For the second year in a row, Christmas Eve delivered an outstanding day of skiing up at Bolton Valley. Stephen and I have been talking about last year’s outing for quite a while due to the great snow, comfortable temperatures, and lack of crowds. The first two factors are basically up to Mother Nature, but in terms of the number of skiers, we’ve always figured that people just have a lot of other things to be concerned with on Christmas Eve. Temperatures moderated yesterday, with a mid morning temperature of roughly 28 F in the Winooski Valley (elevations 300’-500’) dropping to 25 F once we reached the Bolton Valley Village (~2,100’). The sun was just starting to break through the clouds as we arrived, so that was an added bonus. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet up with Stephen and his kids, since they started early and had to leave early, but Ty, Dylan, and I still had a great time by ourselves.
From the get go I told the boys that since we’d stayed generally on trail on Sunday, we were going to bring our powder boards and make it a powder day. Yesterday’s ski options actually had an added twist – the Vista Quad was still down for maintenance, and the Wilderness Lift was doing the lion’s share of getting people up the mountain. Stephen said he saw the mechanics working on the lift in the morning, but apparently they didn’t finish because the lift wasn’t going to run. With the Vista Quad down, Snowflake not running, and the Timberline area not open yet, that meant the lift options were only the Wilderness and Mid Mountain lifts. It looked like this has been the lift setup for most of the week, so with the new snow from the previous few days, it meant that there was an even higher amount of untracked powder available for those that knew the mountain well and were willing to traverse for it. The Upper Crossover side of Wilderness was closed from the top however, so that limited the “easy” traverse options a bit more.
The boy’s were fortunately willing to do a bit of extra work to get in on more untracked snow, so we traversed for some visits out to New Sherman’s Pass and the associated glades and found good snow all around. It really wasn’t super bottomless powder everywhere, as there’s only been so much snow since those areas last saw regular traffic, but it was hard to complain. There were still a lot of areas that have seen little if any traffic, and even near the base area, I stuck my pole in the snow and found that the unconsolidated layer was 15 inches deep in undisturbed areas. Great turns were had on New Sherman’s itself, where there were several inches of medium weight powder over the groomed base. The boys seemed to really like that a lot, and I think it helped as they were both getting used to their longer skis. Overall, I’d say the glades and woods still need another foot or two to get into the zone where they are really prime; you can see that there is brush sticking out in places that eventually get covered, but the Mt. Mansfield stake is at 30 inches of depth, so the magic 40-inch mark is drawing closer. Woods skiing with a bit of extra caution and common sense is certainly open for business at the appropriate elevations.
The boys finished off the day with what must have been 15 to 20 runs on the Mitey Mite, partly because Dylan found that he could finally ride it all alone. Ty got a kick out of the two of them being able to hang together as they rode the lift and skied the slope, so they goofed around a lot and even managed to work on a few drills. I think those activities will go a long way toward getting them to a higher comfort level on their longer skis.
On a final, weather-related note, the sky was clear much of the afternoon, but eventually some low clouds rolled into the bottom of the valley and small snowflakes/ice crystals began to fall on everything. It turns out that we were under a substantial inversion, and the valleys stayed cloudy all day. Yesterday, my dad was extremely surprised when I told him it was completely sunny for most of our time on the mountain, since in South Burlington he said that they’d been under clouds all day. I’ve seen a couple of nice shots from above the inversion, one from Jim Clapp on SkiVT-L, and one from j24vt in the Northern New England thread at EasternUSwx.com.
Some pictures from the day have been added below:
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