Editorial: Gore Mountain’s Expansion

Gore Interconnect.It’s been suggested in some quarters that the expansion of Gore Mountain onto Burnt Ridge and down to the Ski Bowl is short-sighted. In my opinion, it’s actually long-term thinking.

While Gore is a lot like a business, it really isn’t one. It’s more like an “attraction” run by the state.

If Killington were able to raise $4 million for capital improvements, the people in charge of the quality of the skiing product — from GM on down — could recommend to the owners the best way to spend the money. That’s not how Gore’s expansion happened. Gore got money specifically for terrain expansion from the State of New York.

Few skiers would question the wisdom of this new, fantastic terrain if Gore had 2 or 3 times the snowmaking firepower. We believe, in the years to come, they will. We wouldn’t be surprised by a 50% improvement at the end of the next five years.

The terrain is here now. If we get cold temperatures and good snowfall we’ll use it. When Sagamore opened, it was on all natural snow, and it was one of the best ski days of the season. If it dumped 20″ today, Gore would be 100% open, on all 400 acres. There is a huge amount of great terrain that is potentially available now, and access will continue to improve.

Consider the new Gondola. When it first went in, it was a expensive new lift that delivered skiers to Pine Knot and Foxlair. At that time many said “what a waste.” But now, with Topridge, Uncas, Fairview and Ruby Run in place, the new Gondola is the heartbeat of the mountain. While many try to minimize my rides on the Gondola, we love the way the setup spreads skiers out across all of Gore’s terrain. Within the framework of a long-term plan, the lift really makes sense.

In our opinion, long-term, the terrain expansion will look smart. The grumbling of the next few years — and there will be some — will be forgotten. In the future, we see a great, big, 400-acre mountain operating close to capacity by mid-January.

25 comments on “Editorial: Gore Mountain’s Expansion

  1. I agree with your often repeated thesis that a state run ski area needs to take the land, and build the lifts and trails, when it’s offered. That offer would probably never come again. Snowmaking will follow in due time. OK, I am with you.

    However, as someone who grew up on Gore’s main mountain, I have real mixed feelings about the expansion to the Ski Bowl. Yes, I understand about the expected help it will bring to North Creek. But from a skier’s perspective, I’m concerned the main response will be “meh.”

    Interconnects work well when there is real skiing between the two areas, and easy access between the two. They don’t work well, and frustrate skiers, when it takes 10 minutes of pushing with poles, or in a boarder's case, when you have to dismount the board and walk for 10 minutes.

    Vernon Valley-Great Gorge (Now MC) never worked as connected areas, because of the horrible long traverse betwen the two. I did it….once. Second time I skied there, we picked one hill and that was it. The past decade, I understand, a bus shuttled people back and forth.

    Never skied Magic when it was connected to Timber Ridge, but I have read it was a long slow traverse, unappealing. I remember trying to ski Lower Tannery at Gore, from the bottom of Chatiemac all the way to the base. Same deal. Note that it does not exist as a downhill trail anymore.

    I’m all for anything that makes Gore a better area, but I’m concerned about any expansion that leaves skiers disappointed. And the new trail map leaves this old timer with some concerns.

  2. Great editorial. I can’t tell you how many times I was riding up the “Apple” and thinking, when are they going to develop Bear…and they did. We hiked and traversed all over Burnt Ridge…and they developed it. Old time Gore skiers have sacrificed some…like skiing Darby from the top as one continuous run…but we got Rumor and Lies and more (wink wink). I am looking forward to the interconnect. I can’t wait to ski 46er. I truly think the direction that they are going in is awesome. When the main mountain is crowded, it will give us another option. You will also be able to park at the ski bowl and access the main mountain for those late arrivals (I don’t plan on being one of them, but I am getting older). I look at where Gore was and where it is today and I am proud to call it my home mountain. We’ve met some people out here in Keystone that know Gore well, too. (I am only taking my suds break, and heading back now). More Gore For Me!

  3. Note that Foxlair opened a year or two AFTER the gondola was installed. It was Pine Knot and Fairview, not Foxlair, initially. At that time, Fairview was given an intermediate rating. Foxlair was built to solve the problem of getting intermediate skiers down to the front side of the mountain.

