Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dear Santa: please send Jay Peak some snow for Christmas!

This blog was started back in 2007 when we noticed that there were some discrepancies between what the mountain was reporting and what we were seeing "on the ground." After skiing at Jay Peak the last two days, all I can say is "the more things change, the more things stay the same."

For example, today, the Jay Peak web site is reporting this: "Home of the most snow in the east?  I think so, over five feet of snow has fallen since mid-November and with the 5-7" we picked up over the past 24 hours, it's now very close to six feet." If I am not mistaken, this is what is known as "magical thinking." I'm not going to deny the snowfall amounts, as there have been well-documented accounts of huge powder dumps in Vermont recently. Unfortunately , the part missing from the equation is that not all that snow is still on the ground. Some of it melted in early November. A lot of it got washed away in the big rain event last week. I can only assume that most of the snow that was falling as I drove to Jay on Monday got blown away into hard-to-reach (read: closed) parts of the mountain. As usual, and to give the Jay snow reporter his due, it was snowing pretty heavily as I left the hill yesterday.

In spite of all that, we still managed to have fun and get some nice runs in. Conditions were fast and carvy (is that a word?). And also as usual, even with a brief two-day visit, there is much to report. Here are a few pictures to set the scene and you'll just have to wait for the detailed report coming later. I have to admit, it was too cold for taking pictures on the lift or most places on the hill.

It was a cold morning at SBR HQ to start the trip
From our extensive fleet of four-wheel-drive vehicles, I chose the Snowbaru. 
Some people start their drive in the city, I start in the moose-infested hinterland.
Jonny Jay hiking across the tundra to protect his new bases
The Prophet Brothers take a break. It would have been a good day for those RC4s.
Someone else's tracks on the River Quai. Typical of closed runs: snow on the edge, grass/rocks in the middle.
It is 2:42, -12 C, time to hit the 242 - I'm done.
Snazzy recycled tables in the Locker Room lend themselves well to spreading out.
It was a little blustery on Wednesday, even the Jet was on wind delay.
I should have taken the scenic route home...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Verrry interesting...

For all you Jay Peak development-watchers out there, check out the video below and read this thread from the AlpineZone forums. Make sure you go all the way to page 2, where Steve Wright replies.

In my recent chit-chat with Steve Wright, he let me in on some of those plans but I was sworn to secrecy. Arrggh, I've been scooped by a YouTube video with Vietnamese subtitles!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SBR's historical Jay Peak ski quiver

Putting up pictures of your ski quiver seems to a popular topic for ski bloggers and forum posters. Hey, why not? You've done the thinking, spent all this money, made good (and possibly bad) decisions, so why not brag about it a bit. When considering a picture of my own quiver, I realized that I wasn't really sure where to draw the line between "quiver" and "collection," plus I knew that, for the purposes of this blog, there needs to a Jay Peak angle on the topic. Then, inspired by reading MadPat's recent post on the Canadian Ski Museum, I realized that my own collection of skis is a personal history of sorts, not merely yard-sale fodder, as some wags have suggested.

There are almost 40 years of Jay Peak memories in these boards!
While splitting wood this morning, I had a brainwave. Why not assemble all the devices I have used to slide down Jay Peak that are still in my possession, and tell their stories? Believe me, some of these go back a long way.  So here they are, with a little bit of "Jay Peak memory lane" thrown in for good measure.

Note the classic BC sticker. That is BC as in the prehistoric cartoon character!
Dynastar MPI Equipe, 195 cm, Salomon 502 bindings, made in France, circa 1974ish. What an awesome ski this was. Three layers of metal, including one functioning as the "Omega core," GS cut and everybody told me they were too short! They had a pretty wide shovel for the time and were great powder skis. I have many fond memories of floating through the woods at Jay on these skis. This was before they called the woods "glades" and put them on the trail map. I used these skis for many years and sadly, they are no longer skiable due to some serious age-related delamination. 

Don't you love those 80s colours? Ahh, the days of teal and pink.
Atomic ARC Team HV6 RS, 200 cm, Tyrolia 490 bindings, made in Austria, circa mid-80s. These skis are race-stock ice-slayers. RS stands for "riesenslalom" (giant slalom), not sure about the HV6. Probably "high velocity, Mach 6" because that is what is required to make them turn. Not so good in the trees! I bought them from a friend who was on the Ontario ski team at the time. Still skiable, so these will be the weapon of choice if there is ever a "Longboard Day" at Jay. Best Jay memory on these skis? Hmm, probably that time on Ullr's when there no people on the run and the throttle got opened up a bit. Maximum riesenslalom!

