When I said in an earlier post that our passes are working double-duty this year, I really meant it. This weekend we skied Saturday at Gore and Sunday up at Whiteface.
After a week-long thaw, I would have been just as happy to stay home and tune a few pairs of skis, but we awoke Saturday morning to a coating of white on the lawn and the kids twisted my arm to head up to the mountain for at least a few runs.
Like every other ski mountain in the northeast, crews at Gore were working hard to repair damage from the thaw and build up bases in anticipation of the next warm spell, scheduled to start right about... now. That's a lot of work to accomplish in a 48-hour snowmaking window. Every possible snow gun that could be fired up had been pressed into service along the open trails: Showcase, Sunway and Quicksilver. Definitely a day for goggles.
The skiing was actually surprisingly good, at least on the upper two-thirds of Showcase. Near the bottom, a few pinch points and thin spots required careful skiing, but conditions overall were better than expected. We took a run down Sunway and Quicksilver, but conditions there were a notch dicier than Showcase. Perhaps those trails were in better shape by Sunday. It was a short day of skiing, but still well worth heading up.
Sunday morning we made a last minute decision to head up to Whiteface. I've been impressed by Whiteface's ability to deal with this season's marginal temperatures, and Sunday was another great example. The couple inches of snow that fell on Saturday and the continued hard work of the snowmaking crews made last week's thaw just a memory. For the first time this season (and Sunday was my 4th day up at Whiteface), we were greeted by a mountain that was white rather than brown and gray.
Like Gore, snow guns were blowing hard on many of the open trails, especially on the lower mountain. Also like Gore, the best skiing was on the upper two-thirds of the mountain, with Excelsior, Essex, Northway and Upper Valley all in great shape. Below the mid-mountain lodge the snowmaking got heavy and sticky, but a skier can't complain in a season like this. Pick of the day was black diamond bumps on Essex to smooth cruising on Northway, but everything that was open skied well.
As quickly as the ski areas bounced back from last week's thaw, we're scheduled for another round of warm and wet weather through Christmas. After that, there's some hope for a much needed pattern change. Until then forget about terrain expansion, for now it's all about keeping what's open, open. It's been a painfully slow start to the season, but it's still early and there's plenty of time for a turn-around. Think Cold, Think Snow!