Gore Mountain: Right Place, Right Time

I thought I had done pretty good getting to Gore by 8:40 AM but no; the upper lots were already full. I dumped Junior and our gear near the lodge and parked in Lot E. Once our tickets were squared away, we headed up the hill in a full gondola cabin. A few of our fellow snow enthusiasts chatted with us about plans to ski out west while sipping their morning coffee.

It smelled really good — a hint of chocolate maybe? One of them confirmed that they had mixed in a shot of hot chocolate. You have to make sure it’s just a shot or it’ll be too watery, he explained. I was only half in the conversation. My eyes were focused outside, checking out the snow.

I was thinking that I had made the right call this time. Still, the deliberative process that had gotten us there was more agonizing then normal, a result of just having too damn much weather data available to me.

My original plan was to leave the house late Saturday morning, ski at West Mountain until close and then head up to Whiteface for Sunday. Both hills are on the Champlain Valley Ski Card and it looked like Whiteface had the best chance for a primarily frozen event.

As the weekend arrived, my plans went to hell. I got a cold, the forecast went bonkers and my son decided that he wanted to ski and attend his school’s last home hockey game of the year on Saturday night.

In the old days, life was simple. I didn’t worry about weather. I would go to one of my favorite hills on a discount day and ski what was open. Now I look at projected snowfall maps and ask dumb questions on internet forums all afternoon. To accommodate Junior’s school spirit, I spent Saturday blowing my nose, consuming Vitamin C and refreshing four different weather pages on my iPad.

I assimilated the data I’d collected and decide with scientific certitude that Gore, not Whiteface, was my best bet for soft snow on Sunday morning. It’s also on the Champlain Valley Ski Card so our plans were locked in.

I packed the car, filled a thermos with hot coffee and went to bed, early. On Sunday I awoke close to the appointed time, got Junior out of bed and headed north. If made the right choice, so did thousands of other people. Like I said, we made it into Lot E. When we left for the day, cars were halfway down the access road.

At the top of the gondola, I asked Junior what he wanted to ski. He didn’t hesitate for a second: Lies. To Gore’s steepest open terrain; down to the Straightbrook quad, up to and over the top.

It was already pretty chopped up by 9:15 or so, at least at the top. Junior’s aggressiveness was slowed a bit by a couple of bare spots on the head wall, but I thought he handled it great. We stuck around there for a little bit. We found both Hawkeye and Chatiemac were closed for race training. Open Pit skied great, really nice.

When we made our way down to the High Peaks Chair we were surprised to find a big line so we bypassed it, following Woodout down to the North quad for a couple more runs. We made a quick stop in the Saddle Lodge for some water and snacks.

After a fast run down Showcase and another ride up the gondola, we went back to the top. Chatiemac was still closed but Hawkeye was in great shape in spite of being used for race training half the morning. Next I led Junior to the Topridge triple and it was also excellent.

To close it out, we headed back to the lower mountain to slow things down a little. Showcase, Quicksilver, Twister and Upper Sleighride all still had good snow on them. Our leg muscles were getting pretty warm at this point.

It was hard to leave, conditions were top notch. I’m at a loss for superlatives, but I don’t think we stood on a lift line longer then four or five minutes all day. Gore really absorbs crowds like no place else, other then maybe Killington. People spread out and find their favorite area.

I’ve had challenges this season getting the right day off. But this time I was in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t a powder day but there was a couple inches of soft, fresh snow on the ground that skied great.

13 comments on “Gore Mountain: Right Place, Right Time

  1. Brownski, Thanks for leaving some snow for me! Had a great day at Gore Yesterday! Great read!!! Where to next?

  2. I was at Gore on Sunday as well and it was excellent – totally agree on the information overload.

    The decision to have racing on Hawkeye on a weekend, let alone a powder day was an interesting one. It shutdown the entire Straightbrook area all morning and caused that massive line at High Peaks that you mentioned. That being said it ended up preserving the snow on that side of the mountain until later in the day, so overall I ended up not being that mad about it.

  3. Was Pipeline open to Burnt Ridge? I would have taken the opportunity to go there after seeing a line for the HP double.

  4. And for those of us with the luxury of midweek skiing, it’s like a private hill….
    To date, this year’s weather hasn’t been very helpful, but their snow making and grooming crew has done the best they can, which has generally been surprisingly good.

  5. Living in southeast Michigan now, to get any good skiing in I need to drive 4 hours away.
    I really miss the old days when I only had a 90 minute ride to Gore.

  6. I basically was in the same boat…head cold, had to work saturday night (im an audio engineer) got home 2am up at 7am sunday morning. main lot full went straight for lot E and headed up the gondola by 930…after the ski races, the hawkeye sides were incredible, considering everything else anyway. pretty good day.

  7. Good thing you didn’t judge a book by it’s cover with the full parking lots. The nice part about Gore is with all the Pods you can normally find a place that is not real crowded. I also agree with Frank Santariga with myself also being in SE Michigan I would love to have a Gore like area with in 60-90 mins away.

  8. OK so maybe 12 weather pages is too many.

    Coffee in the thermos before bed is brilliant IMO. This could add 15 mins sleep on those early mornings. It’s really still hot?

    I love seeing Gore with snow on it. Thanks for it Brownski!

  9. That big line on the High Peaks (old Summit Chair) lasted one run and then there was not a line for the rest of the day. The tree skiing on the Dark Side was the best it has been all season… measured 4.5″ of new snow in BBA. I lapped the trees there for a few loops before moving on. Burnt Ridge and the Sagamore trail were lots of fun too. Despite the amazing amount of cars (must be the “American Plan” where everyone drives 1.3 cars) the lift lines were very small after the initial push up the hill.

  10. The line only cleared up because they finally stopped race training and people were able to ski Hawkeye and Chatimatic. One could argue that there should never have been race training on a weekend that closed half of the upper mountain.

    It ended up working in my favor, but I was not pleased when I was waiting in that line.

  11. Great post. One of these summers, I’ve got to hike to the top of Gore. We had an aborted attempt a few years ago due to cranky toddler syndrome.

    While Gore was getting snow, a few miles up the road, Garnet Hill was getting rained on.

  12. Didnt mean to rub in the mid- week… I fill my Thermos the night before and it still hot!! But I fill with hot water so I can make instant Bustello and Oatmeal. Just preheat the Thermos and your good!

  13. Harv & Jeff: Yeah, a good quality thermos works great. As long as you fill it all the way right out of a fresh pot, the coffee is still good and hot the next morning. When I want oatmeal I will bring along a camp stove but hot water in a thermos is a good idea.

    Powderqueen: I’m not sure if Pipeline was open or not. There are actually some big gaps in my Gore expertise so I just kind of explore around most of the time.

    Ed & TGA: As far as the line on the HP chair, I didn’t mean to over emphasize that. If we’d stayed I’m sure it would of only been ten minutes or so to get through it. We just decided to keep moving instead. The same with racing on Hawkeye. I agree it was inconvenient but it all worked out. Lots of different stuff was open to us.

    Thanks for the feedback everybody. The positive reaction is always gratifying.

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