What makes a great season?

The season’s not over, but the approaching end has me looking back. For the second year in a row it looks like I’ll hit 25 days, significantly below my long term average of 35. It was also the second consecutive season where snowfall was below average, especially in areas closest to home.

CRV in a snowstorm

Still, I find myself thinking I had a great season. How can that be, it makes no sense?

It is so, in part, because greatness is relative. It’s in the eye of skiing beholder. If you’re not local to the mountains, great seasons start with a good attitude and an eye on the medium-term forecast.

A great season, may be more than a collection of great days, but it does start those basic building blocks. How many great days did you get? Of course, the whole thing has to be graded on a curve. Thirty-five days is my goal each season, while most of the local skiers I know would be disappointed with anything less than a hundred.

Burnt Ridge trees

Skiers have a variety of ways of judging their season. Some count ski days or vertical. (Some argue over the definition of a ski day.) Others count new-to-them ski areas experienced. For me, it’s all about a feeling I have at the end of the day. When I ski great snow with an adventurous partner, my heart beats faster. Will I remember the day for a long time? Did I ski all day? Will I add the day to the 100 other days in my top ten list? When the answer is yes, I often need that après beer to calm down.

A great day often requires soft snow and good terrain. Did it snow, was there new or soft snow?  Did the terrain hold my interest all day long?  Regarding those two building block variables, for me, snow matters more than terrain. How much snow fell in mountains this year and was I there when it happened?

Scott skis the trees

I was looking at my 21/22 ski day tracker, thinking back on the season. Just like last year, I’m rating all of my days good or better. That may be my notorious rose-colored glasses, or it may be immutable fact. The way I see it, it doesn’t matter. It’s the feeling that counts.

There were several highlights, there were a lot of good times. In 24 days to date I used the designation “POW” eight times. Most skiers will call POW on six inches of new.  I need to ski at least some untracked in the process. For me, eight powder days is an excellent start on a great season.

Greek Peak powder skier

Digging in further I notice a pattern. On each of my best days, I skied with someone who loves skiing as much as I do, and loves it for the same reasons. One thing I will say about powder, it increases the motivation of all skiers to deal with the logistics required to ski the new snow.  It’s easier to find motivated skiers when a storms a comin.

Mountain “vibe” — while so crucial — has kind of fallen off my radar as a “variable.” The last few years I find myself skiing independents almost exclusively. I’ve come to the point where I am taking a low-key lack of competition for granted.

Plattekill torchlight parade

I’m giving my season an 8-out-of-10 this year, and I missed three weeks, and a twelve-inch storm, with an injury.  That’s my own 8, not to be compared to that of a bus boy at Gold Miner’s Daughter or anyone else.  We all operate in our own universe, and at this point in my life mine stretches from Western NY to Jay Peak.

On a scale of 1-to-10, how was your season? What do you look for in a great season? Did you make any lasting memories this year ? Post a comment.


18 comments on “What makes a great season?

  1. 5 on a scale of 10. Too many meltdowns and rainouts to make this a good season even tho I skied ~35 days. We just didn’t get many of those 4-6 inches of fresh that keep things powdery and quiet.

    One treat, though, was to ski Whiteface on a decent day, sneaking over from my home mountain of Mad River for three nights in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. A reminder what a big mountain that is and how special the Adirondacks are.

  2. I put this season as a solid 7. Could have been more snow. I enjoyed every day out. Skiing with the kids makes any day better.

  3. I got 45 days which since I have been working remotely has become my goal. As always… low snow year or great snow year we had an amazing time. Too much rain for sure and we ended our season 3 weeks early but conditions held pretty well.

    The last few years we have been skiing NH & Maine. We are planning a return to Gore and WF a few years from now. Spring is in the air down here by the Delaware beach so time to move from ski life to beach life.

  4. It was a great season. December started out in the cascades with some of the best pow I’ve ever skied on Hood. Then, two weeks in the Rockies ending up at my new favorite PowMow UT. Topped off by 15 resorts in 13 days from PA to ME include my first day at Jay with the great Harvey Road. All in the name of The Revolution! 👍❄️ We’re still going strong out here in the PNW with 8” this morning in…PORTLAND! Where was this during the February drought???

  5. I’d give it a 6 or 7. Got 78 days, but the start was very slow. I’d rate it higher, but got we really didn’t have much to ski on until Christmas. Bristol has great snowmaking, but if it ain’t cold they can’t do anything. Once it got cold and everything opened, it was good! Watched all three granddaughters get appreciably better and took the oldest to NH where we skied Cannon and Loon. Good year of beer league racing-won my age group. We ended the season with an Eastern Ikon tour of 18 ski days. We skied Stratton, Sugarbush, Loon, Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Killington. Sugarloaf was new to us, and most of the others we hadn’t visited much so it was a great opportunity to get more familiar with those mountains. Spring or refrozen conditions, so the glades and many natural snow trails were closed.

    I guess I’m an optimist! Bought new race skis as a 70th birthday present to myself, and just dropped off the paperwork for the Bristol pass. Good chance we’ll re-up on the IKON also. Looking forward to next year.

  6. Spring Midwest March madness inspired from the Revo, thanks DF!

    10 after two pandy sit out yrs. Older you get, sweeter it is.

    Nice reflection Harv

  7. Score it 9 out of 10, despite the lack of snow dumps.

    I ride the New York State pass and primarily hit Gore, but also Whiteface when I can. This season’s treat was getting to know Killington after 35 years of Northeast skiing. There is no better. Just check out media pics of Superstar and Outer Limits lately.

