Mounds of new man-made were being laid down at Gore yesterday as two friends and myself bundled up and experienced the best day of our season. The very cold temperatures have allowed bases to build and new terrain to open. If you don’t mind skiing amidst the guns, (we don’t), great conditions can prevail. Dress warm, layer up and have fun. The next few weeks could be the best of the season throughout the Northeast.
Into the “Freshies” at Waterville Valley Ski Resort in New Hampshire.
As we evolve to be skiers we go through times when work overshadows play. That usually happens in the early years of skier development or at least it has for me since I did not start to ski till I was 26 years old. When college was over and I was then gainfully employed. The early years of skiing amounted to getting away whenever I could on the weekend, which wasn’t easy with 2 young kids and a wife who did not want to ski. So whenever there was an opportunity I took advantage of it.
I hear people complaining about night skiing and it’s too cold, bad visibility, etc. I say to them they are crazy. It is a great way to get out when it is not possible any other way or you want to beat the crowds on the weekend.
It all started at Brody Mountain, long gone since it was purchased by Jiminy Peak and closed down. We used to go over there every Tuesday night for years going past Jiminy Peak. We chose Brodie over Jiminy even though they both had night learn to ski packages. Brodie offered 8 weeks of skiing and 1 free night at the end with 1 ½ hour group lesson. Jiminy had the same but for 7 weeks. So I guess it was the better deal that drove the decision. Of course gas was not an issue in the 60’s so driving by Jiminy was never an issue. Maybe it was the Blarney Room? Who knows? Anyway, night skiing was the choice then and I always liked it because it was my way of getting out to ski at least once a week.
Why nights you ask? It was always colder but almost always the wind dies down at night, the lights always made the ski surface more defined rather than in the daytime you can get very flat light and not see the surface at all and it feels like you are skiing blind. Of course night skiing has fewer people on the slopes; however we have fewer trails available to ski as in the daytime. As far as I was concerned as long as I am on the snow the number of trails available to me is never an issue.
Let’s jump forward to this past holiday weekend, Saturday night December 29th to be exact. We went over to Jiminy Peak for 4 hours of night skiing, we could have gone for twilight 3 – 10 for a few dollars more but the timing just wasn’t working out. Remember this is the holiday week and I heard that there were 4800 skiers on the mountain during the day and the annex parking lots were full. The lift lines at the 6 pack hi speed Berkshire Express wasn’t any more than a 10 minute wait and the other lifts were much less, as a matter of fact when there is a long lift line at the high speed chair you can get to the top quicker on the fixed grip chairs where you usually don’t have to wait. I am going to test that theory next time I go to the mountain on a crowded day.
The skiing that night was absolutely wonderful, especially after having 5000 people on the slopes all day long you would expect it to scratch up and become a firm frozen granular surface. Instead it lightly snowed all evening and the trails never degraded. I think Jiminy tries to run groomer up the mountain when the trails do degrade around twilight time to help keep the mountain skiable for the customer, that is good customer relations!
We found trails that we barely touched which were off the beaten track. People are creatures of habit and keep taking the same and more popular trails so if you look for the side trails and hidden trails sometimes you can find some freshies even late in the day. The 2 favorite trails on the mountain at night are West Way to Grand Slam and Left Bank a 2+ mile run for the learning skier to come down from the top but even for me it is still a fun run. A few surprise trails to look for are upper and lower slingshot and John Hancock, both a little tucked away and easy to miss but quite nice with little traffic. I always believed in seeking out the less popular trails to find better conditions on any mountain also to ski the harder trails early and the easier trails later in the day where the conditions hold up longer and you are exhausted.
Their lodges and accommodations are always immaculate, which is hard to do at a ski area! J.J’s Lodge always has a fire burning outside the front door for a quick warm-up and the cafeteria food line is quite up to date with offerings. There is always music being piped into the lodges and I must commend them as to the choices of music being played.
If you have not been to Jiminy in a while it is worth giving them a second look. They have some great promos by going on line and finding their e tickets and many other deals. Remember it is one of the closest ski area to the capital district, under an hour to get there even from Clifton Park!