The temperatures warmed up enough on Saturday that we were able to find some decent corn snow up at Bolton Valley, but as I continued to monitor the forecast discussion from the National Weather Service in Burlington, the potential for finding some soft surfaces for skiing on Sunday was looking rather dubious.  The forecast was calling for perhaps a couple inches of snow in the local mountains, and just a dusting in the valleys as a front moved through.  More importantly, the weather was going to feature substantial cloudiness, and temperatures were expected to even drop in the afternoon.  With overnight temperatures below freezing hardening up the snowpack at all elevations, it was not a good recipe for soft snow surfaces in the morning.  We had to be up at Stowe for skiing in the afternoon, but I wasn’t really looking forward to what the snow was going to be like, and I certainly didn’t have any motivation to hit the slopes early.


But then Sunday morning came, and things went a little differently than planned.  I woke up sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 A.M., and even with the windows covered I could tell that at least a little new snow had fallen.  The world outside had that lighting associated with fresh snowfall, and the dead giveaway was the way exterior sounds were muffled.  I figured that we’d perhaps picked up more than our dusting, and when I looked at the snowboard it was obvious.  I measured the new accumulation on the snowboard, which indicated that we’d already picked up over 3 inches of new snow in the valley, and it was still snowing.  I checked the snow reports and found that some of the local resorts were already approaching a half foot of fresh powder, and after our recent dry spell that amount of accumulation was more than enough to get me invigorated to head up to the slopes.


The boys hadn’t been up too long, but I at least checked in with them about coming out for some early powder turns with me.  Dylan was pretty quick with a no, and Ty soon followed suit; they just couldn’t be pulled away from their Wii.  Even though they knew they’d be doing some skiing in the afternoon at Stowe, I still say those guys still need to get their priorities straight on a powder day after a dry spell.  E had to get some stuff done at the house, but the boys had no excuse.  So, up I headed to the mountain alone.  It was a bit before 8:30 A.M. as I passed by the Timberline Lift, sitting there spinning by itself with nobody in sight.  I was tempted to just stop right in there and hop on, but I couldn’t remember if they were opening it at 8:30 or 9:00 A.M. that morning.  I have to remember to check that carefully in the morning snow report.  I decided that I’d hit the main mountain and head up to the Vista Summit to see how the snow had accumulated in the highest elevations, and then make my decisions from there.  From light snow and a temperature of 33 F down at the house (495’), the temperature had dropped down to 27 F in the Bolton Valley Village (2,100’) and moderate to heavy snow was falling.


Up at the Vista Summit (3,150’) it was clear that there had been some wind to affect the snow deposition, but I checked a couple of my usual wind sheltered spots and found in the range of 6 to 9 inches of new snow.  I suspect those accumulations were a little drifted, but it gave me the idea of what was out there.  It didn’t look like the snow accumulations were overly elevation dependent, so I decided to descend all the way down to Timberline and check out the snow in that area.  The depth of the new powder almost seemed to increase as I descended, mostly due to the fact that it was less and less affected by the wind.  By the time I’d reached sure shot in the ~2,000’ elevation range, the snow was looking really good.  I’d found a consistent 4 to 5 inches of undisturbed powder, and compared to what I’d seen off  Vista it was obvious that Timberline was the place to be.  As I cruised to the lift I saw a couple of tracks on Spellbinder, and the snow was looking really good.  Based on my experiences from Saturday, I knew Spellbinder had a nice flat base layer so I decided to make it my destination.  The Timberline area was deserted, as in there was just me and Cameron, my lift operator.  I did see a couple of cars in the Timberline parking lot, so I guess there had to be a couple other people skiing, but I didn’t know where they were at that point.  The storm was definitely a sleeper that snuck up on most folks, and that probably kept the early morning visitors to even lower levels than usual.


At the top of Spellbinder there was a bit of wind, but not much drifting.  I dove into the steep headwall and let loose with some big long Tele GS turns in the powder.  It wasn’t quite deep enough to be totally bottomless on the pitch, but it was pretty darned sweet.  Once I got into the more intermediate pitches in the middle of the trail I shortened up my turns and it was definitely some “Yee Haa!” snow, as I think I heard myself shout out something to that effect at times.  The powder was reasonably dry, but feeling in the 6 to 8% H2O range it wasn’t ultra light and was certainly enough to get me floating for a lot of the time on the intermediate pitches.  I knew the snow was decent when I started to feel it up above my knee pads on my dropped knee for turn after turn after turn.  My quads were starting to get cooked by the bottom of the run but I couldn’t wait to do it again.  I stopped in at the lift, gave Cameron the thumbs up, and said “Spellbinder”.  He knew, and said that that was exactly where he was going when he had his break.  I told him there were only three tracks on it and I’d do my best to conserve a bunch of snow for him.  Back up I went, and while I hadn’t gotten first tracks on Spellbinder (perhaps it was patrol that got there first) I did manage third… and fourth… and fifth… before a snowboarder finally arrived and decided to give it a go.  I figured that was my signal to check out something else, and when I boarded the lift there was a new operator, so I hoped that Cameron was getting his tracks.  I checked out Tattle Tale from the top of Timberline, and it was decent, but had caught a little more wind up top and couldn’t quite match what Spellbinder had.


After that run I figured it was time to think about heading back to the main mountain to head home, but as I was descending toward the village the snowfall started to really come on again in the inch per hour range.  It had been heavy at times throughout the morning, but it seemed to mean business at that point.  It was enough to convince me to stay for another run off the Snowflake Lift.  I caught some nice turns in the Foxy and Bentley areas and finally ran it out to the car.  The snowfall picked up even more when I was back at the car and was somewhere in the 1 to 2 inch per hour range.  It was tough to leave as I watched the car next to mine get pummeled, but at least I was leaving for more skiing.  I hoped that Stowe was getting hit with snow as hard as Bolton, because it was going to make for a fun afternoon.  A couple pictures from the morning have been added below:





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