Sometimes even the best laid plans are not completely fool proof. It seemed like a no brainer at the time. Twenty inches in three days with seven of those inches falling the evening before an upper mountain lift hold at Jay. Temperatures plummeted into the single digit mark and most metro area skiers and riders had no idea that almost two feet of new snow had fallen in Northern Vermont immediately following the massive wash out last weekend. I was not expecting a jackpot and I was expecting some wind buff. My expectations were not high but they were definitely in the “powder day” realm of thinking for sure.
Only a dozen skiers were lined up for first tram which was eerie to say the least. I chalked it up to the cold and afore mentioned metro rain bias. But I soon learned that it was not those who missed first tram that were the fools. Rarely do I ride the tram and only started at Tramside due to my ticket requiring a visit to the Customer Service desk. I decided to start my morning with a rarity of sorts for me and that is the normally sure shot first tracks in the Beaver Pond area.
En route to Beaver Pond, I spied some wind buffed powder on the edge of the fast hard pack and I pounced. And I tip dove and ejected. “Nothing more than cold legs on a cold day,” I told myself. But three turns into Beaver Pond, I had difficulty on a turn, caught some foliage sticking up through the snow, and lost a ski. Hum. The snow was beyond simply being wind buffed. It was slab wind buffed with one to two inches of firm breakable slab on top of the wind buff. Breaking through the slab was variable from turn to turn creating a dire need for anticipating inconsistency. I quickly checked my speed and my ego and decided to take things in the trees very slowly. By the time I exited Beaver Pond, I was not deterred but rather determined to find the wind protected aspect the escaped the wind.
Alas, it was not to be found any where today at Jay Peak. Another Tram to the summit had me skiing down Goat to Expo Glade which looked sketchy from the top. I dropped in a half dozen feet and was so dismayed that I poled down a bit and side stepped out. Buckaroo and Bonzai looked equally shredded by the wind. Slightly less slabbed but very buffed was the short North Glade. It was not to be on Tramside but surely Stateside would offer up the goods!
Over to the Bonnie I went and found my favorite two tree shot off map combo where I skipped the first of the two tree shots due to a sketchy wind blown entrance. At the second shot, I thought I found a jackpot only to find myself face down in the snow on my second turn. This was getting old. Finishing out on Hell’s Woods which was indeed hell had me considering the Jet Triple as the savior of my soon to be powder day.
But it was not to be. The O was nearly untracked but I quickly found the tracked to ski better than the untracked. This was the story in Timbuktu where I had some of my finest turns ever in what I normally consider an over skied shit show of a glade featuring horrid irregular bumps, scraped lines due to high traffic, and thin coverage. After the wind blown slab had been broken into loose snow, it skied great. For a final run, I hit Kitz to the trees and found great snow where tracked on Kitz and dangerous turns in the untracked trees. No aspect had been protected, even deep in the trees, and the wind buff slab was to be found everywhere.
The most spectacular item of interest today was Jay’s miraculous recovery from this past week’s deluge. Jay already had a bomber, if not too deep, base that the rain wore on but did not erase. Twenty inches and a whole lot of wind buff locked in the base pretty well. There were occasional coverage issues and the groomers were very much fast hard pack. But the overall sense I got from the mountain was that it was only a foot of fresh away from being fully skiable and epic. Despite my miss on what I thought would be at least a barely makes the cut powder day, I let at least relived that Northern Vermont is back in business just a few days after the hurt.