Snow Ridge Opens 2015

Snow Ridge plays a unique role in the life of a hardcore NY skier. In a far corner of the state, the small ski area stands as a beacon of hope during the early season or times when powder is scarce.


Because no matter how the season has gone to date, or what the current weather pattern, there are, almost always, a few months when cold air blows across the unfrozen waters of Lake Ontario and delivers powder on the Tug Hill Plateau.

In fact, consistently bad ski weather in the form of warm temperatures, can actually increase the chances that the magic will happen. And that’s exactly how it came down last week.


A few days earlier, Nick messaged me about plans for the weekend. Done with the first term of his sophomore year at St. Lawrence, he was in North Creek for the Christmas break and thinking ski.

I had my eye on Snow Ridge. How much snow would it take to convince the new owners spin the lifts? I really didn’t care. I had a new pair of skins and I was ready to lift myself up, under my own power, to ski new natural snow.


Nick was all in. Our craving for untracked snow was strong so we got a crazy early start to improve our odds at scoring. On the drive over from North River we passed through bands of deep snow and started to dream.

We arrived at 8:30, 90 minutes before the lifts were slated to spin. We booted up, got our skins set and headed up the hill. There were ten or fifteen others with the same idea and a good skin track was well established by the time we arrived.


That first run was a slow motion schuss. The snow was dense, maybe windblown, and it took a bit of magic to stay in the float zone. The snow quality was really nice and it seemed that some skier traffic might actually help the skiing.

We headed in to buy our lift tickets and came back out to get in line. The lift went off right on time, and for the first two or three runs, there was almost no line.  For the moment, the signature Snow Ridge powder day lift line back to the lodge was conspicuous by its absence.


We did several runs right under the main lift. In the morning, the lightly cutup snow was a dream to ski. As the day wore on, the snow seemed to consolidate or settle and the skiing speeded up.

We moved from the North Slope to South Slope and found it nearly untracked. We dropped into a narrow cut that houses the snowmaking pipe. It was some of the best skiing of the day. After several laps on the South, we hiked to the Snow Pocket and took a break. We were completely alone.


We skied until 3pm. Before calling it a day we explored the often overlooked trails beyond the North Chair: Cruikshank, Johannsen, Challenger and the Sugar Bush Cut.

I’ve yet to have an average day at Snow Ridge. A small family business, with more terrain than you’d think, the snow is excellent and fresh tracks seem to last all day long.

The highlight of this underperforming season so far, today will stay with me for quite some time. Thank you, Snow Ridge.

11 comments on “Snow Ridge Opens 2015

  1. So happy for u guys !! We cut our teeth at the Ridge, it never disappoints !
    Im sure Don the liftie in his blue carharts was there with a smile .

    It is a time warp, most of the regular crowd is hardcore and generational and is there strictly to ski not party . Carharts and flannel are in vogue and those Lewis County farm boys and girls can turn em loose too.

    And as always : Thanks Lake Ontario. 🙂

  2. The snow was slow and heavy because it was just above freezing. The lift line to the lodge was the longest I’ve ever seen it. Did you see the line-up for people buying tickets when you went out the door? I’ve never seen that many people there on opening day. It was my 4th opening day. The snow was thicker than usual due to the temps but the day did not disappoint. We saw you coming in at 3pm just as we were going up for one more run. South slope was completely packed down by then and was skiing like butter as the sun finally made an appearance. I don’t think Johansen and Cruikshank are often ignored. That is usually where I go for turns. The ravine in Cruikshank skied pretty well but the steepest slopes got a little skied off and Johansen packed down quickly from skier traffic mostly because it is so narrow.

    Did you go out to Challenger? Did you have to wade through the creek to get out? or did you bushwhack back to Cruikshank to the bridge. We avoided that because we didn’t want to have to wade through all that cement or get our feet wet.

  3. My Dad & I got some runs in the day before with a couple friends. It was a white from West Branch on…we were stoked to get that feeling back again. You know the one I’m talking about – when you pump yourself up for freshies & it builds & builds as you drive deeper into the storm. We arrived at the Snow Ridge snow glob around noon & it was just as I had envisioned: deep! We laid first tracks down for Dan. We all got face shots & the snow was pretty fluffy.

    Next day was also awesome; the snow had settled a bit & a little dense at the bottom, lighter towards the top. First couple runs are usually slow until a track is started, then you can use that to get your speed up to pop out for a few face shots & back in again to pick up speed. I would love to mention other high lights of the day, but my lips are sealed, locals pact!

    As usual the ridge delivered on opening day! Wish it could of stayed cold – it’s on my Christmas wish list, but I’m afraid I’ve been a little bad :).

    SR is a little place that rocks & is very close to my heart; many memories have been made here & I am continuing the traditions with my 10 year old cousin who got hooked on skiing last season…she’s a little ripper & I see signs of a promising tree skier!

  4. This past weekend was my second time to SR and the Tug. In both trips I got to ski during and after big snowstorms, with fantastic skiing while Vermont is some pitiful shape. It was heartening to see locals come and pack that place for the opening day.

    Though Warp Daddy may say that the locals are there to ski, not party, I will continue to bring the ski AND party mentality over from VT.

    Another Black and Tan at the tow path. Tell your snowboard instructor there no booting in the skintrack.

  5. It already seems like a dream. Was I really skiing knee deep snow on Sunday? Back to the cruel reality that is the 2015-2016 season so far, 65 friggin degrees on Christmas Eve. The end of December and I’ve yet to extract my ice scaper from my glovebox, or warm up my car, to defrost my windshield. My snow brush is still in the basement, depressing.

    Thanks Ontario, and Snow Ridge, without you, or a plane ticket, all would be lost. Hopefully some more cold air will pass over Ontario soon, “Polar Vortex” anyone?

  6. Great stoke Powdergirl and Snow Ridge fans! Pretty amazing to get great skiing all day long, at such a small area. So many nooks and crannies. I’m still smiling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *