt’s Banks competition was taking place there.  Dylan had mentioned that he’d seen them building the course there earlier in the week, and that was an interesting change of pace because they’ve held it up at the main mountain in the past.  This year, the course was on the lower part of Showtime, with an excellent view for those riding the Timberline Quad, and the course looked great.  The placement of the course did mean that access to Showtime and Twice as Nice was restricted though.

An image of some of the tents found at the Timberline Base area for the annual Blauvelt's Banks competition at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
The Timberline Base Area was filled with visitors this afternoon for Bolton Valley’s annual Blauvelt’s Banks competition.

In terms of our ski session, we hit just about everything else that was available off the Timberline Quad.  Even after a number of days without fresh snow, the quality of the ski surfaces continues to be fantastic.  The snowpack can certainly take a beating as we get farther into spring with those seasonal temperature fluctuations, but even with temperatures edging a bit above freezing, the snow just seems to stay beautifully consistent.  Most terrain has soft, winter snow, and even in areas at lower elevations in the sun where the snow was transitioning to a more spring-like surface, it continues to retain that winter-like consistency and softness.  You can just lay into every turn and get a beautiful, smooth, quiet carve out of it.  We stuck to on piste terrain on this outing, but I did check the snow off piste, and it still seemed quite light and powdery, even down near 1,500’ elevation.  It looks like yet another system, Winter Storm Sage, has the potential to affect the area in the next couple of days, and the ski conditions will hopefully continue to be strong because any snow it brings should be going down atop the current quality snowpack.

Bolton Valley, VT 30JAN2022

Erica Telemark skiing in some chopped up powder on the Showtime trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Timberline Quad Chair and Timberline Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view down the Timberline Run trail toward the Timberline Quad Chair and the Timberline Lodge. The Timberline made it’s season debut today and offered up some really nice snow with plenty of powder hanging around from recent storms.

Today was forecast to be the warmer of the two days this weekend, with highs in the 10-15 F range, so E and I headed up to Bolton for some turns.  There wasn’t much more than a trace of new snow around here from Winter Storm Kenan, the recent coastal system, but Bolton did pick up an inch or two from a cold front that came through the area on Friday.  That was nice to freshen up the snow surfaces a bit, but more notable was the fact that it was the first day of lift-served skiing at Timberline.  A bit of touring traffic was all the Timberline area had seen up to that point, so it was pretty much a bonus powder day for that entire section of the resort.

The snow we found on today’s Timberline outing wasn’t quite on par with a fresh powder day, since a lot of the powder had been sitting and settling to a degree, and some exposed areas had taken on a bit of wind crust.  Areas that hadn’t seen any wind certainly had 10-12” of dry powder that had been well preserved in the arctic cold.  The opening of Timberline also meant that the resort finally had 100% of its lifts running for the first time this season.  Bolton put down manmade snow for the main Villager/Timberline Run route, and that surface was fine, but the rest of the trails were running on natural snow and even the packed surfaces were far softer than the manmade route.  There are still a few of the steepest wind-scoured spots like the Tattle Tale headwall that will need one more large synoptic-level event to be fully opened.

Bolton Valley, VT 03JAN2019

An image of ski tracks in powder at the Timberline area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image showing a ski track in powder on the Villager Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Catching first tracks on Bolton Valley’s Villager trail today thanks to some fresh powder from an overnight Alberta Clipper

An Alberta Clipper system came through the area overnight, dropping a half foot of snow at some of the local resorts by morning, so I headed up to Bolton Valley for a morning ski tour this morning.  With roughly 5 inches of new snow found at the house this morning, and the resort reporting the same, it didn’t seem like there was a huge elevation dependence with this event.  Plus, now that the bullwheel replacement on the Timberline Quad and associated operations are finally done, Timberline is back open for ski touring, so I figured I’d get to check out the conditions there for the first time in a while.

“…I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).”

Temperatures were in the mid to upper 20s F with light snow falling and zero wind, so we’re talking super friendly conditions to be out on the hill.  Since wind was pretty minimal during this event, I found a very even coating of about 5 inches of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’) and roughly 5 to 6 inches up at the Timberline Summit (2,500’).

An image of a car with fresh snow on it in the parking area near the Timberline Base Lodge at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Today’s new snow on one of the vehicles in the Timberline parking area

The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible.  It’s rock hard, and in a few exposed places that had presumably seen flowing water, there was simply clear ice as the top layer of base.  There was a nice established skin track in place on the Twice as Nice ascent route, but the ascent was definitely the most challenging part of the tour.  Slightly steeper spots with just powder on ice provided little grip, and you could see that in those areas some people had to diverge out from the main skin track and take shallower routes due to lack of grip with their skins.  Fortunately there were only a handful of spots like that, but navigating them was a definite challenge.  It’s good that there wasn’t much wind with this event because scoured areas would be a nightmare.

“The new snow was excellent dry powder in the 20 to 1 range for snow to water ratio, and there’s generally plenty of base, but the consistency of the base is horrible.”

After seeing the conditions on my ascent, it was obvious that the best bet for a descent was going to be something that had previously groomed, and had a fairly shallow angle.  So, I headed down Villager from the Timberline Summit, and that was an appropriate pitch.  I still had to hit a couple of blue/black pitches on Sure Shot on my route, and there was no way to avoid touching the hard subsurface there, even on 115 mm boards.

