Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gore Mountain: 03/01/2014

Some late day runs at the Ski Bowl, Gore Mountain, Saturday 03/01/2014.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Maybe I’m suffering from “Utah-itis,” but the skiing at Gore this past weekend wasn’t particularly exciting. The mountain is near 100% open, with the exception the glades and natural snow trails, but it’s what’s not open that’s most telling. Often, by late February / early March we’re enjoying some of the best conditions of the season, with deep bases on- and off-trail. While we do have a deep base on many snowmaking trails, the surfaces are firm. On non-snowmaking trails, cover is thin and scratchy. Glade skiing has been marginal all winter and the trees are currently out of play.

The shine tells you everything you need to know about ungroomed, natural snow surfaces right now.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Ironically, in a winter that has been colder than normal, the storms that have benefited Gore have almost all been followed by damaging thaws or rain. This situation is hardly unique to Gore – ski areas throughout the northeast are suffering to one degree or another from the effects of the Polar Vortex pattern that has largely kept the north country locked in the freezer and pushed beneficial snows to our south or out to sea.

Just like our last visit to Gore 2 weeks ago, we based ourselves out of the Ski Bowl on Saturday. At the risk of letting out a well-kept secret, the uncrowded lodge and interesting terrain of the Ski Bowl is a breath of fresh air. The Ski Bowl trails are fairly low on the snowmaking priority list, so coverage is a bit thin, but continued cold weather should at least keep the Bowl open for the next couple weekends. Ski it while you can.

Up on the main mountain, we stuck to the trails off the gondola and North quad. Grooming crews and an inch or two of new snow have done a good job of putting an edgeable surface on most trails, but the hardpack lurking just below the surface is unavoidable. With snowmaking operations essentially over for the season and very little new snow, the mountain simply hasn't recovered from the thaw and rain we saw a week earlier. The moderate-angled terrain we skied held up fine throughout the day, but we didn’t feel conditions warranted a visit to the steeper summit black diamonds, at least not by the time we migrated up the mountain from the Ski Bowl.

Sleeping Bear on the North Side had decent snow

Kudos to Gore for keeping the Hudson Chair at the Ski Bowl open until 5pm. I don’t know if this will be a regular occurrence (the Village Chair normally runs until 9pm on weekends and holidays, with skiing and tubing under the lights), but with later daylight hours it’s great to get some extra runs in at the end of the day. We used the extra ski time to let Daniel log some of his first runs on telemark gear.

Daniel trying out his telemark gear at the Ski Bowl

There’s plenty more winter left. Cold temperatures look to stick around through at least mid-month, so at least there’s little risk of losing the snow that we’ve got. Once warmer temperatures start to kick in, we should be set up well for some nice spring skiing, at least on the snowmaking trails with deeper bases. And there’s always the chance for a March storm or two to put the woods back in play. If that happens, jump on it while it’s good.

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