Little-Known New England Ski Gems

Jay Peak
By Theodore Nusbaum
Sunset at Jay Peak
Sunset at Jay Peak

This mountain is for skiers and riders who believe there's no good skiing east of the continental divide. There is—and it's at Jay Peak. Jay receives an average annual snowfall of 340 inches, rivaling many Western ski resorts, and the reason for this is a phenomenon known as "orographic lift."

Because Jay Peak sits atop the northern tip of the Green Mountains and nothing but a few fences sit between it and the prevailing winds from the Great Lakes, it receives the brunt of any weather system moving west to east. These storms tend to "lift" themselves and circulate between the summit and "little Jay," its sister peak a few hundred yards away. The result is 30-plus powder days a season, including a four-foot dump in '98 and a three-and-a-half-foot powder day in April of 2000.

A second reason (as if you needed one) is the tree skiing—rated number one in North America. The glades are cut in the summer by the same guys who groom the hill in the winter, and according to Jay Peak guide Andre Cimon, "These guys know a fall line." Andre leads daily, complimentary mountain tours (9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and treated us to his philosophy of gladed skiing: "It's all about confidence, not skill, in the glades," he said. "You must see the empty spaces, not the trees, and know exactly where your first few turns will be."

Jay Peak rates its glades from one to six, progressing from the easiest (generously spaced trees and an easy pitch, such as "Little Bushwacker") to the most difficult (super-steep chutes with only a tight line through the trees, such as "The Face"). "Everglade" is a level five glade, one full mile in length, with the lower portion easing off a bit to a level three. You can even ski the glades from top to bottom—that's a 2,153-foot vertical of nothing but the best tree skiing in North America.

Seven hours' drive from New York City and three and a half from Boston, Jay offers 74 trails, glades, and chutes, seven lifts (including a 60-passenger tramway), and 2,153 feet of vertical. The resort also features a variety of activities for the whole family, including ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, bonfires, and snowcat rides, and there is enough beginner terrain so that novices and intermediates can enjoy themselves and improve their skills.

The nightlife at Jay Peak is nonexistent—if you're looking for a party, you better bring it with you. But then again, if you're coming to Jay, you're here to ski and ride the best of what the East has to offer; the idea of partying will quickly fade from your mind after a good dinner and your second glass of wine.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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