Tuesday, May 1, 2018

First and last at Jay Peak

Full coverage, let's ski the Kitz.
A variety of circumstances prevented me from getting to Jay Peak this winter but, finally, in late April, the planets lined up for a road trip. After some frantic packing, I herded the canine into the Snowbaru and hit the road for Vermont to meet up with Jonny Jay.

JJ on the Derick. No snowmaking here.

 Once again, your faithful reporter found himself driving through the snowless flatlands of Ontario, Quebec and northern Vermont on the premise that there was actually snow at Jay Peak. In the end, there was lots of snow for late April, reasonable weather (mostly) and even a tailgate party. All things considered, the wait was worth it. Well, maybe not worth having bronchitis for the first half of the winter. But some fine skiing, surprising snow coverage, a complete lack of lineups, canine entertainment and catching up on brotherly matters all added up to make for a fine long weekend.

Lots of snow in the woods of Timbuktu

Friday offered the best weather but the slowest snow. We made the mistake of going for the normal spring skiing routine: show up late for the softer snow. We should have got there earlier for the firmer snow, oh well. Only the Jet and Taxi chairs were running that day, so a complete exploration of the Jet area proved quite worthwhile. After warming up on the Montealer, we found the Haynes to quite lovely, and were stoked to find full coverage and nice slow moguls on the natural snow of the Derick Hotshot. We even gambled on Lower Milk Run, a family favourite, and found it very skiable except for the sketchy last bit below the Sweetheart cut-off (what is that - Kangaroo?).

Nice cooking platform!

Rain was forecast Saturday but despite some threatening clouds, it never materialized. In fact the day was a nice mix of sun, wind, cooler temperatures (still above freezing) and interesting clouds. The snow was firmer and faster and with the opening of the Bonaventure Chair, more ski options opened up. We skied both Timbuktu and Expo Glades and my ski legs found the snow VERY heavy in there. Jump turns, anyone? Despite that, coverage was impressive for the time of year. Run of the day was probably Kitzbuehel, another natural snow favourite. Soft bumps, one rock sticking out at the top and nary a bare spot. Unbelievable. Lunchtime was a real treat, we enjoyed the generous tailgate hospitality of the Alpine Haven crew, grilled up some burgers, ate pickles, drank beer and actually socialized. In our world, this is a big deal, really.

Two lonely burgers. Things heated up quickly.

Sunday was a bit wet. Really wet, actually. As the ads from the 90s suggested, it was "a great day for Gore-Tex." Or a collectible Jay Peak plastic bag raincoat, take your pick. Despite the precipitation, the skiing was fast and reasonably firm and the hill was empty. How often do you and 25 friends get to have Jay Peak all to yourselves?

Foggy and wet on the Haynes.

I've left out a lot. For me, the Jay experience includes much more than skiing. There is shopping at Sylvester's, chatting with Don (missed that this time), complaining about Jay stuff, walking three deaf dogs, eating, drinking a bit too much, stoking the wood stove and much more. Despite of all the changes and strange goings-on of the last while, the fundamental ski experience at Jay Peak is really like that marketing slogan from a few years ago: Unchangeable.

The indubitably unchangeable Jonny Jay. The bag is collectable.


  1. Enjoyed the report! I'll be there this Saturday for their last weekend, looking forward to being back... especially after skiing Sugarbush two weekends ago. Nice terrain, horrible vibe. For all the build up, you are right that there is something unchangeable about Jay... still a great vibe and good people who 'get it'. Bummer on the bronchitis, glad you were able to get out and finish the season strong.

    1. Thanks, Steve. Hope you enjoyed the closing weekend at Jay. There is simply a quirky edge there that will never be quashed by development. And I think the current management team would like to to keep it that way.