Return to Plattekill Mountain

In the early days, ski areas were high elevation places, where snow accumulated and trees were cleared to create an open slope where people climbed up, and skied down.

Plattekill Mountain

In the mid-1930’s, enterprising individuals — like Carl Schaefer — pushed the ski area concept to the next level. By using an automobile drivetrain attached to a pulley and rope system, they towed skiers up the slopes. Not limited to the amount of vert they could sidestep, skiers could get several runs in a day.

Later in the decade another noted New Yorker, Averell Harriman, pioneered the first chairlift at Sun Valley Idaho. Skiers traveled uphill in relaxed comfort. As time went on, skiing remained the core attraction, but became surrounded by hot cocoa, warming huts, ski school, parking lots, nightlife and slopeside condos.

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New Faces at Whiteface

Skiing Whiteface can be a life changing event for some skiers, an inbounds approximate for the terrain in Tuckerman Ravine perhaps. Some of the aura comes from the two Olympics that Whiteface hosted. Seeing the start gates and score boards makes the mountain the ski equivalent to the old Yankee Stadium.

More importantly to me, the Adirondacks have a seemingly infinite wilderness, even from the safety of the manicured slopes of its signature ski resort. If nothing else, on a sunny day the views reinforce the actual meaning of the word awesome. My first pilgrimage to the steeps this year found the mountain in excellent shape, certainly set up for a big spring. After brutal winds shut down the upper mountain on Friday, today seemed earned even if we were only riding the lifts.

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NY Backcountry Skiing: Adirondacks #1

“Backcountry skiing” means different things to different people. When I started skiing, it meant skiing on state land and making tracks in ungroomed snow. At first, we followed trails marked by the state.

As we became more confident, we’d set off with a destination in mind, a USGS topo map and a compass. Other times we’d look for hunter’s paths to follow, which are seemingly everywhere in the our corner of the Adirondacks.

In the last ten years, I’ve been drawn into lift-served skiing for several reasons. For one thing makes skiing in November possible. Plus, with a young child, it’s just easier. And yea let’s face it, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. All that vert, and in between runs you’re chatting it up with friends and family. It’s easy to like it.

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