Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring skiing with Jonny Jay

by Jonny Jay
 
Just here to report that the skiing was epic on Sunday, April 23. Rained all Saturday night but I awoke to sun and blue sky. Off early, on the mountain by 9. Bonnie was on delay because of ice on the cables, believe it or not, and since the tram was closed and flyer on hold, I skated off to the triple. Groomed Jet first run, and even then the snow was thick enough to give my legs a work out. A little different in the shade on the Haynes where it was still very firm. Tried the Derrick but it was too crisp. Headed over to Bonnie and down Green Mtn Boys into North Glade for a bit but the exit was not good so I bushwacked back to trail trail. Up Flyer to Ullrs to check out Beaver pond. Perfect timing as the snow was just softening, moguls were round because of all the rain (some debris of course) but it was great, then traversed over to Andre's. There were a few crevasses on Kokomo and a couple of mud hurdles but snow all the way down. Next run was the JFK (had seen people heading that way so thought maybe). Lots of grass on the way to JFK but there was no rope so it was open, despite the ten-foot path of snow on the left and the grass and mud on the rest of the trail. Once over the hump the lower half was big rounded moguls -- awesome but am glad no one else was there because I took several breathers -- to enjoy the view of course.

Then back up and over and called it a day -- a new man after that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March strikes again at Jay Peak

Nine days after Stella, you could still find untracked snow in NVT.

If you were lucky enough to be in northern Vermont last weekend (or born in the right place), you'll know how great the skiing was. After four great and different days at Jay Peak, I can assure you that there is lots of snow left. After an easy but still 7.5 hour drive down on Thursday, I changed quickly and headed up the 242 for a familiar easy-access backcountry run. Mt. Trixie was in fine form and, surprisingly, only sported a few tracks from previous skiers. The weather was cold, windy and the sky clear blue. What a fine welcome back that run was.

There are no lifts on that hill, unfortunately.
On Friday, the day dawned grey, gloomy and much milder. Pudd and I headed to the mountain with fairly low expectations, always a good policy for skiers anywhere. Even though we started the day at Stateside, we still managed to get on the first tram, and after weaving through the crowd at the top, scored first run down the freshly groomed Vermonter. Big GS turns, no stopping until we hit the Montrealer - what a run! Our good fortune continued when the snow started coming down at 10 and continued all day. Aided by the persistent wind, runs kept getting refilled and we even found four or five inches of untracked fresh snow on the middle Goat on our last run before lunch. Unbelievable. Our only bad call was JFK, a long time favourite. Sadly, the icy death moguls were not that much fun, even with fresh snow in the troughs. In the spirit of the day, this was all forgotten after we ducked in to Lower Everglade at the bottom of the pitch.

Pudd blending in to Beaver Pond on Friday.
 On the way up the Flyer on Friday, huddling up in the fierce wind, Pudd summed up our collective ethos: "This is why I like Jay Peak; it's bitter." No matter what gets built at the bottom, the mountain stays the same - cold, snowy, windy and rewarding.

Team Line having some deep conversation.
On Saturday we were joined by Jonny Jay, and with just three skiers, created a collective one-mountain experience of over 125 seasons. Kind of mind-boggling when you think of it. Knowing a mountain so intimately allows for some creative run-making. There is no stopping to check the trail map, just a discussion that usually starts halfway up the chair. While you would think that having having three people with that amount of combined Jay Peak experience sitting on a chairlift would make for some snap decision-making, usually the conversation would go like this:
"OK, where are we going?"
"You decide."
"No, I decided last time."
"Faacckk, why me. Uh, OK, how about upper blah-blah to lower-blah-blah"
"Hmmm. That could be good be good. But what about such and such woods?"
And so on.

The Vikings were everywhere.
 But the end result is always creative, fun and always a bit different. The trail maps are in our heads, even if we don't always agree on the names (who knew that Chute One is called Purgatory on the map). We ski fast, with few stops, and roam the mountain, putting together combinations like (forgive me for divulging) Goat - GMB - Flash - Bushwhacker - Ullr's. Sounds crazy but when you link it all together on an uncrowded day, it gives you a really fun, long run with little bit of almost everything. But was it Full Goat? I'm not telling.