  4. There is a nice article in this months Powder magazine about the interconnect. Tells about the history of the Ski Bowl and Gore. Hickory is also mentioned in the article.

  5. Harvey: What “new, fantastic terrain” are you talking about? What mountain are you skiing on? Sagamore, and the entire Burnt Ridge side of the mountain, are horribly boring. Just more of the same old Gore blue, almost-but-not-quite black, overly-groomed skiing that Gore already has way too much of. The whole thing has just been a waste of money, to attempt to appease the Town of Johnsburg.

  6. Hurry up and wait!!! That’s how it is. I was a huge fan of the Burnt Ridge BC (before chairlift) so it was disappointing, from my selfish perspective, that the expansion had to take that route so quickly. And it does seem somewhat unusual to have your nicest, newest, cushiest chair on hold while you make the trails accessed from all the old lifts skiable. But resources were spread out at Gore before the BR came online, I’m sure they are more so now.

    Harv, would you be as much of a true believer if you didn’t have a nice cabin to drift back and forth from? If you had to shell out each trip for a room in town or LG, you might follow the Jerz to VT train of cars on Friday nights. Not pickin’ on you, just looking for perspective.

  7. Sorry Jeff but both Foxlair and Fairview opened when the gondola opened. Foxlair was narrower than it is now. It also might have been regraded. The problem was that Ruby Run showed up about 6 years later. That should have been the first one cut.

    ADX – you don’t like over 1400 vertical feet of constant almost black grade skiing with a HSQ? Boring? Really? Have you been in the trees? The stuff off that quad is way different than the main face of Gore which I assume you are using as a comparison. If you find all the stuff off that quad boring you are probably bored with most of the skiing on the East coast. By the way, the idea that ORDA would ever do anything for North Creek is laughable. If they could have found a way to install that HSQ on Whiteface they would have.

  8. @Kid: Sorry if I’ve repeated my theory ad nauseum … while I’ve said it often in the forums, I’ve never gone on the record here on NYSB, so I thought if I did, then I could desist. (I promise!) Would you feel differently about BR and the Bowl if they were developed without the idea that it would help North Creek? Maybe think of it more like Kmart/Pico … separate areas that are somewhat connected?

    @Jeff – I’d thought Foxlair was original. If it wasn’t put in at the time of the Gondi’s installation, IMO that still makes the point. Fairview and Pine Knot are both really borderline blacks.

    @adx – Obviously the quality of terrain is subjective. New terrain that I personally consider to be exciting includes Sagamore and Cirque Glades. And while I haven’t skied Barkeater, or 46er, or the trees along 46er, I’ve walked that terrain, and it looks great to me.

    @nick – now that’s a legitimate beef. BR was incredible sidecountry that’s been converted to frontcountry. BTW I think you may be overestimating the comforts of the cabin! In seriousness, before we built on that property we stayed an Garnet Hill Lodge and it was expensive. (We were primarily backcountry skiers before our daughter came along.)

    With the cabin being a real bare bones dwelling, our costs for a 35+ day/year season are about equal to what we’d pay staying at the lodge and that includes everything. One more thing – we didn’t buy our property for proximity to Gore. We really bought it because we love the Adirondacks, The Siamese and North Creek. I love Vermont too, but to us it’s just not the same.

  9. Harv, I think that cabin looks invitingly cozy. I just meant that, as a part time local and property owner, you are more likely to take a rosy longview of the expansion than someone with out that connection. Much like a passholder is more likely to take the longview of the whole season than feel the need to wring every last nickel’s worth out of a lift ticket or drive on to better conditions elsewhere instead.

  10. First off if you don’t like it don’t ski it. We are a state owned ski area and resources are at a minimum. Mike Pratt and Co are doing the best they can with what they have. I love skiing Sagamore when it is rocking… bumped top to bottom. If you are ever cold on the mountain, hop on over to Sagamore and ski it top to bottom non stop…you’ll be much warmer. Let people bitch…If we were private that would be one thing, but being owned by NYS, it is what it is. Everybody has an opinion and that is great. I have been skiing Gore for 20+ years and I think the improvements have all been beneficial. Do I miss Darby from the top, sure…but not being hassled for skiing Dark Side Glade, the addition of Rumor and Lies as well as the liberal tree skiing policy…I am good with the direction it’s going. I am proud to be a Gore regular and have expressed that several times while I have been here in Colorado…although I wish my season pass was 299 like A-Basin. For me it’s MORE GORE and I can’t wait to ski 46er (lift served).