Good thing pink wasn't the new black back in the 80s
Karhu XCD Extreme, 198 cm, Rottefella Super Telemark bindings with Voile plates (bindings have been re-purposed to a pair of touring skis), made in Canada, circa 1988. These replaced an earlier pair of the original Extremes, known to telemarkers as "red sleds." This ski was ahead of its time and most of the boots of the day did not have the power to drive them to their full potential. I sure had to work hard to keep up with the posse on their alpine skis! Strangely, my best Jay memory with these skis is going over the handlebars at the top of JFK and landing head-first in a tree well. Once they got over their hysterical laughter, one of my strong young nephews helped pull me out before I suffocated.

The BASE jumper on the base is even cooler than the metalflake top

Burton Rippey 158 with Burton SI bindings, made in USA, circa 2001. This board rides even better than it looks and the step-in binding is tailor-made for old farts. After borrowing snowboards for a year or so, I decided to buy one and snowboarded almost exclusively for three years. Now that my knee is fixed, I might just take it up again. Same problem as telemarking though, it is hard to keep up with the skiers and they stop in all the wrong places. On a spring trip to Jay with Blue Toes I had two unforgettable runs. One was top-to-bottom on the UN, a rare event on a snowboard (it had been groomed flat as as a pancake and I think I was the second person down). Later that day, after BT had gone in, I hung out at Sky Haus till the three other tram riders had disappeared, then enjoyed a totally surreal run on perfect corn snow, riding in complete solitude from the summit all the way to the lower Goat.

Gotta love the Euro graphics: I think they were trying to make them look "woodsy"
Fischer Big Stix 75, 175 cm, Rottefella Cobra R8 binding, made in Austria, circa 2004. Originally mounted with alpine bindings, these were my first pair of "fat" skis. No longer fat by today's standards, they will go down in history as the ski that tore my ACL (of course it was the ski's fault). They make a great "everyday" tele ski and I still use them frequently. This ski reminds me of fun times cruising with my family on mellow runs.

The Sick Birds await transformation on my snazzy new work table.
Rossignol Sick Bird, 171 cm, about to get fitted with new Black Diamond 03 tele bindings, made in Spain, circa 2005. These skis have a lot of holes in them. I went from telemarking in lace-up leather boots and the Karhus to these skis and four-buckle plastic monsters. Had to learn to ski all over again! Then I switched the alpine/tele set up between the Big Stix and the Sickies, which worked a lot better for me. Despite being on the stiff and heavy side,  they are taking on a new life as a back-country ski for skin up, ski down kind of stuff. I recall being completely humbled on my first run with these skis, on the Queen's Highway of all trails, because I couldn't make a tele turn.

I really like the understated graphics on the Prophets
Line Prophet 100, 172 cm, with Salomon Z12 bindings, made in China, circa 2010. Have I told you how much I love these skis? In my opinion, this is the ideal "one ski quiver" for Jay Peak and I am really looking forward to getting back on them with two functional knees. My first run on these skis was a high-speed early morning blast down a freshly groomed Goat, and I knew I had found the right ski for me.

Missing in action: I think the first skis I used at Jay were a pair of white Arlbergs with screwed-on edges and cable bindings.  Once I got serious, I upgraded to some blue Fischers (model name escapes me) with early Solomon step-ins. The first ski I bought with my own money was the Rossignol Allais Major but I soon sold those and got the Dynastars. Between the Dynastars and the Atomics, Pudd sold me an amazing pair of skis known simply as the Rossignol GS. They were a joy to ski on but suffered from a lack of durability.

So there you have it. A personal history of skiing at a single mountain, as told by a collection of skis and one snowboard. And now that I've written it all down, I realized (and if you know me, you'll probably agree) that the collection above also reflects my somewhat schizophrenic relationship with sliding on snow and explains why Telemark Dave has given me the name Mr. Multiglisse. Does your quiver tell a story? I'll bet it does!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jay Peak: a marketing guy's dream, or nightmare?

