Jay Peak, VT 5/9/2010


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  1. #1

    Camera Jay Peak, VT 5/9/2010

    Date(s) Skied: May 9th, 2010

    Resort or Ski Area: Jay Peak, VT

    Conditions: 6"+ new snow at 2,000', 4" - 18" range due to wind, on average, 30 F, blizzard-like conditions with steady snow and gusts to 40 MPH

    Trip Report: Thanks to some of our local forecasters, we had about a week’s notice that a potential Mother’s Day Snowstorm was on the way, so there was plenty of time to get ready for it. The cold air was expected to be pulled into the storm system by Saturday evening, and that would get the snow going. It looked like the snow line was going to be around 1,000’ for the event, although by Thursday morning the Burlington NWS mentioned the potential for a bit of accumulation even in the lower valleys. Roger Hill also gave SkiVT-L a heads up on Thursday, indicating that there was going to be new snow for skiing over the weekend.

    Saturday and Sunday were a bit of a weather roller coaster in Waterbury. On Saturday afternoon a summery thunderstorm passed overhead, and we even got a bit of hail from it. By Saturday evening though, I checked the real time temperatures atop Mt. Mansfield, and saw that they had already gone below freezing. With precipitation in the area, the mountains were probably well into the snow by that point.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect down at our elevation the next morning, but when I looked outside at around 6:00 A.M., it was snowing and we had a coating of white accumulation on the elevated surfaces. By that point we’d picked up a couple tenths of an inch accumulation and it continued to snow. The snow waned for a bit and the temperatures edged up, but at some point after 8:00 A.M., there was a big resurgence in snowfall and we started to get more substantial accumulation. I checked the local radar and could see an ominous-looking mass of moisture heading our way from the north-northwest.

    We hung out, had some Mother’s Day breakfast, watched the snow fall, and generally took it easy for much of the morning. I had initially thought that we might need to get out early to get some good powder before the day warmed up, but with the way the storm was raging in the mountains, being an early bird wasn’t necessary.

    In the late morning we drove northward to Jay Peak. By that point, only minimal accumulations of snow remained in the relatively low valleys from Waterbury through Morrisville, but once we got near the Northeast Kingdom in the North Hyde Park/Eden area, the accumulations really shot up. Snow was even accumulating on the road as we passed through Belvidere, and up on Route 242 in the final leg of our trip, there was so much snow on the road that plowing was necessary.

    A bit after noon, we pulled into Jay Peak’s Stateside lot at an elevation of roughly 2,000’ and were confronted with a veritable blizzard. It was snowing hard, and winds were gusting to 40 MPH. We saw a snowboarder who had just come down from a run, and he said conditions were great – except that it seemed like you were hiking directly into the wind. E suited up, and helped get Dylan into his gear, but Ty apparently wasn’t in the mood to ski. While we talked about options for a bit, Dylan eventually lost his momentum as well, and decided that he didn’t want to hit the snow either. I guess I can understand how the boys might have been put off from heading out into the maelstrom – going almost directly from spring to an all out blizzard must have been pretty strange for them. I offered to hang out with the boys and let E head out for turns, but she said she’d rather hang out with them than head up by herself, and said that I could go do a run.

    I finished getting my gear together and skinned up for a quick run in the Chalet Meadows area. Aside from some wind-scoured spots, I measured anywhere from 4 to 18 inches of new snow on my ascent, although I guess I’d put the average accumulation at somewhere around 6 inches plus. The snow was dense, but not wet except for in the water bars or other low spots. It certainly skied like dense snow, and was a bit tricky, but a lot of that was due to the variability of some spots having wind crust and other being softer. There was so much dense snow there was no need for rock skis; I wished I’d brought some newer, fatter skis because they may have made things even a little easier.

    Our plan had always been to do a bit of skiing and then drive around in the car and find a new place for some lunch/brunch. E reminded me that we wanted to take a look at Jay Peak’s new Tram Haus Lodge before we left the resort, so we headed over to the tram side of the resort to check it out. While there, we wondered if there might be a new restaurant in the lodge, so I ran inside to take a look. In fact there’s quite a nice restaurant in there called Alice’s Table. It was pretty busy with Mother’s Day brunch, but after a bit of searching through her notes, the hostess said she’d be able to seat us. I told her I’d go grab the family and be right back. E was a bit concerned that we weren’t appropriately dressed for the restaurant, and while there were folks dressed nicely for Mother’s Day outings, there were also numerous folks wearing ski gear and more casual attire. It is Jay Peak after all. The brunch buffet had some excellent food, it was reasonably priced, and the boys even ate free because of a Mother’s Day special.

