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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Take Your Car, I Take My Skis

I just finished checking in with my staff for the night and grabbed one pair of the employee backcountry skis. I walked out the door of the Nordic Center and proceed down Broadway. At the intersection of Teardrop I noticed the sky began to turn a beautiful pink hue with the mountains in the background. I continued down past the historic Bolton lodge, then all the way down to the “S” turn on the BV access road.

Once I crossed the street to the Catamount Trail, I knew by the ski boundary sign that I was leaving the boundaries of Bolton Valley Nordic area*. Fortunately, the Catamount Trail is very well marked, the snow was plentiful and I knew exactly where I was going. I crossed Joiner Brook later at the snowmobile bridge and stayed on the snowmobile tracks until I noticed a trail with ski track on it. I followed it a unfortunately fell a few inches into a running stream. Those kinds of things can happen when you leave ski area boundaries, but I was well prepared.

After about 2 minutes of banging and scraping my skies together I clipped them back on and proceeded to the trail in front of me. I came out on the switchback and after about five minutes of gliding and pushing, I ended my run at the Smiley School parking lot and walked up the road to my house at the bottom of the Access Road.

What an inspiring and thrilling ski down the mountain, and an amazing commute home.

-Nordic Wes

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

*Remember, trails outside the resort boundary are not marked, patrolled or groomed by Bolton Valley. There may be hazards under the snow like streams or rocks. When venturing into the backcountry, always be prepared with adequate gear and stick to the Catamount Trail.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nordic Update

Yeah. It's all kinds of awesome in our backcountry right now.

As we've been assessing and overhauling our website/media etc this season, I just wanted to update everyone on the future of our blogs and how they'll work from here on in.

If you're looking for up-to-date conditions, snow quality, trail count etc, that information will live over in our Nordic Snow Report, which is updated twice daily. Once in the early morning with conditions for the day and once in the afternoon with projected conditions for the following day. If you're looking for basic info to plan out your day with us, head over there.

This blog will be for longer form stories and less for conditions and weather updates. We'll talk about upcoming events, interesting tidbits that you might not be aware of, and things that don't really belong in a snow report. Think of it as a way to enhance the information you're already receiving from our Nordic Snow Report. We plan on updating about once a week (give or take) when there's cool stuff to talk about.

Head over to our Nordic Snow Report page now for up-to-date conditions, weather and open trails.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Uphill Travel Policy

We were caught in a little snow squall yesterday, picking up 3" of fluff and nothing makes me want to hit the slopes more than new snow falling from the sky. It also makes me yearn for steep & deep effortless pow turns later in the season when our backcountry fills in. Sadly, we're not quite there yet, thanks to Mother Nature's latest cruel joke, but give it a few more weeks. 

Since it's not quite deep or soft enough to trek through our 100km of backcountry terrain, some people might be jonesing to get their uphill winter hike on and test out some new gear on our alpine slopes. We understand, empathize with and appreciate your enthusiasm for skiing with us. That's why, this season, we've outlined a brand new Uphill Travel Policy designed to allow our guests to skin or splitboard uphill both during and outside of operating hours. Please read the guidelines through before attempting to skin or hike uphill, stay only on highlighted routes and obey the restrictions set forth. Happy hiking!

Bolton Valley 2014-15 Uphill Travel Policy

Uphill travel on skis is permitted at Bolton Valley. Skiers are advised to adhere to the following guidelines:
  • During hours when lifts are open, uphill skiers must have a lift ticket for the day, season pass, Nordic day ticket for the day, or Nordic season pass. Uphill skiers do so at their own risk.
  • During hours when lifts are not open, uphill skiers access Bolton Valley property at their own risk and do not need a ticket or a pass.
  • AT ALL TIMES the two routes designated for uphill skiing are:
    • Wilderness: Turnpike to Peggy Dow’s
    • Timberline: Twice as Nice to Woods Hole to Brandywine
    • Access to uphill skiing is limited to theses routes both during and outside of operating hours. 
    • No uphill traffic is permitted to the top of Vista.
  • Skiers should stay to their left when traveling uphill.
  • Please form single file lines when skiing uphill.
  • No dogs.
  • No snowshoes. Access is limited to skiers and split snowboards only.
  • Use headlamp and reflective clothing at night.
  • Do not travel alone. Always have at least one other person with you.
  • In case of an emergency when lifts are open contact Ski Patrol at 802-434-6892. Please carry a cell phone.
  • In case of an emergency when lifts are closed call 911.


  • Be aware of grooming machines and snow machines and let them pass.
  • Yield to all downhill traffic. Downhill traffic has the right of way.
  • Do not access trails that you can see are being groomed.
  • Please do not access trails where snowmaking is occurring.
  • There are no rescue personnel on duty at Bolton Valley Resort after regular operating hours.
  • Be prepared for extreme winter conditions and sudden weather changes.
  • Use properly maintained equipment.
  • There are many inherent dangers to winter mountain sports. Use care and caution at all times.

Access to Bolton Valley Resort premises for recreational use after hours is governed by Vermont law [12 V.S.A. 5791 et seq].

Access Is At Your Own Risk.