Can the old and new coexist at Jay Peak?
On my recent trip to the Jay Peak area, I had the good fortune to sit down and chat with Steve Wright, the self-proclaimed "marketing guy" at Jay Peak. Steve's official title is Vice President of Sales and Marketing but when you sit sit down to talk with him, he definitely seems more like the marketing guy than a resort VP. Dressed in Carhartts and an open-necked shirt, Steve greeted me warmly in the waiting area of the Jay Peak admin office, clearly quite up for our meeting. Oh, and by the way, if you want to find the most old-school decor at Jay, head over to the administration offices. Dark brown panelling, that funky 3-D stucco, a collection of Jay posters and one lonely, uncomfortable sofa in the waiting area. I felt as if I had been tele-ported back to 1974. Let me assure you, the money is being spent outside the offices. Thankfully, we quickly headed into his lair, a very cozy office, complete with a vintage pair of Line skis, decaying orange Lange boots and random stuff everywhere. An office after my own heart.

So how does SBR, a humble independent ski blogger, get to sit down with the VP for an hour's worth of random discussion about our favorite mountain? It wasn't that hard, really, I sent him an email and asked. As others have commented, Steve completely "gets" social media, which includes bloggers, forums, mainstream magazines, on-line magazines, FaceBook, Twitter, etc., etc., and he is happy to reach out and talk. So talk we did, with a wide-ranging discussion that included Gordon Lightfoot (his dad is an old pal of Gord's), the Grateful Dead, the passion of Jay Peak skiers and the great conundrum of marketing (and developing) this hill: how do you keep the authenticity of the place, respect and preserve the passion of the avid Jay skier/rider and still have a ski resort that is relevant and profitable in the 21st century? Good question.

The big issues came up and here is the synopsis: the new hotel is scheduled to open in Dec. 2011, the waterpark in March 2012. What's the biggest improvement for the regular skier? Probably what they won't see, a massive investment in snowmaking, focused primarily on beginner and connector runs. The great lift realignment? Walter the consultant has been hired, wind testing starts now, construction starts in June, 2011 - we will be sitting on the rearranged and new lifts next season. Parking? Well, that might might be a bit tricky this winter (read between the lines: get to Stateside early). The future of Stateside Lodge: stay tuned. New lift ticket technology: pass in your pocket, no problem! For the full scoop, click here. Somewhere in the conversation, Steve commented that in a career spent in the ski industry, including 10 years at Killington, he has never experienced anything like the commitment and passion of Jay Peak skiers and riders. At this point, I thought, yeah, he does get it. There is hope.

Be prepared to join the Snowbaru and park here!
I got to the resort a little early for our appointment, so spent some time wandering around the construction site formerly known as Tramside. Pickup trucks were everywhere, construction trailers all over the place, temporary fencing blocking all the usual pathways, massive trenches dug in the ground between the lodge and the Flyer, and not a lot of obvious parking. And skiing starts in month, or less, I thought. These guys are effed. You would think this scenario would be the marketing guy's nightmare but apparently, not for Steve. He and his team seem to have turned this into an opportunity, engaging people on-line to comment on the "look and feel" of the new waterpark; making it clear to me that the EB5 funding, so critical to this development, ensures that all workers come within a 90 minute drive (as in, they are locals); theming the new Jay Peak magazine (I got an advance copy) to feature core skier values, Northeast Kingdom lifestyle, local economic benefits, the passing of Hotel Jay and some frank challenges to the haters, complainers and skeptics out there.

I would sum up their attitude like this: we are doing our damnedest to keep this mountain alive - if you don't like it, go somewhere else. And that somewhere else won't be Jay Peak. Get it?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A theoretically short hike on the Long Trail to the summit of Jay Peak

The real reason I drove all the way to Jay Peak in October was to do some hiking on the mountain using the Long Trail, off the 242. In the many years I have been visiting this area, I had never actually hiked up Jay Peak. Sure, we had hiked down, after a cushy ride up the tram on Canadian Thanksgiving, but that isn’t quite the same thing.

The drive up the Mountain Road did not fill me with confidence in the sanity of my planned activity. The air was cold, the wind a little biting, and once I got a view of the summit, I thought: hmmmm, is this a good idea?