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion, so this is mine.

  11. What’s not to like? Bigger, Morer!

    Oh, uh, Sudsnbumps, ahem…..

    “We are a state owned ski area and resources are at a minimum. Mike Pratt and Co are doing the best they can with what they have.”

    Name me a private ski area over in VT that is expanding and spending money like this over the last four to five years, during arguably the biggest recession since the 30s. Maybe a row of condos and a golf course over there, but, this is a lot of money going into infrastructure.

  12. Sorry to rain on your Gore lovefest, but yes, Gore is boring. I have skied at Gore since it opened, before the red gondola was built. Some years I skied there 20 to 30 days a year.

    Back in the day, there was minimal grooming, and Chatiemac and Hawkeye, and the Summit Chair trails, were bumped up all winter long, and Gore was not too bad. Now, there are more trails, but way too much grooming, and the skiing is all bland, with the exception of Double Barrel, Dark Side Glade and a couple other things that the groomers can’t get at. Rumor and Lies are usually just big sheets of ice, and when they have moguls, they are not good ones – there are rarely good lines in them (cursed snowboarders). And, yes, there are some half-decent glades now, but they are mostly pretty low-angle, and get skied out pretty quickly.

    “1400 vertical feet of constant almost black grade skiing with a HSQ? Boring? Really” Yes, unless you are an intermediate skier, “almost black” is pretty boring. “both Foxlair and Fairview opened when the gondola opened.” Actually not. The first year, it was just Iceview, and it was a disaster. Steep, windy, and icy, with no good way to get beginners and kids off the top. The next year, they opened Foxlair, and it was almost as bad. It took blasting away half the mountain the following summer to make it better. Unfortunately, they also had to blast away the mountain to build Ruby Run. If ORDA had half a clue, they would have done it right the first time, instead of it taking them four tries and destroying the mountainside.

  13. Mostly Mad River. Occasionally Sugarbush. But that’s not my point. My point is that Gore could be so much better, if ORDA didn’t insist on dumbing it down. Why not let half of the black trails bump up all season long, and groom the other half for people who like that kind of thing? Then there would be something for everyone, instead of more and more of the same, bland, boring, cruisers, which is what Hawkeye and Chatiemac have become, and what Top Ridge, Uncas and Sagamore (to name a few) are.

    There is obviously interest in bump skiing at Gore. Look at how many people are on Double Barrel when it is open. But ORDA wants Gore to be Flatton or Okemo. Too bad for us.

  14. I’m with adx on this.

    x1000- That stuff off the quad was already accessible via the couple nordic trails they used to call the Burnt Ridge bc. There was all kinds of skiing back there without hacking it into more gore. The Cirque was already a nice natural glade

  15. “Mostly Mad River. Occasionally Sugarbush.”

    Well, two fine mountains, for sure. Possibly the best duo in the East. But, first, both are an awfully long drive for even an Albany resident, let alone Jersey. And, one, let’s get real, is barely open most of the time unless you’re a totally committed tree rat who hates your skis. Great place, but, ski it if you can, indeed. Maybe if you live in Warren and can call in sick every time it snows.

    Most people hate bumps. I hate bumps, unless they’re in Steamboat with a foot of powder on them. Not everyone is 18 and has cat like reflexes, or even cares. They are man made, you know. They’re about as natural as grooming, if you think of it. I always say that bumps are a sign that there’s too many people skiing in a certain spot over and over. Personally, I’ll take powder filled trees, which Gore has many and encourages the use of. It may not be the Bush, but, the Bush ain’t Steamboat, either, if you know what I mean. It’s all relative.

    Oh, and doing 60 miles an hour on well worked groomers is a lot of fun, too. Try it.

  16. Unfortunately, I'm mostly with adx and Skimore. Although I think Sagamore is one of the best trails on the mountain… when it's bumped with lots of snow. The biggest reason I’m at Gore is money, proximity, and friends.

