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.