Peter Hines

by Peter Hines
Webmaster and contributor

Photos by the author

In All Kinds of Weather

Skiing in the Northeast is sometimes an interesting experience. This winter has been good so far; much better than last year. The weather can sometimes change from hour to hour changing snow conditions.

Skiing and riding were good the first week of January. Then came a thaw and Spring like temperatures and conditions. Great for a day or two but the slopes cannot usually sustain this.

Then came a cool down and some snow. Mountains rebounded and snowmaking made up for a lot of what was lost.

I needed to get back out on the slopes so I planned a day trip to Gore Mountain in Upstate New York. Rising early, as I usually do, I looked at the outside temperature at home. It was 38 degrees. This was certainly not optimum. But I was committed to getting on the slopes.

There was a beautiful sunrise as my son and I headed up the Adirondack Northway. The temperature still hovered around 38 degrees. "Perhaps it will be a spring like day", I thought. Then it started to cloud up a bit and I noticed some light rain on the windshield. "Darn", I said to myself. I hate skiing in the rain.

As we proceeded up the mountain access road the thermometer on my dashboard displayed 36 degrees. That was a little better, but that spitting rain still had me concerned.

I paced back and forth in the lodge trying to decide whether on not to buy a ticket. My son was having no luck getting a weather map on this iPhone. I stopped a staff member and asked his opinion. He struck a positive note remarking that it was going to get cooler all day and very cold that night.

Limted Visibility on the First Run
Poor Visibility on the first run

Good news! "Let's do this", I said. After getting tickets we booted up and headed out. By this time it was snowing. We got to the top of the gondola and put our skis on. It was snowing hard. Starting out I thought something was wrong. It seemed that our skis would not move. The wet snow made getting up to speed on Foxlair and Wild Air difficult. Visibility was difficult due to fog and blowing wind.

At the bottom I told my son that we needed to "wax up". So back into the lodge I went to get some wax. As we applied the wax I noticed that it gotten cooler.

Up to the top we went head via Pine Knot and down Hawkeye. Big bumps and good snow abounded and they were making snow even though the temperature was right around freezing. We bounded around the submit a few times hitting Chatemac and Lies. Lies, where I hardly ever ski because of its difficulty, was especially good. The wetter snow allowed me to control my speed better.

Limted Visibility on the First Run
But then the sun came out

The temperature continued to drop. It never ceases to amaze me how trail conditions can change from run to run. As it progressively got colder and more skiers hit Lies it got faster and more bumped up.

Visibility wasn't always the best, but it was manageable. In fact there were times when he sun came out and there was blue sky for a few minutes only to be overtaken by gray skies and decreased visibility. The fluctuation from near white-out conditions to blue skies and sun made for an interesting mix.

The wind was still blowing and the Straight Brook Quad was stopping often. We surmised that many people were not used to getting on a fixed lift. With the guidance and assistance by the lift operators and ski patrollers more patrons were able to negotiate loading and uphill capacity improved.

After skiing the summit for a while under gray skis and snow we decided to head over to Burnt Ridge. The summit usually gets crowed by 11:00 as skiers and riders figure out how to get there. We found the best snow of the day on Twister. The sun was shining and the snow was fast. Cutting over to Ecko via Twister's Little Sister we approached the Burnt Ridge Quad there were no lines.

The Burnt Ridge (detachable) Quad is always a comfortable ride. The best part about this was the sun was out. Even though Sagamore was not open the sun and snow on Ecko were good.

Limted Visibility on the First Run
A nice ride on the Burnt Ridge Quad

After and early lunch we headed back up to the summit. The bumps on Hawkeye were bigger and snow was much faster than the morning as temperatures had dropped probably eight degrees. We headed down mountain to ski Twister and Showcase a couple of times riding the Adirondack Express. Twister still had good coverage but it was even faster than it was in the morning as the temperature had fallen.

By the end of the day them temperature had fallen 11 degrees to 25 degrees. The conditions changed markedly. We skied in light rain, a near whiteout and blue skies and sun. The snow, which had started out slow and grippey, changed to fast and slick.

One never knows. When it's winter in the Northeast you have to get out in all kinds of weather.

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