Yearly Archives: 2009
Ski Day 7: I should probably call today Ski Day 1. Some big firsts, for our family. Our daughter Neve had her first real day on skis. Zelda had her first Day on alpine gear and her first day of the season. For us … it was pretty exciting.
I really don’t want this entry to be about paid parking, but I do have a few things to say. Essentially what paid parking has done to our day is move it up by about 45 minutes. We really wanted to have our gear and car close at hand, so we left for the mountain at 7:00 am. To make this possible, we decided to have breakfast at the mountain instead of at home. It was amazing how much I relaxed once we parked around 7:15. In the end it paid to be “upfront.” I counted 5 different trips to the car.
We told Neve we were going to a restaurant for breakfast. She said “you don’t go to a restaurant for BREAKFAST!” We had two breakfast sandwiches and three OJs for about $20 bucks, Oddly I have no problem paying a hefty premium for food. I’d definitely rather buy breakfast the ten dollars for more convenient parking.
I would recommend to Gore that they open food service earlier. The parking is clearly driving some people to come in earlier, and I wasn’t the only one trying to order breakfast before they were open.
We met BJ – Neve’s instructor – and all around great person – in front of the Northwood’s Lodge at 8:30. Neve got shy, but BJ did a great job bringing her out. I was pretty nervous about the lesson. I kept thinking .. if she likes this … I’m GOLDEN!
Zelda stayed to watch the lesson and I headed for the Gondi. Gondi had been green for about 15 mins when I got on. Surprised to see no line. Could have been in a cabin by myself.
Foxlair had really good snow. The had the webbing extended so far down Sunway, that there was no way to cruise it up to Showcase. Sunway also had very good coverage. QuickSilver had it’s moments of soft manmade and bulletproof.
Zelda and I agreed that I’d do two runs and then reconnect after our daughters “30 minute lesson.” Second run, I went straight to the Adirondack Express to save time. Under the chair, some good skiers were ripping the corduroy.
It looked like Twister was open, but no… I was redirected to Sleighride. In all my years at Gore, this was the first time I ever rode Sleighride with no park features on it. I cut over to Wild Air, interested to see the new park and maybe run into tBatt. The best manmade snow on the lower mtn is over there right now. The park looks cool to me, but what do I know. Later in the afternoon I hit the jumps that are next to the rails, and stuck a few landings.
At the bottom of my second run, I headed back over to the Northwoods Lodge and Neve sees me. Daddy! Daddy! You have to watch me! Then if I tried to help … No! No! I can do it myself! I’m telling you … the kid has balance. For real.
After her lesson she DID NOT want to go the Bear Cub Den. “I don’t WANT to be with the babies. I want to ski!” It was hard leaving her.
Zelda was on her new gear and we did some more lower mountain. On the lower reaches of Sunway we actually found two inches of untracked which I didn’t really understand. Last snowfall was at least five inches, maybe more.
I’m ready to admit I’m a bonehead for not putting Zelda on alpine gear sooner. She was immediately a better skier. Her weight was back, she was much more upright and in a much better, vertical body position.
We decided to go up top. Pine Knot was in pretty good shape, but you could tell it would be a tough stuff by lunch. Up the Quad and we hit Chatiemac. The Chatie headwall was borderline between hardpack and something harder. I knew we wouldn’t come back.
I recorded the moment of my first entrance in the trees this year.
The trees were really tough. I mean I was DOING IT. Hitting my spots, and skiing without much regard for my bases. If you aren’t going to ski that way … IMO … you got no business being in there. I feel like I am rockin’ on my new stiffer boots.
I give Gore credit for opening the trees. Straightbrook, Cave, Dark Side and KHS really made the day more fun. But they should be marked with Double Black Diamonds right now.
We moved over to the Dark Side. Upper Cloud needs more snowmaking asap. The gentle pitch was clogged with crashed and crashing skiers.
CB skied Cloud to Santanoni. I knew Darkside had only one day of skiing on it. I was hoping for better cover than I found in Straightbrook. It was better, but you had to be ready to dance the crustbuster. It was funner than hell.
I hit KHS. It had the best snow, the best coverage, the fewest tracks. One last morning run … Cloud, Headwaters, Tannery, up the Topridge Chair. The only snowmaking I saw all day was on Uncas.
Into the Saddle for lunch. It’s not the same without Vickie. After lunch we did some lower mountain. CB hung it up at 1:30 and I hit the top another time. More DarkSide and KHS. I have to say while there was plenty of bulletproof around, you could ski soft snow if you stuck to the sides and the trees. A lot of the best snow was on the lower mountain.
