Saturday, March 14, 2015

Powder March is on at Jay Peak

Not Jay Peak but not very far away.
Now, THIS is tree skiing.
If you read this blog even rarely, you will have figured out that we typically report on recent experiences, as opposed to what is happening right now, or, like other snow reports, what is likely to happen in the near future. This week, the recent past and the the near future are lining up to be quite similar. If it is still Saturday, March 14, 2015, when you finish reading this, I suggest that you pack up the car and start driving, because tomorrow is shaping up to a powder day at Jay.

Once again, I locked in some holiday time and planned a Jay trip with high hopes that conditions would be good, or at least better  than what we found on our last visit (see below). Jonny Jay's report that it was "pretty good" left me optimistic, since he tends to be understated in his reviews. After three great days on the mountain, one of which was in the "lifetime top 10," plus two short but outstanding backcountry runs, I was definitely not disappointed.

Upper Quai - don't go there.
After arriving on Friday afternoon, I changed quickly and headed up the 242 for a little hike in the snowy woods. Driving by the Big Jay parking spot, I spotted a lone young snowboarder hitchhiking in an oddly frantic way. He looked to be in some distress, so I picked him up. While he was stashing his board and pack in the back of the Snowbaru, I observed that his board was not a splitboard and that he didn't have any snowshoes, either of which should be standard equipment for a snowboarder on a Big Jay outing (not to mention a couple of partners). I commented on the lack of snowshoes and he told me that he had hiked out.

"Really?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, man, it was up to my chest in places! Sometimes I just lay on my board and paddled with my arms."

"Like on a surfboard?" I wondered aloud.

"Yeah, like a surfboard, except you don't float in snow like you do in water."

No kidding, I thought. Long story short, he went on to outline his first trip to Big Jay: starting from the tram summit, consuming four beers along the way, coming close to riding off a cliff or two, not really knowing where he was going, and his epic slog out to the road. As far as I could tell, his only safety net was a cell phone, beer-fueled energy and a big dose of good luck. When I let him out near The Dip, I suggested that he start saving up for a splitboard, and he wholeheartedly agreed. Well, that starts thing off on an interesting note, I thought, and off I went into the trees.

A rare view of Powerline - untracked.
Speaking of trees, I spent a lot of time in the woods over the next few days. I don't know about you but when I ski solo, the instinct to explore takes over. Go here, go there, follow your nose, find that rabbit hole, wander the mountain. Snow conditions improved every day. As if six fresh inches on Saturday morning weren't enough, the day was highlighted by getting first tracks on Powerline at 9:30 am, and simply got better after that.

Some easy to find glade at JPR. On a Saturday.
 Sunday was similar, except for the time change. Yes, I forgot, and so did the 20 or so people in Stateside Lodge at 9:00, all thinking we were getting there for first chair but sheepishly putting on our boots while the neatly stored bags of the true early birds mocked us from the cubbies. It didn't really matter, the Jay Cloud had delivered another five or so inches of snow, so there was lots to go around until the hordes arrived at 11 am. Like the day before, little stashes of snow were there to be had all day. The secret stash of the day was completely unexpected: just looking for the most direct route to coffee, I took a shortcut through the Tramside terrain park and found boot-deep snow at the sides of all the features. Woo hoo!

Then there was Monday, March 9, 2015, a surprise powder day to be long remembered. Howling wind, thankfully milder temperatures and a lot more snow than forecast greeted the small and predominately grey-haired posse of skiers pulling on their ski boots at Stateside. This was a day to figure out the right aspect to ski, as the wind was piling snow up on certain sides of the mountain. I found places that were knee-deep and others where all the snow had been scoured away. Fortunately there was much more of the former. Then the sun came out. What a day!

No secrets - this was Timbuktu at 10 am on Monday, March, 9.
So that was the weekend that was. I could go on, there were many stories and many interesting people encountered. But it is enough to say that the mountain is well-stocked with snow, more is on the way and if you haven't been to Jay Peak yet this season, just go. Now.


  1. Regrettably it is Sunday morning, March 15 when I am reading this...
    But we may yet squeeze in a Jay visit before the season's done.

  2. Jeff, there is an excellent base. Barring a blowtorch event, you have some time to make it happen.

  3. Monday looked like a winner for sure, nice! Jay is pretty sweet when you can catch an unforecasted mid-week powder day. Untouched Timbuktu at 10am is loony. Nice report.

    No powder day today but not as bad as I feared it would be when I arrived. It rained yesterday at the base and there was a crust at the lowest elevations, no new snow at the base either.

    But the upper mountain got 1-2" which was actually really fun to ski. Not a powder day but not a complete loss either given that forecasts were for +6".

    Even under that new snow, there was a crust layer on steeper pitches and many bump troughs. I suspect some more snow later this week after the brief warm up with address those minor infractions.

    1. Thanks for checking in Steve, glad you got a reasonable (ho hum?) Jay day today. You may have unknowingly crossed paths with Jonny Jay - did you encounter a guy in a really faded orange HH shell?

    2. I'd rate it higher than ho-hum. Only 2" of fresh, not a ho-hum 6", but actually surprisingly better in some ways. I skied a lot of terrain I don't normally ski (first run down Can Am was epic! similar to the last time we skied it together, actually). If I crossed paths with JJ, I wouldn't have known it and I can't remember that jacket.