Do You Love Your Home Mountain?

Late afternoon on Sunday, at the end of a long ski day, I was sitting in the bar at Plattekill, surrounded by friends. When I’m in that spot, reliving the day’s adventures, I feel like the luckiest man alive. I snapped a picture of the room, and fired off a tweet on NYSB’s twitter.

Home Mountain Tweet

“Do You Love Your Home Mountain?” The thought as expressed was actually incomplete. I could have added … “as much as I do?” to the end of the question. Smiling wide at the end of another joyful ski day, I decided to bounce it off the internet. I think Twitter is my go-to in the mountains as it seems to require minimal signal strength to function.

To take a step back, I don’t know too much about the use of social media. I try to use Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to add to the conversation on NY skiing, and to expose our content to a wider audience, but my understanding of how to do that is pretty rudimentary. Nobody’s paying any attention to us on Facebook from what I can tell. Much of what we push out on social media doesn’t reach too far beyond a hardcore NY ski crowd.

Back to the story: I like to stay late in the bar at Plattekill, so I can be there when Patrol and Mountain Ops call it a day. I normally don’t hang out too late on a Sunday, but this time I did. Laz, Macker, Matt and Bobby C all came in to take a load off.  The day had been a huge success with ski racing, a good size crowd and many day tickets sold. The team was satisfied, it was great to see.

father and son skiing
Father and son share first tracks at an independent ski area

Eventually, and too soon, I hit the road. I stopped to gas up in Kingston and checked my phone. That tweet was resonating with a larger audience. I didn’t really get it. Almost all of the response affirmed love for a mountain, while some distinguished the mountain from ownership. It got me wondering if the idea of what a home mountain is, has changed.

Originally skiers were mostly local. As significant infrastructure — lifts and later snowmaking — came into the picture, ski areas worked to bring people from the city. Locals skied at the mountain closest to home and city folk skied where the snow trains took them. Even as cars became more ubiquitous with the development of suburbs, people chose a mountain they could visit regularly, as their winter home away from home.

Ski areas have long tailored pricing to encourage this behavior, offering discounts for frequent skiing. For decades, single mountain season passes were the best deal for someone who wanted to ski as much as possible. It’s almost like a season pass is a gateway to a home mountain relationship. For me it was.

dropping the headwall
Milestones at home: Dropping the headwall for the first time

The desire to ski new places has always been there. Before the so called megapasses, skiers would shop around for ways to see and ski other mountains. Now Epic and Ikon are super-sizing it, offering low cost lift access to a long list of ski areas across the country. I started to wonder, with all these choices… what effect are the big passes having on the idea of the home mountain?

I discovered skiing somewhat late in life, learning nordic skiing in the Adirondacks at age 30. My first home mountain would have to be an area known as the Garnet Hills in the northwest corner of Johnsburg NY. In 1989, I bought my first Garnet Hill XC pass. I came to love my home mountain, the community, and the sport of skiing.

My enthusiasm for skiing grew. By November I couldn’t wait any longer for snow to fall, so I started to ski early season on manmade snow Gore. At age 40, I rode the original Adirondack Express for the first time, on skinny skis. In 1995, I bought my first Gore season pass and I’ve had one every year for the last 27 years. Gore is my home mountain, and I love it. Its size, the vertical, the horizontal, its quirks, and all the nooks and crannies, and of course, the trees.

The Plattekill Lodge
Yes, home is where the heart is.

I may be a collector of home mountains. In 2010, I discovered Plattekill and there has been no turning back, I’m on my 11th pass there. It’ll be interesting to see if I’ll add more passes when we finally move north. I’m looking at you McCauley and Titus.

Regarding the megapass experiment: the market will decide if skiing is sustainable under each different pass model. If it’s good for the ski business, it’ll survive. Long term, customer satisfaction is going to matter.

There’s something I like about a traditional season’s pass. For me it’s been the catalyst for three home mountain relationships. And yes, I still love all three of my home mountains. I don’t think I could say it better than Brownski did in 2019:

A home mountain is more than the place where you have a pass or ski the most. It’s about where your skiing story began, where your roots are. Your home mountain is your origin story, like the planet Krypton in Superman.

*SWAG Wild Ass Guess

14 comments on “Do You Love Your Home Mountain?

