Willard Mountain: Rising Up

Willard emerges abruptly, erupting out of the flats as you approach on NY Route 40, a prominence amid the meandering farmlands 30 miles north of Albany. The suddenness of it is stunning, delivering the sort of skiing-where-no-skiing-should-be sensation common to approaches to the Midwest ski hills from my youth.

Willard Mountain view

It’s a busy place. Even on a Friday and half an hour before the lifts opened, I followed a bunched line of cars edging along the network of narrow backroads accessing the ski area. In the lodge I waited in a line for my ticket, the first time since Hunter’s opening day. It’s also a friendly place, the woman at the counter thanking me profusely for “coming out and joining us” as she handed me a pair of sticky wicket tickets.

Continue reading

Greek: Another Peak Weekend

Last weekend Central NY was the place to be for skiing and riding. Lake effect snow made its way south over Skaneateles Lake to the I81 corridor where it deposited over a foot of snow in some places. It was clear I should head south of Syracuse.

I called my Dad and we made a plan to hit Greek Peak on Saturday. It was a sweet day of packed powder groomers, ski on lifts and steady snowfall. It was so good that I called Alex and we made plans to go back to Greek the next day.

Greek reported an additional 8″ on Sunday morning. The lot was filling as I pulled in but I managed to get a spot just a few rows deep. Alex wasn’t far behind and soon enough we were headed up the lift.

Continue reading

Song Mountain: Lake Effect in Riblet Heaven

When I visited Labrador Mountain a couple weeks ago, my sons and I had such a good time that I knew I would be back to check out her sister ski area, Song Mountain. I went to Song on Saturday and I wasn’t disappointed.

driving to Song Mountain

The drive up was a perfect demonstration of upstate New York’s schizophrenic weather. It was overcast, then it was snowing, then everything cleared and it was sunny. I got off Route 17 onto 81 and it started snowing again. By the time I reached Song’s exit, it was like I’d driven to the Arctic.

I stopped to fill up my gas tank and there was a snowmobile at one of the other pumps. Some of the surface roads hadn’t seen a plow. I had to slow down to let more snowmobiles cross the road.

Continue reading