  17. Benny, you’re missing the point. I am not saying that everyone should ski at Mad River and Sugarbush. Indeed, despite the recent overhaul of the HSS (High Speed Single), which increased uphill capacity a bit, Mad River is already operating at full capacity on many weekends.

    The point is that Gore has way too much of the same thing, being easy cruisers like Sagamore, Hawkeye and Topridge (when they are groomed, which is almost always). What it needs is diversity. Adding more of the same old stuff does little to make Gore a better or more interesting place to ski. Not all of us are too old (I’m in my 50s), too beat up, too unskilled or too timid to ski moguls, yet Gore offers very little for us these days.

    As for Mad River, because it gets at least twice as much snow as Gore on average, more often than not its conditions are as good or better than Gore’s, even without snowmaking, so you needn’t worry about your skis too much. And, believe it or not, there are a few nice cruisers too, if that’s what you’re into. So, unlike Gore, Mad River has something for everyone (except snowboarders).

  18. Harvey Road Interview with Mike Pratt, 5/17/10:

    Harvey: What is your feeling about leaving more trails to bump up? What trails do you think would work as semi-permanent bump trails? Would you consider a low angle trail for beginning bumpers?

    Mike: We are not against having moguls. The permanent bump trail concept is weather dependent. If you remember Sagamore two seasons ago, the bumps were great, but the trail was closed more than it was open. If grooming opens a trail, we’ll groom it. We want good snow on our trails; whether it’s bumped or groomed.

    We have allowed extended moguls on Chatiemac, Hawkeye, Rumor and Lies on the summit; Topridge and Fairview on Bear; Sagamore on Burnt; and the Arena, Little Dipper and Quicksilver on the East Side. We’ll continue to offer bumps when it makes sense.

    Clueless. Pathetic. The guy needs to find a new line of work.

  19. adx: Like I said, hell of a mountain. And, for me, my golden years in Eastern skiing was when Killington and Sugarbush had a common season’s pass for a few years, and i had a lot of time to ski. But, bottom line, turning off on to 100 to drive another hour plus (in good weather!) to get to Bush/Mad River after I’ve driven four plus hours to get to Killington is not an option. KMart has enough good stuff for me to enjoy, and, Gore has plenty, too, for the even shorter drive (I sleep in Saratoga Springs). Hey, I’d like to live in Frisco in Co. or at the base of Jackson, but, I still have to work for a living, and, it is what it is.

  20. I wasn’t going to get back into this debate following my first, somewhat long winded post, but fellow old timer ADX makes a few good points, that I think even the biggest Gore homers (Harv, Sudsnbumps) should consider.

    I started skiing Gore as a child in 1972 (Hey, next year is my 40th Anniversary! Is that Silver or Copper?) Back in the day, they never groomed Hawkeye or Chat. Harv actually has a photo I emailed him a while back, that I took from the Old Red Gondola in the pre-Rumor days, showing huge moguls on both those trails.

    Groomed cruisers are great, much safer, and make the general ski population much happier (as in Stratton and Okemo, where everyone is an Expert!)

    Suggestion to make both camps happy: do a split grooming job on some of the cruisers like Showcase, an old favorite of mine (or maybe Sagamore, have never skied it). Groom out half the trail, leave the other half bumped up. Skiers would choose the half they are most comfortable with. Everyone happy.

  21. Stumbling across this as a friend posted it nostalgically… I’m 25 years old and have been skiing Gore since 1991.

    While I agree that Gore grooms a little on the heavy side, I take issue with anyone that blanket labels groomers as “boring.” Sure, I agree Chatiemac has no business being groomed. Its a quirky little trail that makes a great bump run, and is pretty hard to get into a rhythm with carved turns until the bottom anyways. The entire dark side also falls into this category.

    But Sagamore, in my opinion, has no business ever being bumped up. Ever skied that middle section when its not groomed and hasn’t snowed in 20 days? Want to talk about boring?? I’d much rather scream down at 40 mph with my fist on the snow then wash my tails out around the little nubs that occasionally poke up.

    Point is, there does need to be something for everyone, but don’t call groomers boring. You’re just not skiing them right. Stop seeing groomers as “the easy way down” and start experiencing the pure joy of really bending a ski.

    Or, you know, you could go ski Hickory.

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