Thursday, May 24, 2012

Uhh, what, wake up, there's news!

Jay Peak investors buy Burke Mountain:

Powder Mag:

WCAX Burlington:

Ski the East:
(including an exclusive interview with Steve Wright)

This is most likely good news on many levels, especially for Burke Mountain. But what we are really waiting to find out is whether or not our Jay passes will be good at Burke...

Jay East?
Photo of Burke Mountain stolen from Ski the East

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Monday Freshie at Jay Peak

After only arriving late Sunday in Monkey Centre the forecast didn’t look good for skiing – rain and maybe some wet snow at higher elevations. We treated ourselves that night to a dinner at the newly re-opened Black Lantern – food was delicious. Well the next morning I decided to gear up. I had missed the one powder weekend this year, missed the week of summer weather in March and now was looking at a sparse mountain for the first week of April but needed to air out the cobwebs, so off I went to the mountain on Easter Monday. At the very least I had to empty out the locker! The Devon darling wasn’t too keen on skiing in the cold rain. Rain on the way up 242 until after Alpine Haven and then some snow – good sign I thought. Then several vehicles minus snow tires (Ontario and Connecticut) trying to wedel their way up the mountain.

Only a few cars in the parking area at Stateside and a few diehards slowly getting ready to attack the wet drizzle. Well the drizzle turned to snow. At the top of the Jet (the only big lift operating) there was at least 6” of new snow – a little thick but new snow!! First run the Derrick (oops didn’t see the rope) – awesome. Virtually untracked, heavy but when it is untracked you can just glide. Then the Haynes, then the Jet. Then the Montrealer and I packed it in but it was well worth it. Somebody on the lift said he found a foot of snow on one run – I said where? He says “on the Derrick, done it three times.” Well, it wasn’t a foot but it was more untracked snow than I have seen for a long time this winter.

On the way home 242 still hadn’t been plowed. As I crested the top there was an 18 wheeler stopped just near the top, not able to go any further. A lineup below was headed by someone else without snow tires – glad I wasn’t in that line. The good news: The way it was raining in the valley when we left I would say the upper mountain will be amazing for a day or two. And then they can groom it for the weekend Tailgate Party at Jay!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stateside meeting: the movies

Remember the famous meeting? Now we can all share the experience. Thanks to MagogFishy on AlpineZone for sleuthing these out, they are kind of buried on Jay Peak's YouTube channel. Who knew about the YouTube channel???

The sound is a bit funny on these, be prepared to adjust the volume.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Phe interviews:

For all you development followers, Jay has released a new map of the master plan (warning: large file).

Some discussion about the map (including me) starts about halfway down this page and rambles on for a while. Further on in the discussion (if you ignore the distracting comments about pizza), FromTheNEK produces some awesome Google Earth renderings of the West Bowl:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why we keep coming back to Jay Peak...

Yeah, yeah, the post title is smarmy. But when Steve Wright puts something like this up on the rarely used official Jay Peak Weblog, you have to say "right on!"

The piece starts out with a blah, blah, blah about current snowmaking locations but the heart of it is here:
Part of me wants to say that the decision to make snow was a well thought out, strategic plan because it makes us sound smarter than we actually are but, as with many things up here, it was pretty knee jerk. Snow wise, the season has pretty much sucked but, in all honesty, we’ve made enough money so that making a few bad decisions this late in the season won’t shutter our doors. Really, when this boils, it’s a nod to our season pass holders- the ones we have now and, sure, the ones we may pick up as a result of holding our brand to the fire. When you commit an entire season to one business—not just your cash but, more importantly your time, making some snow and staying open a few extra weeks as acknowledgment isn’t exactly an act of heroism on our part; based on who we are and how we’ve positioned ourselves, we’d be stupid not to. Still, there’s something about everyone here being excited to do it, that makes me proud to work here.
Click here for the entire post:

Which, by the way includes a low-key pitch to sign up for the early season deal on a season pass. Which, by the way, are about 12% more than last year. But still a lot less than many other eastern resorts.  I bought a pass this season and am afraid to do the math. Oh, well, I guess that's the price we pay for being raised Jay. Now we are committed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Alice's Table: a second look in Year Two

A restaurant's opening blush can be like the first outing of a debutante. A new restaurant often sparkles, glitters and soars in the early going. But then like a date in the harsh light of the new dawn, really not the same magic!

