Mount van Ho: I Learned to Love Manmade Snow

What a difference a day makes.

New Year’s Day this year, is the latest I’ve ever started a ski season. When Mount van Hoevenberg opened in November, the shooting brake was racked up in the shop with a warranty issue. By the time I got it back – with an entirely new emissions system – we were knee deep in December. December skiing and a job the retail wine business don’t play well together.

More and more, Christmas week is like the old meme of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Promise packed powder conditions, then give them a slushfest. Clouds pelted us with intermittent rain as we drove north on New Year’s Eve.

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Kickstart My Heart: New Trails at Mt Van Ho

Part 1: New Years

On New Year’s Eve, I drove to Lake Placid with the child for a short, socially distanced ski break. Lake Placid had only been brushed by the storm that dumped 30 inches elsewhere in the northeast. When we arrived Mt van Hoevenberg was operating on machine made snow on the new trail system designed in advance of the World University Games.

Biathlon Range

Everything at MVH is different this winter, and not just for the reasons you’d expect. I parked and walked to the towering new lodge. Part of the building is open, and construction is still underway. I collected my season pass and headed out.

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First Tracks at Mt Van Hoevenberg

Who needs West Yellowstone when you’ve got early season skiing nearby? After Thanksgiving dinner, I set out up the Thruway for Lake Placid. Gusting wind pushed my new used VW shooting brake around, treating the ski box as a spinnaker.

Mount van Hoevenberg skiers

Rain washed away the snow Mount van Ho had the previous weekend, leaving only the 500-meter loop of machine made snow, courtesy of the Snow Factory. After a leisurely Friday morning breakfast, I clipped into skate skis. The Snow Factory loop had held up through the warming trend, still 18” deep.

After a couple laps around the loop, I ran in to Duncan Douglas. We shot the breeze, he intended to ski the Porter Mountain trail. But he’s a larger than life two-time Olympian, and I’m just a guy from Jersey. I opted to stay on the mini loop.

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