The Jay Cloud still exists in the off-season! Or, maybe it’s winter up there.
Following my little diversion to see the construction site, I parked at the Long Trail parking lot at the top of Jay Pass on the 242. There were two other cars in the lot but no sign of hikers until two young men from Long Beach, New York, appeared out the woods. They asked me if I knew where the Long Trail was. I pointed at the (what I thought was) rather obvious break in the forest, complete with white blazes and rock steps heading up the mountain, and said: “I think it’s over there.” They looked suitably sheepish and confessed that they had been wandering about in the vicinity of The Dip, thinking the trail was in there. We chatted a bit and determined that we were all Jay Peak regulars, there for the same reason, to see what the mountain looked like at this time of year. Realizing that my inner geezer would not be pleased if they passed me on the trial, I muttered something about getting organized and let them steam off ahead.
Yeah, hiking, that’s what we came here to do!
Once I figured out which layers to wear and which to keep in the pack, corralled the dog and got him suited up in his safety orange vest (it is bow season after all), we headed off. Cheered by the simple trail marker indicating a short walk of 1.7 miles to the summit, I thought “no problem!” 

It sure seemed like longer than 1.7 miles. Must have been something to do with the elevation gain, yes, that’s it. The route was easy to follow, with shiny white blazes and a well-defined path. As we gained height, the trail steepened and patches of snow appeared. I adjusted layers and stopped to rest more than once or twice. A side trail led out to the lower Vermonter, which came in handy on the descent. Utah was overjoyed to find snow and expressed his exuberance as only a dog can.

Dog rule: when you encounter the first snow of the season, roll in it
Utah enjoys the view on the Vermonter
Approaching the top, the trail gets a little rugged
Up and up and up we went. We did encounter a few other folks making their way down. One couple, dressed for a more casual hike, said that it was a bit windy at the top. I noticed that the man was wearing Bean Boots and the farther up I went, the more I marveled that he made the trek in that footwear. Comfy, yes. Grippy, no. The next pair coming down the trail consisted of a young man and his dog, each bearing a hefty pack. Turns out he had starting hiking from the border four days ago and had camped out during the storm that brought all the recent heavy, wet snow to the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. He seemed cheerful enough but his dog was a bit grumpy and had few words with Utah. He apologized but personally, I didn’t blame her for being in a bad mood. I checked out his footwear too: very techy-looking lightweight hiking shoes. I’m guessing his feet were wet and cold.

Yes, the trail goes over the water pipe on the Vermonter
Once we emerged out of the woods onto the Vermonter, the going got easier but colder. The snow was hard enough to walk on and it was obvious that a few hardy souls had trekked up a few days before to enjoy the fresh snow on skis, snowboards and even a toboggan.

I am standing on unbreakable crust, on top of a snowboard track
Good thing Sky Haus was open, the weather was not the best for a summit picnic
Looking towards Mt. Washington from the top of Jay Peak
Big Jay with Mt. Mansfield in the distance
 I joined the guys from New York in the comfort of the Sky Haus. Plastic chairs and formica tables were quite cozy compared to the alternative of sitting on a cold rock. Ellen the Tram Driver was there as well, waiting for the construction workers who were up fixing the roof. We chatted about dogs, shared Jay Peak stories and simply enjoyed the camaraderie easily found by like-minded individuals, randomly meeting in an unusual place. I admired the new windows all round the Sky Haus and wonder if these are a sign of further renos to come...

Someone had to climb up there in the Jay wind to put in a new window!
 After lunch, Utah and I hiked up the icy stairs to the summit ridge. I didn’t realize it until later but the Long Trail crosses the Vermonter and heads right up to the true summit. I peered over the edge at The Saddle, a very steep chute I skied once, a long time ago. Gazing at it today, I’m not sure I have a big need to ski it again. Jay skiers may have a different name for this chute now, but back in the day, we called it The Saddle for reasons that are obvious when you look at the summit ridge from a distance.

Utah ponders the wisdom of dropping into The Saddle
Nice view of Owl’s Head, Mt. Elephantus and Lake Memphremagog

It was tricky walking along the summit ridge
Continuing farther down the ridge, we left the trail and headed over to Pumphouse, another run that is not on the trail map, named for the derelict pump building at the top. The pump house itself looks like a bomb hit it and the Pumphouse run looks like beavers have attacked it over the last few years. It is certainly much more visible from below, assuming you know where to look. When a run is this obvious, it can hardly be much a secret anymore. After deciding not to thrash through the spruce thickets below, Utah and I headed back uphill, over to the Vermonter and down to one of my favorite runs, The Green Beret. By this time, the snow had softened up a bit so walking downhill was pretty easy. Skiing on the semi-breakable crust would have been unpleasant. Since the walking was so good on the run, I decided to continue down the Vermonter to the cut-off back to the Long Trail I had found earlier. This way, I avoided coming down the icy, wet and steepest sections of the hiking trail. Must protect the knee!

