Catskills Postseason Finale

The bell rang as I pulled into the lot at 9:30 am. I didn’t know who’d win this final round of March Madness, but Hunter led off weighing in with a base elevation of 1600 feet and temps around 35 degrees.

Hunter Mountain

The warm weather had punished the mountain, but as we climbed the temperature dropped and both the snow and air grew cleaner. The now unfamiliar feeling of cold precipitation hitting my face left a terrific sting. I used the latest in technology to stay warm and ping base camp via twitter @NYSkiBlog to let HQ know that I was indeed, still alive.

The surface was infuriatingly inconsistent at times. At the summit, it was totally locked up but just below it provided perfect peel-away sugar. At the base it was firm yet again, possibly from the combination of rain and the polish of a very strong wind.

I had no complaints as Hunter was really showing its versatile triple threat: bumps on Hellgate and Ike, cruisers on Broadway and steeps on Crossover. Despite the surprisingly good coverage on the mountain, we were forced at times to portage.

After lunch the crowds thinned out, so I took an extra run on Eisenhower. Skier’s left by the pines had a nice line of tight moguls, but troughs were covered in pine needles. There was also some undermining in spots which was fun to see but potentially life threatening. After some thought, I decided to travel south a short distance in search of some untracked snow. I got in my car and drove, stopping to take in the notch near Devil’s Tombstone.

At the base of Belleayre there was some activity around the lodge, so I stay out of sight to avoid jeopardizing another rare double summit. A brief survey from the base showed the promise of top-to-bottom skiing on Wanatuska. The moguls at the bottom were soft and much cleaner than those on the lower mountain at Hunter. Although the snow line was receding, Belleayre had been the clear victor overnight amassing 5/8″ of fresh snow, and as I climbed it was still coming down.

After a scenic break, I tried my hand on the upper mountain steeps. The cover was good, but these trails would not have been open in normal circumstances. Coral reef and water ice made for some interesting skiing and going forward conditions won’t be good without more snow or a fifty-degree day. The good news: what’s on the ground isn’t going anywhere for a while. Lower down the skiing was very pleasant.

I had fun walking the woods and picturing what ORDA would do with their new prize. Unlike Bell’s bigger neighbors, the mountain has real tree skiing potential, with short steep lines of widely spaced hardwoods.

The cold air in my lungs was such a welcome feeling, that I refused to return to the mild air in the city until the sun started to fade. This winter has been short, but our New York mountains did a great job with what nature provided. I didn’t have a bad ski day this whole season.

On this day both mountains delivered. Bell delivered top-to-bottom coverage and clean soft bumps, while Hunter provide acreage and variety. As always, the winner is the skier that gets to be out there. With a few inches in the forecast tonight I’m sure there’ll be some more winners tomorrow. Have a great weekend.

10 comments on “Catskills Postseason Finale

  1. Nice report and congrats on getting out there! Is Belleayre still open? I think I'm done for the season but I’m having a hard time accepting it.Spring skiing in the woods at Gore is one of my favorite things to do but it doesn’t look like that’s happening this year. Oh well, Wanee Festival here I come!

  2. Excellent reportage! Speaking of which, I particularly like the reference to portaging. Conditions sound similar to those we experienced at Hidden Bump last week: “coral reef” pretty much sums it up.

  3. ml242 The banana’s the key to the whole thing. I’m sure the chicken souvlaki platter didn’t hurt too much either!

  4. 3/31 we got about 1.5″ in Margaretville last night and I headed up to the Bell around 1 pm today. They had a couple inches at the base and as I headed up lower Onteora it increased to about 4 wet inches. I just did one top to bottom run but the snow was nice and the coverage good down wanatuska. no portage necessary even on the transition from upper to lower. I can't believe I hiked last may 1st on 3 feet of base on the snowmaking trails. There is still a decent base even without last nights snow. 7-800 ft of vert will still be available for awhile with one portage as this new snow will probably won’t last more than a couple days. A fun run though.

  5. Great report! Though the season ended so quickly. Wish I could spend much time outside..

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