Bolton Valley, VT 31DEC2009-03JAN2010
There was just too much snow, too much skiing, and too many friends visiting to find time for daily skiing updates over the weekend, so I’ve combined everything into this report. Conditions on the slopes were already decent by New Year’s Eve thanks to the foot or so of snow that had fallen at the beginning of the week, and as we watched the forecast get refined, it looked like the big retrograding Nor’easter would provide a few inches of refresher snow each day before unloading more in the Saturday/Sunday period.
After a midweek cold snap with temperatures in the 0-10 F range for highs, Thursday saw a nice moderation to more seasonable temperatures for skiing. Ty was recovering from a stomach bug and we wanted him to lay low, so he headed off to work with E in Morrisville, and Dylan and I went up to the hill to catch a couple of runs. The Timberline area was open, so we stopped in and checked out some of the Wood’s Hole Glades. The mellower lines were clearly ready for skiing in terms of both coverage and powder, although the steeper lines were still sketchy in my book. We saw a few tracks on those areas however, so some folks were willing to test things out. James and Kim and the kids were coming over for New Year’s Eve, so as soon as we were done skiing, Dylan and I headed home to get ready for their arrival. The snow from the big weekend event started up that night, with some big fluffy flakes coming down at the house setting the mood for the following days on the slopes.
Friday, January 1st, 2010
Friday morning was spent sleeping in to some degree, and I got a call from Dave that he was on his way up from Boston. His cell phone message had broken up a bit so I couldn’t tell what his planned arrival time was going to be, but within minutes of E asking me for his E.T.A., he appeared at the door. He got to catch up with James before James and his family headed back to their place. Around midday, Dave joined up with Ty, Dylan, E, and me for some afternoon skiing at Timberline. The mountain had picked up a few additional inches of new snow from the night’s activity, and it kicked the conditions up another increment. We spent the afternoon playing around in the powder, and caught plenty of great turns, but it was still going to take more snow to get all the steep terrain going strong. Friday took the prize for most comfortable ski conditions during the New Year’s stretch, with a temperature around 30 F and calm winds. That night, Dave and I went into Burlington to check out some Telemark equipment and have dinner, but eventually realized that it was a holiday and all the retail places were closed. We did have a great dinner at Souza’s Churrascaria – it’s a bit pricy, but whenever we caught one of the meats as they’d just come off the fire, they were absolutely amazing. That evening, Burlington was filled with big fluffy flakes falling through the air, giving Church Street and its plethora of lights that classic holiday look. The snow wasn’t just eye candy either, it was really accumulating on the ground and making things slushy and slippery, so we knew the mountains would get another round of freshening for skiing the next day.
Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
Saturday’s slope conditions featured that round of freshening snow from overnight to start off the day, along with the anticipation that the main course of snowfall was about to kick off. Snowfall started off light in the morning, but as forecast, it ramped up in the afternoon to the 1 inch/hour range. There was consistently good snow being put down everywhere with the constant resupply from the sky, but the hit of the day was undoubtedly the lower part of Spell Binder, which could be accessed via the Wood’s Hole work road. We had quite a crew, with our family, Dave, James, and Tom along as well. We even met up with Stephen and Johannes in the lodge, but our efforts to catch up with Weston and his family in the afternoon didn’t come to fruition because they had to leave in the early afternoon. The pounding snow in the second half of the day was great, and Timberline didn’t have too much wind, but the downside was that the temperature had dropped to around 15 F by the end of the ski day. Unfortunately, Dave had to head back to Boston that evening, but he’d had an excellent couple of days of skiing that left him with few if any regrets.
Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
The skiing had been good to excellent up through Saturday with all the fresh snow, but the weekend finish at Bolton was even stronger. A pounding of upslope-style flakes came in Saturday evening into overnight Sunday with snow to water ratios of 30 or even 50 to 1 in some locations. Down at the house, we had 1 inch/hour snowfall rates from Saturday evening right through Sunday morning, picking up 6.6 inches of 3.2% H2O snow by 10:30 P.M. Saturday, and an additional 5.1 inches of 5.9% H2O snow by 7:00 A.M. Sunday. For the event, we’d picked up 18 inches of snow at the house by that point, and assuming the usual trend of the mountains getting substantially more than we did in the valley, we were likely getting into that zone of ski conditions that often sets the Northern Vermont resorts apart from many other areas. By the morning, Bolton Valley was looking at the following accumulations numbers:
24-hours: 19 inches
48 hours: 25 inches
72 hours: 27 inches
7 days: 36 inches
The numbers were decent, but certainly not astronomical relative to what we’d received in the valley, and I was surprised to find out that none of the other Vermont resorts had even received the snowfall that Bolton had. Most areas were indicating less than 6 inches of new snow in their morning reports, and that seemed very strange. It turned out that something very unique (and in fact historic) was taking place. In a reversal of the usual pattern, the Burlington area was making out better than the mountains in terms of snowfall. In fact, Burlington was making out FAR better than most of the mountains, to the tune of a record daily snowfall in the range of 33 inches.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VT
1059 AM EST MON JAN 4 2010
...RECORD SNOWFALL FOR BURLINGTON VERMONT...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VERMONT OFFICE...LOCATED AT THE BURLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN SOUTH BURLINGTON RECORDED 33.1 INCHES OF SNOWFALL FROM THE MOST RECENT SNOWSTORM.
THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 29.8 INCHES WHICH OCCURRED FROM DECEMBER 25TH THROUGH DECEMBER 28TH IN 1969.
TOP 5 BURLINGTON VERMONT SNOWSTORMS
1. 33.1 INCHES ON JANUARY 2-3, 2010
2. 29.8 INCHES ON DECEMBER 25-28, 1969
3. 25.7 INCHES ON FEBRUARY 14-15, 2007
4. 24.7 INCHES ON JANUARY 13-14, 1934
5. 22.9 INCHES ON MARCH 5-6, 2001
With the potential wind, moderately cold temperatures, and nothing too extraordinary falling in many of the mountain areas, I wasn’t sure I was going to head out for any turns. But, Bolton Valley seemed to be getting in on some of the Champlain Valley’s snowfall action with their 19 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours, so it was hard to turn that down. I got Ty motivated, and we headed up to the hill. Bolton’s upper mountain lifts were still on wind hold like many at other resorts in the area, but Timberline was running and was relatively free of wind. The only unfortunate thing was that with the uppermost lifts down, there were actual lift queues at Timberline, so it meant 5-10 minutes of waiting per run. Ty and I had a good session on the mountain, checking out the powder in areas like the KP glades and some of the new lines above Wood’s Hole. Generally we found about 20 inches of Champlain Powder™ in undisturbed areas, and as light and dry as it was, we still had to stick to steeper lines to get in consistent turns. Coverage still wasn’t perfect on the steepest or rockiest trails exposed to the wind, or even some of the more formal glades that had seen the most traffic, but it was getting pretty close, and coverage in the trees was excellent.
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