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Iíve only got a few pictures of the new snow down at the house to go with this report, to head right to those, use the link below:




On Monday morning, December 17th, I awoke to find 2.6 inches of new snow on the snowboard, which brought our running storm total in Waterbury to 16.3 inches, and our season total to 65.1 inches.  The snowpack at the back yard stake was also doing well, as it had hit 24 inches for the first time of the season.  Iíd gone for a local backcountry outing the previous day, as the strong winds had stymied the attempt that Ty and I had made to ski some lift-served runs up at Bolton.  It appeared as though the overnight had seen some reduction in the wind, but it was still quite strong.  From the house I could hear it howling up in the higher elevations, and an occasional gust even made it down to our yard.  I described the wind in my weather update as ďCalm, with gusts to 15 MPHĒ.  We also had light snow falling from the sky, suggesting that the storm wasnít quite finished.  Mom and the boys still had school despite the storm, so I had to quickly run the snow thrower through the driveway so they could get out.  I stuck a ruler along the cut of fresh snow in the driveway and found that there were about 8 inches of new since the previous day, when Iíd already cleared out the previous 10 inches.  At that point, I was especially thankful to be avoiding the seemingly endless hours of shoveling that E and I had soldiered through with last seasonís 150+ inches.


After Mom and boys were safely on their way, I checked in on Boltonís operating status to assess the potential for a few lift-served turns before work.  The website seemed to allude to the fact that everything had been shut down the previous day, and they made a point about getting all the lifts up and running as soon as possible.  The snow report indicated that they had received 20 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, which was nice to see, although I suspected that the skiing wasnít going to be all that it could be.  I knew there had been strong winds blasting that new 20 inches to compact it down, and my 7:00 A.M. reading of 11.1 F at the house suggested it was going to be pretty cold up at the mountain.  Single digit temperatures combined with strong wind can have a pretty hefty bite, especially if youíre riding on the wind-exposed lifts instead of generating the extra heat from earning turns.


I arrived up at the mountain around opening time, and it was clear that there had been tons of snow from the latest storm.  The snowbanks in the village were huge, and you could see that the snow removal crew was having a hard time finding places to add the latest dump to all the rest of the snow.  The temperature was only 6 F in the village, and there was still a howling wind on top of that, so I was wondering how many people were going to come out for turns.  I wasnít even sure how long I would stay.  There were a few people around at that point, but most of the hustle and bustle seemed to be from the folks working hard to clear out the new snow.


At the start of the morning, only the Mid Mountain lift was running, so all the skiers in the relatively small group were riding it.  I mostly stuck to skiing The Glades trail, because it offers a nice pitch and a little extra protection from the wind.  But, I also ventured off to the skierís left of the lift line and checked out the Enchanted Forest area, which has similar attributes.  One big thing I noticed over in the Enchanted Forest was that the latest dump had really opened up tons of new lines.  Iím not sure how much water equivalent was put down on the mountain by that storm, but the snow certainly wasnít champagne, so it was a substantial resurfacing.  In terms of how the snow skied, it was medium-weight powder that had been hit by the wind in exposed areas, so despite its depth, I found that I was only cutting about 6 inches into it with turns on my fat skis.  It was still snowing as well, but it was in the form of small flakes and at a rate that would only give you an inch or two of accumulation throughout the day, even when it keeps snowing continuously.


Another interesting thing about the ski day was that the groomed surfaces were skiing very slowly.  Iím sure a lot of that had to do with the temperature, and I had a fun discussion about that with a woman I met on one of my rides up the chair.  She was a beginning skier that was sticking (LOL Ė perhaps literally) to the groomed runs and was wondering if the feeling of slow skiing was hers alone.  I assured her that it wasnít just her; most folks were in the same boat.  Iím sure you can fight it to some degree with the right wax, but the consistency of that type of soft packed powder at those temperatures just makes for a rather slow surface.


A topic that came up in our conversation was that Bolton was doing $10 lift tickets for the entire week leading up to the holidays.  Iíd heard the advertisements about it and I believe I got the word in my Bolton Valley email, but I hadnít really focused on it since I have a season pass.  The resort was including everything in the $10 offer:   day and night alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, etc.  That was a fantastic deal for folks with time off leading up to the holidays, and for $10 and all that snow, I wasnít surprised as the small crowd of skiers continued to grow to the point where they were starting to hit the capacity of the Mid Mountain double chair (which was still the only one operating for perhaps the first hour or so).  Wind may have still been an issue for the morning in terms of getting all the lifts running, but I could see that clearing all the new snow away from the lift stations was another factor that they had to contend with.  I watched as employees worked hard to get the loading station of the Vista Quad cleared out.


At some point I noticed that the Snowflake lift had been cleared and was running, so I decided to leave the growing Mid-Mountain crowd and check out what was going on over there.  I donít think many people had noticed that they were running Snowflake (or perhaps cared much about it) because I was the only one on the entire lift.  I was planning on a quick Snowflake run before I made my exit to the car, but I noticed that the rope was down on the trail that connects over to the Timberline area.  I inquired about Timberline with the lift operator at the top station, and he said that it was running.  I was somewhat interested in checking out the Timberline terrain with all the fresh snow, but I had a decision to make.  I didnít really want to spend the time skiing over to Timberline and back to the main mountain on a work morning, and the thought of the extra traversing time out in those temperatures and wind was very unappealing.  So, I decided Iíd ski down to the car, warm it up, and ruminate on whether to catch a couple runs on Timberline on my way to work.


I was back down at the car at around 10:30 A.M., and I decided that the combination of temperature and wind was enough to get me to head to work instead of hitting Timberline.  Interestingly, on the way down the access road, I saw that Timberline wasnít even running.  Iím not sure if the lift operator had been misinformed or what, but it certainly made for fewer regrets.  Another shot of snow was coming in on Wednesday anyway, so there would be plenty of time for powder turns.  The altimeters had recorded 5 runs for the outing, with the Avocet recording 2,510í of descent, and the Suunto recording 2,457í of descent for a difference of 2.1%.


That snowfall from the noríeaster tapered off pretty quickly that day, and we accumulated just a little more snow at the house to wind up with 16.5 inches from the event.  As I was watching the mountains from my office that later that morning, I got to see the clouds gradually pull away to get some clear skies up there for the afternoon skiers.  I think it remained cold, but Iím sure there were some great views with all the new snow.


At the link below, Iíve just got a few pictures of the new snow down at the house to go with this report.  I donít seem to have any pictures from the mountain that day; Iím pretty sure the cold temperatures up there suppressed my inspiration to get the camera out to some degree.






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