Upper Kitz on Sunday. Marvellous.
 Pudd had to leave on Saturday afternoon so he could catch a plane to Vegas. What a world. And too bad, because Sunday was a perfect early spring day: sunny, warm but not too warm, fast snow and fewer people, even with the Bonnie on indefinite closure. We found great snow remaining in the BP/Andre's area, and even enjoyed a fine late morning run in Timbuktu. After an early lunch and two more runs, we called it a day and both packed up to head home. And let me tell you, there is nothing like a long drive home after such a weekend. What, I have to get out of the car now?

Jonny Jay in Timbuktu, 12 days after Stella.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Post-Stella day two

by Jonny Jay

JJ reports that there were no somersaults today and he did manage to snap a few pics:

Blue day at Jay

Somewhere in Andre's Paradise

The pitch on Ullr's Dream looking very dreamy



Thursday, March 16, 2017

A post-Stella report from Jonny Jay

by Jonny Jay

This just in from our spiritual leader:

Hi all:

Not a bad drive here yesterday because no one was on the road! Smooth sailing, plowed roads, bad visibility but not too bad. Secondary roads, including 78 and the road to the mountain, are covered in a heavy chunky ice.

Snow is waist deep at the clubhouse, both dogs disappeared when they ventured into the deep stuff.
Just got back from the mountain. Got behind an oil delivery truck coming back and he was stuck half way up the hill. Eventually got around him.

Nice to ski on snow again! Got to bed early, another good bit of snow last night, started off to the mountain but halfway up I remembered that my ski boots might be handy to have, so back to the house and off again. Remembering that I hadn't skied for almost a month, and haven't had much exercise, so I originally thought a cruiser might be in order. But I was late, so thought what the hell, I will do the Kwai to get away from the Ontario March break crowds (ed. note: that's Onatario in JPR marketing speak). The left side where Pudd and I usually go was untouched! Couple of turns to the rocky steep that is now covered in snow. First turn off the crest, beautiful, but I had forgotten about that gnarly little tree that juts out from the rock, which is now hidden from view (shades of Staircase), however all surprising good fun as I did a somersault on the way down, much to the delight of the skiers to the right heading into Vertigo. Nice soft landing. After a few of my favourite stashes (Flyer was closed) I was wiped and packed it in knowing I would be there tomorrow. Northway and Montrealer were like Western skiing - perfect snow but you couldn't see much with the blowing snow and flat light.

I will keep you up to date.

(ed. note 2): The Onatarians will be heading down next week. Save some snow for us!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

We're back: a Christmas Eve report

by Jonny Jay
A Christmas Eve snow report

Full-on winter at Jay today, including those without snow tires doing the snake dance up the mountain road -- several not making it. Wanted to squeeze in a couple of runs to get the kinks out but wasn’t expecting a blizzard!

Bonnie was closed so took the Taxi chair over to the Flyer. Nice mid-winter face blow on the Flyer with wet snow sticking to the goggles but Ullr’s Dream was actually dreamy with a good six inches of freshie still on the sides. Then detoured into Beaver Pond – awesome for this time of year and really good at any time – same freshie in there too. Last run I thought I would coast down the Northway and maybe pick up Hells Woods on the way, but as I was passing Powerline . . . it looked as if it hadn’t been skied, no rope, no people. 

Hard left. Best conditions on Powerline in a long time. Absolutely perfect – soft crud with fresh snow on top and early in the year so no crazy gullies. Mine were the only tracks all the way down. I was back in the groove after that run.

Conditions are great.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

What is next for Jay Peak?

