Few things compare to sharing a cabin in the mountains with friends. When the call for an early season trip came, I had to answer. The mountain was Jay Peak and it’s been on my bucket list for too long.
The weather looked ominous, but I’d caught Face of Winter earlier in the week at the Stanley and I was more than a little hyped to get up to Vermont. After five hours in the car we found ourselves in the “Fun Haus” complete with wood-fired hot tub and Mardi Gras deer head above the toilet.
It was hard to sleep. Friday morning we drove 10 minutes to the mountain, getting glimpses of the Jay through the trees. Several inches of snow had fallen during the week and warm temperatures meant the snow would be soft.
With the Tram on wind delay, we took the Metro Quad and warmed up with a cruise over to Stateside. As a snowboarder, one of my favorite things about Jay are the interconnecting routes. I never had to unstrap or push (and yea I’m looking at you Gore Mountain!).
Upper mountain lifts were running and we grabbed the Bonaventure quad. The creamy groomers down Northway let us know we were headed in the right direction. We found more of the same at the top of the Jet Triple. We lapped Jet and Haynes before hopping into the glades.
Timbuktu Glades were must-ski for me, wide enough to turn, but narrow enough to make you question your line. The cover was deep and if you looked hard you could find untouched snow. After we checked it off, we popped out onto Willard, quads burning, and feeling good.
We wanted to get to the West side of the mountain, but with the Flyer and Tram closed we had to get creative. We rode the Bonnie up and after a short hike through the fog and wind, found our way to Wedelmaster. The effort paid off as Ullr’s Dream was relatively untouched with soft snow drifts forming. When the gate for Beaver Pond Glades appeared, it was time to check out more must ski trees.
The glades at Jay really do live up to the hype. The consistent pitch, good spacing and deep snow make them fun. And in case you’re overconfident, there’s always gentle reminder of your mortality. I found myself between a rock and a wet place, narrowly avoiding a boulder on my left and dropping into a creek on the right. The trees can be as challenging or as fun as you make them.
Before this trip some in our group had never skied in the trees. Through out the day, before we’d dive in, we make plans to meet up farther down the mountain. In the afternoon that changed. Bushwacker and Full Moon are a great place for newbies to get acclimated to and excited about glade skiing.
Overnight it rained in the valley, and on Saturday conditions were interesting. The Tram and Flyer were spinning, giving us the chance to get above the wet weather. On the summit we were met with fog and wind and some light fluffy snow. About two inches had fallen up high, making for some great upper mountain runs. We did our best to stay above the freeze line, lapping Vermonter, JFK and Jet.
The trick was navigating the mid mountain, where the rain had frozen solid. Once you got to the lower mountain, conditions were soft and spring like. We tested Jay’s liberal inbounds policy by ducking into some trees off Vermonter. The lines were noticeably tighter but the snow was deeper too.
After some carefully line choices and a few hard stops we were back on groomers. Late in the day, the sun made an appearance and we took a long cruise down Ullr’s Dream into the Kokomo glades. The winding trail through glades is scenic and one of my favorites. There’s nothing like ripping a narrow tree-lined run with your best friends.
That evening I spent more time than I would like to admit, trying to get the wood fired hot tub ready. It wasn’t ready until the morning, but it was worth the wait.
As the sun rose on day 3 we said our goodbyes to half our group. The three of us left were shot, and looking forward to sunshine and groomers. We spent the morning skiing bumps and laying down carves. Vermonter and Montrealer offered gorgeous views and soft lines. By 1 o’clock we were all ready to head home.
Jay Peak lived up to my expectations. A wide variety of challenging and fun runs, especially in the glades. The intermediate skiers in our group got a taste of a big mountain with trees. When the phone rings and you’re invited, answer the call. Warren Miller said it best, “Adventure is the invitation for common people to become uncommon.”