But not at Alice's Table. On our recent visit, the hostess and the waiters were cheery, vigilant and helpful. Perhaps they may need a little polishing to serve at a Michelin three star restaurant but to a server, most accommodating and not annoyingly in the way of your conversation.

Often by a restaurants' second year the tables are not cleaned properly, and some crockery, cutlery and glassware show the stress of gracing table after table of ravenous eaters. Not so with Alice's Table: everything is still spick and shiny.

The menu stresses good clean rib sticking food like burgers and wraps and with nice starters. This trip we chose Mexican Quesadillas with savory shaved beef, plenty of cheese, sour cream and salsa and lots of jalapenos. Piping hot and just a great snack.  The perfectly spiced Bloody Mary and peppery Bloody Caesar paired perfectly and sang so loudly you thought you could hear the cries from a Mexican Bull Ring.

Speaking of that, the bill rang in at less then $40 including tip.  No gouging at Alice's Table!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A quick update from those "on the ground"

This just in from Monkey Centre:
Well, Dear Report, yesterday the heavens opened and bucketed rain on little Montgomery nestled below mighty Jay. The winds howled and snarled all night but somewhere near 4 AM the Snow Gods triumphed over the evil Rain Goblins. In the village 2" of new powder covered the layer of rain mixed with ice slush. Yea! Yea!

Meanwhile at mighty Jay the rain slush turned much sooner to lush snow and when we arrived there was 3-4" of new snow and even more depending where you looked. The centres of most trails were wiped clean pretty soon but when we left at 2 the edges still harboured stashes yet untracked.

Kissed by the sun on and off, a temperature around 25, all in all a Joyous Jay Day was had by Linski and Dogski!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

NSBS 2.0, Day Four: Getting the lion's share at Cannon

Despite his camoflage jacket, Matt still looks good working the edges
This firm once existed, I'd have you to know,
Messrs Lion, Wolf, Tiger, Fox, Leopard & Co;
These in business were join'd, and of course 'twas implied,
They their stocks should unite, and the profits divide
Jefferys Taylor
"The Beasts in Partnership"
By Day Four of the NSBS, we were ski beasts in partnership, seeking to unite our stock of knowledge and skill and divide the profits. When March came in like a lion at Cannon on Thursday, the last ski day for the NSBS bloggers, the profits were plenty: a thin winter was completely transformed by fresh snow. Snow that kept falling all day, making conditions better and better as we skied. As the liftie at the the Cannonball Quad opined as we boarded, "it's cool to see the big sticks come out."
Steve cruises the bumps of Upper Hardscrabble
As much as I enjoyed our days at Attitash and Wildcat, I felt instantly at home at Cannon. Maybe it was the weather: windy, snowy, blustery, the kind of day that made you tuck your chin into your collar and hold a glove over your face on the lift. It was a Jay Peak kind of day and the mountain measured up to it; big, brawny and hard to see in the gloom of blowing snow. There was a crowd of skiers on big skis, ready for some kind of snow event. We had the advantage of local knowledge. One of our own crew was a Cannon regular and Steve's intimate knowledge of the mountain and its moods paid off in spades. We skied the drifts on one side of Vista Way and beautiful natural snow bumps on Upper Hardscrabble. He advised us to hold off on the hike to Mittersill until after lunch, when there would be more snow. We worked the sides of runs, milking the new snow and finding the fresh patches. It was a powder day for the creative and Cannon delivered the terrain. With flowing cruisers like Vista Way, steep natural snow challenges like Upper Hardscrabble, tight glades like Global Warming and the "sidecountry" of Mittersill offering something for anyone with a sense of adventure, Cannon is a true skier's mountain.
Matt skis hot in Global Warming Glade
Don't ask me which mountain I liked the best on the NSBS 2.0 tour. Each was fantastic and in a serendipitous way, the day was perfectly appropriate for each destination. Attitash had the fresh snow on perfectly groomed cord; Wildcat had the clear view, fast cruising and crazy trees; then Cannon finished it up with a blast of winter, a little powder and some very interesting terrain. The ski history of the Mt. Washington valley added a nice flavour and New England hospitality kept the ball rolling.

