Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 1/17/2011


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  1. #1

    Camera Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 1/17/2011

    Date(s) Skied: Monday, January 17th, 2011

    Resort or Ski Area: Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT

    Conditions: Sunny, with temperatures in the low single digits F in the village at 2,100'. Snow surfaces were similar to off piste conditions experienced Sunday, 20-30 inches of loose snow over the base topped off with Champlain Powder.

    Trip Report: Dave stayed over through Monday, and the plan was to get in another day of skiing. With the amazing powder conditions I’d encountered on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, combined with additional snowfall, it was a no brainer to try and make some turns on the holiday. We had contemplated lift-served skiing at Bolton or Stowe, but with the forecast high of roughly 10 F in the valley, E and the boys decided to take the day off from skiing, and Dave and I ultimately decided that it was a day to avoid sitting on lifts. The plan was set for another round of skiing on Bolton Valley’s Nordic/backcountry network.

    I’d brought Dave for his first tour in the Bryant region of the trail network back on January 1st, and since the warm weather had turned the powder to mush at that point, the touring was actually the focus, and the ski descent was more peripheral. The skiing at that point, while still fun, was really more useful as an efficient way to get around. On that earlier outing though, I specifically told Dave to envision what the area would be like if it was filled with powder, because that’s that way it is most of the time. With the efficient setup of trails, skin tracks, and glades, along with the incredibly convenient access from the village, it’s quite an amazing resource. This time around, Dave was going to have the chance to see the area in top form.

    Up at the village, we stopped in at the Nordic/Sports Center so Dave could grab a Nordic ticket. Having a season’s pass, I only stop in the sports center occasionally, and hadn’t noticed what a nice place it is in terms of a day lodge. There’s a snack bar, and lots of space to change. I saw a mother and daughter changing in there, and they had the entire place to themselves. Dave and I had already planned to gear up at the car, but it made me think about using the area in the future, especially with the boys. E has been planning to bring the boys up there for swimming etc., but in a total coincidence in terms of my visit, Johannes was also up there on Monday with his mom and sister doing just that. Johannes wrote about his experience at the Sports Center on in an article entitled “When it’s too cold to ski…”, so for those that are interested in learning more about the options at the sports center, check that out. With the way Bolton’s season’s passes are including access to everything this season, it’s a great perk.

    For our part, Dave and I decided that it wasn’t too cold to ski, especially when powering our own ascents. We headed over to the usual tennis court parking along the edge of the trail network at about 2,050’, prepped our gear, and got skinning. Although my car thermometer was reading in the low single digits, there was no wind, and the sunshine was really doing its thing. We hadn’t been long on the trail before we were heating up and removing clothing. Dave even had to take his hat off. We had a fairly quick and steady ascent up to the Bryant Cabin (2,690’) checking out some of the glades along the way. We could see that there were descent tracks on some of the more popular runs, but plenty of fresh powder was waiting.

    I decided to show Dave some of the glades above the cabin that he’d not yet seen, so we headed briefly along Birch Loop and then on to Heavenly Highway. We ascended up to around 2,950’ and did a little exploring to see if we could find any new west-facing descent options, but didn’t spend too much time before we angled back toward some of the more typical ones. There were again a few tracks, but plenty of fresh lines in those fairly steep shots among the evergreens.

    Descending down to Gardiner’s Lane, we decided to head out onto North Slope and explore some of the trees and glades farther along to the south. The whole area was choked with fluffy snow clinging to everything, and with the blue sky we got to see some amazing scenes of blue and white.

    We eventually settled on a nice mellow glade that took us down to Gardiner’s Lane, and continued along there until we followed a line into our next descent. Along the way we encountered various formations and crazy lateral accumulations made by the big flakes of upslope snow. There was lots of cool, gravity-defying stuff.

    That next glade we hit was steeper, with more hardwoods, and lots of open space. The snow was deep and light and you could just let the skis go. After that pitch we put on the skins and used Coyote to connect back to Bryant for another lap. We’d had such a good time and there was ample fresh snow remaining, so we repeated with a very similar route. With bright sun and deep snow, the photography was almost as much fun as the skiing; Dave had brought along his Canon 7D, and let’s just say that 18 MP at 8 fps is just… sweet. On the second lap we continued right on down into the next round of trees and glades below until we eventually ran into the World Cup Nordic trail.

    Once into the World Cup area we were able to put together a nice combination of the available trees and glades that gave us a powdery descent all the way back down to Broadway. With some exploration and experience, one can assemble some really nice routes out there. We saw additional glades and countless open areas in the trees that would keep one experimenting and exploring for very long time. After Monday’s experience, Dave is totally hooked on the area, so I’m sure we’ll try to get out there again.


  2. #2
    djspookman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Jericho, VT / Westmoreland, NH
    my dad and friends were up in that general area the same day.. they had the same grins you did, thanks for the report!

  3. #3
    Cannonball's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    This user has been deleted
    Truly an "above and beyond" report. thanks!

  4. #4
    Great stuff!! You ever ski into the Cotton Brook drainage??

  5. #5
    Wow, I really need someone to show me around Bolton next time I go there.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by skidmarks View Post
    Great stuff!! You ever ski into the Cotton Brook drainage??
    Sorry for my long delayed response skidmarks, I was waiting for the chance to look through my archives and get a few links together for you. Anyway, while I've never actually done the entire descent of the Cotton Brook drainage all the way down to the reservoir, I've been back in that area and done smaller tours many times. It's a really great area, I've added a few links to some of my trip reports that relate to it below:
    Vermont Skiing & Winter Weather Updates: J&E Productions

  7. #7
    Thanks much for those links!

    Am I correct that most if not all the terrain you covered in these reports is NOT endangered by potential land sale w/o easements?

  8. #8
    Thanks, I'll sort through it!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by polski View Post
    Thanks much for those links! Am I correct that most if not all the terrain you covered in these reports is NOT endangered by potential land sale w/o easements?
    Sorry I didn’t catch this inquiry back when you made it, but I saw it when I referenced this report for a post in Morwax’s “Bolton Valley Land Sale” thread. Indeed most if not all of the terrain covered in the above tour is part of the land in question (for reference, our first ascent that’s marked with the red number 1 in the Google Earth plot below is on the Catamount Trail, which you can also find labeled on the map of the land provided on the Vermont Land Trust web page), so without easements, access could be an issue as a result of a sale – there’s some good additional information in that thread started by Morwax.

    Vermont Skiing & Winter Weather Updates: J&E Productions

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