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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Freshies at Mount van Hoevenberg

With the Technoalpin Snowfactory running in full cry, I heeded the siren call to Mount van Hoevenberg for opening day. Leaving right after Thanksgiving dinner, the traffic was relatively easy, and I arrived at my lodging spot around 10:30 PM. After decompressing from the drive, I fell into bed.

mount van hoevenberg snow factory
Snowfactory photo courtesy ORDA/Whiteface Lake Placid

On Friday morning, there was a glistening 1000-meter loop of machine made snow. It might not sound like much, but the Snowfactory was still cranking out crystals as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees.

Perhaps it was a turkey hangover, but van Ho was quiet in the morning: perhaps 8 other skiers were traversing the loop. Among them was two-time Olympian Robert Douglas and his family.

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Thrills at a Chilly Mount Van Hoevenberg

Taking a whole weekend off to ski this year was a rarity. I have a job that requires working on Saturdays, and you gotta take care of business. So when the opportunity came at mid-winter break, my family repaired to Lake Placid to ski Mount van Hoevenberg.


In 1982, I skied Mount van Hoevenberg for the first time. Still a novice, my friends were extolling the virtues of this place and we came up on a chilly January weekend.

The first trail we skied then was the Ladies 5k, so named because it was the route for the women’s 5 km relay event in the 1980 Olympics. Only one of the most difficult trails in the place. The lower part of the loop I managed without incident. But from the height of land, I basically fell all the way back down to the stadium. I was still figuring out how to turn going downhill.

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