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Bolton Valley, VT 1/13/2011

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Bolton Valley, VT 1/13/2011

Postby J.Spin » Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:23 am

I was too busy to get out on Monday for the bounty of upslope snow that followed the weekend’s inverted trough system, but overall it was quite a nice event. By the time it finished up on Tuesday we’d reeled in a total of 18 inches of snow at our location in the valley to make it our second largest storm of the season, and as usual the mountains were piling it up even more. Fortunately, right on the heels of that system was another Nor’easter, and it looked like I would have a little time to make a trip to the slopes.

Things started up with moderately dense, synoptic snow on Wednesday; down at the house we’d picked up 7.7 inches of snow comprised of a hefty 0.84 inches of liquid by Wednesday afternoon:

Wednesday 1/12/2011 4:00 P.M. update:

Event totals: 7.7” Snow/0.84” L.E.

I was really surprised how hard it was snowing in Burlington this afternoon, and they had already picked up several inches of snow when I was leaving around 3:30 P.M. or so. It was actually snowing harder there than it was at the house, although we’d already picked up a good shot of snow at some point. At 4:00 P.M. I found 7.7 inches of snow on the snowboard, and boy was it dense! My coring cylinder, which has a diameter of 6.8 cm, produced a core comprised of 77.5 mL, which was the biggest individual chunk of liquid I’ve collected from a snow stack in a while. Those 7.7 inches contained 0.84 inches of liquid! The snow had very low compressibility, and the density came in at hefty 10.9% H2O, quite different from the 6.1 inches on Sunday that had a density of 2.3% H2O. It was a 10-hour (6:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.) accumulation, but as the biggest snow stack of the season so far, I grabbed a quick picture:

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It’s still been snowing out there since I got home, but not nearly at the intensity that it must have been cranking before. My wife said it snowed really hard even up in Morrisville, and the kids had an absolute blast at recess today. I saw Powderfreak’s message about the upgrade to a Winter Storm Warning for Lamoille County, so I grabbed the latest BTV warning and accumulations maps. Amounts have definitely gone up in the North Country, and this dense synoptic snow is going to be really good for the slopes.

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Some details from the 4:00 P.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 7.7 inches
New Liquid: 0.84 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 9.2
Snow Density: 10.9%
Temperature: 19.8 F
Sky: Light Snow (1-2 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 16.5 inches


By the following morning we were approaching the one foot mark for the event, and the snow had dropped in density so that we were once again into the realm of Champlain Powder™. My 6:00 A.M. analyses revealed that the most recent round of snow, while only a couple of inches, had feathered in at a delightful sub-2% H2O:

Thursday 1/13/2011 6:00 A.M. update:

Event totals: 11.4” Snow/0.95” L.E.

We got another 2.2 inches of what seems like upslope snow overnight, with big flakes up to 15 mm in diameter. It’s still snowing and there’s another 0.8 inches on the board already, so we will break the 1-foot mark with this event. With the synoptic snow down and this fluffy upslope on top, it’s a recipe for some excellent skiing on the slopes. The totals I’ve seen for the Vermont resorts with this storm added in seem to be around 2 to 3 feet over the past week.

Some details from the 6:00 A.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 2.2 inches
New Liquid: 0.04 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 55.0
Snow Density: 1.8%
Temperature: 17.8 F
Sky: Light Snow (2-15 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 18.0 inches


The local peaks were stacking up larger doses of the same fluff, and Bolton Valley had some nice things in their morning report on the web page: a little discussion about the more immediate accumulations and a fun promo image to boot:

“Another holiday weekend is looming, and the snow clouds are more than doing their part. Relentless snow brought another 5-6" overnight--on top of the 7-9" we saw during the day, yesterday. That gives us a 24-hour total of over a foot, and the flakes continue to fall. We expect snow showers to linger this morning, while temperatures again stall in the upper teens with gusty NW winds. The point: we've landed about 20" of snow in the last 3 days”

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I got some work done at the house in the morning, and then headed up to the hill a bit after opening time. It was windy up in the village, and while booting up I could see that neither the Vista nor Mid Mountain lifts were running; I threw my skins in my fanny pack just in case it came down human-powered powder acquisition. It turned out that the skins were able to stay in the pack, as I hopped on the Snowflake Lift and found out that Timberline area, in all its beautiful wind-protected Champlain Powder™ nirvana goodness, was ready to roll.

The first skiers were already descending Spell Binder as I made my way to the Timberline base, and I couldn’t help but stop for a couple of minutes, absorb the scene, and grab a few photos. The quiet of the powder morning was disrupted only by the erupting “Woos” and “Yeeee Haaaas” of the skiers. Several people passed as they headed for another lap, and not one of them could seem to contain their vocal exuberance. It was already obvious that the snow was fantastic, but if discerning midweek Bolton skiers were this excited, the powder skiing was likely to be top notch.