There is a bit a shitshow going on in the Jay Peak and Burke Mountain head offices right now. The resorts' owners, Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, are in some hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission over misappropriation of EB-5 funds. Ooops. Here is the press release:

SEC Case Freezes Assets of Ski Resort Steeped in Fraudulent EB-5 Offerings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2016-69
Washington D.C., April 14, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a Vermont-based ski resort and related businesses allegedly misusing millions of dollars raised through investments solicited under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The SEC’s case was unsealed today in federal court in Miami, and the court has appointed a receiver over the companies to prevent any further spending of investor assets.
The SEC alleges that Ariel Quiros of Miami, William Stenger of Newport, Vt., and their companies made false statements and omitted key information while raising more than $350 million from investors to construct ski resort facilities and a biomedical research facility in Vermont.  Investors were told they were investing in one of several projects connected to Jay Peak Inc., a ski resort operated by Quiros and Stenger, and their money would only be used to finance that specific project.  Instead, in Ponzi-like fashion, money from investors in later projects was misappropriated to fund deficits in earlier projects.  More than $200 million was allegedly used for other-than-stated purposes, including $50 million spent on Quiros’s personal expenses and in other ways never disclosed to investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Quiros improperly tapped investor funds for such things as the purchase of a luxury condominium, payment of his income taxes and other taxes unrelated to the investments, and acquisition of an unrelated ski resort.
“The alleged fraud ran the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “As alleged in our complaint, the defendants diverted millions of EB-5 investor dollars to their own pockets, leaving little money for construction of the research facility investors were told would be built and thereby putting the investors’ funds and their immigration petitions in jeopardy.”
The SEC’s complaint charges Quiros, Stenger, Jay Peak, and a company owned by Quiros called Q Resorts Inc. as well as seven limited partnerships and their general partner companies with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Four other companies are named as relief defendants in the SEC’s complaint for the purpose of recovering investor funds transferred into their accounts.  The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, financial penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest.  The agency also seeks conduct-based injunctive relief against Quiros and Stenger along with an officer-and-director bar against Quiros.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brian Theophilus James, Trisha D. Sindler, Michelle Lama, and Mark Dee, and the case was supervised by Chedly C. Dumornay of the Miami Regional Office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Christopher Martin and Robert K. Levenson of the Miami office.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General and other authorities in Vermont

The "good" news is that Jay Peak is currently operating under a new management company and our pal Steve Wright has been appointed General Manager.  We like Steve and wish him all the best in his new, but somewhat awkward, leadership position. It is probably not the promotion scenario he was hoping for.

I'm thinking that we should probably just give up on the West Bowl and a relocated Bonaventure Chair for the mean time. I hope the hardworking staff of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain will come out of this with jobs.

Makes you wish for the good old days, doesn't it? (photo by Harvey)




Friday, March 11, 2016

Timing is everything this winter.

A classic view of Jay Peak
It is no secret that a lot of Eastern skiers have been pretty grumpy this season. Ullr has been fickle, and many resorts would not have opened without snowmaking. Jay Peak did not escape the meagreness, though over the last few weeks, the snow planets lined up and delivered some good accumulation. I took advantage of a window of opportunity earlier this week, and got to ski for three days before the warm-up that was forecast to cause a big meltdown (figuratively and literally).

CanAm looking a bit glacial on day one but much better than a month ago.

Canyonland was in fine shape on Sunday, a nice treat.
 Skiing on a Sunday always has a special flavour. The mountain will still be busy but the atmosphere a little more subdued. I think there is a greater percentage of experienced skiers, which makes things a little more predictable. This Sunday in particular was a great day to clean out the cobwebs and get the lift-serviced mindset back. The sky was clear and blue, temperatures really pleasant and the wind pretty much non-existent. Groomed runs were in great shape, the woods were a little scrapey but still fun and it was best to stay away from ungroomed natural snow runs unless you needed to practice the controlled sideslip. Of all places, Flash was Run of the Day, with smooth snow and no ice. Chatting on the chair, I met people from New Jersey, New York City and downstate New York, all skiing at Jay because the conditions were better than anywhere else they considered. Like a good passholder, I skied till noon. After a pizza-fueled visit to FirstTrax, I changed setups and drove back up the 242 for a tour up Mt. Trixie. As always, a world apart from the resort but so close.  In the backcountry woods, the snow was very interesting: a firm crusty base with a variable but imminently skiable soft crusty-ish surface layer. If that makes sense.

