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Jay Peaks Ski Trip 2010

Continued from the Canada pages

Thursday 8th April
We pack up and leave Killington to head over to Stowe for 2 days.  We drive along many smaller highways through Vermont, and the trees and forests are all around us.  Last night we had more rain and it is still raining today.  We stop off at a diner on the way complete with bunk seats, regular patrons and the American flag outside.  I ask for a typical American breakfast and get 2 pancakes with maple syrup and bacon.  They are huge; each one is a centimetre thick, and 20centimetres in diameter.  Gorgeous.  Zoë has an omelette which is just as big and tastes even better than my pancakes.  We drive into Stowe, and go to the ski resort area.  There are about 15 cars in the parking lot.  From there website I am expecting to hear that they have at least 2 lifts running and in excess of 30 runs open.  We find out from the lady at the kiosk that Stowe has only got one lift going, and only 1 run is open back down to the lift.  They still want $58from each of us to ski a loop, a single run and a lift.  We call it quits and go back into town where we book into the Stowe inn for the night.  I go shopping and get some great deals on Mammut ski pants at 40% off and with the exchange rate I am quid’s in.
We go to the legendary Ben and Jerry’s ice cream museum down the road.  A good way to spend an afternoon and get a free taste.  We spend the last bit of the afternoon catching up on reading and researching clothing and prices.  I call Mom using the internet and wish her a happy birthday.   We have dinner in the hotel and are the only guests in the whole restaurant.  Talk about private dining and all.  Shame, I know what the waiter feels like setting up a full shop, serving 1 couple, then stripping it all down again.  We decide to go to Jay Peak Resort and I look online and book accommodation. They will demolish the long standing Jay Hotel, once known as the Palace on April 19th, so as a kind of farewell they are having a Brokedown Palace special, where you can stay at the hotel for $59 per person per night, which includes lift passes, sauna, Jacuzzi, king size rooms, breakfast and dinner whilst staying right on the slopes.  Even better, if you send them an e-mail on Jay or the hotel and if they read it out at dinner, you get to stay for free.  Quite cool.  How bad can it be?

Friday 9th April
We leave Stowe, weather still grey and raining.  Stowe was quite charming, a typical ski town with burger joints, ski museum and quaint wooden houses.  Chocolate box like as Zoë keeps saying.   We stop off at Denny’s (no idea, but it must be another chain). I get the lumberjack special: eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, grits and sausage links.  Even after eating them I still have no idea what they are.  Links to sausage?  Anyhow, it must be the biggest plate of food I have been served.  It actually comes on three plates.  The pancakes again are the size of a dinner plate and there are 2 of them, plus 2 rounds of toast.  No wonder the US has an obesity problem.  Jay Peak Resort says they have snow and 6/8 lifts are open.  We drive through some more picturesque scenery with lots of ‘moose crossing’ signs. We still haven’t seen anything bigger than a squirrel!  We drive up a long narrow road and reach Jay.  The Jay Hotel is more than ample with 2 double beds, a balcony, en suite and some comfy arm chairs.  It is definitely in need of an update and by the fittings you can see how 70’s it is.  A combined soap, shampoo and conditioner dispenser attached to the wall in the shower; the bottle opener attached to the front panel of the bathroom basin and the hanging globes for lights. It was a real top end hotel in its day so it is kind of retro to stay here and check out the décor.  It all gets auctioned off in 12 days time when the hotel gets pole axed.  Apparently there is a local moose, as in animal and is called Jayne.  Here’s to hoping we see some wild life after all.  There is a big UK school trip leaving so it seems a bit hectic.  I get our passes and we settle into the room.  I head out and ski a few runs.  There is definitely a lot more snow here than at the other 2 resorts and it is colder too.  The snow is crisper, with less granulation and sugar, but still a bit lumpy.  Real spring conditions.  I get the feeling that this resort is a bit of secret and by looking at the terrain and glades, it must be awesome when it dumps here.  It actually gets more snow than the other two, but is more of an area with nothing much else to do except ski. Dinner is a buffet with huge prime rib steak.  Pretty similar to UCPA really, loads of food and as much as you want. Sunshine forecast for Saturday with flurries on the cards for Sunday.

Sat 10th April
So the weather man got it wrong, we wake to a snow covered resort with at least 5cm on out balcony. The whole parking lot is blanketed so we rush through breakfast which is a smorgasbord buffet of eggs, bacon, cereal, toast, coffee, pancakes (huge again), maple syrup and doughnuts.  We ski a few runs together and then I take off.  The trail network isn’t as simple as Killington.  The lifts are as slow, but you don’t mind so much because the runs are more challenging, scenic and longer.  With the fresh snow on the trails I was expecting a crowded day out.  If there are 20 people in a ski area it’s a lot.  There is a real sense of travel and descent on the slopes with glades separating different runs and sections of the resort.  When the snow is abundant you can ski the glades. A pity so many are roped off as closed with notices informing skiers that should they be seen, or require rescue on one of these runs, they will be billed $2500 dollars for it.  I obey the rules for a while and then get bored.  On the lift up I see a nice black run that’s closed with steep moguls and a difficult route in due to exposed sections of rock. I meet up with another skier doing the same and between us we negotiate a route through the glade to the piste.  It’s tiring and tough but we reap the rewards of the powder that has gathered in the lee.  No rescue either.  I ski one of the runs through the village for fun and as I pass this dog in the middle of the piste barking at and chasing leaves.  As I pass he decides that I am a more attractive target and starts chasing me down the piste.  I show no fear and escape unharmed.  We relax in the room after dinner and watch the masters golf on TV.  It’s raining at base level.

Sun 11th April
We ski a few of the smaller runs and make our way across to the other side of the village. Quite a challenge as the snow cover on the crossroad is very patchy and it is a case of dodging bar rock in places.  Zoë leaves early to go have a massage and facial etc.  I go off and ski some of the runs higher up. I notice that there are tracks going down the roped off glades and back country shooting off the open blue runs.  Not being able to resist, I dive off trail and find myself alone in the woods.  At one point I lose the “trail” as the glades don’t have routes, just huge trees you have to avoid!  I find a digital camera in a snow pocket and am ever grateful to the owner for being so thoughtful and buying a waterproof, shockproof Olympus.  I switch it on and it works.  It must have been there at least 2 days as the pictures on it show sunshine!  I end up getting lost and running out of snow at the bottom of one of the closed off piste runs just as I notice some big paw prints in the snow.  Fresh tracks and no other skier, ski track or person in sight.  I later find out it might be a cougar or fox.  Not sure which one but it would have been the first wildlife sighting!  I ski all the runs and then some and go back at 4.  Some great skiing here even with the conditions they’re having and a return visit with abundant snow cover would not be off the cards.  Tomorrow is our last day of holiday as we begin our travel home. 

Pictures in the Gallery


Snow Formations

Jay Peaks Hotel Sign

Sled Sign