Thanks, New Hampshire, I had a great week, my ski universe has been expanded and I definitely want to come back for more.

The ridge hike to Mittersill
Cannon Mountain from Mittersill
See you next time, Cannon

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NSBS 2.0, Day three: Leap Day at Wildcat. Purrrfect!

Jake, our tour guide, celebrates Leap Day in the appropriate manner
With a mountain named Wildcat, I suppose the trail-namers couldn't help themselves but go with a kitty-based theme. Today I found myself skiing runs like Upper Wildcat, Polecat, Lynx Lair, Catapult, Feline and Catenary, to name a few. And we never did make it to Hairball, which, if my experience with cats is any indication, was probably a little boney anyway. But that is another story.
Wildcat is right across the street from George and his various ravines.
After a hearty breakfast at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, our intrepid crew of bloggers headed over to Wildcat Mountain. Despite the snow in the forecast, the day started clear and sunny, which made the views of Mount Washington pretty spectacular. After a warm-up run down a trail with the word "cat" in its name, we met up with our new pal Thomas, his buddy Jake and the Wildcat videographer, Tom. Thomas was sporting even fatter skis than the ones he ran yesterday and Jake was on 194 cm Rossi RC 112s. I looked down at the 78 mm waist Salomon carving skis I had chosen for the day and wondered whether or not I should go back to the car and grab the Sir Francis Bacons. Did they know something we didn't know? Probably.

I stuck with the Salomons, which was ultimately a good decision. Tom was shooting for the Wildcat Video Update so we happily cooperated, skiing for the camera, standing around, skiing for the camera, and for some us, waxing poetically right on queue. I guess this gang of bloggers passed a test of some sort, because we were led into a special stash and skied a very steep, tight tree ran that had no cat references. Fortunately, there were no catastrophes. We topped this off with a couple of non-stop top to bottom cruises down the uncrowded (thankfully, given the speed we were skiing) classics Polecat, Lynx and the Catapult/Wildcat/Bobcat combination. I asked Matt, the ski instructor in the group, for a pro-tip on carving and worked the rest of day on holding an imaginary basketball between my legs. It really did help but by the end of the day my legs felt like a deflated basketball.

And so the day went, alternating between twisting, fun and definitely carveable groomed runs and moderately bumped-up natural snow runs sporting real Eastern conditions. What a blast! Wildcat's location in the White Mountain National Forest limits development: there are no hotels, no slopeside condos and nothing else to do but ski. What is at Wildcat? Great skiing, an unbelievably scenic setting, classic eastern trails, a palpable vibe of welcoming enthusiasm, a horde of silver-haired rippers (mid-week at least) and a supremely funky but highly functional base lodge with good food. Wildcat is my kind of place.

Ski area architecture at its finest. Seriously, I love it.
The view from the top is even better.
Of course, everybody had to take a picture.
Tom, the happiest videographer on the planet.
The camera guy never gets first tracks but he does get to ski a lot.
Wildcat has rabbit holes too. Matt heads down.
Matt lept as well and Tom obviously has nine lives.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NSBS 2.0, Day two: awesomeness at Attitash! The need for speed is fulfilled.

George dominates the landscape.
Having never skied in New Hampshire before, I decided to approach this trip with an open mind and not have any expectations. Sort of a "clean slate" frame of reference. And since I am definitely "not from around here," I really had no idea what to expect at Attitash. To say I was pleasantly surprised today would be a massive understatement. We had a day of unexpected awesomeness, combining high-speed groomer lappage with a few fun runs in some, uh, off-the-map terrain.

