Chasing Plake

We were on our way north when my preferred social media network alerted me that Glen Plake was bringing his Down Home Tour to Plattekill this weekend. I heard just in time too — right before we had to make that Freedom Pass call: Plattekill or Magic.

Glen Plake picture
First Descent of Plake Chute courtesy John Tunis

There was no way I was gonna miss the chance to meet the star of the “Blizzard of Aahhhs” —  Glen has to be considered one of the legendary pro skiers of all time.

Plattekill is always fun, and even if it turned out that Plake’s visit was a photo-and-handshake publicity stunt, I knew we would have a great time. We turned onto Route 28 and headed west.

I parked in the lot above Plake’s custom RV, recon’ed the lodge (no Plake yet).  We booted up by 8:10 or so, well before the lifts started loading. I let Junior choose our first run. A short line had formed for the double, so he chose first chair on the triple.

Glen Plake's truck

The first runs, ripping the fresh corduroy, were all kinds of awesome. We started with Face, then made our way over to Blockbuster and Plunge.

Junior is really stepping it up this year. Several times, while going all out on something steep, I glanced over my shoulder, expecting him to be behind, and found him right on my ass. Later in the day, he confessed he scared himself a little on our first run down Block. I couldn’t fault him. Conditions were perfect for opening up the throttle. I was probably overdoing it too.

Junior on Block

Around 10:00 am we headed into the lodge to give our legs a break, hydrate and warm up a little (it was maybe -1 F at this point). As we got to the door, we saw the man himself. “I was wondering when you’d show up.”

“Hi, my name is Glen!” he said, offering his hand. I introduced myself and my son and asked if he’d been skiing yet.

“No, we kind of take our time on Saturdays. I love to watch a mountain wake up and come alive.”  We chatted about Tahoe and the weather for a couple minutes. I asked if we could take some pics. Of course we could.

“Would it be weird if wanted to get my skis in the pic?” I asked. I happened to be skiing my 1980s vintage K2s that day.

“Sure, especially if those are your 710s over there.” Plake answered, pointing at the ski rack. Apparently he’d spotted my skis when he came out of the lodge.

“Yup,” I said, “but they’re 812s.”

Glen on Plunge

“Wow check that out,” He said, looking them up and down, “195s huh,” He preceded to tell me about an upcoming project to produce a limited run of some old-school straight skis. He said they would probably be 200s “cause it’s just cool to say they’re 200s.”

In the end Glen gave us a good ten minutes of BS’ing about Alpine Meadows, straight skis and home mountains. Nicest, most down-to-earth guy you could hope to meet.

We let him go, with a promise that he’d be out for some runs soon. Junior and I warmed up for a bit and then headed back out. A few runs later, after getting back on the double chair, we looked up the line and saw a huge gaggle of skiers zig-zagging down Plunge.

Sure enough there was Plake right out in front, zippering down the baby moguls on skiers’ left like they weren’t even there. We did another run, rode back up and then waited. Junior was wanted to get moving. “Just give it a minute. This will be fun.” I promised.

Sure enough, Plake was getting off the lift, followed by a bunch of fans, mostly middle aged guys like me. For a few minutes it was like Plake was holding court there at the top of the double, talking about where they might go next, memories and stories of some of the little hills he’s visited in the past.

He lingered long enough for everybody to catch up and then we were off, everybody skiing fast in a big group. It was a lot of fun, not just because we were skiing with a star but just because everybody was in that same state of mind, having fun doing the one thing that is more fun then anything else. In that way it was just a typical day at Plattekill.

We spent most of the afternoon that way, chasing Plake around the hill with his fans. Somewhere along the way I shared a chair with him, which was exceptionally cool. He really is a great ambassador for skiing, in touch with the small mountain, recreational side of the industry.

Glen Plake by John Tunis

I asked which movie was his favorite. Without really picking one, he mentioned “Dr. Strangeglove” and “A Fistful of Moguls.”

It was incredibly cool to meet Glen Plake. He stuck around after the lifts closed, for the whole weekend really, to sign posters and just be Plake.

I was happy that Junior kept up with the group. He’s always been a cautious skier so seeing him develop his skills and evolve into a minor ripper has been rewarding.

All in, what a day.

24 comments on “Chasing Plake

  1. Wow that is incredibly cool to meet the star of blizzard of Oz. I wish I would have met up with him somewhere’s in New Hampshire when I was there a few weeks ago. Did he charge to take a picture with him?

    Great read and great story wish I could’ve done the same I have a pair of K2 812 with 204s

  2. We had joked about going to Platty though had to catch up with friends we have not seen in a long time at Pico. We missed Plake at 2 mountains so far – maybe we might cross paths – this is SUPER awesome. Totally totally..

