Bolton Valley/Cotton Brook Area, VT 29DEC2007
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After a great day of skiing with E and the boys at Bolton on Friday, the plan for Saturday, December 29th was to take a few hours and head up to explore some of the Bolton Valley backcountry by myself. My initial plan was to check out some terrain in the northwest corner of the valley in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range, but the snowstorm we were having at the time was a bit warm, so I wanted to be flexible with my terrain choice. I took my snowfall/weather observations from the house (elevation 495’) that morning at around 8:30 A.M. We’d picked up 1.0 inches of new snow, but down at our elevation the temperature was already above freezing at 34 degrees F and the snow was fairly dense. I’ve pasted in my more detailed weather observations and some of the local
December 29th, 2007: 8:30 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT.
New Snow: 1.0 inches
Temperature: 34.0 F
Barometer: 30.00 in Hg
Cumulative storm total: 1.0 inches
Current snow at the stake: 15 inches
Season snowfall total: 78.3 inches
“I looked outside around midnight last night and snowfall was just starting, but I didn’t have a chance to pay any more attention until this morning. I went out this morning, measured the snowboard, and found an even 1.0 inches of very dense, wet snow. There doesn’t appear to be any obvious sleet in there, but it can be tough to tell when the snow is so wet. I’m not sure exactly how much liquid was in the snow on the board, but I bet it could be as much as Thursday’s system which had roughly 5X the depth of snow. Below are some of the local
Burke: 4 inches
Smuggler’s Notch: 5 inches
Stowe: 5 inches
Mad River Glen: 3 inches
Sugarbush: 3 inches
Killington: 2 inches
I headed up to the mountain a bit after 11:00 A.M., at which point we were up to roughly 37 F at the house, and when I checked the temperature at the bottom of the access road (340’) it was 39 F. Arriving as late as I did, and it being a holiday week, I had to park all the way down in zone 5 of the village parking area, which is at an elevation of around 2,050’. Even at that elevation, my car thermometer was reading 36 degrees F, so I decided to check the consistency of the snow on the ground. I grabbed a handful of undisturbed snow from one of the snowbanks next to the car, and it had already started to become wet on top, so I decided that I’d have to change my initial plans and head higher in elevation to find some dry powder. If the temperature gradient was doing its usual thing, I figured about 1,000’ more elevation would do the trick to get me below freezing.
With my new meteorological knowledge, I decided to go for a tour in the upper elevations of
I headed down Peggy’s Dow and over to its junction with the
Aside from a guy that looked to be scoping some local lines off the back side of the mountain at the very beginning of the
Several minutes later, I came to the big four-way intersection of
After my break, I began my ascent back up toward
After maybe five minutes or so, I reached the low point on
My next encounter was at the junction of Stowe View and
I moved on again, and decided to try a new route down into the North Woods area. I found a nice open entrance, which led to an open line for a bit, but then the tiny evergreens closed in. I knew the terrain below me would open up eventually, but I was faced with one of the toughest of all ski obstacles in my path. Below me was a 30+ degree slope covered with 5 to 10 foot evergreens that had trunk spacing of about one to two feet. That’s just about enough room to fit one’s body through, especially when you’re wearing your backcountry pack. I considered turning around, but decided I had enough light left to waste a little time playing the game with the tiny evergreens. Using the age old technique of controlling my ascent by bracing against each evergreen as I passed, I made my way slowly down the slope. There were a few times when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get through, but somehow there was a will and a way. It took about 10 minutes or so, but eventually the trees began to open up and I was into the glades. I feel bad for anyone that might have tried to follow my tracks, as they most likely would have thought whoever squeezed themselves through that area was nuts, and they would have turned around. But, the entrance did drop me into some nice steep untracked snow.
Once I was down in the glades the skiing was quite good, as I was still above the freezing line elevation. I came to a stream bed in a rather open section of glades, and noticed a snowboard track coming from above me to my right. It had to be from one of the snowboarders that I’d seen up on
Heading up into the high country on that trip really seemed to optimize the quality of the powder, and it turned out to be a great trip. The Avocet recorded 1,485’ of descent and the Suunto had recorded 1,444’, for a difference of 2.8%.
Some pictures and data plots from the day are available at:
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