The YPWG crew has long been meaning to up their game in the backcountry department and started the process in winter 11-12 by investing heavily in touring gear. Just one problem: low snow cover allowed for just a few short trips before we hung up our skins for the year. Well, not this year. On Sunday, Powder Moose and Easy E headed up to Big Jay to knock off a backcountry destination that had long been on our short list, and should serve as just the beginning of a big year in 2013.
Big Jay is a large backcountry area on peak adjacent to Jay Peak Resort. As with most Jay trips, the day began with a 4:30am departure from Boston. After a quick breakfast sandwich stop, we made good time and were at our Long Trail trailhead on route 242 a few minutes after 9:00.
The well defined skin track led up past the Dip on our right, and before we knew it, we had hooked up with the upper portion of Vermonter and were at the at the top of Jay Peak proper. This then turned out to be too far, so we turned around and found our access point skiers left off of Northway.
From the Northway access point, the skin was about a mile along another skin track to the top of Big Jay. We stopped for a quick, chilly lunch before it was time to finally get the goods.
A light but steady snow had been falling on our skin track all day, and it wasn’t long after dropping in that the terrain opened up into a series of untouched white rooms. Face shots were abundant.
Despite being told that getting out of the bottom of the Big Jay bowl could be a tough hike out, we hooked up with a Corona highway-like access trail, which got us back to 242 with minimal sloggage. We popped out 1.5 miles south of our car, and gladly hitched a ride.
Overall, our Big Jay day was a very worthwhile effort. While we had to learn a lot about using our gear on longer tours and a little bit about route finding, it ended up being one of our deepest east coast days ever.