Early Season Backcountry Skiing Tips

first run of the year on the Raymond Brook Trail
First trip to the Sled Shed 2017

Steve Ovitt is an accomplished backcountry skier and woodsman. He was a NYS Forest Ranger from 1986-2011 patrolling Northern Warren County, responsible for the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and the Vanderwhacker and Wilcox Wild Forests. In 2012 he started Wilderness Property Management to help people develop land for recreation.

Steve is responsible for the development and re-development of some great XCD backcountry ski routes and bike trails throughout Northern NY. His most celebrated ski trail work may be the revival of one of NY’s oldest ski trails, the Raymond Brook Ski Trail in Johnsburg, NY.

He shared his tips for skiing the early season and thin cover.

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Chic Choc Dreams

For some of us the relationship between real life and skiing is dynamic, and at times can seem adversarial. Even with a green light from responsibility, once-a-season storms, plowed roads and solid gear, you still need some luck to have a legendary weekend.

Even if everything goes sideways you can still have tons of fun, it’s just a bit harder to pretend that you’re living Warren Miller’s sickest dream. Many of us won’t ever be called to “get in da chopper” and rip two-thousand vertical feet in thirty seconds.

Perhaps this is why the Chic Choc mountains are a sweet spot for me. Going there is a kind of lucid dreaming. The mountains are stunning, yet also reasonable to get up, and down for almost any fit, motivated skier. And while there are now helicopters and sleds to help you with the hard part, I like doing it on my own.

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A Little Help from My Friends

After a big day at Plattekill on Wednesday, I went home to work Thursday and Friday morning. Out the door at 1pm on Friday afternoon, I drove to our ski hut in Johnsburg, NY.

The next morning I was at the North Creek Ski Bowl early. Things were looking good when my friend Duck stepped into the yurt before first chair to boot up. After a lone warmup run on Moxham, we went into the trees, and struck paydirt.

We hit our favorites hard and then headed up to Burnt Ridge. We ran into another musketeer — Suds — en route. Riding the quad we could see that ropes were down on the trees, and we hit Boreas in fine shape.

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