Things have been busy with work and so much skiing to do, but here's a report from last week that I finally had a chance to finish up:

Bolton Valley, VT 04DEC2007


Last weekís big storm didnít start in our area until overnight Sunday into Monday, and although it sounded like some areas to New York state had received mixed precipitation, my weather observations didnít reveal anything but snow at our place in Waterbury.  By Tuesday morning, we were up to almost 16 inches of accumulation at the house, and the ski areas were passing the two-foot mark.  I hadnít had time to get out to the slopes on Monday, but fortunately I had some time on Tuesday.  With so much new snow down at the house, I knew we werenít dealing with an extremely elevation-dependent snowfall event.  That had me setting my sights on a trip to Boltonís Timberline area, since Iíd yet to pay a visit to that part of the mountain this season.  Paul Terwilliger informed me that he had skinned for several laps over at Timberline on Monday, and it sounded like conditions were already great by that point.  My Timberline plans changed when Maria Stadlmayer gave us a heads up on SkiVT-L that Bolton was thinking of starting lift service at the main mountain on Tuesday, ahead of the planned Friday opening.  I therefore decided to shoot for a morning ascent of the main mountain, and hopefully follow it up with some lift-served laps in the fresh powder.


On Tuesday morning, the weather was light snow and partly cloudy skies down at the house, but it was absolutely dumping up on the mountain with a temperature of 13 F.  When I arrived in the main village parking area at around 7:30 A.M., I noticed that another early morning skier was just leaving.  I had suspected this storm would get lots of folks out to the mountain, and I was hoping there was an established skin track to make the going easier.  The Mid Mountain Lift was running, and I could see the lift operators preparing it for what looked like an eventual opening.  As I skinned by on Beech Seal, I asked one of the operators if an opening was still planned; he said it was, although he wasnít sure of the exact time.  I started following a combination of skin and snowmobile tracks up my traditional Sprig Oí Pine route, and depth measurements revealed that roughly 6 to 7 inches of powder had accumulated in that area since they had last groomed.  With the aid of the established tracks, the going was really easy and I was making decent time.  As I approached mid mountain and passed under the Vista Quad, I noticed a skin (or possibly snowshoe) track heading up on the lift line.  I thought it might be fun to see where it went and try a new ascent route, so I hopped on.  Within a few strides, Iíd changed my mind.  It appeared as though the track had been used just once, and even though the initial trail-breaking effort had been made, the second pass was still a lot of work and my pace slowed considerably.  I checked the depth of the new snow around me and found that it was already at 15 inches.  With hopes of getting in a run from the Vista summit in time to potentially ride the lift, I decided that exploring a new skin track could wait and returned to the ease of the tracks set down on the groomed areas.


Within a couple of minutes, I hit the mid mountain flats.  I again checked the snow depth in a representative spot in the open and found that the accumulation was now up to 18 inches.  I continued on up, and made good time as I stuck to the track on Shermanís Pass with more packed snow.  At the bottom of Schuss, I had a decision to make Ė should I take the steeper and deeper (although shorter) route up Schuss, or the slightly longer way around on Shermanís.  There was some sort of a track on Schuss.  It looked most like a downtrack, and it wasnít enough to convince me that it would be worth fighting that pitch in deep snow.  I opted to continue my ascent in the more consolidated snow of Shermanís Pass, and I believe it was the first time Iíve ever taken the long way around.  So in that regard I was psyched to do it and see what it was like.  The route around on Shermanís Pass worked well for me, because although the skin track disappeared in a couple of spots due to drifting/scouring, the windswept areas made the going really easy.  I continued on up, and followed the skin track up H.L. Chute.  The snow up near the Vista summit was wind blasted, and didnít quite look like it would be all that fun to ski, but Iíd set my goal on the summit area for completeness and exercise anyway.


