Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional start of the ski season, and after visiting family and stuffing ourselves with turkey on Thursday and Friday, we headed north to our dual home mountains, skiing Gore on Saturday and Whiteface on Sunday.
With a week of cold temperatures leading up to opening day, snowmaking crews at both mountains were able to put down a great base for opening weekend. All the investment in snowmaking improvements over the past several years is delivering dividends to skiers: Day One coverage was the best I can recall.
The very top of the gondi was socked in for our first run or two at Gore on Saturday, but the clouds lifted and the sun occasionally broke through. Temperatures hovered in the 30s, keeping surfaces soft. Moguls formed on the steeper pitches of Foxlair and Quicksilver, adding some nice variety to the cruising terrain on Sunway. It's just a single route from the top of the gondi to the base, but there's a lot of skiing in that one run. Crews will work to add a second top-to-bottom route (Ruby Run and Showcase) as quickly as conditions allow.
A half dozen gondi laps did it for us. The first couple days for us is more about getting into a routine and shaking down the gear than it is about racking up vert.
Sunday morning we headed up to Whiteface. Like Gore, coverage was excellent on the single top-to-bottom route that was open. Conditions were definitely more wintery, with colder temps and more snow on the ground and in the trees. Crews at Whiteface are already in terrain expansion mode, with snowmaking ops on Essex, Northway and Victoria. Surface conditions were a little bit of everything - packed powder, ice, granular - but overall quite good for early season. As fun as Gore was on Saturday, it felt really great to be skiing a big mountain for our second day. We skied until 3 and then headed in to the lodge to catch the World Cup coverage from Killington. It would have been cool to be a spectator at Killington, but watching the races from the Olympic Mountain has to be a close second.
I get why some skiers prefer to wait until later to start their season, but opening weekend has a vibe and excitement that I don't want to miss. Getting my ski legs back and new equipment dialed in is part of it, but after a winter like last year it's as much about wiping the slate clean. The whole season is in front of us, and it's going to be a great one.