Thursday, January 17, 2013

West Mountain: 01/16/2013

Skiing at West Mountain, Wednesday night January 16, 2013.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
A little snow can make a big difference. That was the case at West Mountain last night, where 2 – 3 inches of new snow that fell on Wednesday softened the slopes, or at least lessened some of the scratchiness. Trails leading back to the triple chair, Mach and Bannister, had the nicest snow – no surprise since those trails get quite a bit less traffic than the trails that lead back to the double chair and lodge. Last night’s conditions were a big improvement over the previous Wednesday night, which featured hardpack and frozen granular.

Despite snow and cold temperatures that made for excellent skiing at Adirondack and Vermont ski areas in late December and early January, West Mountain has been off to a slower start that has so far seemed more like a replay of last winter. Ups and downs in temperatures seem to have hampered snowmaking, and grooming hasn’t improved the surfaces. On many trails, coverage is less than edge-to-edge, leaving a nasty border of rough snow with rocks, dirt and grass beyond. In a few spots, coverage narrows to not much more than the width of a snowcat, creating an icy chokepoint. Frolic, the main route leading back to the base area from the summit, is oddly contoured with sharp whalebacks (where snow has been stockpiled) down the center of the trail and hollows (where a sufficient snow base hasn’t been built up yet) in other places.

West isn’t alone – Willard has also struggled to get a sufficient window of cold temperatures to allow snowmakers to expand their terrain offerings. I haven’t skied at Willard yet this year, but Daniel’s ski club outing to Willard this week was cancelled due to poor snow conditions.

In West’s defense, it is still relatively early in the season. Hopefully the upcoming stretch of cold weather will allow snowmakers and groomers to get the slopes into the good conditions that were the norm before last season.

Here’s an interesting article that ran in the Post-Star last month, a few weeks before West opened for the season (opening date was December 26): West Mountain’s Mike Barbone Optimistic About 2012-13 Season.

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