The real pump house has seen better days
Gnarly, for certain, but Pumphouse sure looks like an official run
The Green Beret, closed as usual
Looking down the twiggy face of the Green Beret towards Northway

Utah decides that Valhalla is a no-go situation
Back on the Long Trail, the downhill walking was very pleasant, although a bit wet from run-off resulting from the snow and rain of a few days earlier. On the drive from the border to the Clubhouse, I had observed that river levels were very high and seen several flooded fields. While we hiked through the sunny forest I kept a close watch on Utah, as Ellen the Tram Driver had reported seeing a Catamount (aka: eastern cougar or panther) cross the highway on her way home from work a week or so ago. I can’t help but think that little Cutah would be a nice snack for a hungry big cat! Back at the 242 parking area, we checked out the trails on the south side of the road, planning for the next day’s hike (edit: just completed hiking up to Mt. Gilpin but took no worthy pictures).

This hike is well worth doing if you find yourself at Jay Peak in the non-snow season. Going up took me a little more than two hours, going at a steady but relaxed pace, with several rest and picture-taking stops. The trail is easy to follow with some tricky steep sections just below the top exit on the Vermonter. If you had more people and two vehicles, a nice variation would be to park  one car at the base lodge, then drive back to the 242 and hike up and over the mountain, coming down the ski trails. Finish off with refreshment at the Tower Bar or Alice’s Table and you would have the makings of a pretty fine day.

Utah scans the horizon for catamounts

For the optimists, there is a good base up there

Jay Peak: construction junction?

Waiting for the morning to warm up a little bit before starting my hike to the summit, I toured over to the resort side of Jay to see what was going on. I thought I might take a few mountain photos from the Stateside parking lot, but a sternly worded sign and a lot of big machinery convinced me to stay outside the gate.

There’s a lot of gravel going in here

Here’s the bird’s eye view from the summit ridge, taken a few hours (and calories) later
Following that surprise, I headed over to tramside to check out the action there. I was shocked at the level of activity and the number of cars. Surely, these people can’t all be here for the morning curling? No, at the moment it is all about construction and without even leaving the safety of my car, I could feel the “get ‘er done” energy in the air. The snow on the upper mountain must be a not-so-gentle reminder to the construction crews that winter’s deadline is approaching quickly.

The Ice Haus is ready for the Jonny Jay Invitational Curling Bonspiel
The shuttle busses are all shined up and ready for, well, shuttling, I guess
The level of the Hotel Jay and waterpark is rising rapidly
I’m assuming this is a new parking lot!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The rumours are true! Maybe.

Tired of reading people's theories about what lift is going where and whether or not a fixed-grip chair is better than a detachable one, I started scouting around on the Jay Peak web site, to see if maybe, just maybe, I'd missed something. Some blog post, press release (or as they now call it, a Social Media Release) or web site update regarding lift expansion. Nothing. What I did find was an invitation from marketing guy Steve Wright: "And we’re always open to suggestions on how we can improve.  Send them to the marketing guy at"

So yesterday, I sent Steve a question regarding the lift rumours, along with links to this blog and the thread on AlpineZone. He responded very promptly and also (coincidentally?) posted a public explanation today on AlpineZone. Good for you, Steve, and it's a good answer. The denizens of AlpineZone seemed to respond favourably. For you non-readers of forums, here is Steve's response:

Mill's grist.

Sorry about not chiming in sooner on this. We're not 100% sure on any of this so I'll give you a snapshot of where we are (philosophically) right now with it. Part of the reason we haven't been talking in public about this was to try and avoid the West Bowling of information as we've done in the past (having it on the trail map as coming soon for a decade sort of thing). As things come together in a more solid fashion, we'll let you know. For now though..

The existing Bonnie is scheduled to be replaced for next season. Current thinking is that the new lift might be placed on the Power Line trail with the top terminal on or about the top of St. George's-this is very similar to the old alignment of the original Bonnie Chair and would offer access to the JFK pod-insert 'If it aint broke, why'd you fix it' axiom here. To that end, we're installing an anemometer this fall to measure wind at that unload section to compare it to winds we've measured (ranging from Wow to Good Lord) along the Flyer line and the Tram Summit to make sure that if the new lift does go to St. George's then it will not be (as) affected by winds that tend to shut down the Flyer.

