Bolton Valley and Backcountry 19DEC2009
Yesterday morning it was cold, -7.4 degrees F cold at our house in Waterbury (495í), so I waited until the afternoon to head up to Bolton for some turns. By that point, the temperature was a reasonable 15 F up in the village (~2,100í). I did a quick check on the snow on that elevation, finding about 6 inches of powder over the base in undisturbed areas around the parking lot. It was opening day for the Wilderness Chair, so I took the opportunity to catch the lift assist and check out the condition of the powder off the back side. In line with what Iíve been hearing, there is excellent snow out there, especially up high. I explored some new lines on the south side of the bowl below Paradise Pass, and generally found 8 to 14 inches of powder over the base. The powder is still light and dry, but settled, so itís not quite as airy as it might have been when it was fresh. There had been little if any wind back there though, so the snow is very consistent. I was on my old Telemark skis, which arenít very fat, and there were no concerns about coverage, or even hitting the base. Thereís some degree of density gradient in the snow, so it really skis without a bottom, and thereís no need at all for rock skis in that area. When I did checks for depth of the whole snowpack, I got readings in the 22 to 31 inch range, which seems pretty consistent with the Mt. Mansfield stake report of 30 inches at ~3,700í.
Heavenly Highway has seen some traffic, but in the Paradise Pass area traffic has been minimal. Aside from someone on snowshoes that had been on a small part of the trail, I was breaking trail most of the time. Down in the bowl, the only tracks I saw aside from my own were from Moose and other critters.
I finished off the day with a run down the front side on Peggy Dowís and Old Turnpike. Coverage is excellent, with just the usual steep areas near the top of Peggy Dowís showing a few windswept or scraped spots to watch out for. Below that, I donít think I saw anything of concern on the more blue/green terrain. Itís all natural snow on Wilderness, and the quality of the packed powder is very high. Even though my descent was at the end of the day, there was still plenty of powder along the edges of the trail as well, so I darted in and out of that. Theyíve also got Bolton Outlaw and some other steep trails open in the Wilderness area; I didnít ski anything in the black diamond range, but from afar I could see that coverage is decent. Still, those steep trails have some rocks and grass visible. Iíd say either be careful and stay on the edges of the trail or go with rock skis if you want the freedom to go anywhere on those runs.
A few pictures and data plots from yesterday have been added below:
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