Author Archives: Jamesdeluxe
In the four years since we posted an interview with Russ LaChapelle, about the Catskills’ enigmatic Bearpen Mountain — the one that got away — that article has become far and away NY Ski Magazine’s most popular, both in page views and comments.
Between my conversations with Russ, his many forum posts on the Snowjournal website, a feature article on his Lost New York website, and a 2014 trip report from Matt Lucas here on NYSB, I felt like I already knew Bearpen even though I’d never been there.
The closest that I’d ever come to the former Princeton Ski Bowl was seeing it from afar while at other Catskill ski areas, after which I’d always post photos in trip reports captioned with “Bearpen Mountain In The Distance.”
Four Season. Are there any two words more desired by ski resorts — most of which are on a never-ending quest to plug the non-revenue-producing hole that stretches from April to the end of November?
Over the decades, lift-served mountains have added numerous attractions to generate cash flow during the off season: alpine slides, outdoor water parks, paintball, frisbee golf, lift-served and cross-country mountain biking, ziplines, even skiing on rubber mats — usually with limited success.
More recently, indoor water parks have been added to the menu of off-season options. They have the added benefit of not only attracting paying guests year round, but also providing families with a Plan B for bad-weather days during ski season and a one-stop shop to keep increasingly jaded kids entertained.
As someone who’s positioned himself as a fan of low-profile, off-the-beaten-path ski areas, I always feel a bit conflicted when visiting and writing about resorts that are big, popular, and for lack of a better descriptor “mainstream.”
That said, a cigar isn’t always a cigar and on a handful of visits to the Alps, I’ve been to several major ski regions that are not only big, popular, and armed with completely up-to-date infrastructure, but also charming, full of local color, and with a number of worthwhile bail-out options to avoid the hordes. The Portes du Soleil in the northern Alps qualifies as one of these.
That’s why my recent interview with Nadine Chevalier, Co-Director at the tourism office in the Portes du Soleil’s biggest village, was noteworthy. She spent as much time talking about the region’s intangibles — tradition, folklore, authenticity — as its supersized skiing stats: 265 miles of marked trails spread across a very conservative 10,000 skiable acres. During our discussion, she also painted an interesting picture of what it’s like to grow up and spend her professional life immersed in the culture of the Alps.
Please read our interview with Nadine Chevalier:
Portes du Soleil, Room to Roam