In order to address wind and chair-swing issues that were present in the original Bonnie line (great trail access aside), we are thinking that the new lift may be a six-pack (potential apologies Dale) as the chairs are considerably heavier (and thus less susceptible to wind), there will be fewer of them (giving folks more time to load) and we will design the uphill capacity to be in harmony with that of the terrain's downhill; capacity that is.

Side note-a number of bloggers and members of the social-media elite have asked why detachable chairs are more susceptible to wind than fixed-grips. It has to do with the need for the chair to be properly and well aligned with the terminal entry (not swinging) and this causes the lift to shut down (I'm oversimplifying here).

Current thinking also has us retrofitting the existing Bonnie Quad (we're not very good at throwing things away anyway) and used to replace the Jet Triple. Again uphill capacity would be designed and tweaked to sync with that of the terrain capacity so stay tuned here. The Jet Triple could then be re-installed to serve a lower-mountain pod that could include the terrain park (+1 to Riv here) and other pieces of intermediate terrain as well as access back to Tram Base from Stateside.

T-Bar his history-but we may end up with another conveyor lift to serve some beginner terrain and the kids area at the base of Stateside.

Sufficiently ambiguous? Sorry if I am but this stuff isn't near stone yet. As always, we'll try to make the best, most informed decision we can. Feel free to post or send ( comments and we'll consider them. Hope you're all well and looking forward to getting rolling soon.



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jay Peak lift rumour hotbed, part two

Well, it seems that what goes around, comes around, especially on the Hinterweb. Fellow ski blogger Harvey44 sent me an email containing a posting from the AlpineZone forums. He is way more web-savvy than I and seems to have time to follow all these various discussions. The thread there was started by a skier called JPtracker after he/she read my original post about new lift construction rumours. JPtracker visited Jay Peak recently and unearthed some new dirt, again from Jay Peak staff:
Update to lift rumors:

Hiked the mountain today and talked to two different workers. The current favorite is that a new six pack will follow the line of the old Bonnie double up Power Line to Saint Georges Prayer. The Bonnie was moved from there because it was very prone to wind hold. The current thought is that because the six pack chairs weigh a lot more the the old double chairs they will be a lot less prone to wind holds. Also it will give easier access to the other side of the mountain. Down side is it will be a hike over to Can AM, Vertigo and Upper Quai. Noticeable on my hike were numerous survey stake along Saint Georges Prayer and Power Line which gives some backing for this rumor.

Not part of the rumor but my guess is that the replacement for the T bar can now use the lift line. They can use the old Jet Triple and have it exit where liftline meets Can Am. This would just be an easy ski down to the terrain park from here, or to Taxi to get to Tram Side.
The discussion continues on AlpineZone but at least we have confirmation that something is up. When will Jay Peak management come out of the ski locker and confirm these plans?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ski Shopping for Jonny Jay

OK, enough about resort development, let's talk about SKIS.

Jonny Jay has concluded that the Solly X-Scream Pilot Extra Hots may be a bit long in the tooth and that it is time for new boards. Since I, through my association with the Official Ski Shop, am the default ski acquisitor (is that a word?) of this crew, here are the SBR-recommended skis for our fearless leader. Since our humble blog now seems to have a bit of a following outside the family, I should explain the criteria.

We are seeking the perfect "quiver of one" ski for Jay Peak, in all conditions. The skier in question has impeccably smooth technique, rooted in old-school, feet-together style, honed by many years on his home hill. That said, none of us are getting any younger, so a ski that is light, responsive, powder-friendly but capable of being dialed back when the legs get a bit tired is the order of the day. This ski will be the perfect ski for the expert eastern skier who skis in all conditions. Tall order, or what!?

In general, I think the ski will have a 90 to 100 mm waist, a fair bit of sidecut and possibly some tip rocker for the powder days. Plus, the graphics can't be too wierd or vibrant. The current generation of rockered skis claim to be capable on hardpack but, with the exception of the Green Beret, none of us has actually tried a pair, so I think the jury is still out on full rockered skis. The GB, now firmly planted in the Wild West,  actually has two pairs, K2 Hellbents and 4FRNT EHP Pros, and seems to prefer the 4FRNTs.

