From Boston, it's a three-and-a-half hour ride north on I-93 to I-91 to Routes 14 and 100. New Yorkers take I-95 to I-91.
Beta: If spa treatments, overpriced artwork, and boisterous nightlife are your thing, look elsewhere. But if you want Arctic-born snow, lots of tree skiing, and international flair, point the war wagon to this rocky frontier peak. Jay receives more of the white magic than any resort east of the Rockies - more snow, in a record 571-inch year like 2001, than almost any resort in the country. When all that powder settles in Jay's legendary glades and chutes, you'll need fat boards or a snorkel...or, better yet, both.
Powder Day:Hook a right behind the Tram Haus and head to Tuckermans Chute, a one-skier-wide slot. Then hit north-facing Everglade, a wooded basin under the Flyer quad that drops more than 1,000 feet.
Three Days Later: Stay skier's left off the Flyer and go to Beyond Beaver Pond Glade to a series of drainages and bowls that shelter unclaimed powder. But don't go too far out - you'll end up in Canada.
Marquee route: Steep, exposed, and right below the tram station, the 35-degree Face Chutes are the Vermont equivalent of Corbet's Couloir. Assess your skills before jumping in; there's no easy way out.
Off-broadway: Perfect your hop turn before heading to Staircase. The 10-foot-wide lines and vertical drops of this tricky, 30-degree glade demand quick feet and a commitment to the fall line. Access Stair-case from Alligator Alley - or Northway to Upper Goat Run.
Backcountry Access:Follow the mile-long ridge traverse (past the boundary gate located near the top of the Northway trail) to the summit of Big Jay, home to the seemingly bottomless East Face Chutes, which approach 40 degrees and 2,000 vertical feet. Drop a car (at Route 242), take a local, and check the weather: erh.noaa.gov
Weather:Maritime air flows up the St. Lawrence valley, southwest winds bring moisture from the Great Lakes, and Atlantic storms channel up the Champlain Valley. They all converge over Jay Peak and dump prodigious amounts of snow.
No need to leave the base lodge - the Golden Eagle Lounge serves draft pints of Long Trail and Jay Peak's own Tram Ale. On Fridays, twin house DJs Frick and Frack spin tunes and hand out T-shirts and Jay souvenirs.
Fuel:Snarf down pizza and beer at the base of the tram, or tuck into a steak at the Lodge at Jay.
Up All Night:Jay skiers hit it hard and go home early. The nearest party is often at Grampa Grunts Lodge in Montgomery Center, eight miles west. It's BYOB, but there's a liquor store across the street.
Digs:Less than a mile from the mountain, the Ingle-nook Lodge (inglenookvermont.com) has everything a tired skier needs: indoor pool, sauna, and a lounge where you can stretch your legs and plan the next day's powder hunt. It's priced right, too: Go midweek and score a room, breakfast, dinner, and a lift ticket for $99.