First run was on "Elevator Shaft."
The thing with Attitash is that you can't really see the whole mountain from the road, so it is hard to get an idea of the great terrain that awaits. The bloggers started the day on Bear Peak, the most easily accessible terrain from the Grand Summit Hotel. The original thought was that we might take a run or two there, then head over to Attitash. Not so! The consistently pitched fall-line cruisers, freshly groomed with a skiff a fresh snow, were insanely fun. With drops, rollers, swoopy turns and very few people on the trails, the collective consciousness of the posse agreed: open it up! We skied fast; up and down, up and down until we needed to head over for our meet-up with Thomas Prindle, the Attitash "marketing guy," and get a guided tour of the mountain. Little did we know that he would be charging and we would be following. Don't ask me the names of the runs we skied -  I was just playing follow the leader. The Attitash side was just as fun as Bear Peak but with a higher elevation, and after the sun came out, some spectacular views of Mt. Washington.

Continuing the tour with Thomas, we headed back to Bear Peak. At the top of the lift we ran into a friend of Thomas who offered to share some of his local knowledge. The result? Several runs in a beautiful medium-angled glade with several inches of fresh snow and so few tracks that I found untracked spots from the storm on Saturday.

All in all, it was a fantastic day on a new mountain with a revved-up group of great skiers. What more do you need on ski day?

There was a nice refresher of snow over the immaculate grooming.
MadPat getting into the high-speed cruising.
The slide ride is closed, I guess.
This is novel. One lift crossing over another!
A fine Harv-slarve.
A little late afternoon goodness in the trees.

Monday, February 27, 2012

NSBS 2.0: Day one, the drive.

After much deliberation, the bloggers of the NSBS decided to visit New Hampshire this year. I arrived today, a day late to the party, so sadly have no ski report. I can report that was an easy, though very long drive and the White Mountains of New Hampshire have a very different feel to them. They are big, broad, brawny and even though Mt. Washington was mostly shrouded in cloud, it completely dominates the landscape. 

After driving through the spectacular Crawford Notch, I arrived at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel, our home for the next few days. Tomorrow, we ski Attitash, so stay tuned.

Last chance to turn off to Jay Peak - I am torn.

A view of Jay I rarely see - the drive-by.
Even obscured by clouds - the scenery in Crawford Notch is impressive.
The Grand Summit Hotel - if you go out the back door, you are on the slopes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

On the various aspects of lemonade, and, oh yes, there is snow at Jay Peak.

SBR mixes up some lemonade on Green Beret. Photo by The Snowway.
Dedicated East Coast skiers seem to be divided into two camps this season. One on side, there are those who insist on being depressed and constantly complain about the lack of snow and/or how crappy the skiing is. These people have been handed lemons and don't know what to do with them. On the other side, there are the people who make lemonade. These people go skiing anyway, practice their hard snow skills, eke out the odd "powder day" and make the best of it. Or, if they can't go skiing, they find out how much fun it can be riding a mountain bike in the winter, or take up surfing. Or even telemarking. The lemonade crowd has decided that one inch is the new foot and some have even offered tips on how skiers can maximize their stoke in a thin winter.

The well stocked wood box:
don't leave your wife at home without it!

I like to think that I live in the lemonade camp, although it has been tough to stay positive. Various life events prevented me from getting to Jay until last week. Having bought some fancy new fat skis, new boots and even a mid-week Jay pass, I had been reading the various weather reports religiously, surreptitiously plotting a road trip and building up a stockpile of Good Husband Points. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of GHPs to abandon your sweetie on Valentine's Day to go on a ski trip.

Driving across upstate New York and Vermont, I was quite amazed at the lack of snow. I had heard reports but figured that by now these areas must have something. Back home in the Hinterlands it has not been the greatest winter but we at least have knee deep crusty snow in the yard. A few local powder adventures have been possible, between rain events.

Jay Peak view from VT 105. The Jay Cloud is attached to the summit.
I began to get a bit worried when I pulled in to the Jonny Jay Clubhouse, only a short drive from the mountain, and observed green grass in the yard, along with a bit of snow. Lemonade in mind, I quickly changed and headed up the 242. As I gained elevation, I could see a little fresh snow, then a little more. Then enough snow that the snowplow had put its blade down. Then the snowplow. Take a sip of lemonade. Once the mountain came into view, all I could see was full coverage.

