Since there was a lot of rain with our recent midweek storm, I suspected that the slopes were going to feature very hard snow this weekend, and truth be told, both E and I were anticipating that we’d have a chance to take the weekend off from skiing and catch up on everything else that needs to be done.  But apparently Mother Nature had other plans, because the rain changed over to snow around midday Thursday in the higher elevations, and the Bolton-Stowe area resorts reported a half foot of new snow on Friday morning with 6.5 new inches of snow recorded at the stake (~3,700’) on Friday evening.  The SkiVT-L reports coming in from Stowe on Friday suggested that there was some really nice snow up high, so it looked like there was going to be some powder to track up for the long weekend.


E was still too committed to getting stuff done around the house today, but it was way to gorgeous outside to miss out on the powder, so Ty and I headed up to the mountain for some turns.  Due to the obvious advantage of elevation with this event, I decided to bring Ty for his first trip into the sidecountry and backcountry off the Wilderness Lift, where we’d be able to check out a lot of wind-protected terrain in the 3,000’ range and see how it fared in terms of fresh powder.


We arrived up at the village (~2,100’) near 11:00 P.M. and the temperature was already around 20 F, then we hopped on the Wilderness Lift to get to its summit (~3,050’).  Along the way, I was amazed at how good the conditions looked in the entire 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range.  There was clearly plenty of powder around where the resort hadn’t groomed, and the skiers and riders below us were making the sounds of turns on packed powder, not ice.  I doubted that the amount of snow they’d received would hold up on the steepest terrain, but on the beginner and intermediate runs we saw, it looked really good.


We strapped on our skins and headed off on Heavenly Highway, quickly breaking off the established trail and making our own shortcut toward the steeper terrain on the back side of the Nordic Network.  There had clearly been a respectable dump of snow up at that elevation; my depth checks revealed 6-8 new inches in the 3,000’ elevation range.  I was surprised to find that the skiing was generally bottomless up there on the low and medium angle pitches we hit, presumably due to the way the rain changed over to snow and started out dense and gradually lightened up.  There’s a nice continuum of new snow, topped off with some champagne powder.  Even more amazing was the fact that there isn’t a major crust layer under the new snow.  I expected to find some sort of bulletproof zone in the snowpack due to the rain, but it’s just not there.  Below this recent dump, the snow becomes thicker, but I was able to take my ski pole and push it right through the snowpack almost up to the handle with minimal effort.  I’m not sure if the rain just got absorbed by the snowpack and recrystallized or what, but that’s the situation up there.  Unfortunately, Ty wasn’t willing to do a bigger run off the back side of the mountain (he said flat out he was just too tired to commit to a run where we’d have to skin back up), so we just toured around up high.  It’s too bad, because I saw several nice new lines that are just begging to be skied, but they’ll have to wait for another time.  Another thing that amazed me on our tour was the fact that the powder on south-facing aspects was actually getting affected by the sun.  The fluffy snow in the top layers was clearly starting to get a bit thick with direct sun.  We are almost a couple months past the solstice now, so even at this latitude the sun is starting to do its thing.


We eventually came down the front side of the mountain and explored a new section of woods off Turnpike, finding powder that was sufficient for all but the steepest shots.  The snow had definitely accumulated with less substance as one dropped in elevation, but I did a depth check in the woods at ~2,200’ when we were almost back down to base elevation and found 5 inches of accumulation.  The skiing was really quite good right down to the village elevations, and this is one of those times when Bolton’s higher base elevation is nice.


The Timberline lift is down due to mechanical issues, and there were certainly a few tracks in the powder on the Trails of Timberline (possibly from people that had earned turns or were doing car shuttling), but the powder definitely didn’t look as substantial down at that elevation (~1,500’) as it did at the main base.  When we were leaving the mountain the temperatures had climbed into the upper 20s F due to the sun, and it was just over 30 F back down at the house (495’).


Despite all the gloom and doom I’ve heard over the past week about what was going to happen to the ski conditions, if you can get up into the untracked powder in the higher elevations around here you won’t be disappointed – it’s absolutely mid winter delightful.  It looks like there are a couple more gorgeous days in the 20s F on tap for this long weekend, so if you can find a way to get out to the right places, there is a lot of powder for the taking.


A few pictures from today are attached below:








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