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One of the skiers coming down the trail was Brian, a former student of mine who was catching a few morning turns as well, and I joined him and his girlfriend for a Timberline ride to the mid station. We had an invigorating conversation, which covered both work and play, but for some strange reason the topics of skiing and snow seemed to sneak their way in there a lot. The snow on the slopes of the Timberline area had fallen with little if any effects from the wind, and it continued to dump. Even if the main mountain lifts had started running, we knew that Timberline was the place to be.

At the mid station I bid Brian adieu as I was recognized by Matt, one of our BJAMS parents involved in the ski program. He was on duty at the mid station, but was excited to check out the snow and said that I had to report back on what I found. We caught up on things for a few minutes, and then I eventually had to get on my way to see what the snow was all about. I wasn’t going to be able to report back if I didn’t test it out.

Spell Binder had looked oh so good from my vantage point at the bottom, so I slid my way across the mid station plateau and dove in. It was just like all the loud folks I’d seen from below had suggested with their vocalizations. I was really getting tossed around on Telemark skis as I negotiated the steep and deep of the headwall, and at times I was just a passenger on a bent-knee roller coaster blizzard trying to hang on through the next screaming turn. One couldn’t help by make some noise. As the pitch mellowed out the ride moved into that dreamy turn after turn after turn of weightless magic that comes from a powder density gradient topped off with some of the finest fluff made. So, it was good. I did a few checks of the depth on Spell Binder and generally found 14 to 18 inches of snow over the base. A picture can also say a few words:

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On another run I checked in on the Wood’s Hole area, and generally found snow depths to be slightly higher in there, on the order of about 20 inches. It wasn’t too long before I had to drag myself away and head on to work, but it had definitely been a good session. I would easily have said it would be one of the top outings of the season, but ultimately Mother Nature would decide to come in with more fluff for the weekend and up the ante.

The main mountain lifts were still on wind hold when I returned to the main base, but I ultimately heard that they opened around noon to give an extra boost of fresh terrain to the midday folks. As I was leaving the mountain it continued to snow nicely all the way down into the Winooski Valley, and with the valley snowpack getting fairly deep, the scenes on the drive to Burlington were classic mid winter. The mountains were shrouded in falling snow, but the lower slopes loomed overhead to provide an excellent backdrop. In their Friday morning report, Bolton was indicating 39 inches of new snow for the previous 7 days, so even though our area hadn’t been the jackpot for the recent storms, it had been a good week of winter.

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J.Spin
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Re: Bolton Valley, VT 1/13/2011

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:46 am

You know it's good from pics like the Spellbinder one that look more like "body tracks" than ski tracks. \:D/

This was a weekend when Morgane's mother should have chipped in on race dropoff and pickup duty.
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Re: Bolton Valley, VT 1/13/2011

Postby J.Spin » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:03 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:You know it's good from pics like the Spellbinder one that look more like "body tracks" than ski tracks.

The quality of the powder this holiday weekend, at least what we experienced at Bolton, was certainly A/A+ even by my standards, so it doesn’t get much better than that. The way things were working out was that we’d get some 8-10% H2O synoptic snow, and then it would be followed by round after round of sub 5% H2O upslope snow on top of it. After the inverted trough dropped the synoptic snow, last week started with 6.1 inches of 2.3% H2O snow followed up by 4.4 inches of 3.0% H2O snow down at the house in less than 12 hours, and then the snow just kept coming. We picked up about 2½ feet at the house during that span, and the mountains probably got 3 to 4 feet. The amounts weren’t anything too astronomical for around here, but the setup was just very good with the Champlain Powder™ fluff on top of standard snow.

However, at least for Bolton I can’t yet give an A grade to the overall skiing for the mountain because 1) there are still some steep headwall areas on trails that are too scoured to keep open, such as on Upper Tattle Tale and Cobrass, and 2) the base is not quite where it should be yet in order to get a solid A. There are still some spots where the coverage isn’t yet perfect. With that said, I got my friend Dave to come up from Boston and he didn’t have any complaints:

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I did see the discussion about who had the softer snow in the Alta January 17 thread, but had to sort of smile when I read it, because based on the reports I saw from other regions, compared to my observations out on the hill and what I read in Powderfreak’s “A Week of Powder” summary, I don’t think any of those places were even in the same league as what’s been going on around here. There was no mixed precipitation here at the house with the snowstorm that has been going on the past couple of days, and Powderfreak said that he didn’t get any either, but we did get an additional shot of synoptic snow out of it, so it should help to build those base depths and keep things soft. Depending on how this latest round of snow sat down, combined with tonight’s event and the one on Friday, we could be closer to “A” territory this weekend.
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