  1. Got into skiing about 15 years ago and 2 wks ago had my first skiing out west, Park City/Canyons/PowderMtn.

    It was epic (!) packed powder with 6’ base and a day of deep powder, but after all was said & done, I was surprised to find myself missing my home mountain, Gore, even with its many annoying shortcomings.

    Must be like your first love affair, you never forget it… although frankly, I seem to remember more of the details of Gore …must be my age. 😳

  2. Windham Resort – Windham Mt which is actually Cave Mt on a map.
    Like the mix of people who come to visit.
    The Adaptive Sports Foundation is based there.

  3. Very good. You’re reminding me how long it’s been since I was back to Jiminy Peak – where I learned to ski. Still my home mountain by my definition. Of course it’s Plattekill by the more widely accepted fungible definition. Either way, it’s nice to have a home hill.

  4. Mt Baldy BC. is retro skiing from the 60s. You expect MS Cleaver to be on the porch of the lodge giving out muffins to new visitors!

  5. There certainly is something to be said about having a home mountain (Gore season pass holders for the past 3 seasons and frequent skier card for 3 years before that). I love when friends come to visit and I can show off the mountain and easily move around it like it’s my “home.” We skied Stratton last weekend because we have the VT 4 pack and I was curious if we wanted to make it our home mountain next year as we are considering Ikon (we are planning a trip to UT) and I wondered if my kids were getting bored of Gore. We had a fun at Stratton, but my kids kept saying they would miss skiing Gore. It was nice to see that like me they never get bored of Gore and connect with the idea of having a more “local feel” mountain like Gore.

  6. @lukoson I’m with you on this. In the last few years I’ve gotten to the point where I can lead newbies at Gore. It’s really quite fun, especially in the trees.

    @Brownski check out the twitter thread linked in the piece, for a great shot of Jiminy.

  7. Home mountain is Bristol (easy to guess from my conditions reports). “Love” might be a strong word, but I’ve been skiing here since 1982 (about when I started) and have had a season pass since 1995 and locker since 1998. It’s 45 minutes from home and is kind of like “Cheers” – I find someone I know on every visit. They are constantly improving the hill and snow quality is usually excellent. Do I wish I was closer to something bigger-sure, but the next step up is Gore and it’s 4 hours away. Yes, boredom can set it and we’re heading west for 6 weeks soon, but I consider myself lucky to have a hill of this quality so close.

  8. I have 4 “home mountains”… living in North River gives me access to the best. Season passes at Gore and Garnet Hill. Gore includes the Nordic Center in North Creek, but we have weekly Citizen Wednesday Night Races there which make it feel like a different place. And then there’s the Back Country. Can’t beat it…

  9. My skiing story began at Big Birch. I fell in love at Magic. Found my spirituality in Chamonix and grew roots in Big Sky. Skis can take you to some wild places. Now, I ski Belleayre with my family. Home is in the turn.

  10. Grew up skiing Belleayre, so it will always have a nostalgic home feel for me. I visited recently, and they have done a great job with the snowmaking and facilities. My ‘love’ of my current home mountain is more complicated these days. Over the past 20 years or so, Hunter has become my home mountain. I skied there with friends, and over time met an entire new set of friends there – folks who have considered Hunter their home for years. I really got into the whole experience at Hunter. Sometime in the last 10 years, I sat in the lodge booting up on day 1 for the season, and a huge smile broke out on my face. I was so happy to be there. The constants at Hunter were the snowmaking – we always knew there would be snow, and a lot of it over time – and the challenging terrain. Sadly, that has changed in the past few seasons under new ownership. The most challenging trails are open for a shorter season if they open at all. The snow making is adequate – but rarely abundant like it was in the past. Hunter is still my home mountain, but sadly the skier experience is just not as good as it used to be just a few years ago. As they say, nothing lasts. I really enjoyed this post — it brought up a lot of feelings. Great comments too.

  11. I was going to stake out my position but Greg S. perfectly captured it. I need to add though that Gore has been improving almost every year since they were the unwanted stepchild of NYSDEC. The snowmaking thanks to the pipe and reservoir, the new terrain, the attitude about boarders and terrain, what a difference! Not least at all is the food – I look forward to eating there now, especially with the 3 former teens off on their own. Now if they would just put in that gondola from the top of Little Gore to Copperfields…

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