Ski Reports

Jay Peak - February 20-21, 2024

While I have been too busy to write the detailed trip report that this post deserved, I still wanted to give a quick recap of what was likely my best 2 days spent on skis!

Last February, during my winter break, my friend and I decided to capitalize on the 35" of snowfall Jay Peak (located in Northern VT 4hrs from Ottawa) had received over the 5 days prior to our visit, and planned a one night ski trip. The weather and conditions were amazing, with a colder and cloudy first day at -7C, but this was followed by a bluebird day with +4C weather! 

I don't think we have ever felt more challenged as skiers at any other ski resort (including 2 in the Rockies) than Jay. Since we have been really enjoying the glades this season, we specifically chose Jay for that reason, as this resort is known to receive one of the highest average annual snow totals of the East Coast. Combined with the fact that the mountain has an insanely large footprint of gladed terrain, this makes for some of the best tree skiing in the East! Interestingly, the resort is one of the only in the East that permits skiers to venture out of bounds in certain areas, as long as they understand that the only access back to the lifts might be via walking down a road!

When we visited, all lifts and runs (except for a few steep glades and cliff chutes) were open, and despite the large amount of natural snow that fell the weekend prior to out visit (as we visited Tues-Wed), we were surprised to find that many glades were skiied off, making for some challenging turns on the icy/hardpack base! However, certain glades (such as the infamous Timbuktu and lower North Glade), held some patches of the TWO FEET of fresh powder we had been seeking. These turns in untouched power made for our best runs this season, if not for our lives! 

While Ottawa's winter has been on the lower end for snowfall, the Northern Vermont region has had fairly consistent snowfall since November, with large dumps of powder as recent as yesterday (mid March). 

The highlight of the first day for me was getting lost in an unmarked glade off Jay Peaks summit area when I attempted to follow a lone ski track in the hopes of meeting my friend in an adjacent glade he had taken. However, this turned out to be a bad idea, as this glade was tight, steep, and filled with 3-5 feet of deep powder. Since Jay is the only resort in the area where falling into tree wells can be a concern due to snow depth, this made my 20 minute ordeal in these glades (located to skier's right of Valhalla off the Tram) somewhat terrifying, though the scenery and isolation was beautiful. While the snow in this area was the deepest of my life, the tight manoverability (side-slipping) down the steep, uncut pine trees while avoiding holes and tree wells made this an interesting experience to say the least!

On day 2, the highlight was on the last 2 runs of the day, when the line for the Tram (which had been 30 minutes long all day), had finally calmed down, allowing us to ski from the summit. We scored some insane views (and wind) from a quick hike to the Jay's Rocky peak, providing panoramic views of the peaks of Vermont, New York, Quebec, and New Hampshire! We then noticed that Green Beret, the 'least challenging' of Jay's summit cliff chutes/headwalls was open, with better snow conditions than the day prior (when we decided we would not hit it). WHile the upper 100 foot headwall was some of the steepest, most challenging, and fear-inducing skiing of my life, the lower section was super fun and held wonderful deposits of fresh snow. We ended up enjoying this run (highlighted on one of the below images) so much that we returned to one final top-to-bottom lap just before the lifts closed for the day. 

In our 2 days there, we had experienced the best snow, gladed terrain, and views on the East Coast, making Jay Peak a new favourite of ours, and definitely one we hope to return to every year!

Feel free to ask more questions in the comments below!

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