Friday, March 11, 2016

Fat Biking at Bolton Valley

Calling all fat bike enthusiasts! We are happy to announce that for the remainder of the season we will be allowing fat biking on Picnic and Valley Loops. This is very much a trial run to see how we may be able to incorporate fat biking into our Nordic Center moving forward.

If you're unfamiliar with fat biking, imagine riding a bike with 4" thick tires, trudging through snow like an off-road vehicle. The increased contact point allows the bikes to gain more traction on slick and loose surfaces. Additionally the huge volume of the tires makes for less air pressure, which helps you float above the snow.

Since this is a trail run, we are looking for your feedback. Is our terrain fit for fat biking? How are Picnic and Valley Loop for fat biking? What could be do to improve the trails for fat biking? Any and all feedback is welcome. If you do venture out onto the terrain have fun, and be sure to follow these best practices.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Backcountry and Nordic Events

As we near February, it feels like the winter is already flying by. But not to fear, we are just getting started with events in the Nordic Center and Backcountry. Between some recurring and daily events, there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and have some fun.

  •  Blue Cross Blue Shield Snow Days: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is hosting its annual Snow Days event on February 6, 2016. This event gives Vermonters and Blue Cross Blue Shield members the opportunity to try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for free. 
  • Frigid Infliction: Frigid Infliction, the longest running winter adventure race in America, returns to Bolton Valley on March 5, 2016. This 10-hour adventure race is for teams of two or three, and is a great segue into adventure racing if you've never participated in one before. Register here for Frigid Infliction 2016.
  • Vermont Land Trust Tours: Join the Vermont Land Trust, Catamount Trail Association, Friends of Bolton, and the Green Mountain Club on March 6, 2016, as they explore some of the 1,100 + acres in Bolton's Backcountry. The event will be held from 2 - 6pm, followed by an apres-ski gathering.
  • Split and Surfest: Splitfest is back once again on Saturday, March 12, with a day full of demos, obstacle courses, food, and beer. For those looking to try it out for the first time, there will be a splitboarding 101 class held by the Catamount Trail Association. Meet at 8:30am outside the deli, then head inside at 4pm for drinks and a raffle. 
  • 24 Hour Backcountry Skimo and Splitboard Race: From March 19-20 Bolton Valley, along with Native Endurance, will be hosting New England's first ever 24-hour Backcountry race. Participants will compete for the most overall laps in either a 24 or 12-hour period. There are numerous categories, so click here for registration and more information. 
There are several series/ recurring events this year that aim to get people off the couch and out into the Nordic terrain and Backcountry.

  • Get Out & Backcountry Instructional Series: This winter the Catamount Trail Association is offering over a month of Backcountry instruction at Bolton Valley. This will include a total of 12 courses covering introduction to Nordic Touring, intermediate Nordic Touring, the Telemark Turn, and Introduction to Vertical Touring. The fun kicks off February 7, so check out the events calendar and see which one best suits you.
  • Catamount Backcountry Trail Express: For the first three Saturdays in February, join us in exploring Section 22 of the Catamount Trail. There will be a shuttle between the parking lot off Old Country Road in Nebraska Valley, allowing you to ski from Bolton Valley back to your car without having to set up your own car shuttle. The event kicks on February 6 with a 10am pickup at the Old Country Road Parking Lot.
  • Wednesday Night Citizen Skimo Race Series: Starting February 7, Bolton Valley along with the Catamount Trail Association will be hosting 7 uphill races on Wednesday nights. There will be two main courses, and one longer course which we will break out for the final race of the season.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Guest Blog: March Events Season Starts With Split & Surfest

For the first time in Vermont, the Bolton Valley backcountry host to an event that caters specifically to backcountry snowboarders.  This Saturday, March 14, we're hosting the first annual Split and Surfest at the entrance to Bolton’s backcountry terrain.  

Alex Showerman of Protect Our Winters and I have been working together since the fall to create a one of a kind event that would get snowboarders into the backcountry on all different types of backcountry gear. And I'm really excited for how it's all coming together. There will be demos provided by Voile, Mtn Approach, Rome, Venture, Powder Jet and Grassroots powder surfers.  We’re hoping that this event will bring people together who share the same passion for having a great time in the backcountry.  

