Tales from a NYC Ski Bum: North for Powder

As a Northeast skier, I’m used to variable conditions. Soft slush beneath a falling wintry mix? I’ll take it. Groomed granular over icy hardpack? I’ll hit it while it lasts. Week-old packed powder? If it holds an edge, I love it.

But there’s only so long a snow junkie can go without a fix of the untouched and pure stuff, so I loaded up the Jeep and made my way to the far north last week, where the forecast called for six inches at Jay Peak, and a foot at Mont Tremblant. The promise of fresh pulled me north.

Skiing in Canada isn’t a day trip for those of us who live at the bottom of New York State, so I worked in a couple of stops along the way. I skied Hunter with Icecoastchef on Wednesday, and ripped groomers solo at Okemo on Thursday.

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Deep into a Steep Vermont December

In December 2016, on an early-season trip to Killington, our group planned to visit Okemo on the second day. Conditions in the region were typical for December—the snow was hard, crusty, and mostly manmade with a slick layer of ice hiding underneath. When I saw the next morning that Jay Peak had landed nearly two feet of surprise snowfall, I headed north in search of powder, with or without my friends.

I arrived to waist-deep powder runs on some of the steepest trails and glades in the northeast, making the day trip well worth the five hours of extra driving. That was my first day as a “powderhound,” obsessively checking the weather and allowing Mother Nature to steer my Subaru to the mountains I would visit.

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A Jay Peak Thanksgiving

Last August a friend asked me to recommend the Eastern resort with the best chance for fresh snow over the Thanksgiving weekend. I was intrigued because it seemed like a bold and direct challenge to me, to organize an early season destination trip with a good shot at pow.

Jay-Summit

It didn’t take me long to consider Jay Peak, Vermont. Jay is of course the exception that proves the rule, recent winner of Powder Magazines “Best Pow” award and home of a mindbending Eastern US accumulation record total of more than 500″ in a single season.

While there are few guarantees for conditions anywhere on the planet, I’d also been itching to get back to Jay. Few resorts get to completely re-imagine themselves, but it seems that’s what Jay has done in the past 20 years.

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