Friday, January 6, 2017
Gore, Mt. VanHo, Whiteface: New Year's weekend 12/30/2016 - 1/01/2017
We had a nice stretch of skiing over the New Year holiday, leveraging our ORDA passes for maximum variety over the three days.
Like most working Americans, I was scheduled to work on Friday and be off on Monday, but with the incoming storm Thursday night I quickly swapped out Monday for Friday. Apparently I wasn't the only one to come up with that idea as we arrived Friday morning to a rapidly filling parking lot, probably the busiest day we've seen at Gore in two years.
Gore must have gotten between 4 and 5 inches of new snow, which after last winter seemed like hitting the jackpot. The new snow made for some nice skiing, but the combination of limited terrain and a huge crowd produced some real bottlenecks, like this scene near the bottom of Uncas:
Luckily, after skiing Gore for so many years, we know a few out-of-the-way stashes that see little traffic, so after making a quick circuit through Hawkeye, Open Pit and Headwaters, we headed for some of the lesser traveled trails.
Guns were blowing on Lies and Twister, and the addition of those two trails (they both opened the next day) should help relieve some of the crowding. Curiously there was no sign that snowmaking operations are going to begin anytime soon on Pine Knot or in the High Peaks area, leaving me to scratch my head as to why Uncas, a black diamond, is being left as the sole connection to the summit terrain. Pine Knot is nobody's favorite trail, but as a blue trail it does serve a useful purpose. And one can only wonder whether the High Peaks area has been put on hold pending the eventual replacement of the High Peaks double chair (it barely ran last year, and suffered a bad lift evac the year before).
When we left for the day, cars were parked well down the access road. We were happy to have gotten in some excellent skiing despite the crowds, and pleased that Gore had what must have been one of its biggest days in more than a year.
Saturday morning, New Year's Eve, we headed up to Lake Placid. Mount Van Hoevenberg has been having an excellent early season, and we arrived to find their trail network 100% open with a little bit of light snow falling throughout the day. Beth had the brainstorm that Daniel should try out the Discover Biathlon program, and that turned out to be a huge success. While Daniel was skiing and shooting (yes, they let kids that age actually shoot real .22 caliber rifles), Beth, Sylvie and I skied around some of the easier trails that Beth and I usually skip.
Both kids have been cross country skiing for several years now, but for whatever reason we don't seem to fit in as much nordic into our winter as we'd like, so it was great to get out for a full day as a family on one of the best trail networks in the northeast.
Sunday, New Year's Day, we headed over to Whiteface. The snowmaking crews had been pounding Skyward and Wilderness for days, and ski patrol dropped the ropes on both for the first time this season. What a great way to begin the new year.
New Year's Day is always a good day to ski as the slopes are almost always uncrowded. Even the gondi never developed a lift line. After the crowded conditions at Gore two days earlier, it was nice to have a little elbow room.
Wilderness and Skyward were our picks of the day, but Mountain Run and Paron's were also excellent. Really, pretty much everything that was open skied well. We've skied Whiteface over New Year's many times, and I'd have to say the mountain was in the best shape that I've seen at this point in the season.
It's been a strong start to the ski season. With 2016 now in the rearview mirror, here's to a cold and snowy 2017.