Holiday Valley: It Snowed Out West

Like the rest of the northeast, we’ve been patiently waiting for winter to arrive here in Western New York. We received our typical early season dump that puts a foot on the ground only to take it away a week or so later. Then we had a slow start with limited snow-making windows.


There have been moments where we thought it was on, a few small storms with a couple inches here and there. There was also the recent storm that dropped 20” in the Buffalo metro area but left the ski areas to the south high and dry. We were all waiting for the weather to send some classic WNY lake effect to the hills.

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Holiday Valley: Social Distancing the Rain

I’m sure most people don’t think of my home — Utica NY — as a ski town. I could go on about the city-owned ski slope and local history, but its true advantage is being located in the middle of the state. Much of the best skiing in New York is within a day trip of my apartment.

Mardi Gras lift

I’m also lucky to have a forward operating base at my parents house in the Finger Lakes. While the rest of the state was getting rain on Christmas Day, Western NY was getting lake effect snow from Lake Erie. With the Bills winning the AFC East and 8 inches of snow on the hill, Holiday Valley skiers were smiling. I left my folks place early Saturday morning with my sights set on Ellicottville.

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The Holiday Valley Effect

I follow the lake effect snow in central and northern New York at this time of year. Sometimes it takes a little more work. Last week Holiday Valley came up big reporting 19 inches from Wednesday through Thursday night.

After work on Friday I linked up with my friend Alex in Rochester to plan our swing into Western New York. On Saturday we headed to Holiday Valley. Another friend, Katie met us at the Yodeler Lodge just as the lifts started spinning.

I’d taken trips to Holiday Valley as a kid, but Katie grew up skiing there. Even better we were joined by her father John, aka Wiz. John spent the last 27 years on patrol at Holiday Valley and his family has a deep ski heritage in western NY.

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