Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A weekend of classic spring skiing at Jay Peak

Sometimes it is hard to believe you are going skiing.
Sometimes you just hit the nail on the on head.

A little air underneath the Aerial Tramway.
Pudd and SBR left their respective hideouts in the Hinterland and headed towards Vermont last Thursday, each thinking that things were looking very promising. The stars had definitely lined up: lots of snow in general; fresh snow earlier in the week; a stellar weather forecast of sunshine and warm (but not too warm) temperatures and the fact that most people have given up on skiing and were staying at home doing yard work. For us, and the rest of the lucky souls at Jay last weekend, yard work could wait.

What is it about spring skiing? For easterners, at least, I think it is the combination of being released from the death grip of winter with the fact that we can still ski. Conditions are very forgiving. Mellow, even. Everyone is relaxed, you can drink a beer on the deck afterwards, the people watching is highly entertaining and for some reason, many skiers feel compelled to wear funny hats, shorts and even t-shirts on a day that really requires a jacket and helmet. People that ski once a year come out of the woodwork with ancient equipment. Tailgate parties develop at the base of the lift and elsewhere. Lawn chairs appear in the parking lot. Everyone is having a great day. Half the people on the hill are probably impaired, one way or another (except for Sunday morning, when half the people on the hill are probably hung over). Very often, skiers will put up with pretty marginal conditions to enjoy this sacred rite. Not this time. Jay Peak delivered, with full coverage, no closed trails and amazing conditions. We skied places you don't often get to ski in early April: Green Beret; Valhalla; Powerline; Northwest Passage; Andre's Paradise and and more. On Friday, conditions were even a bit "wintry" and we found patches of powder in the woods.
Pudd enjoys fresh tracks, in the woods, in April.
Perhaps the weekend can be best summed up by a random encounter we had on the Tram on Sunday. Knowing that we both had to leave by noon, Pudd and I arrived at the hill early and were ticking off our favourite runs to store in the ski memory bank over the summer. We took a chance and headed for the Tram lineup, on Pudd's estimate that we would make the next ride. Well, we did but I was the last one through the turnstile, and only because I pointed at Pudd and said "I'm with him!" Being last on a Tram is rare and the best part is that it means you are first off. No need to dawdle and wait for the crowd to disperse, especially on this day when everybody else was bound to lollygag at the summit taking pictures. So there we were, minding our own business, when the young man beside me started quizzing me about my Prophet 100s. We shall call him Shogun Guy, because that was what he was skiing on. Long story short, it was clear that he and his quiet friend were completely stoked (as in: off the meter) about being at Jay Peak this weekend. After getting a great deal on a condo, they had driven the eight hours from New Jersey, past their beloved Plattekill, to ski at Jay. He listed the runs they had done so far, told me how his skis performed forwards and backwards, all the while giving us the impression that he had quickly consumed four or five Red Bulls and was just starting to peak. Needless to say, we followed them down the Vermonter, the four of us ahead of everybody else. Seeing them resting at the Green Beret junction, I stopped as well, and looked uphill to observe Pudd straightline the pitch above, launch a full Todd Brooker move off the lip and ski it out at Mach 10. I didn't have to check if Shogun Guy was watching, because all I could hear was a full-on Red Bull-infused bellow of appreciation:


Nice it was. So long Jay Peak, see you next season.

More air on Green Beret.
Pudd sticks a Jonny Jay Jet Turn in Valhalla.

You have to like the first chair feeling...
The Lord of Powder revels with the minions looking on through the window.

Conditions are perfect on NWP.

Let the spring celebrations begin!
Rock on buddy: Olin Mark IVs, Burt bindings, safety straps, Lange XRs and awesome toque.
A very appropriate spring-skiingmobile.
Pudd bids adieu to Jay Peak for another season.


  1. Nice report as always SBR. It's been an amazing spring season, I'll be sorry for it to end.

    Gotta question you on this: "Half the people on the hill are probably impaired, one way or another (except for Sunday morning, when half the people on the hill are probably hung over)." Doesn't hungover qualify as impaired? Sure, you're old and you've got a non-OEM ACL, but don't take away my only excuse.

  2. Funny you should ask, as we had that discussion on the chair. Yes, I would agree that the hungover ones are somewhat impaired but at least they are less dangerous to themselves and others. The conditions were so mushy on Sunday that it looked like everyone was was skiing in slow motion, which prompted me to make that observation.

  3. Dig it SBR. Cover still looks great.

    Recently Gore added a low angle glade at the bottom of the mountain, that's really pretty sweet. For me it takes the sting out of realizing it's time to quit - one last tree shot. Spring skiing is the same in some ways - something so delicious, it helps you look forward to the end.

    After NSBS, Jay Peak is my favorite VT mountain. We're sending a dignitary up next week, and I look forward to the reports.

  4. But the season is still not over. When is closing day at jay this yr?

  5. @ anon: last I heard, they were probably closing mid-week after Easter, then opening weekends as conditions permit. My mole on the inside suggested that they could be open (Jet only) on the first weekend of May and even the one after that. Jay Peak does not seem to have an official closing date like some other hills.

  6. Pudd should have taken a few photos of the Great el Gordo (a.k.a. SBR) in action! He is remiss.