A nice snowfall arrived with perfect timing Friday night and Saturday morning, setting up one of the best ski days so far this season. We left Saratoga intending to head up to Whiteface, but after being stuck behind snowplows for 10 miles with no sign they were going to pull over, we bailed at Warrensburg and headed up to Gore instead. I guess that's one of the benefits of our dual-mountain ORDA passes.
Snowfall continued through most of the morning, blanketing the mountain with about three inches of new snow (my estimate, the official snow report may differ). You may not see ski patrol dropping ropes on new terrain after 3 inches of new snow, but combined with snow that fell earlier in the week conditions are definitely shaping up. The Saratoga Skier crew was hoping for Chatiemac to be open on all-natural snow, but instead we settled for Hawkeye, Upper Stielhang (pick of the day!), Cloud and Headwaters.
Each year, from opening day on, we count the days until Gore's summit terrain is open. Early season is just a warm-up, the real ski season begins when the Straightbrook chair comes online. Skiing Hawkeye in mid-December is great any year, but after last year's debacle of a ski season you couldn't miss the sense of combined relief and excitement on Saturday that 2016-17 is off to a great start.
The lower mountain skied well too. Conditions were pretty consistent among the open trails (Wild Air, Showcase, Sunway, Quicksilver). I preferred Sunway - its lower pitch held the new snow better - but others seemed to prefer Showcase or Wild Air. About the only trail that qualified as "bad" was Uncas, which seems to be in need of grooming, snowmaking or both.
Rain on Sunday kept us home instead of hitting the slopes again. Temperatures stayed in the 30s all day, so apparently not much snow was lost. Current reports show snowmaking on Sleighride and Topridge, so I'd expect to see some terrain expansion for the coming weekend. Our weather pattern is in a hold pattern for now - while there aren't any exciting storms on the near-term horizon, grooming and snowmaking should provide decent conditions this coming weekend and into the holiday week.