With the help of the Catamount Trail Association (CTA) and the Vermont Backcountry Alliance, there will be a Spilt 101 class given throughout the day.  The class will cover everything from how to set up your splitboard for uphill travel to switching it over for downhill shredding. With the free class and demos hopefully everyone will be able to learn how easy and fun it is to splitboard effectively and safely. You don't always need a lift to make your turns.

What's a great spring event without beer? Lost Nation Brewery in Morrisville, VT was kind enough to donate a keg for the event and we'll have it on sale for $2. There will also be plenty of tailgate food like burgers and dogs as well. Plus, there's a raffle, too. Exciting stuff. The proceeds of the keg and the raffle will all go to CTA to help continue their efforts on maintaining and expanding the Vermont backcountry, so hopefully we'll be able to do events like this even bigger and better in the coming years.

All you need to experience all this is a regular Nordic or Alpine ticket for the day or a current season pass. So, come out this Saturday to support CTA and have a good time out in the woods. Have fun and be safe.


Joe Gaynor is Bolton Valley's Events Coordinator. Reach him at

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spring Means Event Season

P: Bryce Mullin

We're almost through February now, and that gets me excited. Why? Well, aside from the fact that it should start getting warm again soon, it also means spring skiing is around the corner. And with spring skiing comes event season! Events, events and more events will dominate the calendar for the next month and a half. And it all starts this weekend with two huge ones.

Sno Quest

Gear up and head to the slopes for Vermont's biggest outdoor winter scavenger hunt this weekend. Starting on Friday February 27 and running through Sunday March 1, participants will trek all over the Bolton Valley Nordic and Alpine terrain in search of clues. Each clue will lead you to the next location, and so on. The winner at the end will receive a monetary prize of $1,000 cash! With dozens of other prizes to give away and a completely free registration, it's safe to say this is worth your time and effort this weekend. Who doesn't love free money and outdoor exercise?

Frigid Infliction

As if the chance to win money wasn't enough of a reason to hit the Nordic Center this weekend, the Frigid Infliction is back for another go 'round on Saturday, February 28. For those who haven't participated before, it's a ten hour Nordic adventure race for teams of two or three. Be prepared to snowshoe, posthole, cross-country ski, traverse a ropes course and navigate with a topographical map and compass.

If you have never done an adventure race before, this is the perfect one to start with. This was the first adventure race for about a third of the participants the past four years, so don't be intimidated!

For updated news, weather & conditions in our Nordic and Backcountry trails, view our Nordic Snow Report, which is updated twice daily.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Guest Blog: Park Sharks Love The Backcountry Too!

We pulled into the parking lot around 8:30am.

I had to rent snowshoes, so I made my way to the Nordic Center while Geoff prepped his gear at the car. Walking down, I realized our facilities typically don’t operate until 9am, so I was pleased to see they were open early. The staff there was very helpful in finding me what I needed (snowshoes that would fit over my snowboard boots) quickly. I noticed the stack of trail maps on the counter and thought it would be a good idea to grab one. However, knowing from past experience that these tend to turn into soggy, ripped up masses in my pocket or backpack, I opted to purchase the Mount Mansfield Region Nordic Ski & Snowshoe waterproof trail map; this later proved to be a wise decision.  I was back to the car in less than ten minutes which was awesome because we were eager to get moving.

Upon arrival to the car, I started my pre-hike checklist. 

The night prior, I had heard about an incident where a couple of skiers were nearly stuck on Woodward Trail due to binding malfunctions. I didn't want this to happen to me so I was thorough about checking my pack. Six Cliff Bars - because a sandwich won’t survive - one full water bladder, roughly a half gallon; extra gloves; extra hat; two long sleeve thermal t-shirts; one long sleeve Under Armor; one pair of extra socks; one set of extra lenses for my goggles; a turtle fur neck-warmer; a tubeless toilet paper roll in a sealed Ziploc bag and my helmet. 

Next was the tool kit. Screwdrivers, one Phillips and one flat; Duct Tape; paracord; a headlamp and extra batteries; two lighters and a Leatherman. I felt pretty good about what I had, so I strapped my pack to my back and we headed out.

Our route took us up to Bryant lodge first, which we had determined would be a good spot to stop and make any adjustments if necessary.  The trail had been well traveled and it made for easy going which was a nice way to start. I could hear the dull hum of the lifts operating in the background but that slowly faded away until everything was silent. 