    After bunch we hurried back to the car through the storm. We were all set to head home, but brunch had given Ty renewed energy and he wanted to ski. Dylan was still a bit under the weather and wasn’t quite eager to ski, so E decided that she’d stay in the car with him while Ty and I headed up for some turns. I let Ty choose the path of ascent, and he chose an area over near the Boulevard Trial. I set the skin track, and we went as far as Ty wanted to go before we stopped and prepared for the descent. With less wind over in that area, there was a pretty even coating of snow that suggested good skiing. Ty mostly paramarked on the descent, with some heel lifting, and I could see him trying to figure out the best approach to the dense snow. With this run longer than my first one, I had more time to diagnose the best technique for the skiing, which was a lot of fun. I found that staying in the top couple inches of lighter powder above any wind crusts made for silky smooth turns. That wasn’t always possible depending on the snow and the level of pressuring, and it was obvious that some additional girth in the skis would have favored turns higher on the snow. It was mid may after all though, and I did get in some great turns and had fun experimenting. Ty actually floated better with his lower weight, although he ultimately said he was personally unimpressed by the snow. I don’t think he got quite the enjoyment out of experimenting with technique for the conditions the way I did. We both agreed that we’d try to go a bit wider with his next pair of Telemark skis. While he does use them on piste, they are definitely the tool of choice when he’s earning turns, and that often means powder snow or something of that flavor.

    Back at the car, I had left the ski rack open while Ty and I were out, and E said that the winds had been so strong there that they’d blow her skis right off the roof. Ty and I had hardly noticed the wind up where we’d been, but Ty had chosen a good option in terms of wind protection. We geared down and got back in the car, and the winds just continued to rage with steady snowfall. It was getting close to 4:00 P.M. by that point and the storm showed no signs of caring about any sort of afternoon sun or warming. The Jay Cloud was clearly in charge of the weather.

    We headed down to the village of Jay on our trip back home, and in the course of about three miles and an elevation drop of a thousand feet or so, heavy winter changed over to spring. In Jay it was still snowing, but the trees were green and lush, and the ground was devoid of snow. It continued to snow all the way back to Waterbury, even with temperatures approaching 40 F in spots, but none of the lower valleys were supporting any accumulation. It had been quite a unique Mother’s Day overall, hopefully one that the boys will remember for a while. Getting snow in May isn’t all that uncommon, especially for the mountains, but getting a snowstorm to fall right on Mother’s Day is lucky… or I guess unlucky as most people might have seen it. Additional weather details from Sunday can be found in my report to EasternUSwx.com.

    Last edited by J.Spin; May 13, 2010 at 8:37 PM.

  2. #2
    TheBEast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Too far south, MA
    As always great to see your little rippers! Glad you got some Mother's Day white stuff! The Tram Haus is a pretty cool place and a very nice addition for Jay. Can't wait to get up there next winter and do some skating too at the new Ice Haus.

  3. #3
    Great stuff! I was in Georgia with temps well into the 90s and very humid... I just couldn't believe the e-mails i was gettting and the forecast of things happening up north... I came back to Montreal wearing flip-flops and shorts... temps were just around freezing... I would have expect to come back to temps in the 60s-70s... you know, average temps this time of year...

    Depending on how it looks, i might go for a few turns on sunday... but will most likely hit the trails instead..

  4. #4
    Geez Jay, everytime I ready your reports I think about how fortunate you are that your entire family embraces skiing as much as you do. You are one lucky dude.

    No worries about Alice's. I ate there in full skier regalia, but it was a hot day, and I was down to my biologically diverse shirt. Didn't bother me a bit.

    The pics reminded me a bit of the first snowfall of the season. Now I'm sitting here waiting for Oct/Nov... Are you done with your season yet?
    Sent from my TACPOD (Tactical Airborne Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Pod) using Satellite TADIL J Alternate Gateway Controller (Alternate STGC) via Blackjack

  5. #5
    thetrailboss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
    Man, I want to be a Dad like that someday! Kickass!
    Live, Ski, or Die!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBEast View Post
    The Tram Haus is a pretty cool place and a very nice addition for Jay. Can't wait to get up there next winter and do some skating too at the new Ice Haus.
    The Tram Haus came up in one of the replies over at the First Tracks version of this thread, so I made a few comments and discussed a few other thoughts about base area improvements over there (pasted below). On the Jay Peak page they indicate that the Ice Haus will be opening Memorial Day weekend, so that would be fun to visit when they have free skate time.

