Hunter Mountain First Melt

Spring skiing is something you can count on. Or at least it feels that way. As the inexorable warming that starts in March continues to build, all that snow has to melt. When that happens the skiing has got to be good, right?

NY Thruway

The odds of scoring perfect corn snow may or may not be higher than the odds of scoring powder. I have seven pow days this year, and if I get seven corn days, I’ll be ecstatic. Still, I believe there’s a perception among skiers that good spring skiing is somewhat inevitable.

But the last two years haven’t worked out that way for me. Like many of us, last year I missed spring completely. I didn’t ski any kind of melt before my last day, on March 8.

The year before that, the best spring days were scarce, and didn’t fall on days I could get them.

Hunter Mountain

That’s a long way around the point: I’m overdue for some good spring skiing. This year, during new normal, weekday skiing has worked best for me. When I saw sunshine and a high of 50 forecast for the Catskills on a Wednesday, I got the day off.

Theoretically in the East, corn days should be easier for a flatlander to plan in advance vs pow days that always seem to require last minute strategy adjustments. This time it did work out. I had several days advanced notice and lined up the time.

Hunter liftline

My original plan was to go to Belleayre. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, at times, the tail wags the dog for my skiing and NYSkiBlog. Belle hasn’t been on our front page this year and that story was overdue.

But I wanted more concrete plans. On Tuesday night, when I tried to entice Scott to meet me at Belle, he said came back with something like “after today, you’re going to have a hard time pulling me away from Hunter.” Going to Hunter did have one advantage on the editorial side; I’d have Scott the bumper on his home turf, a great subject for photos.

early groomer
Soft from the start

It’s been a while since I made a true alpine start, and it struck me how early the March sun came up on the drive north. I met Scott in the parking lot at 8:30, snagged my buddy ticket (thanks man!) and got in line for The Flyer. Soon we were on the way up: it looked and sounded like the snow was already softening.

Indeed our first run was trenchable. The fact that the skiing was good from the start was a big bonus as I knew I wouldn’t last all day. We did several groomer runs to warm up, taking advantage of the soft corduroy.

skiing the bumps
Scott

There wasn’t actually that much terrain that was left bumped up. But for me it was plenty. Lower K27 had bumps, and they were huge. It was challenging and skiable, but exhausting. We spent most of our bump time on Milky Way, a mellower pitch under the F Lift.

Late in the morning we ventured over to the North side, but the softer snow on the East Side pulled us back. We rode The Flyer and if the line was longer than a few skiers we took the D and F Lifts to the top.

Blackhead Range

We went from 9am to 1:30 with one short break. It had been two weeks since I skied and it was my first day in big bumps in at least two years. I got to that point where all I wanted to do was bump, but I just couldn’t turn quickly any longer.

This was just Day 19 for me, but I feel like I’m having a good season, if you overlook my bout with covid.  I’m clearly more comfortable around other skiers now, and that made the day more fun. There’s more skiing to be done, but I still can’t help but look forward to skiing the way it used to be, 100%, next year.

15 comments on “Hunter Mountain First Melt

  1. WHAT? You actually went to Hunter and write NO comments on the TRASH alongside the trails and under the lifts? Isn’t that part of Blogging? To spread the word about great and diverse snow sports experiences in NY? The good with the bad? The experience?
    Hunter’s careless attitude about snow sports enthusiasts who throw away their trash while riding and skiing is a disgrace. To anyone with a Leave No Trace ethic Hunter is the last place to enjoy our sport. Strict on masks; lax on trash.

    Call me snooty but the snow sports culture at Hunter — the toss-it, litter-at-will, no one cares culture that makes our country ugly.

    Count me out. You can have it.

  2. Corn is Goldilocks snow. It can’t get to too hot and it can’t stay too cold. It’s that beautiful transition between ice and slush. Get it while you can Harv!

  3. Nice cool clean pictures, what kind of camera
    Milky Way was always a great place to enjoy bumps a nice alternative to K27, upper crossover etc
    After growing up skiing Vt I was pleasantly surprised with all Hunter has to offer, different faces/exposures are hard to find anywhere south of Albany .
    First look I thought I saw snowmobiles on trailer then I look closer and I see riding mowers and I was like WTF he takes that picture for, then it hit me, fuck spring is here, let’s get it while we can!

  4. James Schaefer talks about the trash at Hunter. While I agree, I was skiing at tiny Jack Frost recently and saw under lifts the same thing. It has become “cool” for kids (to me kids are age 15-30), sorry especially snowboard kids, to drink cans of beer on the lifts from first thing in morning on and then toss them down. It is disgraceful at Hunter where I have skied 35 years. But truth be told, IMHO, Hunter is the most challenging skiing within 3 hours of NY, NJ, PA metro area. And the longest challenging runs. Sorry but runs at PA mtns are 10 minute lift rides and one minute down. Hunta is close to the metro area and has a reputation so to speak. There are many high speed not so good boarders, skiers that irritate me and others. Solution, avoid weekends for us old timers, even though this year weekdays were drawing everyone else who aren’t working or supposed to be sitting at home “in class”. Well, I have a love/hate relationship with ole Hunta. Lastly, maybe Vail is responsible for leaving some bump trails, one good thing….

  5. Nice write up. Hunter has some great terrain. It’s especially fun midweek when it’s not too crowded. Those bumps look sublime.

  6. I was there the day before and the conditions were excellent. I caught it on the first day of a warm spring run and it was more cream than corn. It also didn’t get chopped up bad since the crowd was thin. It’s a great tome to be on the slopes!

  7. Had the same plan as you on Wednesday. What an awesome day! Saw the forecast for 50 and sun and it delivered! Hoping for a few more before we wrap it up.

  8. You can trash talk Hunter all you want, I love that place. Spring skiing is the best. With powder you can ski it all day. With corn you gotta have the right window. Crack a few cold ones while you wait, or when your done. Recycle the cans and the sunny memories. Nice timing!

  9. Nice write up. Back in the day, I had a roommate who was a volunteer ski patroller at Hunter. Told me stories about skiers with flasks of Jack Daniels or blackberry brandy in their jacket.

    Heading to Lake Placid for some corn of my own, no transition. Two weeks ago, powder.

  10. I can’t find a single thing out of place in the photos. It does show that there is still an uphill perception battle among people that have probably not been to the place in 20 years in teh comments. Crowded on weekends, absolutely, but Hunter is cool.

  11. It was really nice to get some spring skiing in. Always fun to get out with Harvey. Hopefully a few more in my future.

  12. Glad you had a great day at Hunter Harvey. I’ve had a midweek pass there forever but a couple of yrs ago completely lost interest in the place. Can’t pinpoint an exact reason. Maybe IT just became all too much?
    This year I have made my way back to Catamount for midweek skiing (after 46 yrs) and couldn’t be happier. Same distance from my house and it’s $25 for the over 60 crowd like me.

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