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