The Lower Turnpike area with its nice mellow pitch would probably have offered up the most consistent bottomless turns today, but it was nice to get a chance to get out on Timberline again.  I can’t imagine there was any point to skiing ungroomed terrain before this latest storm, and this snow isn’t going to be able to hold up to much traffic, but there are definitely some nice powder turns to be had on terrain of the appropriate pitch.

Bolton Valley, VT 06APR2014

An image of Ty carving a turn with his had down on the spring snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Slicing up the corn snow at Bolton Valley today

This weekend’s storm brought some snow on its front end Friday night, with more than a half foot over at Sugarloaf in Maine.  Over here in the Green Mountains, it was mostly a mixed precipitation event, although it was cold enough that we even got some sleet accumulation at our house in Waterbury down at the 500’ elevation level.  Last night during the back side of the storm it was Vermont’s turn, with some upslope snowThe precipitation stayed mostly north of the Waterbury/Stowe area though, and Jay Peak was the only local resort reporting notable accumulation at around 3 inches.

“There were occasional sticky
spots, but in general it was just
really nice corn snow that you
could slice right through with
each carve.”

Since yesterday was fairly gray and we didn’t expect the snow to soften the way it would with plentiful spring sun, we didn’t hit the slopes, and instead took the opportunity to get some things done around the house.  After many weeks of such great snow and commitments with the BJAMS ski program, it was really nice to have a break to catch up on other things.  I took the opportunity to get a bunch of low voltage media wiring done that I’ve been putting off for months, so it felt great to get that off my plate and get all the wall plates and electronics buttoned up.  Today’s weather was a different story though; as the storm system cleared out, it left brilliant blue skies in its wake, and we knew that was likely a recipe for some great spring skiing.  Today was also Bolton Valley’s last day of lift operations for the 2013-2014 ski season, so we didn’t want to miss out on that if Mother Nature cooperated.  We waited until the afternoon before heading out, as we often do on these days, to let the west-facing terrain of Timberline soak up that sun.  The mountains were definitely holding onto some chilly temperatures today though; I was a little worried that the Bolton Valley Weather Station at 2,100’ was still hovering around the 32 F mark at midday, but with sunshine and lower elevations, I was confident that Timberline would be sufficiently softened and ready to go.

“Despite the great snow
coverage today, it’s
interesting to note
that this is the third
year in a row that
Bolton will be coming
in well below average
with respect to snowfall.”

From roughly 50 F in the Winooski Valley, we headed up to a temperature around 40 F at the 1,500’ base of Timberline.  There were actually a fair number of cars parked in the lots with people taking advantage of the nice weather and final day of lift-served skiing.  One thing that we found immediately impressive was the snow coverage.  Although Bolton Valley has had quite the low snowfall season, and will be ending their season with just 206 inches of total snow (66% of average), there was impressive coverage with just a few bare spots starting to open up on the low-elevation trails of Timberline.  With the use of snowmaking, that isn’t actually too surprising on the trails that get it, but with the way this season went, snow was never even made on Showtime.  To have all those low elevation trails in play in April without the aid of snowmaking, really speaks to how well the snow was maintained this past March.  The mountain was essentially 100% open, and running all the lifts going into this last day of the season, so it was indeed a nice way to go out.

An image of Dylan jumping in the air on skis at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Dylan loved getting into some of the moguls today.

For our first run, we headed to the Timberline Summit to check out Adam’s Solitude, but we found that ski patrol had already closed it off as they were preparing to shut down the lifts for the season.  That left us with the option of Sure Shot, which had some great corn snow.  On the lower part of the run, Ty started working on some 180s off available jumps, and seemed to be having a lot of fun landing switch.  We found ourselves alternating runs between the Sure Shot option and Twice as Nice, which we also found to have good snow.  There were occasional sticky spots, but in general it was just really nice corn snow that you could slice right through with each carve.  On one run, Ty left his poles at the base and enjoyed carving low and getting his hands down on the snow.  Dylan had a lot of fun playing in the bumps that were forming near the bottom of Timberline Run and top of Twice as Nice, continuing with his pole work and separation of the upper and lower body.  In one section of moguls he had a lot of fun making exaggerated movements as he worked on his technique, creating the semblance of a dancing skier.  It was classic Dylan.

An image of Ty doing a 180 jump in spring snow at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontIt was a great day on which to end Bolton’s lift-served season; we caught up with some of those Bolton Valley employees like Cam and Josh that we often see throughout the season, and got to enjoy the weather through a number of sunny rides on the Timberline Quad.  We hadn’t headed up to the main mountain at all, but when I asked Josh about how it was up there, he said that it was definitely softer down at Timberline, and that it was the place to be.  One interesting topic of conversation on the lift was the ski area that appears in Ty’s dreams.  Apparently it’s his own ski area, and all his ski dreams take place there – he regaled us with a detailed lift and trail layout, and I told him that he should make a map because it sounded like a great place.

Despite the great snow coverage today, it’s interesting to note that this is the third year in a row that Bolton will be coming in well below average with respect to snowfall.  Fortunately, we didn’t really feel it on the slopes in March, since the temperatures were cold and the snow kept coming, but the deficiencies were definitely there in December and January, and the downside of that type pattern is that snowfall in those months is most critical for building the base.  If those earlier months bring decent storms and then it doesn’t snow that much later in the season, at least the base is down, but if it’s not present at the beginning of the season, the natural terrain skiing during that period is simply lost.  We’ll have to see what next season brings, but a snowy holiday period like last season would be appreciated.  In any event, we’ve still got a lot of this season to go, and the snowpack in the mountains is deep, so we’ll hopefully have more opportunities to get out there and enjoy it.