Alan is one of those skiers that is good at everything. Rips through crud, bumps, catches smooth airs of natural features, and finds great lines that are an absolute blast to follow.
He has been skiing Plattekill for 20 years, and except for the nursery becoming locker space, he says not much has changed. At least in the ways that count - there are still no lift lines to speak of, the terrain remains the best of any mountain in the area, and it’s still the place he chooses to make the 3 ½ hour drive to from the Jersey shore every weekend.
Last October, we’d cut some great lines through the trees. This past Saturday, I followed him into the woods to get my first taste.
Generally, I suck in the trees. I tend to tense up, lose confidence, and ultimately – balance. I understand the concepts “don’t look at the trees,” “stay light on your feet,” “make quick, technical turns,” but the concepts haven’t 100% found their way to my skiing yet.
To be fair, the snow was thick, on the heavy side and made for some difficult turns, but Alan carved through effortlessly, and I…well, not so much. Luckily for me, he was very patient, helping me see the lines, giving me tips on how to manage it.
Alan seemed to dance through the glades, demonstrating what was possible - inspiring me to improve. The trees are home to some of the best snow, the best terrain. There is NO way I’m giving that up; I’d worked too hard cutting some of those lines.
Plattekill really is a mecca of great skiers and snowboarders. And whether crushing a bump run down Plunge, shredding through the trees, catching air off a natural spine, or laying down smooth carves on piste, someone is always doing it better (than me). When I get the chance to ski with someone I can learn from, I try to soak in as much as I can.
It's said that if you want to grow, surround yourself with people who are superior to you in some way. Plattekill gives anyone PLENTY of opportunity to grow. Home to quite simply some of the most outstanding skiers I’ve ever had the pleasure of skiing with. Coast to coast.
And Alan, he’s one of the best. Makes sense – he’s been skiing Platty for 20 years.
The past two weekends have given us some of best the skiing/riding yet. (I am still grinning from the incredible track-refilling snow of Super Bowl Sunday).
Long weekend coming up. I look forward to my next lesson.
Opening weekend at Plattekill, and this past Sunday, I finally made it out. Descending onto Meeker Hollow Road, I was welcomed by a bright, clear morning. Snow still clung to the windswept fields, and to every branch shouldering the road. The conditions seemed great.
Gearing up in the lodge, sunlight beamed in through the massive windows, lighting up the empty bar. There was only a handful of us – quickly getting ready, nodding to one another, eager to kick off a new season.
Finally out, I rode the triple thinking of a first run on Upper Face. They were blowing snow on the side (skier’s left) and there seemed to be good untracked lines along the tree line although there would be some maneuvering through the whales under the guns. I love riding these, before they ice up. These were nicely spaced and created a chute near the trees.
Being newly gunned, the snow was a little heavy, but the pitch was steep enough to push through it (with tight turns, staying forward and square to the fall line.) Once backseat I nearly ate it - that’ll wake you right up when you are so close to the trees/guns.
Halfway down I heard someone behind and I pulled to the side. A woman whished past, absolutely killing it. Effortless turns, absorption, completely fluid. As if she were carving perfect corduroy and not the chopped, bumped-up, completely UN-smooth UN-forgiving line we were on.
Impressed, I nodded to her. “Beautiful,” she said, grinning.
Yeah. That’s what it is.
On a groomer, in the trees, picking your way down the side of a trail between six-foot rollers, there are always opportunities (if you choose) for Plattekill to challenge, to push you.
Legs burning, I hit the lodge to warm up. And, in what seems to be commonplace at Plattekill - I recognized someone. A man was sitting up with his two young daughters a few tables away. I remembered him from the trail-clearing crew. He introduced himself as Brian, and his two daughters, Ava and Lia.
All three wore the cheerful, wind-nipped faces of a family who had already put in plenty of turns that day. We chatted for a while, and they invited me to take some runs with them. John and his family live in north NJ and rent a place near the mountain every winter, for years they’ve spent their weekends at Plattekill. He told me he wanted his daughters to continue to learn on this mountain, because it constantly challenged them, made them learn to handle any conditions.
From the way they slayed every run I took with them, their dedication to Plattekill paid off. We eventually hit Upper Face, and I barely kept up with them. They even managed a few jumps off the rollers.
When we met at the bottom Brian called out to the man running the lift, “Bob, how’s it going?”
“Living the life,” he replied. “One chair at a time.”