So, without further ado, I present the SBR list of recommended skis for Jonny Jay at Jay Peak, in alphabetical order. Skis marked with an * are available through the Official Ski Shop. For anything else, you are on your own. There are a lot of skis left out here, I've focused on those that are readily available or, for some reason or another, just stand out in the crowd.


MSP: I seriously considered this ski when shopping for myself last year. It gets rave reviews from expert skiers as an "all-round" ski and has pretty groovy graphics. I decided against it mostly because I thought it might be a bit on the stiff side for me. Maybe not the ideal ski for JJ but probably the perfect ski for Pudd or his hard-charging brother. Here is one review and then another.


Access: Don't know much about this ski except what I read in the Powder Buyer's Guide. It has the right dimensions and is not overly hideous. I did track down a few vague reviews and they all seemed highly positive. You generally can't go wrong with Atomics.

Blog: What a great name for a ski! I must have them. This ski has full rocker plus camber. It would be a great candidate for the "quiver of two." Seems to get mixed reviews but I would really like to try a pair.


Wailer 95 or 105: When you win the lottery, these are the skis to get. Handmade, high-tech and have a huge cult following among the cognoscenti.


Spire: Flat tail, tip rocker, very light, quick turning. In theory, this may be the ideal ski for JJ at JP. And if it is good enough for Glen Plake, it is good enough for me. No reviews to be found.


Hardside: Similar specs to the Elan above and gets some good reviews. It might take a while to get used to the paint job but it would be fun to hear Jonny sing the "rocky K2" song again.


Prophet 90 or 100: I love my Prophet 100s. They are reasonably light and do it all at Jay Peak: turny in the soft stuff,  surprisingly nimble in bumps and seem to have no speed limit on hardpack groomers. Dogski said he thought I became a better skier on them. The 90 would be a little quicker edge to edge. I am still wondering if I should have got the 179s instead of the 172, despite the sage advice. Graphics are outstanding.

Prophet 115: I was very tempted to sell to P100s and get these. Sanity ruled, they might be a bit fat for a little guy's "daily driver." This again, could be the ski for Pudd or a second ski for JJ or I.


This "boutique" ski company has a big following and the skis are pretty affordable, even though you have to buy direct, on-line. The Billy Goat would be a great second pair of rockered fat skis for the "big" days, as professed here.


It seems we are a Salomon family. JJ and the GB both had the original X-Screams, JJ now has the Xtra-hots, Pudd rocks the magical Guns, Ron has the Crossmax, Throckmorton the Lords and I think almost all of us have Salomon bindings and/or boots. There also seems to be a love affair around here  with French skis: Salomon, Dynamic, Dynastar and Rossignol are all found in the ancient ski quivers of the Jonny Jay Ski Club.

Sentinel: This might be the Xtra-Hot for the new age. Like the Elan Spire and K2 Hardside, the Sentinel sports a rockered tip and flat tail but the graphics are way more understated. I don't think we need to read reviews, we just know these skis will work. You can read a strange but generally positive review here.

Shogun: Need to step out and go big? This could be it, though I think you'd be better off with the Line P100. The graphics are bizarre but not horrendous.


The coolest-looking skis on the planet. They probably ski well too.  Ullr's Chariot would be the pick.


The Gotama is seems to be the "go-to" everday ski of most western skiers. It may be a bit big for an old fart's everyday Jay Peak ski. You might consider the Mantra, which has a large following, though most reviews call it a "fat GS ski" and find it a bit on the stiff side. Graphics are very cool on both.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Land swap" deal makes Jay Peak development possible

In an unusually investigative moment, Pudd discovered this article in the Burlington Free Press:

Read it thoroughly, as this historic deal explains many things, including:

1) why the much vaunted West Bowl Development never seemed to be going anywhere (because all along, BS and crew were in negotiations with the Long Trail people):
"The swap also sets the terms for future development in a bowl located beneath the ridgeline where the Long Trail runs."

2) that the rumour circulated by the tram driver (not George)  has some basis in reality: 
"the deal allows Jay Peak to realize more of its development dreams, such as replacing the antiquated “Stateside” lodge and upgrading adjacent lifts."

Wait a minute....

