Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2007


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On Tuesday the 11th, one of our numerous December midweek systems was on its way through the area.  It looked to have decent moisture with it, so I planned on some skiing the following day before work.  By 6:30 A.M. the next morning we’d picked up 3.2 inches at the house in Waterbury (495’) despite a rather marginal air temperature of 33.8 F.  It sounded like there was the potential for some sleet with that system, but the closest thing I saw in our area was some granular-style snowflakes.


At the base of the Bolton Valley access road (340’) the temperature was a couple of degrees above freezing and there was no precipitation, but as I climbed the access road I quickly moved into some heavy rain.  Right around 1,000’ the rain began to mix with snow, and then quickly changed over to all snow.  I headed all the way up to Bolton’s main base (~2,150’) since temperature and snowline appeared to be a factor in the event, and up at that elevation the temperature was a bit below freezing and the precipitation was light to moderate snowfall.


I only had time for quick tour because of a meeting at work, so my plan was to head to the top of the Snowflake Lift and do a short run.  I skinned up in the Sprig O’ Pine area and did numerous checks of the new snow depth.  I got snowfall accumulation readings in the 6 to 8 inch range throughout my ascent, which was bit more than I’d expected so I was checking frequently to confirm the measurements.  The snow density wasn’t champagne light with the marginal temperatures, but it was at least typical medium-weight (~10% H2O) powder.


I topped out at the entrance to the Chill Zone Terrain Park at around 7:30 A.M., and I hadn’t seen any other morning skiers during my ascent.  There was a mountain employee working at the top station of the Snowflake Lift however.  I could see that the terrain park hadn’t been groomed, and since a lot of the terrain in there has a decent pitch, I figured it would make a good descent.  I stuck to the right side of the trail near the trees and the turns were fantastic; the 6 to 8 inches of medium weight powder was enough to keep things bottomless throughout.  The descent was over too quickly of course, and in fact the whole tour had been a real blitzkrieg-style affair – about 20-25 minutes up and down not including time at the car.  It was still a decent tour though in terms of length, at a bit less than a mile in distance according to the GPS.  The descent was 320’ according to the Avocet and 325’ according to the Suunto, for a difference of 1.6%.


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