I stopped at the patrol shack and went inside, where the heater was blasting out a ridiculous amount of heat.  Iím not sure why that was the case, but it was really warm inside.  I had just taken a look around, and started switching into downhill mode, when a couple of Telemark skiers showed up.  One of them recognized my plaid swatch, and asked if I was from SkiVT-L.  He seemed to recognize me as Jay, and introduced himself as Adam Sherman, a SkiVT-L lurker.  His friend was Quinn, who is a patroller at the mountain.  We rapped for a bit, battled with futility of trying to get the patrol shack door to stay closed, and then I joined them for some turns.


The choice for the first run was Vermont 200.  As might be expected, it was just sitting there untrackedÖ waiting for us.  Like the other slopes off the summit, Vermont 200 has got quite a pitch Ė more than enough to throw face shots at you in a couple feet of Champlain Powderô.  I will say though, I didnít really get creamed with a lot of face shots on that run that I can recall.  Compared to skinnier skis, I find it a little harder to get face shots when Iím wearing my fats.  The snow was really blower, probably 6% H2O, but thatís not necessarily all that light by Northern Vermont upslope standards.  Two feet of powder is nothing to scoff at of course, but itís always good to put it in perspective.    In terms of measured snow depths, I check a few times to get the typical depth of powder on the trail, and they all registered in the 23-24-inch range on my measurement pole.  I was surprised at how consistent that depth was up there, and although I didnít find any spots on VT 200 that had less than that, there were certainly some with more.  One spot I checked on the skierís right of the trail was at a good 34 inches, almost off the scale of my pole.  It would have been nice to get some photos of the powder exploding all over Adam and Quinn as they blasted through the steep and deep, but I didnít want to interrupt the powder session at that point so my camera stayed in the pack.


As we approached the lower mountain, Quinn directed us toward the Glades area, and eventually we ventured into the open lines off to the right of the formal Glades trail.  Quinn mentioned that it was called ďsomethingĒ Woods, but I canít recall that exact name.  At that point I took the opportunity to get a few action photos of the guys, and although the powder wasnít as deep and the terrain wasnít quite as steep as higher up on the mountain, I still got a couple of decent pictures that give a good impression of the snow consistency.  The Mid Mountain Lift was running by the time we got to the base, so we skied a few more laps in that area and enjoyed the powder.  Adam also knows Maria from the Bolton Valley patrol, and when he saw her from the lift they exchanged greetings.


After a few more laps on the Mid Mountain Chair, Adam and Quinn headed off to ski a run over at Timberline where they had stashed a car, and I made a couple more runs before heading off to work.  I was making my way to the car when I saw that the Snowflake Lift was also running, so I got sucked in for a couple of runs there as well.  The trails in the Foxy area were in great shape, with 6-12 inches of powder over previously groomed terrain.  The powder was actually dry enough to reach down and carve up the packed powder below, even on my fat skis.  That was a unique sensation in relatively deep snow, and I was thinking I could spend the entire day there running laps and playing off the Snowflake Lift.  Actually, the Vista Quad was supposed to open around noon to provide access to the summit terrain, and having lift-access to the steep and deep up top was another incentive to stay.  However, the liftie at the Snowflake Lift said that he suspected the noon estimate was probably a bit too soon, so I decided to call it a day and head to work.  I did find out that the mountain was open for good at that point, and it wasnít just a one-day special event.  When I was finally leaving, I met Adam and Quinn in the parking lot on their return from Timberline.  They said conditions had been great, and I think they mentioned skiing Spell Binder, which is pretty steep.


When I left the parking lot, the temperature was up to 20 degrees F and it continued to snow hard as it had done all morning.  In the valley, I found that the Burlington area was receiving some of the heaviest snowfall during my drive.  The mountain eventually picked up around three feet of snow from the storm, a decent haul for any time of year.  I left the Suunto and Avocet on to count the lift served runs, so the total for the day came in at 8 runs, with 3,383í of descent on the Suunto and 3,475í on the Avocet for a difference of 2.7%.  The GPS estimate of the vertical difference from the morningís tour was 1,048í.


Some pictures and data plots from the day can be found at:



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