    My comments from the First Tracks thread are below:

    "Outside of Alice’s Table, we only poked around the Tram Haus a bit, but it looked nice, especially relative to some of the older structures around the base area. Jumpin’ Jimmy and some of the other SkiVT-L guys took advantage of the Tram Haus lodging promotion that Jay was offering, and they seemed to have a good time staying there and hitting the powder from that storm back at the end of April. Now that we have kids, combined with just general changes in the makeup of ski outings, I’d say we typically use base facilities and other amenities more than we used to. I still have plenty of days, especially at Bolton with a season’s pass, where I simply park and never use the lodge etc., but I have more appreciation for the presence of a nice lodge or restaurant than I did back when I was in school.

    Since we’ve been back in Northern Vermont over the past few years we’ve seen Sugarbush upgrade the Lincoln Peak base area, Stowe make their huge changes at the Spruce Peak base area, and now Jay Peak doing the same at the Tram base. That’s half of the main ski areas along the northern/north-central spine of the Greens. That leaves Smugg’s, which I haven’t visited recently to know if they’re making any big changes, Mad River Glen, which is very traditional and probably isn’t looking to change much, and Bolton Valley. It may be more difficult for Bolton to invest in big changes being a smaller/more local/family area, but the main base could certainly use an overhaul akin to what the others have done. I’m not sure if many facilities around here are just hitting that age where things need to be done, or if the resorts are doing it because they see that people want/appreciate/expect these sorts of upgrades now and it plays into competition.

    Stowe’s upgrades are certainly on the posh side compared to what some of the other mountains have done, but we appreciate the new Spruce Peak base facilities every time we’re there. I don’t think it’s actually factoring into where we do a lot of our skiing, since for us it’s mostly about proximity, snow, terrain, or ski program commitments, but each week when we’re working with the school program kids at Stowe it’s a refreshing experience to have plenty of space to get them all changed instead of trying to squeeze ourselves into a tight crowded space and put on little ski boots. Having several bathrooms right there, free lockers, plenty of seating, etc. is also noticed and appreciated. Even the healthier and more varied food options like fresh salads, wraps, local options, etc. are appreciated by the adults, even if the kids often stick with the usual burgers and fries.

    It is going to be quite a transformation up there at Jay from what I hear. With Jay’s rough and tumble image, which still appears to be the way they are going with the “Raise ‘em Jay” campaign, some of the niceties may be a little difficult to mix in. But, the combination certainly worked for us when we were there last week. Although not necessarily the terrain in that case, it was definitely Jay’s famed winter weather that brought us there when I inspected the forecasts and models for the storm. Just like one would expect, it was classic Jay Peak weather with plenty of snow and blizzard-like conditions. However, I’d argue that it was the new building and restaurant that kept us there longer, since we would have gone elsewhere had we not wanted to see the Tram House, ultimately leading to the discovery of the new restaurant. I’d say that having a nice place to eat while the storm raged outside only added to the experience. I’m wondering if a lot of the folks eating there were locals, since I’m not sure how many people were making the trip to Jay with the lifts not running. It would be nice if Alice’s Table could serve as another local dining option for folks in the area. I suspect as the other summer amenities go in, and golf gets bigger, there will be more warm weather traffic at the resort, although I don’t think there was much golf being played anywhere in the Northeast Kingdom on Mother’s Day this year."


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by billski View Post
    Are you done with your season yet?
    Folks are still skiing the snow around here, but I'm pretty sure E and the boys aren't too interested in hiking for somewhat minimal turns at this point. We've been doing a lot of biking now, so I'd say we're in waiting mode for Mt. Washington. I just checked yesterday on the auto road website, and it looks like they are now open to the summit, so we have to work out when we want to make the trip. We have done the out and back to the snowfields in one day, but that can be a lot for the boys, so last year we worked camping into the equation - we stayed at Moose Brook and that was really fun. The forecast for Mt. Washington actually looks quite good for this weekend, but E has a family obligation, so scheduling wise it would probably be Memorial Day weekend at the earliest for us.


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