Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Much to report...

The Jay Cloud in action

Let's start with a quote from Monday's snow report, probably not much different from the weekend's (no mention of wind, though):
Expect primarily machine groomed and packed powder conditions today with the odd spot of hardscrabble and/or windblown in those unprotected areas you love so much. Base depths are running to 4' in spots, 2' in others.
What is it with the hardscrabble?

Is this hardscrabble or simply a rock?

After a pleasant evening at the JJ secret hideout, BT and I arrived in Monkey Centre on Friday. Feeling under the weather, BT decided to rest up at the JJ clubhouse, pending the arrival of JJ and the Devon Cusser (more on that later) later in the day. So, off I went to Jay, camera in pocket, in search of the elusive hardscrabble. Arriving just in time for the half-day ticket, I learned that the tram had been closed all day and the Freezer had just shut down due to wind and frostbite danger. Hope there was nobody on it! And no kidding, the wind, even at the Stateside Chalet, was howling.

What to do? Bundle up and go skiing!
While gearing up indoors, I did my best to use up an entire picnic table by myself and almost pulled it off. Other skiers in the locker room were claiming that is was "really cold." I later realized that you should never trust the weather reporting of people from Long Island or Connecticut. Ask someone from Vermont, Quebec or Ontario (except for Toronto). In my humble opinion, it was only "pretty cold." The raging wind amped things up a bit but it all seemed quite normal to me. As for the snow, it was generally quite good. True packed powder on probably 80% of the skiable terrain. It was the other 20% that made things exciting. Just when I was getting in the groove, out of nowhere, sheets of glare would appear on some windblown trail section. Also out of nowhere, hardscrabble would appear, grinding one's skis to a complete halt. This is never good for freeheelers. Where was that five feet of snow? Conditions had definitely improved since Christmas but Powder Paradise is definitely somewhere else. The hitchhiker I picked up on the 242 reported that the woods up there were "OK." Hmmmm. Only "OK" does not justify missing several lift-assisted runs while waiting for a random ride back to Stateside.

Hardscrabble ahead on the River Kwai

On Saturday the weather deteriorated but the skiing improved. For one thing, the company was better. The JJSC was well represented by JJ, the newly named Devon Cusser, Blue Toes (now feeling better) and SBR, your humble reporter. After the traditional oatmeal breakfast, we struggled off to the hill for a 10 am start. Despite the wild wind and cold we had a fun day (except for our excursion on the Goat).

Why don't those women want to lift their legs for the picture?

Some highlights:

- fine company
- fast snow and good conditions, mostly.
- JJ's powerslide on the upper Can Am (aka Supertrail). I went right and had a great run!
- Seeing snowshoers on the Goat. That was surreal. They were hiking up the middle of the trail, under the Freezer, apparrently oblivious to the fact that skiers and snowboarders were approaching at a high rate of speed and in very little control. Hello!

Things to rant about over a bottle of Barefoot:

1) People who eat bought lunches in the Locker Room. It's bad enough wangling a table among the other picnickers. The poutine-eaters should stay upstairs.

2) People who save tables in the locker room. For an hour.

2) What's the number crisis facing the ski industry? GLOBAL WARMING. Who's leaving the Jay Peak Audi gas guzzler running for 20 minutes while he checks out gate receipts Stateside? BILL STENGER. Get a grip Bill, turn the car off.

3) The Goat. Here's how the Devon Cusser got her name. JJ, a little bored of the Northway, says "let's do something different." I say, "let's ski the Goat." BT and JJ agree, knowing it will be unpleasant but a change of pace. DC says, "I hate the &%$#*@>*%$# Goat." Well, we skied it anyway and she was right. It was truy a run to be hated that day. And closed, probably, due to dangerous conditions. It's just a little bit sketchy when the Icefields start halfway down the rock cut section and don't end until just before the River Kwai.

4) Tourists that interrupt your peaceful checkout at Sylvester's by yelling at the clerk, "do you have a bathroom?"

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