As we gained in elevation, the trees became so coated with snow that they prevented any sound from traveling. I stopped and took it all in for a second. This was my first time out here and I was feeling a bit disappointed at all of the excuses I had made for not getting out earlier.

Bryant Camp is this awesome old cabin in the woods equipped with double doors for warmth, a cooking slate and a sleeping loft. It is the perfect send off location. From that point, there is quick access to Devils Drop, Heavenly Highway and the Catamount Trail. 

I won’t share the exact places where we rode, but what I can say is that it was the best and deepest snow I have ridden in my 15 years of snowboarding. Everywhere we looked was the most epic tree line I had seen on the east. I wanted to ride all of it but I knew my legs would never allow it. 

By the conclusion of my adventure, I finally understood the phrase “earn your turns.” And my legs did too. There is so much terrain out there within this amazing network of trails and I’m going back every chance I get.

Anthony Staples is Terrain Parks Manager at Bolton Valley.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Uphill Ski Safety

Photo Courtesy Catamount Trail Association
So, it's been going off lately. Ya know, 'cause it snowed a little bit up here. Photo above was taken last weekend during our Uphill Demo Day and yes, it's really that deep out there. It was awesome to see so many people come out and learn about uphill skiing, so in light of that, here are a few extra safety tips to remember whether you're a newbie or on your 100th tour. Stay safe and have fun!

  1. Always be aware of grooming operations - This one should be pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes people don't realize that even though the mountain may be closed during off-hours, there's still operations going on. We groom all night long here at BV, and that means you're likely to come across a groomer if you're hiking our uphill route in the dark.
  2. Stay off trails that are currently being groomed - If you're getting strapped in and see groomer lights on the trail in front of you, stop and wait for him to finish his work before heading up the hill. Likewise, if you're about to head back down a trail and you see a groomer on it, wait for him to pass by and then proceed with caution. Groomers always have the right of way, so please respect the work they're doing to get the mountain ready for morning.
  3. If you see a groomer, yield - If you start down a trail and happen to encounter a groomer, stop on the far side of the trail and wait for him to pass if he is traveling uphill. If he is traveling down hill, move to the far side of the trail and slowly pass the groomer. Be sure to make eye contact with the pilot before you ski past and stay far away from the groomer. Do not cut back in front of the groomer at any time during your downhill run. These machines are heavy and fast and, trust me, you wouldn't want to tangle with one.
  4. Wear bright colored ski gear if possible - If you've got bright colored or reflective gear, wear it. That will make it easier for groomers to see you and for your friends to keep track of you as well.
  5. Ski in groups - Pick a line and everyone stick to it. Think of it as your own little wolf pack. Skiing closer together will not only make it easier to keep track of each other on the way down, but it will help our grooming staff as well. It's much easier to see four people skiing together than spread out individually all over the trail.
  6. Be smart. Be respectful - Don't be that person who cuts off a groomer on your way back down the hill. Don't ski right behind a tiller to get fresh corduroy. Remember, it's dark when we groom, so our pilots can't always see you if you're too close. Keep your distance, respect them and everyone will have a good night. The uphill policy has been fun this season, so let's make sure we're all on the same page so it can continue in future years as well.

For updated news, weather & conditions in our Nordic and Backcountry trails, view our Nordic Snow Report, which is updated twice daily.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Uphill Demo Day

I've never been splitboarding, telemark or AT skiing. I've post-holed my way up the mountain preseason and once the resorts close up shop for the season, but I've never done it right.

That's why I'm excited for February 7.

We've partnered with the Catamount Trail Association and Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington to give you and me the chance to try uphill access, or "skinning" the right way. On that Saturday, the crew from OGE will have free demos from 10am-2pm and no pre-registration is necessary. Once you've been fitted for the correct gear, Catamount Trail crews will be leading short uphill tours to Wilderness Peak via our uphill access routeWe'll discuss proper skinning technique, demonstrate how to transition from uphill into downhill mode, and help answer questions about the benefits of different backcountry setups. 

Available equipment will include alpine touring, telemark, and splitboarding options from Black Diamond, Dynafit, Marker and Fritschi. 

Please allow ~30 minutes to be fitted and setup with appropriate equipment.

It's also Blue Cross Blue Shield Day, so regular Nordic tickets and rentals are free from 11am-3pm for anyone who wants to get some exercise during the day.

For updated news, weather & conditions in our Nordic and Backcountry trails, view our Nordic Snow Report, which is updated twice daily.