Climb to the Castle: The Masters

“I wasn’t ready for this,” Leonard Plunkett said in the gusting wind outside Whiteface Mountain’s iconic castle. We were recovering after the Climb to the Castle, the annual roller ski race up the Whiteface toll road.

Climb to the Castle
Climb to the Castle

“Nobody’s ever ready,” I replied. “But now that you’ve done it, you know what to expect next year.” He smiled, and I hope that I planted a seed for his return next year.

On Friday, I’d met Leonard and chatted with him at one of the more civilized bib pickups I’ve been to. He was up from New York City with three other skiers representing Manhattan Nordic. A big shoutout to the Madshus rep for pouring pints of Big Slide.

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Lyon Mountain Hike

During my hike up Lyon Mountain, I felt like I could almost touch the sky.

Whether it was the open feel of the forest — not as thick as the woods of the High Peaks — or the intense sunshine shafting down to light the trail, I don’t know. I could stand on my tiptoes, reach out, and it was there.

Lyon Mountain fire tower
Lyon Mountain fire tower

I chose Lyon for two reasons. On Saturday night, I went to the Executive Disorder concert for the release of their new record, Forever War. (If you like thrash metal, you need to own this record.) I was staying near Plattsburgh instead of Lake Placid, and I was determined to find something I hadn’t hiked before. Lyon stands alone in that part of the northern Adirondacks.

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Whiteface: Springtime, Sunshine and Skyward!

Standing at the top of the Summit Quad — with your ski tips sticking out over the lip of Skyward — and looking out across the whole northeast is awe-inspiring. The impression of altitude and exposure is unique in the east. It’s some of the gnarliest and coolest lift-served skiing in New York.

The place has some crust too. Good old Gore and little Mount Peter are older but Whiteface’s Olympic legacy holds it’s own in the history category too. It wasn’t a venue in the 1932 games, and all I really remember about 1980 is the hockey but those details don’t matter, to me.

Most of my skiing is done closer to home in the Catskills or Vermont, but I always try to make the trek to Whiteface at least once a season. I don’t know why I don’t get there more.

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