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.

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