In the crusty Canyonland the next day.
Monday's weather and conditions could not have been more of a contrast. The sunny day before might have been the perfect ski day for some people but on this day, many people would not have skied. The Snowbaru's thermometer indicated that the outside temperature was -2 C, was was great, but the wind was howling and wet sideways snow was starting to come down hard when I rolled into the Stateside lot. At 9 am, the Freezer, Tram and Bonnie were on wind delay. Alrighty then, up Taxi, down Sweetheart and off to the Jet we go. The snow continued to pile up but by 10:30, changed to a lovely wind-driven sleet/snow mix. Visibility was poor. I took a break. The regular crowd of local retirees was leaving, several complaining about the long line at the Jet, though admitting that the skiing was very good. You can't begrudge these people for bailing, they can ski every day if they want. Soon enough, the sleet changed back to snow and people got spread out on the hill. The big line disappeared. ROD, again perhaps surprisingly, was Kitzbuhel to Lower Jimmy Glade. I took three runs in a row down that, all with more or less the same line. Each time, I felt like the first person down, as my previous tracks had been filled in by the driving snow. Somewhere around noon, the wind died down, the Bonnie opened, the snow died off and the fog rolled in. Visibility got worse. The fact that you could see something made skiing in the woods or shrubby runs like Powerline much preferable to an open cruiser, not to mention the nice new snow. The Tram and Flyer never opened that day, so some creative route planning yielded untracked results well after lunch.

Monday: fresh tracks near noon in an accessible glade. No complaints.
Along with the weather, the tone of chairlift chats changed on Monday. With the exception of Grumpy Hockey Dad, who wasn't pleased with the poor visibility, everyone I talked to was having a fantastic day despite the challenging weather. Two passholders from Stratton drove up for the day and were clearly having a terrific time, despite the fact that they had never been to Jay Peak before and "couldn't see shit."  Another conversation helped restore my faith in the future of skiing humanity. Two boys, maybe 12 or 13, regular Jay skiers and obviously friends, chatted confidently with me, and we had a refreshing and highly entertaining discussion about fat skis, google defrosters and what Jay Peak like when I was their age. Maybe there is something to this Raised Jay thing, after all. It blew my mind a little when, after I described the experience of riding the Jet T-bar, one of them confessed that while he knew what a T-bar was, he had never ridden one, nor even seen one at a ski hill.
CanAm much improved on 3/8.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016, is now on my list of top l0 Jay Peak ski days. Except for the cloud-shrouded upper mountain, above the Bonnie summit, the sky was clear. All lifts were scheduled to open, but as I didn't feel like waiting for the Bonnie, I went up the Taxi, and sped down Queen's Highway, thinking a trip up the Tram might be in order if the line wasn't ridiculous. Monday's snow had been groomed, the wind was down and the mountain looked very inviting. The Tram line was too long, so I headed for the Freezer and was on the third chair. Deciding to go right, I poled through the undecided and found myself second guy down Ullr's. I let the skis run so I could stay that way. Despite the new snow and grooming that pitch was still very firm and very fast. I think I did two big turns on it. When I noticed that first guy's tracks led to Beaver Pond, I channeled my Crazy Canuck downhiller heritage and bombed the rest of Ullr's. What a way to wake up. There was no ROD because every run was fun, with snow like sugar frosting. Mexican Night at Bernie's the night before gave me the fuel for a fantastic day spent checking out all the old favourites: Can Am, JFK, River Quai, Green Beret, Exhibition and even Wedelmaster (with the Groomer Trap variation). I rode the tram three times and did Valhalla twice, it was in fine condition.

The Tuesday morning view on the River Quai
Above those clouds, looking at Big Jay.
All good trips must come to an end and I headed home on Wednesday. When I left The Clubhouse at 10 am, the temperature was 60 F and skies were overcast. The warm-up was on. I am glad (and lucky) that I timed this trip well but am confident that Jay has a solid enough base to keep spring conditions going for a while.

Welcome to Valhalla.
Fingers crossed.

Think Snow.