Prospect Mountain: Return to Forever

The March snowstorms that pummeled New York also left their mark on Vermont. Over eight days, Prospect Mountain, east of Bennington, received 80 inches of snow.

prospect mountain

With family commitments in the second half of March and warmer temperatures on the way, I thought my ski season would end at the Lake Placid Loppet. But in another surprise storm, the gods smiled and dropped five more inches of snow at Prospect late last Friday night. I had to work Saturday, but Sunday was full on for skiing.

If you’ve browsed NELSAP, you might be scratching your head — as they list Prospect Mountain as a lost ski area. Prospect opened in 1939 with a rope tow. Over the decades, it grew, but still relied on natural snow.

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Bearpen: The Beast Resurrected

In the age of global warming, what makes someone open a ski center in a remote part of the Catskills?

“Insanity, I guess,” said Bearpen Sports Center owner Howard Rennell. “Kind of a childhood dream. I fell in love with the mountain, as well. It’s been a long, arduous process.”

Growing up on the east end of Long Island, Rennell recalled, “Talk about the era of global warming, out there the chances of snow were slim and none. The sledding aspect, as a kid, you and your friends would gather together and make a kind of luge track. Pack it down and go out with watering cans and douse it with water, hoping it would freeze and last a little longer. This is a bigger scale of it.”

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Freshies at Mount van Hoevenberg

With the Technoalpin Snowfactory running in full cry, I heeded the siren call to Mount van Hoevenberg for opening day. Leaving right after Thanksgiving dinner, the traffic was relatively easy, and I arrived at my lodging spot around 10:30 PM. After decompressing from the drive, I fell into bed.

mount van hoevenberg snow factory
Snowfactory photo courtesy ORDA/Whiteface Lake Placid

On Friday morning, there was a glistening 1000-meter loop of machine made snow. It might not sound like much, but the Snowfactory was still cranking out crystals as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees.

Perhaps it was a turkey hangover, but van Ho was quiet in the morning: perhaps 8 other skiers were traversing the loop. Among them was two-time Olympian Robert Douglas and his family.

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