The first of several nice stashes that presented themselves.
Wednesday was a day for exploring, getting my Jay legs back and figuring out where the snow was. That brings up the other thing people have been talking about this winter: aspects. In this case,  (according to our friends at Wikipedia) "aspect generally refers to the horizontal direction to which a mountain slope faces." At Jay Peak, thinking about aspects and wind direction is a big part of figuring out where that 1" will turn into 1'. And since I was skiing by myself, I had time to think. In the process, I visited many old favorites that first day, including "all natural" runs like the Kitz, Green Beret, JFK and the River Quai.  All were in excellent shape, despite somewhat sketchy entrances on the latter two. Even Powerline was pretty fun, as long as you avoided the rocks. My first few forays into some low-angle glades were quite rewarding and the outlook seemed good for the next two days.

Northway, 2 PM, 2/15/12. Where is everybody?

And good it was. Thursday morning, a new 2" had landed in the parking lot. Abandoning all plans of making a plan, I just skied where it seemed to make sense. One of the best decisions of the day was taking my first run down Can Am, groomed early the night before and coated overnight with 2" of cream cheese frosting. Even though I got third tracks, there are not many times you can ski with complete abandon down that run and emerge with a huge grin on your face. And the day was just beginning.

I followed a rabbit track...
And found a rabbit hole. Down I went.
It was another busy day.
Oh darn, the sun is shining and I seem to have this snow all to myself.
Having arranged to ski with Steve from The Snowway on Friday, and feeling the need to save some energy, I took an extended afternoon break over on Tramside. This gave me a chance to check out the new Hotel Jay and even take a peek into the waterpark, surprisingly busy on such a beautiful ski day. Pro-tip: don't visit the waterpark wearing ski clothes, it is kept at jungle-like levels of temperature and humidity. After my tour, I got a Chai Latte at Aroma, sat outside and contemplated the contrasts of the emerging new face of Jay Peak. The Latte was delicious and enjoying one on a sun-drenched stone terrace with a nice view of the mountain is rather pleasant. This part of the new Jay is quite likeable. We'll just have to wait and see about the rest.

You can never have too much Bacon; Sir Francis that is.
Friday didn't start well but quickly got better. I woke to the sound of drip, drip, drip off the Clubhouse roof. This was not a good sign. Lemonade, lemonade, I repeated to myself. I went to hill to meet Steve, once again greeted by new snow in the parking lot. The JPR snow report was claiming one inch but for once I would argue that they were under-reporting. There was at least 1.75" in the parking lot and several more in the right aspects. Did I mention the weather had changed? The wind had returned and Thursday's rare combination of sun, no wind and mild temperatures was not to be repeated. Steve and I made second chair, and when the posse on the first went left, we went right and I had a near repeat of the Can Am experience from the day before. The difference was that there was a little more frosting and I was the first down the run that day. Woo Hoooooooooooo!

Steve jumps right in to his first Green Beret run of the season.
We skied all over the place, repeating several of the runs I had done over the two days before and a few new ones. Again, plans were abandoned as unusual, and very nice, conditions presented themselves. Who knew, for example, that after scoring lovely boot-top snow on the edge of the River Quai, that we would find only a few tracks down the lower Goat? Like the Can Am, it had been groomed and then covered with new snow. With the sheltered aspect of the Goat, we agreed that there were four or five inches there. We opened it up and cruised over the velvet surface. And for those of you still scoffing at fat skis, the 108 mm SFBs made that 4" feel almost bottomless. What a fantastic few days!

Steve cruising the easier lower section of the Green Beret.
So, all you complainers, get out there and ski. Make some lemonade. Support your favourite mountain, big or small. You never know, that inch might just multiply.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The future of Stateside: minutes from the meeting

You can do a lot of thinking when you're out on the tractor blowing snow. First of all, in this lean winter, that's a good sign: I'm blowing snow. When I first started this blog, back in the dim days of 2007, I had no idea where it would go. It started as a fun project to play with on the Interwebz, a good way to encourage some luddite family members to get more comfortable with "life online," and never in a million years did I think it would last this long. So here we are. In the early January of a slow start to winter, SBR and Blue Toes haven't even been to Jay Peak yet. Oh, I had big plans, and even have a midweek pass waiting for me somewhare in the bowels of Customer Service. Others have visited Jay, and their reports have not been that exciting. During Christmas week, I received a text from Pudd: "On the Bonnie. Raining at the bottom, snowish at the top." My sister Sklinda emailed me to say that "we miss you but you are not not missing much." Having said that, everyone had fun, Jay Peak couldn't have picked a better year to open a waterpark and snow is slowly piling up.