  3. Jason, Cisco, Plake did not charge. He couldn’t have been more generous with his time on the hill and in the lodge. I watched him sign hundreds of posters, t-shirts, skis, helmets and anything that would hold sharpie ink. He spoke to everyone who approached him and made an effort to engage them in conversation. Everyone was smiling ear to ear just being around him and sharing our beautiful mountain with him and his lovely wife Kimberly. Plake is 100% real and exactly who you see in the movies.

  4. Thanks guys. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. Plake didn’t charge for anything. He was totally cool. I agree with everything John said.

  5. Big thrill for me. (I still have my K2 TNCs somewhere–which I bought because of Plake.) I snuck into his group Sunday around noon for a fast run down Ridge Run. A real treat. I told people in my office today about it. No one had heard of him. Am rethinking where I work.

  6. He made the rounds at Royal, Willard, and Oak as well recently. I know at Royal he spent a huge chunk of time with the HS race team that was practicing that AM–came as a total surprise to them and all the videos/stories coming out of that were of a great experience that those kids will remember for a long time–he had them playing a bunch of games (like trying to ski down the bunny hill in a big circle while holding hands) and trying out some of his ski ballet moves. The kids seemed incredibly humbled by how difficult both were! And crazy to think that most of those kids had no idea who he was until the coach told them…Good times had by all was the report.

  7. I didn’t ski with Glen and his wife, Kimberly.. But, as John Tunis said, I noticed that both of them were very approachable and genuinely kind. He was in good hands with ya’ll!

    …( I was out in the woods skiing that vanishingly fine powder that Harvey and Jason scoped out the day before)…

    Brownski, it was good to see you and your son. Enjoy, and thanks for your article.

  8. What a great story! Can’t believe that one of extreme skiing’s royalty came to the Catskills but then I recalled one time many years ago that he was up at Killington so I guess he does this stuff from time to time. I think he (or maybe Scott Schmidt) inspired me to buy my K2 Extremes back in the day – wish I had held onto them.

    Just curious – what skis was GP skiing on that day at Plattekill? Did he do any of the hand crafted glades there?

  9. Shawn,
    Glen skis on Elan Ripsticks now. He said “let’s scratch one” before dropping into the glades off the top of Overlook. On Sunday morning he led a group on AT gear and skinned up to the summit through the Powderpuff and Chute woods. Plake gave pointers on the up hill kick turn technique used in the alps and how it varies depending on snow depth and pitch. In the pictures of him jumping and rock climbing he has on Roxa AT boots, Elan touring skis and Plum tech bindings.

  10. So I had spent the last month and a half following the Plakes on their Down Home Tour on Instagram, dropping comments every few days to please come and ski Plattekill. Figures they arrive the one weekend I could not be there this season! When I got home from the mountain Friday evening and saw Laszlo’s post of the Plakemobile parked outside the Platty lodge, I couldn’t believe I was going to miss a legend. But thank you for this great post, Brownski, and for all the comments and pics–I’m so happy that Glen and Kim shared the stoke at Platty for an awesome weekend of skiing! And thankfully one of my instructors got me a poster!

  11. Years ago I was in some dive motel in Stowe and the limited TV had a couple of Plake videos. I immediately connected, even though I ski nordic.

    Great story. Keep bringing it.

  12. I checked out his Instagram feed, and found this. He was at Hunter and was honored by one company who put him in the lead at the Firemans race. Pretty awesome. I think he doesn’t drink or do drugs, so, it must have been awkward at the bar afterwards. Those fireman can drink.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BtPa4ZjnSgi/

  13. I met Plake at the Mountaineer Mountain Fest in Keene Valley years ago. My wife and I stood in the autograph line with all the kids. When we got to Plake, he remembered that he had his medal from the Skiing Hall of Fame in his bag. After getting it, he really wanted to show it to us. Not bragging, but more like he wanted to share it. He is so totally down earth. I can’t say I have many idols now that I am in my 50s, but Plake is one cool guy. I am not that friendly with people I know.

  14. Just wanted to add. I was leaving Platty Friday night in the dark and had to move over on the access road as this red, white, and blue coach was making it’s way up the hill. It was salt covered and difficult to see in the dark, but a minute later I said to myself I think that was Plake’s coach, I read about the Home Town Tour in Powder. I called some friends and said I think Plake will be at Platty in the morning. He said you could be right I think there was a sighting at Windham today. I could not sleep!!! When we arrived in the AM, there is was, sitting right outside the window at my locker!!! I ate breakfast and shuck my head…

    Later in the day we were just hanging outside and he walked up to our group and just started talking small talk. I thanked him for his innovation in the sport and what an honor it was. But honestly, he was laughing and rather just talk about the cars in the northeast rusting in the parking lot! What a great guy! Love the Plake’s, Love Platty! Keepin’ it real!

  15. Looks like they drove straight through to make it to Mammoth in 48 hours. I’ll bet that rig is smooth as hell on the highway.

    Thanks again for all the comments guys. It’s very gratifying to get such a nice reaction.

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