A New York Ski Journey

For reasons you might know, I hadn’t skied in nearly a month. I knew I was out of shape, but not sure how far. I wondered about my wind, would it be affected? It was time to figure it out, on my first trip, back in the game. On Friday morning, I headed north toward the snow.

Plattekill

I still have this feeling that I’m on borrowed time, like skiing could go away at any moment. Planning to ski four days in a row was a sign, I was going to push it. It had been snowing all week, and physically there was no reason I shouldn’t ski.

My doctor, a skier herself, told me to “take it easy.” I think we both knew that advice would be heeded, but only up to a certain point.

Plattekill

Plattekill on a Friday seemed like a good option for my reentry. Just like old times, I woke with my Plattekill alarm set for 3:45. I got dressed, made coffee and headed out into the darkness at 4:30. I stopped for snacks on the Thruway. At my current weight, I can’t miss a meal if I’m skiing. I got a sandwich and some nuts.

Plunge
moguljunkie

I was getting off at exit 19 as the sun came up. Over the Esopus River and though the woods I went, to Plattekill Mountain. True to form, I was first in the lot and Mad River Glen Dean was second. I booted up at my car, and headed toward the lift. I saw Scott coming up the access road, and gave him a wave.

Plattekill had had lake effect snow all week, including 3-6 inches overnight Thursday into Friday. There had been a mountain rental during the day on Thursday, but as is often the case, the terrain off the double was only lightly used. We skied Block, Plunge and Ridge Run. It was delicious.

Ridge Run
Ridge Run

Moguljunkie and lemmycaution were in the house. They’re probably a bit fast for me normally, likely moreso on month-old rusty legs. I was really banging out every turn, pretty tentatively to start. The powder was windblown and you really had to stay on it, be aggressive and ski hard.

The new snow was wonderful and in the trees, there was almost enough to ski without thinking. We hit everything on the double side more than once, dropping into the trees as we went. I skied until 2:30 and called it, trying to save something for the rest of my four day adventure. I drove Route 30 to the cabin, arriving ready to eat and chill and crash.

Snow Ridge

The drive to Snow Ridge from our cabin takes longer than you’d think.  Google maps has it at 93 miles and around two hours.  Often on an interstate, you can “make up” time. But on the way to Snow Ridge, if the lake effect is in play, even the speed limit seems fast. Generally, when I’m on those roads, the lake effect is on.

Moose River Road
Moose River Road

The crux of the drive from the east is on the Moose River Road, a windy an occasionally unplowed route that can put you on the edge of your seat, even at 35 mph.  On this trip it was easy and I made to Snow Ridge by 8:15.

Four of us, Brownski, Scottski, Robert and I, were at the front of the line to get on the Ridge Runner chair. First we skied the trails beneath the lift and then the trees that surrounded it.  At the start it was easy to find untracked snow on the trails.

snowborder
Robert

Before too long we were watching the clock, looking to get in line for the spinning of the Snow Pocket Tbar at 11am. After owner Nick took care of the final details, he smiled at us and said “you guys are going to have some fun!”

The Snow Pocket Tbar accesses some of the best powder and trees at Snow Ridge. And it only spins on weekends and holidays, which helps a guy like me, who’s coming a long way. We rode it all day, with only one break for a cheeseburger. As the day progressed we traversed farther out on the ridge.

Snow Ridge tree
Scott and Broski

The snow was super-consistent and very deep and anything steep enough was skiable. We never touched bottom, not even once, all day long. We took one last ride on the Tbar as the Snow Pocket closed. We came back down towards the main lodge, floating our way down the front face. We’d skied almost the entire day.

Scott and I split, he back to the Catskills, and I towards our place in the Adirondacks.

Gore

I really like having a place in the Southern Adirondacks. I can string trips together, skiing my favorites.  It’s a lot of driving, but less if I use the cabin as a base. On this trip, I stayed three nights and was able to ski four mountains.

The Saddle
The Saddle

My Gore day was a chance to live a little bit like a local, waking at a reasonable hour to make first chair. Most memorable were the cold temperatures and high winds. It was quite a day to be on the mountain.

