Bolton Valley, VT 22MAR2008
Pictures are embedded in this report, and also available at:
After a couple of weeks with fairly minimal snowfall at our house in the valley (just 6.9 inches from the 3rd to the 18th of March) we finally got back into some more substantial snowfall in the final third of the month. From the 19th to the 21st, a storm cycle came through the area, dropping 10.2 inches at our location in Waterbury (495’) and as much as 2 to 3 feet in the local mountains. I’d headed up by myself to earn some turns at Bolton Valley on the morning of Friday the 21st, and gotten in on some excellent powder amidst pounding upslope snowfall. By Saturday, the storm had pulled away and we were left with tons of snow and sunny skies for the weekend. Our Saturday plan was to head up to the mountain with the boys for some skiing, and we would also have a chance to make some turns with our friends Tom and Amy who were visiting Bolton Valley for the day from their home in Waitsfield.
Bolton had been timely with their latest snow report, and as of 5:00 A.M. they were indicating 18 inches of new snow in the previous 24 hours, and 32 inches for the week. They had also passed the 300-inch accumulation mark and were reporting a total of 312 inches of snowfall for the season. Down in the valley, we were running at a bit under 2/3 of their total in terms of the season’s snowfall (my records indicate that we’d received 195.5 inches as of March 21st). However, while my numbers include all the snowfall that fell in November and the first few days of December, and I’m not sure to what extent the mountain was counting their snowfall before they started running the lifts on December 4th. I suspect the mountain might have included snowfall from the big storm that led up to opening day, but probably not much before that. So, my numbers probably have an extra 18.8 inches of snowfall that fell between November 18th and December 1st, which likely represents even more in terms of what fell up on the mountain. With regard to the snow depths in the higher elevations, as of Saturday morning there were 110 inches of snow sitting at the Mt. Mansfield stake, so the snowpack in the local mountains was in great shape.
We got up to the Timberline area by about 9:00 A.M., and it definitely had that “day after the storm” feeling. The trails were partially tracked out, but you could see that there had been a ton of new snow, and some areas of powder with tracks had been reset by the wind. There was still some wind around as well; the Wilderness lift was on wind hold, and there were even some on and off windy periods down at the elevations of the Timberline trails. We weren’t meeting Tom and Amy until later, so we kicked off the day in the form of a Timberline mid station run with the boys. We popped into Wood’s Hole to stay out of the wind, and played around in the sheltered powder until we reached Lower Tattle Tale. There were only a few tracks on the trail, however, it had been affected by the wind so you had to move around a bit to find the fluffiest snow. Ty was having a great time in the powder, and got some nice turns along the skier’s left of the trail. Dylan even got in on the act, and with help from Mom he was able to practice some powder skiing on the trail as well. In his case, it was probably good that there were some wind-affected areas because the powder had a little more substance there and Dylan didn’t bog down.
Dylan had worked himself pretty hard in the powder, so he was all ready to go in after that run. Ty was willing to go in as well, so we all hit the Timberline Lodge for our first break. We had some snacks, then, as it looked like the boys were going to hang out for a while more, I headed out for a solo run. I did another Timberline mid station run to keep it short, and I although I don’t recall which trail I skied, I probably took Twice as Nice if I know myself. I got back to the base, and when the boys were ready we headed up the Timberline lift and over to the main base to meet up with Tom and Amy. After a quick bathroom break we found them, and we all loaded up on the Vista quad for a ride to the top. We encountered plenty of wind and nasty windblown surface conditions up at the Vista summit, but fortunately the conditions were much better once we dropped below the uppermost sections of the trails. I introduced Tom and Amy to my favorite route over to the Wilderness area, and the conditions continued to improve the farther we got from the Vista summit. By the time we were over in the Work Road area, the snow was fantastic. We followed generally along the Wilderness lift line and then returned to the main base.
Based on the increased wind we’d encountered at the main mountain, we decided to head back down to the Timberline area. We ascended the Snowflake lift, took Timberline run to the Timberline base area, and then we all had lunch in the lodge. By the time we were done eating, Tom and Amy had to start heading back to the main base area since they’d need to be leaving the mountain for another engagement. Dylan probably didn’t have too much energy left in him, so I did a Wood’s Hole mid station run with him, while Ty and E took a Villager run part of the way back with Tom and Amy.
Dylan was done after that run as I’d suspected, so E stayed with him in the lodge while Ty and I went out for a couple more runs together. Despite the plethora of new snow, the conditions had still been feeling a bit hum drum throughout the day. In many places the powder had been blasted by the wind and wasn’t as light and fluffy as it might have been, and while I suspected the trees would be holding some fantastic snow, heading into them hadn’t been practical when we were skiing with Dylan or the whole big group together. Now however, Ty and I were alone and we could head wherever we wanted without stressing out everyone else as we explored.
I kicked off our explorations with some turns in the trees below Villager, which revealed that as I’d suspected, the protected powder was in prime form. Ty had missed my egress from the trail into the woods, so I caught him below the switchback knowing that he’d have to get in there with me next time. Ty did have a lot of fun on that run though, as he got to hit lots of his favorite jumps throughout Timberline Run below. We continued our powder fun on the next run, exploring lines above Villager, and with the preponderance of evergreens up there, the snow was even more protected. After a bit of traversing, we got into a really sweet line of powder that dropped us back onto Villager. Once hitting the trail, we jumped right back into the trees for more. This time Ty got to get in on some of the terrain I’d wanted to show him before.
It was close to closing time by the time we were done with that run, so we called it a day. My altimeters had recorded 8 runs, with 6,880’ of descent on the Avocet and 6,890’ of descent on the Suunto. Those were some of the tightest numbers I’d seen all season between the two altimeters, with a difference of just 0.1%. In a bit of a reversal from what I often experience, those last couple of runs were some of my favorites from the day and clearly showed that while the snow was pretty decent on the trails, due to the wind there was an even bigger disparity than usual with the quality of what was in the trees. At least we knew that plenty of powder was ready and waiting for more exploration on Sunday.
Pictures from the day are also available at:
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