I started skiing at Catamount because they had two magic carpet lifts. It may seem like a small thing, but when you’re trying to get two brand new skiers up to speed it really helps.
Back then the quality of a mountain’s ski school and beginner lifts were just as important to me as it’s vertical and it’s snowmaking capacity. I tried out a number of different small and medium sized hills before I found Catamount.
Catamount exists in what I now think of as the sweet spot for family skiing. It’s two hours from New York City, has a thousand feet of vertical, a world class kids’ ski program and terrain for all levels.
Last weekend I drove to the Southern Adirondacks looking for more magic. I’m here to report that I did find it, at McCauley Mountain in Old Forge, NY.
From some crazy reason, the mountain has been off my radar. I vaguely remember seeing a sign for McCauley on the drive to Snow Ridge last season. Then last week, the mountain was top of mind with powderhounds in the forum as it was forecast to get a potentially significant lake effect snow.
As it turned out, the intense snow band was tantalizingly close, but just off to the north and only a few inches of snow fell in Old Forge. To me it felt like a low-key and unhurried opportunity to see a new place and expand my understanding of skiing in New York.
I always look forward to the moment when I first step into the snow. It gives me a line on what to expect from the ski days ahead.
On Tuesday, I was surprised by what I found. That first step into the snow step was soft-ish, with just a hint of crunch. Ten inches of compressed snow remained from the last liquid event and it didn’t feel super saturated. Of course it was just above freezing.
Now, I know the Almaguin Highlands guys don’t ski the pipeline before it sets, but that’s not how we roll down here on Christian Hill. If it’s skiable we’ll hit it, consequences be damned.