Upgrade adjacent lifts, OK. Replace the antiquated Stateside Lodge!!!!!????? We love the Stateside Lodge. The picnic tables that have 52 coats of paint on them. The smelly bathrooms. The "locker room." The septic smell wafting by the ski racks. OK, these are the down side. But the old lodge has that lovely '60s charm. the big windows, the nice deck, the "ski or drive up to the door" convenience. If they do build a new lodge, maybe we can lobby for the existing Stateside Lodge to be moved to the bottom of the Jet. Now, that would be a nice upgrade.

Wait, you mean there could be a nicer place than this to put your boots on?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alice's Table

Dear Readers: Flying Linda and I are going to Vermont at the end of August. So thought I'd check out the menu at Alice's Table for a possible visit.

The menu is impressive ... here's the link.

However there is a tiny little problem; the Appetizer Item, "Selection of Cheese," says with accouchements ..... I defer of course to Claire and Peter but I but I believe accouchements refers to "delivery" of a baby, or delivery room, or birthing room.

Oooh, using another language on a menu can be Risky Business ... Doug

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jay Tram continues to be hotbed of rumours...

Now, this is interesting. Not that the last bit of news wasn't interesting but this is REALLY interesting.

Throckmorton reports that intelligence gathered on the summer tram ride included some as-yet-unveiled-by-Jay Management plans for lift relocation and even, GASP, a new lift!!!! This does not mean that the fabled West Bowl Expansion is happening any time soon. We have concluded that Throckmorton's and Gollum's children may be able to ski the West Bowl by chairlift. And for the non-family visitor, those boys are still teenagers. What it does mean is more skier capacity on the existing ski area, particularly Stateside, and better access to intermediate terrain on the lower mountain. This is scheduled to be ready for the 2011/12 ski season, according to our source. Shall we call him Deep Powder?

This is what the Tram operator (Deep Powder, not George) revealed. Stay with me now:

1)  The Bonaventure quad chairs will be relocated to the existing Jet Chairlift. So, the Jet Triple (AKA The Blue Chair) will become the Jet Quad (AKA, uhhh, the formerly Blue but now Red Chair). With any luck, Bill Stenger will spring for some Tremclad and we will still be able to call it the Blue Chair.

2) This is wild. The Bonventure Chair (AKA the Red Chair) will become the Bonaventure Six-Pack. Yes, a six person chair. And who knows what colour it will be! Anyone who has experienced a six-person chair knows the general mayhem of these line-ups and the starting gate things that get the chair riders set up for boarding. We are not excited about this.

3) The new lift will allegedly run from somewhere near the Moose T-bar (AKA Queen's Highway T-bar) to the top of Lower River Quai (ie., the Lower Quai/Goat intersection). This is a very interesting proposition and will, a) make getting from Stateside to Tramside much more fun, b) open up the Lower Goat and Lower Quai to more intermediate skiers looking for interesting runs, and, c) help reduce traffic on the Upper Goat, which is a disaster waiting to happen on most busy days. On the down side, it could, depending on the route, wreck Buck Woods and/or Buckaroo Banzai and a few secret stashes. Maybe the lift will run right up the Lower Goat. Check out the Jay Peak Trail Map and draw your own lift line.

If any Jay Peak management folks are reading this blog, feel free to comment and let us know if this is only a wild rumour, or really, possibly, true.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The things you learn on the Jay Peak Tram...

Sklinda and Dogski were down at Jay Peak last weekend for a little summertime R&R. They probably never expected that they would learn a Jay Peak history lesson, including the fact that our Jonny Jay, while certainly original, is not the first John Jay! Jay Peak, like many other mountains around the world, is named for some politician who never set foot or even laid eyes on the hill. And I'll bet he wasn't a skier.

So it is amazing what you learn on a tram ride! Maybe you knew this but it was new to us. Jay Peak was named after John Jay one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (editor's note: interweb research reveals that John Jay retired from the first Congress in 1776 rather than sign the Declaration. Nevertheless, he is an important figure in early US political history. Hey, we're Canadians, who knew?). The tram driver (not George) said that to everyone's knowledge he never set foot on the mountain. He eventually became governor of New York.
The excavation for the new Hotel Jay and water park is roaring along. The footings are in. It is hard to imagine what the old Jay looked like! The golf course clubhouse is beautiful - a lovely restaurant inside. We had a skate which was really fun. They even rent figure skates and for a senior like me the cost was $1. Jack caught two trout in the river.
 The first John Jay obviously started the tradition of orange and black regalia

The Real Jonny Jay taking a breather on the hike to Andre's Paradise, 
resplendent (as always) in his orange and black regalia