    53 days beginning 11/26/2021 at Gore. Glad to have checked some boxes, making more required skills ‘automatic’. Whether golf, tennis, lacrosse, baseball, or hoops; best if the needed move is ingrained. More are, after this season. Cheers! 😊

  8. I will give it a seven. It was a very slow start because of warm weather, but once Bristol got the weather they made snow, even in March! I skied on untracked powder five times, The last being a late Friday early Saturday morning dump late in the season and a late arriving crowd made it so I had three untracked runs and made my own figure eights. One day I even got four adult children to ski on the same day! That was a 10!! My second to last day, a Saturday, went from crispy, to perfect to serious mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes giving me the most fun on those new Kendos I bought! I whipped out the tails and just played like a little kid! Went home whipped! Made an old-fashioned when I got home in front of the fire and called it a perfect day. I will see you all on the hill and online. 🙂 Thanks for the forum, Harv.

  9. I think 7 is a good number. It was not a great season. I am an ORDA skier so most of my time is at Gore. I did ski Gore, Whiteface and Belleayre in the same week. That was pretty cool. I hit all the storms, that was pretty cool. But we didn’t have major dumps and if it wasn’t for the snowmakers and groomers, we would be toast by now. Thank you! I have surpassed the most days I have skied in one season…but the season I beat was 2015-16 (perhaps the worst ski season on record). Quantity does not always mean quality, but as long as I am on snow, I am happy. It was (still is) a very good year!

  10. Looks like I’ll end up with around 45 days. I did more than half my riding at Sugarbush and Stowe, started my season off at opening day Killington and will go another couple of weeks in April. Even though I missed the entire month of February with a shoulder injury I would still rate this a great year. Spending the day on any mountain is just so good. I think I really lucked out this year as it snowed many of the weekends I was at a mountain.

  11. So cool to read about and understand what skiers love about skiing.

    Some high scores, even for so/so evaluations. But hey, I can’t imagine giving any number below 8, ever really.

    Great comments all. Thank you so much.

  12. There are so many ways to go at this. One way I look at it: I think I’ve actually only had 2 bad days of skiing, ever.

    It was a decent year for me. Racing would have made it better, but the work schedule precluded that. My season ended early due to work and family commitments.

    The days I got out were good days.

  13. I’ll give my season a 7. A great week at Steamboat and 3 powder days in VT is what I’ll remember.

  14. I rate my just past season as a 9. There was one 10 long ago…. Ski seasons can mark the time in my life. I will think of a season, and pinpoint where I was at that time. Each season is a journey, the individual days give context to the whole experience. I’ve learned to appreciate each day. Working at a mountain gets one out more often when the outlook is sketchy. Too often, I had to experience the concept that “skiing is good in the rain.” Yet, I never found a day I would call the conditions bad. Groomers were always up to the task, and it was always skiing.
    There was the massive ice storm that found us just on the rain/snow line that shut down the mountain for a day. Instead of powder, I spent over one hour de-icing my truck. I then set out on an interesting day, exploring Manchester Center Vermont, and an afternoon hike on the Equinox Pond trail.
    With memories of the people met, hanging out with friends, and the intensity of solo runs all absorbed, looking forward to the start of next season.

  15. Relative 4. Few soft days, but got cold too late and was consistently warm too early, except for Mt Saint Anne and Massif. they’re closing Monday 4/18.

    Doug F, please tell us you or someone you know made it out to Hood or Bachelor this week? Incredible!!

  16. Not to rub it in but I hit Mt Hood Meadows on Tuesday, April 5 and they had 25″ of fresh waiting for us! (Closed on the previous day due to winds) After trashing all the easy stuff we waited 30 minutes for the rope to drop at the Heather Canyon gate and the patroller stopped right in front of me! My 2nd best run of the year…on April 5th!!! This past week has been 12″ every night and I’ve been chained to my keyboard. (;

  17. Awwww hell. Any season that you’re alive and not dead is a solid baseline 6 in my opinion. I stopped skiing in 1998 (year I graduated UVM) until 2018 when I clocked 1 day, 2019, 1 day, 2021, 1, day and you’ll all probably laugh at my 11 days in 2022, but man did I have a ton of fun skiing whatever snow was on the ground on the same day that I was on the hill.

    Skied a few new one for me; the Aspen trifecta of Snowmass, Ajax and Highlands, Belleayre and Mohawk. Skied a few oldies, Sundown and Big Birch (where I learned to ski, never Thunder Ridge).

    Took a few wipeouts, got injured, recovered with enough time to get a few more days in, decided to ditch daily on-hill rentals and got new boots and skis, bought and cut out an old-school Burton DIY throwback board and shredded the local sledding hill on it, gave it a go on a real snowboard and decided that I’d rather be skiing, took my kids and wife out to get them a taste, hopefully it’ll stick, got to ski in a couple of snow storms and worked on my technique. My season is done for the year, real world obligations are calling.

    I gotta say though that I had a blast on every run I took, even the one that resulted in the aforementioned injury and the ones right after it when I thought I could just ski it off. I’m going to throw off the curve, but on a purely stoked level…10/10. Bring on 22-23.

  18. I’m gonna give this season an 8 out of 10. Even though it was a weird winter with not enough snow and some brutally cold weekends at Plattekill, there were enough days where the stoke was high and some great skiing was enjoyed. And I had the pleasure of visiting Alta for the first time, which blew my mind on so many levels. Skiing there with my son, who is working out there this season, was one of the greatest moments in my life as a skier. It was so awesome to have him as a guide, as I would never have skied half the stuff we did if it wasn’t for him.

    In any case, I’m at day 48, after an awesome day of spring skiing with Harvey and Sig at Gore yesterday, and hoping to get at least one more at K-ton before I call it. Here’s to a short summer!

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