But you know, the great thing about Jay Peak these days is that if you can't talk about the skiing, you can always talk about DEVELOPMENT. So, here we go again. There isn't a lot of snow to talk about (though rumour has it there is a good one brewing for this weekend), so let's talk about construction, EB5 and the future of our spiritual home at Jay Peak, Stateside Lodge.

If you pay attention to the official Jay Peak blog (ie. not this one), you may have seen a call for submissions on the subject of the future of Stateside Lodge, the last bastion of the old school at Jay. If you missed it, check it out here, and read ALL the comments before continuing on. Seriously, this is important.

My esteemed brother and elder statesman of our posse (he'll kill me for that), Jonny Jay, took Steve Wright's message to heart and wrote an impassioned email, requesting to be part of the meeting (if you are saying "what meeting?,"  go back and read what I told you to - it's like homework). The email must have struck a chord with Steve, and Jonny Jay was invited to the exclusive think tank.

Since it didn't make it on to the Jay blog comments, I have taken the liberty of posting Jonny Jay's winning email:
I echo many of the blog comments and commend Jay for reaching out. I have skied at Jay since the 1960s, having taught with the Raven Ski Club at that time where instructors were encouraged to explore the mountain and give the kids some "mileage" as the best way to learn to ski. I am familiar with the changes, as being one who actually remembers and used the Poma lift and the chair lift that used to ride up to the peak. The only year I didn't ski Jay was 1972-73 when I was at Whistler in its early days. The Stateside "vibe" has always been the attraction for my family (we have a ski house in a small VT town, as does my sister in another small VT town, with her children and grandchildren, and my brother who you will know as Sick Bird Rider) as we like the no-frills aspect of the skiing experience. The family often has three generations of skiers on the mountain and the input is always entertaining when we discuss where the mountain should go. Keep it skier friendly, keep it simple, give the core skier base a place they can call home and want to return to year after year for – are you ready -- the skiing.

Those of us who are diehards yet realists understand the need to develop the resort experience to keep the mountain prosperous but we also hope that you don't lose the Jay magic that keeps so many of us religiously devoted year after year, snow or not as we discovered this past week. We stared at the people in the waterpark a couple of times but still went out to find what little snow there was and made the best of it. Yes, we will go to the water park one day, I suppose, and have some fun, I am sure, but let us remember that it is not what put Jay on the map. As an aside, my 46 year-old nephew was stunned to hear that you took the name of one of our iconic Jay runs to name the water park "Pump House." But I will add that it is a great marketing play. I would be happy to assist in the Stateside planning session on January 9 if you need my perspective as a realistic yet longtime hardcore Jay skier with a multi-generational backup team.
-and he signed his real name
Yesterday, JJ and 11 other committed Statesiders, skiers and snowboarders alike, showed up at Tramside, in the quaint old International Room, to find Steve Wright, Walter Elander, a few other staffers, the architects, along with the posters people had written comments on and a bunch of architectural drawings.

Here is the report, in its full stream of consciousness flavour, only slightly expurgated to protect the innocent. Remember, this is one man's impression. You might not agree with it. That's OK. There were 11 other "stakeholders" there and somewhere on the Internet, they might be putting out their version of events:
I am sure you are all waiting for my report with baited breath! Turns out the cynics in us were partially right because it wasn’t as much a forum about re-vamping Stateside (the Unchangeable as the new marketing campaign says) as it was an information meeting with a chance to discuss.

The bottom line is that the EB5 money – the foreign investment fund where all this investment comes from – does have a few strings attached: surprise, surprise. Not necessarily bad depending on your point of view. For starters, forget about salvaging the old lodge for anything.