I was dressed for it, I came wearing every layer I had. And, I tried something new. I put my boots on, in the car, in the driver’s seat, with the motor and heat running. I had to slide the seat all the way back to make it work. It felt like a big advantage, on such a brutal day, coming out of the car, fully dressed, with warm fingers and toes.

High Peaks Quad
The High Peaks Chair

It took a while to get to the top. The Gondola (and Topridge) were on windhold, and riding the Adirondack Express felt dangerous. After one trip up, I decided to come back down and ride the Sunway Quad until Wood In — the only access to the top — was open. I definitely wanted to limit my time on the AE2 .

Once at the top, I skied my way across including the trees that were open, Chatiemac, Darby Woods, and later Tahawas. Despite the brutal cold, the skiing was solid everywhere. Everything was covered, and when you were out of the gale force winds, there was soft snow to ski on.

The Rumor
Rumor

Given my hiatus from skiing, and the intense conditions, I decided to call it at 1:30. I skied past the base of the Rumor and it looked like patrol was getting ready to open it. It looked like a lot of fun.

In line at the Straightbrook chair, Suds said hello and we skied together. He was cold too, so we decided to ski the North Chair, the open trails and then the Tahawas trees. At 2:30 we closed it out on Showcase, which was as good as I’ve ever skied it, in ripping packed powder.

I headed back to the cabin to take a nap, and then track out our nordic trails before dark.

McCauley

This trip toured several of my go to New York favorites. For my last day of my four-day comeback tour, I included McCauley. It’s relatively close to the cabin (60 miles, 1 hour and 20 minutes) has great terrain, and had been getting a lot of new snow. And I love the place. I used my Snow Ridge alarm, because I had to get up a little earlier to pack the car and drain the pipes.

McCauley Mountain
McCauley

As I headed west, I knew I was early. The lifts at McCauley officially spin at 9:30 and I arrived just after 8:15. It was another cold day, below zero, but the wind was calm. Once again I booted up in the driver’s seat with the heat running. At 9am the ticket window opened, I got my wicket and skied down and got right on the chair.

I’d hoped to snag a ski partner, and I even had an extra ticket, that I tried to use to entice someone to ski with me. I skied from 9am to 11:30 solo and I was starting to wonder how long I would last. Then from above, I heard “Harvey!” and I knew I’d been found. It was greyMoose from the forum.

Helmers
Helmers

I tried to convince him to come with me to Olympic, which, I thought, had the best snow on the mountain. He had other ideas, and so I followed him. He led on a downward progression into the trees off Challenger: Big Dipper, God’s Land, Lost Trail and Rambler Glades. It was a great call, for the first time that day I was in a groove, with enough energy to get my skis around.  Somehow the company motivates you.

Eventually the pull of the road and the long drive ahead, entered my thinking.  I took one last run on Olympic and skied right over to my car.  I felt pretty satisfied.

Olympic
Olympic

I’m not 100% sure what I was pursuing on this trip.  Part of me wants to chase storms with Scott, like we used to, concentrating on skiing and snow, with none of this other bullshit.  Another part of me thinks that my season could end at any moment and I wanted to make sure I got some more skiing at the hills that are on this page.

Whatever the motivation, it was a big adventure and I’ll never forget it.  Maybe in time I’ll remember this as my belated birthday ski. Good times!

27 comments on “A New York Ski Journey

  1. We were at SR on Weds and man, it was so good with a foot of fresh fluff. I wanted to go back Saturday to ride the Tbar and ski the sidecountry as I knew it was going to be incredible, but I was still pretty sore from Weds. I ended up staying local and enjoyed some fresh snow at GP and had a solid day there. Well worth not having to drive 3 hours and having a great day nearby and not getting home late.

    My eye has been on McCauley but they weren’t getting as much snow as SR and it looked like Helmer and the other steeps weren’t quite ready. They are bouldery and need a lot of snow. Glad you got at it. How’s it holding up there?

