Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gore Mountain: 02/20/2011

Holiday crowds queue up for the gondola

The words "firm and fast" have not been part of my skiing vocabulary for most of the winter, but they are back in for this weekend. In all fairness, conditions today were much better than I had expected following Friday's thaw and flash freeze.


High wind warnings for Saturday convinced us to wait until Sunday to ski this weekend. That strategy paid off with a beautiful, crisp day and additional grooming and snowmaking progress by the mountain operations crew.

Plenty of skiers on Wild Air and the Arena

Lower mountain trails that we skied (most of them) had all been groomed into reasonable condition. Wild Air and Lower Sleighride had received snowmaking treatment that made them our picks of the day. Twister and Showcase skied just fine too. Kudos to the mountain operations crews for getting these trails and others into reasonable condition for the substantial holiday crowds.

Looks good, but it's dust on crust

The steeper terrain that we skied at the summit was not in as good condition as the lower mountain trails. Skier traffic had scraped trails like Hawkeye and Chatiemac down to hardpack by late morning. Of course skiing the edges of these trails yielded much better turns. Glades that we peered into (all closed) seemed to have plenty of base left after the thaw; what is needed is a 6 to 8 inch snowfall to soften and resurface the terrain.

The very bottom of the Straightbrook Glades run directly adjacent to the Chatiemac trail, and we couldn't resist hopping in just to see what they were like. Amazingly, the inch or so of snow that had fallen Friday night had blown in and filled all the troughs with what seemed like 4 or more inches of powder and gave us a quick but very fun dozen or so turns through the trees.

Snowmaking and grooming made Wild Air quite good

Today was Gore's telemark demo day, and I tried out a pair of K2 Backlash for a few runs. These skis are wider and heavier (due to a metal layer) than my Work Stinx. These skis are also rockered, and I immediately noticed the way the rocker improved my turn initiation. They skied great: smooth, fast, turned great and solid on edge. Thanks to Rich and Doug at the Inside Edge and the K2 rep for the chance to test drive these skis.

Rocker is visible in this photo of the K2 Backlash that I demo'd. Traditional non-rockered skis would lie flat together.

Though conditions this weekend weren't as nice as what we've had for much of the winter, temperatures are favorable all week for snowmaking operations and we stand to pick up several inches of snow ovenight tonight and again later in the week. Here's to a quick return to powder and packed powder skiing.

Nice view from behind the base lodge at the end of the day


  1. New skis in your future? I'm thinking rocker would be a helpful for me, I should probably demo a pair. How did they do on the hard, steep upper mountain terrain? At least the base is there - one good storm and it's game on. Thanks for the beta.

  2. Nice Report.

    I also demoed the Backlash, and I have to say, I felt like I had to be more "on" than I'm used to being. If I adjusted my stance forward and really tried to drive the tip, I was definitely able to load it up and go, but if I got lazy and made relaxed tele turns (especially at higher speeds), I found that the tips would flop up and down.

    Obviously, this wouldn't be the case in nice powder, but on a "fast" hardpack day, these skis might not have been in their element. Still, as long as I paid attention and stayed forward, their hard snow performance was good, much better than my old crappy twin tips.

  3. Harv - No, not really looking for a new ski but always interested in test driving something different, and I was curious about the rocker. Stuck to the lower mountain trails with them, so certainly not a comprehensive trial.

    Matt - I was skeptical too about the concept of rocker in an all-mtn ski, but was impressed with the performance of the Backlash. Two factors may account for our somewhat different results yesterday. 1) I'm on new Scarpa T1's this year. First couple days out I was amazed at how much more stiffness, control and power they had versus my old bumblebee T1's. I felt they put me in a much more aggressive stance. I don't know what you're skiing boot-wise, but maybe that's the difference. 2) Almost anytime I clip in to a pair of brand new, factory tuned skis it's practically an automatic love affair with those smooth bases and sharp edges. My Stinx are in real need of a tune, and the contrast between the two skis was pretty striking. I may have been wowed by the showroom shine. Do you keep your skis tuned fairly diligently (I bet you do)?