Summary: Lots of hardpack and ice. Lots of good soft snow down the sides, especially on the lower mountain. Snowmaking on Uncas, and only a few other spots. Even five inches of new snow would really help the trees. One new piece of gear I hadn’t noticed before … a permanently mounted fan gun at the Saddle.
As for my goals and expectations for the day, it was a home run.
I have some questions.
- What percentage of a mountain’s revenue comes from passholders vs other sources?
- What kinds of mountains get a high percentage of revenue from passholders? What kinds of mountains get a smaller percentage?
- If one mountain gets 50% of revenue or skier visits from passholders how will management differ from a mountain that gets 90% of revenue from single ticket purchases?
- Does it affect midweek lift operation? Season length? What else?
I’d love to see a list of North American mountains ranked by percentage of passholder revenue.
I can’t totally imagine the implications – and would like to hear what you think.
I actually like work. But during the relatively short winter, I can’t focus on anything but skiing.
It’s no secret that I was really disappointed in my season last year. On my birthday (Jan 8th) I realized I was probably done for the season. I did actually get to the mountains one more time – for a 4-day weekend in late February. That weekend was like a religious experience for me. I skied primarily alone. I cherished every single turn. I read over the TRs from that weekend a hundred times over the summer.
I learned something. Don’t take ANYTHING for granted. On December 20, I had one of the great ski days of my life. At around 1:30, we’d had so many first tracks and we were beat that we called it a day. I knew more snow was coming the next day, so I went into town to pick up some supplies, relax and do a blog entry. I will NEVER do that again. Conditions like that – I’m going BELL-TO-BELL.
After skiing 3 days in the brutally windy cold, riding gondolas and high speed lifts, skiing on man-made with no new natural snow, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to venture out another day in the negative wind chills, especially at an old school place like MRG with slow lifts and no snowmaking.
My dear old friend Jim, who lives in the MRV and is the GM of The Bridges Resort, a former snowboarder-turned-MRG-pinhead, who can ski any day, took the day off to ski with me at MRG, regardless of the cold and wind. He said it was going to be sunny and nice and the skiing will be good. I told him that if he was skiing, I was skiing, so out we went to the ski area that is just around the corner.
Wes strolls in the same time as we do. We boot up in the Basebox, layer up and head out. The single wasn’t running due to the wind, so we head to the double where we catch up to Bruce Shenker and his friend who just completed their first run.
The wind was ripping, but my morning warmth was trapped in all the layers, that included double base layers and double fleece under a lined parka with “toe heaters” in my boots and “hand warmers” in my gloves. I kept pretty comfortable, except for the wind biting the skin between my goggles and neck gaitor. As we got half-way up the mountain, the wind suddenly died off and we could feel the warmth of the sun under the bluebird sky.
We started down Panther, noodling our way down the interesting terrain. I don’t know the names of all the places we went, but the snow was carveable with ample coverage in most places. Dodging rocks and other terrain obstacles keeps the skiing exciting and fun. I immediately got too warm and had to open my jacket and loosen my neck gaitor. This was a good sign.
At the lift, my friend Chrispy was waiting. She rode up with me and we had some time to catch up on our lives, as we haven’t seen each other in almost two years, yet we’ve known each other for nearly 30 years. It was her first day back on skis and she is still a bit of a newbie to telemarking and wanted to take her time and ski the groomers alone. So we parted and I went with the guys on the more rugged terrain.
After a day of skiing high-speed groomers and bumps on mostly man-made snow, the natural features with natural snow at MRG truly made for a more interesting ski day.
The disparity between MRG and Killington is unreal. As a former Killington regular and Mtn Ambassador, I did not feel much of a connection to the place. I did a lot of rides in the gondola with 7 snowboarders. I talked to some skiers, but I didn’t get any warm feelings from people. It felt like everyone was from a metropolitan area. It felt very urban even though it wasn’t really busy. I never warmed up, always feeling somewhat chilled.
At MRG, it felt warm, despite the below zero windchills. The people were friendly and unpretentious. It certainly wasn’t busy, and it felt like a private social club. I’m sure being with a nice group of pals whom I have previously enjoyed skiing with helped with the warm fuzzies. Regardless of what it was, I liked it, and it was way better than Killington.
It was too bad that the single wasn’t running, but we skied for a few hours until Jim had to attend to family and I had to hit the road back to Ithaca with a stop for lunch with Chrispy in Bristol.
So now I’m back home, exhausted, and have 2 days to rest in my cubicle before having some time off to ski closer to home.
Rooting for that upcoming storm to freshen things up. They are saying 40s an NFP here on Xmas which is so hard to believe after it being so frigid. Regardless, I plan to spend the weekend sliding on my local ski hill and touring the state forest, no matter the weather.