- There MUST be a hotel over there, slated at 85 rooms, targeted at the more economical lodger than Tramside;
- There MUST be an 8,000 sq ft Mountain Learning Centre (I asked what that was and apparently it can be whatever they want);
- There MUST be a 12,000 sq ft lodge;
- AND there MUST be a 15,000 sq ft Recreation Centre.
Oh, and an outdoor amphitheatre.

All these are great but certainly not what any of us envisioned for Stateside.

Now I will go back to the beginning with a discussion on the status of the mountain upgrades. Jay will have three distinct base areas, Tramside, Stateside and the West Bowl. These “portals” will each be stand-alone mini ski areas with lodges etc. Lift upgrades are as follows:
- Six person chair to replace Bonnie (this apparently will not work at max capacity to keep the traffic down to only slightly more than today . . .). This chair will take the old Power Line route to where it used to be ending at St Georges Prayer.
- The Bonnie quad will be moved to replace the Jet chair.
- The Jet chair will be moved to (some of us will remember) right of the Bonnie up to Taxi to serve the Terrain Park round trippers and the Rabbit Run/Chalet Meadows crowd.
- The T-bar is gone to be replaced by a Magic carpet.

Now on to the really good stuff. There is a need to expand the mid intermediate/novice terrain and, wouldn’t you know, there isn’t any of that moderate grade terrain left on Tramside because it has all been used for condos! There is a surprise. So making use of the little trails below Taxi and the Queens Hwy will be accomplished with the new short chair. And then the “not set in stone” plan is to add a long wrap around trail to the East of Timbuktu as a nice intermediate trail. Of course that would be great if it were just the occaisioanal skier, but in my mind it will destroy the unique character of that side of the mountain, as well as bring more novice skiers on to advanced terrain as they decide to give Timbuktu a try, or the Kitz, or whatever. My friend B. was also there, as was another Stateside regular, and we all had a few comments on that point - as you can imagine. Not to mention destroying the “secret” stashes over there or the fact that the race crowd, and Pudd, will use it as a downhill training run.

Of course, one of our points was that the West Bowl was supposed to add significant Intermediate terrain. Well, out came the topographical maps and apparently it will be more expert slopes than they thought, hence the need for this trail. Go figure. The West Bowl expansion is in the permit stage and is not expected for at least 43 years – oops that was a typo, 3 years. And there will be a sideways chair that will run from near the top of the Snail to the West Bowl “portal” and back (editor's note: maybe they could build an elevated, covered Magic Carpet, running both ways!).

There was also some discussion about encouraging more racers with an FIS sanctioned trail which apparently can be accomplished by widening the Haynes. On the positive side, this is a great idea to promote the mountain and get the hardcore skiers there. Of course not so great with all those beginners that will be going down this nice wide trail.

Given that there wouldn’t be any development without this EB5 money, the Jay group (and the architect firm in the meeting) does appear to be trying to be sympathetic to the Stateside “vibe” within the parameters, however it is a major development shift. For example, it seems the architecture will be “homey,” either a New England flair or log/post and beam concept. And the hotel will not be placed in an area that blocks the view of the mountain, as the new Hotel Jay and  water park do at Tramside. The Rec centre discussion was interesting because it could be a fitness centre/skate park/rock climbing/etc place – remember it is bigger than an NHL hockey rink (editor's note: and environmental learning centre/art gallery, NEK mountain culture/history centre?).

All in all, it was a very civilized group with a lot of rambling discussion, including the menu of the Stateside lodge. We even discussed Wifi access, which they are all in favour of, and a fireplace and lockers etc. but it all seemed kind of moot once the master plan had been unveiled. Kind of ironic because when you look at the comments on those big posters soliciting comments from everybody about what should Stateside be, the general consensus is: “leave it alone,” “clean bathrooms,” “better food,” “add a stripper pole,” and  “don’t touch the trails.”

So there you go in a nutshell. Once this is out on the blog I would expect there will be some counter reaction. By the way the architect firm is They have done several successful ski areas (specifically: Belleayre, NY; Dartmouth, NH; Mt. Sunapee, NH and Sadleback, ME). They seemed like the right guys for the job – they have already planned for lots of cubby holes for the box lunch crowd and it looks like that will be encouraged to a degree.


Unchangeable? I'm not so sure anymore.