With the appearance of the new snow, I headed up to Bolton for a few turns this morning. Leaving the house (495’) at around 7:30 A.M. or so, the temperature was in the upper 30s F. As I drove west from the house, the coating of snow that we’d received quickly vanished, and there wasn’t really anything on the ground from the Chittenden County line westward to the bottom of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’). Climbing the road, there wasn’t even a hint of snow until right around elevation 1,200’ near the Catamount Trail access below the big S curve. From that point up, the accumulations started to build with elevation. At around 1,500’ at the base of Timberline there was roughly an inch. Accumulations on the road began at around 2,000’, and up around 2,100’ at the main base I found 1 to 2 inches of new snow and a temperature a bit above freezing. There was some wind, mixed precipitation, and nobody around.
I skinned up Beech Seal to mid mountain (2,500’) where new snow accumulations had increased to a couple of inches, and it was hard to tell with the new accumulations, but some of the old base snow had certainly been lost since Ty and I were up there on Sunday. There is still a really nice line along much of the skier’s left of Beech Seal, with a good base under this new snow. Above mid mountain, I skinned up Cobrass, and by around 3,100’ near the Vista Summit, I found about 3 to 4 inches of new snow. As I’d heard in some of the forecasts, snow levels were expected to rise pretty high today, and the precipitation I encountered was mixed at best all the way up to the Vista Summit.
I descended via Sherman’s Pass from the summit, since many of the steeper trails seemed dicey, and with the dense snow and my longer skinny Telemark skis, there was plenty of excitement on just low and moderate angle terrain. Below mid mountain, I opted for the Bear Run route because I knew the coverage had been good on Sunday. Over the course of the entire run from the Vista Summit, there were a few areas of survival turns where I was avoiding underlying obstacles below the new snow, but in general the turns were really nice on the old base. The snow was dense enough to make things bottomless, and while it certainly wasn’t flying up like Champlain Power™, it was sweet enough that I would have contemplated another run if I’d had the time. I was surprised that I didn’t see a single other person or even and skin/ski tracks while I was up there. I did see plenty of deer tracks though.
The precipitation remained mixed the entire time I was there in the 8:00 to 9:00 A.M. range at all elevations, and when I was leaving, it seemed to have cooled, and any liquid precipitation was starting to create a glaze on parts of my vehicle. Back down that the base of the road (340’), and all the way into Burlington, the temperature was around 40 F, and the valley temperatures were similar when I came home in the evening.
We got more precipitation today, and it looks like there’s roughly an additional half inch in the rain gauge since I emptied it this morning. I’ll get the 24-hour total tomorrow morning. The upper atmosphere warmed and was providing the mixed precipitation today, but the NWS says the 850 mb temperatures are going to come back down and change things back to snow – I’m just not sure at what point that happened, or is going to happen, but it looks like tonight based on the NWS point forecasts.
The new snow that I skied this morning was pretty dense, but based on the snow depths I saw, I’d still recommend junkboards for any runs without notable sections of previous base at this point. However, reading Scott’s Bolton report from this evening, it sounds like the mixed precipitation may have really locked things up and that may change how well the new snow serves as a base. There’s more moisture to come with this system, so if this first round can serve as some extra base in places that didn’t have it, that will expand the options for turns in the coming days.
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