  2. I enjoyed your travelogue. It was good to see some of those areas which I had never skied or only skied many years ago when I lived in central NY.
    Best of luck in your recovery. Ski on.

  3. I watched patrol drop the line and was among the first few lucky people to ski Rumor on Sunday! OMG was it fun! Very “edgeable”, and the shapes left there by the manmade were more than interesting – the drop-side of the whales were prob like 80 degrees in pitch. On later runs it was pretty funny watching inexperienced snowboarders tank on the yellow “snow” that was actually ice. The early afternoon opened Top Ridge triple too, because the wind diminished. There were zero lines later, because the cold chased away a lot of people, but unfortunately my wife was also done as an icicle 🙁 – so we were out about 2:30. On a side note, there were a lot of non-regulars at Gore on Sunday, due to racing, and a woman we ski with had her skis stolen between about 1:30 and 2 PM. Sucks that those people are still around this sport.

  4. Never skied at McCauley but always wanted to. Love how they leave the whales on Rumor at Gore (I wouldn’t want to groom that!). Plattekill is a place I wish I lived closer to but when your base is a 5-minute walk to the Red Chair at Magic, it’s hard to get motivated to drive the 3 or so hours. And Snow Ridge! Even from our house outside of Syracuse, it was a haul but so worth it.

  5. Friday at Plattekill was one of the best days I have ever had skiing. Would have liked for things to be different so I could have skied with you a little and shown around a little. There is always next season.

  6. It was awesome riding with you guys, that day at the ridge might be the deepest snow I’ve ever been in. Glad you are back Harv.

  7. Awesome trip! I’ve taken every Monday in February off, and some in March, to make a similar trek, albeit separated by a week. I’m tossing in Berkshire East too, because I’ve never been. You should definitely hit Oak sometime, you’re not far away at all from your cabin.

  8. props on a great write-up of a strong and decisive return to action. your pics make me want to check out these three NY mountains i’ve yet to ski.
    hope to see you at platts again soon.
    i’ll be there friday, the woods may indeed be ready for turns w/o concern!
    cheers!

  9. It was great skiing with everyone. It almost felt normal at Plattekill. It’s been a year since I lost my son and skiing has been therapeutic. My ski friends have made my life tolerable. Thanks to all.

  10. Harv, great to share some runs with you during your journey. What a journey, I was jealous when you were telling me about it but you hit the motherlode. Congrats and welcome back. That which does not kill you, only makes you stronger!

  11. Thanks for posting. I really enjoy seeing what NY has to offer. I have a trip to Gore coming up in three weeks and a few more trips booked to Plattekill in Feb and March. Going to try one place new for me this year, West Mountain, tickets already booked. Still trying to fit Greek Peak using my Indy Pass in somewhere. So little time.

  12. I’m a former Alpine skier, now strictly Nordic in WNY. It’s a blast to read your trip and travel reports. Thanks for doing this!

  13. Harv it was good to see ya Friday. I wanted to join you guys monday but the damn job keeps getting in the way. have not skied McCauley since I was a teenager. long time ago for those who don’t know me.

  14. Glad I got to ski with you at the start of your awesome four-day tour of NY’s finest. Very impressive return to action.

  15. Damn! Nice road trip. Back with a vengeance. Looks like you got some nice conditions too. Good work.

  16. Truly a Master of this domain. Well played. You obviously have your strength back. Must have felt great to feel alive again.

  17. The comments under this piece lift me up. Thank you so much to everyone.

    It was good to see you some of you too. I know I am a little roochy, so thank you for all your understanding. I mean it.

    A special shout out to Scott, who saw my limitations this weekend, and stayed with me anyway, through TWO powder days, in a row. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Happy Birthday brother, I hope you are skiing today.

  18. You need a concert-style t-shirt for this “world tour.” McCauley pics and Rumor are especially great. I appreciate those who take pictures as I almost never do.

  19. A few days late…but it was nice skiing with you! I went back on Wednesday, after that little mini-dump of 3-4 inches on Tuesday night. Very nice. Next time you’re here, take SkyRide on the right and veer right into the trees. I think you’ll like it.

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