Stella | March 15th & 16th

It seems that since October this ski season has been a series of storm cycles followed by extremely warm thaws. Our last storm cycle ended in the middle of February and we were treated to temps in the mid 60s and practically no snow for weeks. 

Fast forward to mid March and suddenly what started as a promising Nor'Easter became one of the biggest storms in east coast history. Conveniently enough, I found myself with my college ski club in a cottage located at the base of Jay Peak, Vermont for the duration of the storm. When we saw that this storm actually had a name, we knew we had to get up there before everyone else did. 

On the morning of March 15th our group of seven was heading uphill well before sunrise. The snow was dumping, the wind was howling and we could see that the Jay Peak staff was hard at work digging the resort out before opening bell. 

I'm not sure if it was pure excitement but something was driving all of us up that mountain faster than a normal uphill pace. It almost felt like a race to the top. I'm sure taking a month off from any uphill activity didn't help but I was huffing and puffing. We talked about how great our run was about to be as we waved to the grooming cats passing by us which resembled a smoking white mass.

We reached our destination, the top of the Bonaventure quad, at about 7:30am. Since our group was fairly big we split up and I went with the group that skied a trail called Deliverance. It's a notoriously steep trail that starts as a chute and finishes as a tight glade with some cliffs along the way. With snow up to our waists and chests it was great way to welcome back winter. After some face shots and a few hucked cliffs we were back at the base in front of the chairlift waiting third in line for it to open.

The next two days were not too different from that first run. We skied until closing and found fresh snow nearly every turn. The next day a few of us went over to Big Jay in the afternoon. Somehow no matter how deep the resort is, Big Jay is always deeper. The skin track was more of a trench on our approach. Our descent was unlike anything else over the past two days. Any terrain under thirty degrees was almost not skiable. The snow was so deep it was hard to move in anything fresh. However, on the steeps it blew up to your shoulders and over your head the whole way down. 

Being at Jay Peak for Stella was one of most incredible experiences of my life. It's never felt so good having nearly the entire east coast skiing community (including myself) proven wrong as soon as we were ready to hang up our winter hats. Skiing snow so deep you have to keep your buff above your mouth so you don't start choking does not happen often out here. Before I went to bed I found myself scrolling through pictures and videos trying to comprehend what had just happened.

Photo by Kevin McAvey