If I heard one more of my neighbors or co-workers remark about the "lovely" mild November I might have popped him one, but finally the just-barely-cold-enough nights allowed snowmaking crews to get Gore and Whiteface ready for the traditional Thanksgiving weekend season opener.
With temperatures soaring to near 60 degrees down here in the flatlands on Friday, we figured the best skiing on Saturday would be further north than Gore, so we headed to Whiteface to kick off our season.
Whatever damage Friday's weather brought to the slopes was already on the mend when we arrived mid-morning. The temperature at the base was 31 degrees and snowmaking guns were going full-tilt.
Ask any avid skier and they'll tell you that the first runs of the season are among the sweetest of the entire winter. Starting the season with 2400' vertical runs means you get your ski legs back quickly. In the first few hundred verts you get your balance. Then you rediscover your edges. Halfway down the mountain you find rhythm, and by the time you get to the bottom you just want to get back up top and do it all again, faster.
The combination of terrain and conditions made Saturday one of our family's best season openers in recent memory. Snowmaking and grooming crews had done a terrific job getting the slopes in shape - coverage was excellent and surfaces were edgeable. On-and-off light snow was a reminder that fall's over and winter's here.
The forecast called for clearing skies, but the upper mountain remained shrouded in clouds and fog for much of the day. In-and-out visibility dictated cautious skiing at times. Each time we stepped out of the gondi at the top of Little Whiteface, it seemed that the sun would break out at any minute, and eventually it did.
It's been a long wait, but ski season's finally here. Both Gore and Whiteface anticipate being open on a daily basis, but check the conditions report to make sure. We're planning on being back at Gore for next weekend.