Firsthand Report: Jay Peak, Dec. 28, 2004 2
By Jon Hsieh

A view of Jay Peak. Photo provided by Jon Hsieh.
On our way to a three-day trip at Mont-Tremblant, my buddy and I stopped along the way for a day of skiing in Vermont’s northern-most major ski resort -; Jay Peak. After a 45-minute drive from St. Albans (which is about 30 minutes north of Burlington), we parked in the secondary base of the resort, geared up, and paid for our $56 lift tickets. Being only about 7 miles from the Vermont-Quebec border, we overheard a lot of French being spoken and most of the signs were written in both French and English.

It was a gusty, overcast Tuesday between 10-20 degrees. Fifty-seven out of 76 trails were open, including almost all the blues and greens, and about half of the blacks. Lucky for us it had just snowed a foot a few days earlier and about half the blacks were of my favorite terrain -; untracked and still powdery glades!

Our first run took us up the Bonaventure quad and down a blue run to warm up. Many of the trails intersected and we picked and chose different sections. These intermediate groomers were surprisingly variable -; ice faces, spots of 10” powder, mini moguls, and nicely groomed sections all on the same run. This was the first ski outing of the year for my friend, and this kind of terrain wasn’t very forgiving.

After several runs, we took Jay’s touted Arial Tram (a large, European-style gondola) to the top. We had to wait for a while to get on the tram but it was a good lift to take to get warm. The short lines for the Green Mountain Express high-speed quad were faster if you wanted to brave the cold and gusty chairlift ride. In the end we opted more often for the quad -; the tram only added access to one additional trail, and waiting for the tram was more painful than braving the cold.

The highlights of the day were the glades runs. Ah, this is what I go to Vermont for! A large percentage of the mountain face at Jay Peak is designated as glade runs. We only hit a few. The first was Expo glade -; a short section that served as a shortcut between two different sections of trail. Next was Hells Woods, a tight start, but fairly open as you went further in. The last glade run we hit was Beyond Beaver Pond Glades -; a steep, thick, and very long glade at the edges of the resort. It started about one third of the way down the mountain and ended nearly at the bottom. Large portions of this glade exited onto Ullr’s Dream -; a nearly flat, 3-mile-long green trail (2-3x longer than the longest trails at Whitetail) that bordered the glades and punished poor snowboarders.

With enough terrain and height to feel the burn in your quads, awesome woods/glade policy, and minimal lift line waits (except for the tram), this is the best pure skiing experience I’ve had in Vermont -; even trumping Killington. This resort doesn’t have the village, residential accommodations, or apres-ski scene like many of the other big resorts, but I could spend days just going through the glades alone. Even considering all that we covered, we missed a whole face, and didn’t hit the terrain park. On top of this, a major expansion is planned for a new face in 2005! With the good skiing and new development on the way, this has become my favorite place for skiing in Vermont.

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About the Author

Jon Hsieh is an avid skier and snowboard rider. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, rock climbing, and running.

Reader Comments

Josh Matta
January 13, 2005
I have skied every resort north of killington including Kmart itself and i must say Jay Peak was by far the best experince i had. Maybe is was the the fact that all 76 trails were open on april 4th with 25 inches of fresh snow(jay cloud i saw it for myself). Jay is just skis so bigdue to open bounds policy i never skied the smae run twice even if it was the same run. the Face chutes are like nothing esle i have skied and the head high drop in beaverpond area were great. overall probably the most underated resort on the east.
January 14, 2005
Thanks for the report Jon. Was at Jay about 15yrs ago, just one day. Tram was down and they didn't have high speed quad yet. Missed that interesting terrain near summit, kind of bummed me. But place was empty and got to explore the rest of the place. Saw a boarder, this back in the day when there weren't so many of them, doing some amazing tricks on one of their bump runs to far skiers rightside of mtn.
MLK weekend could be pretty decent in Norther VT. From Jay website 1/14/05:
The weekend is shaping up well. After some overnight showers, we've had heavy snow since just after 6:00am with 6 inches on the ground and more possible this morning before things wind down early this afternoon. By Saturday we're looking at bright sun, blue skies and more snow on Sunday and Monday.

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