This past Saturday was spring skiing at its absolute finest. The snow was soft, slushy – exactly what you want when the sun is out, the jackets are off, and the beer is on ice. Which it was.
I felt as though I was at someone’s backyard party, complete with an outdoor bbq. With a fantastic ski resort thrown in. The spring vibe was everywhere, t-shirts, sunglasses, and the wide grins of those who know they made the right decision.
I quickly met up with a great group of guys who were kind enough to let me tag along. We immediately hit Freefall which, yes at the top was a bit thin (thank you John for discovering the first line not to take, i.e. the first rock). Once we found our way down twenty or so yards, skier’s left transitioned out into perfectly spaced, soft bumps.
Freefall has such a nice pitch, you could hit them hard, cutting up a wall of snow, or light, quickly bouncing from one to the next. I found myself wanting to cut hard, though the trenches, because digging into soft spring snow is so damn satisfying.
From there it was Plunge, North Face, Upper Face, and eventually, Bumps to Blockbuster… Block was my favorite as it was smooth with about three inches of soft hero-like snow. Being able to lay down carves on that steep of a pitch…. yesssss.
The kind snow that makes you want to play, to goof off. To ski a little faster, to maybe jump a little bigger.
It is a party after all.
Everywhere I looked people were jibbing, carving, slarving….skiing with an almost frantic enthusiasm, desperate to eke out every last second of what has been an incredible season.
Afterward – basking on the sunlit desk, toasting PBRs, and soaking up every last moment.
ACTUALLY THEY'RE WAY better than alright. Watch the ones who’ve grown up around Plattekill. They learn more than skiing. Speak to, say, Hannah Lamont, 12, and as she talks about skiing sounds way beyond her years. Like this: “I just find it relaxing (this isn’t even alpine she’s talking about but tele. Her dad taught her when she was 4). And, just to feel that vibe of going down the hill fast and you don’t have to worry about anything except the beautiful trees around you…” She was skiing with her little brother John when she said this—and noticing the beautiful trees.
Or there are those like Dylan Prado, 11 now. He started skiing just after his second birthday (his birthday is in January). I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up expecting him to say something about skiing. He is the kid who tries to convince his parents that a summer vacation in Chile is a good idea. He said: “Happy.” One word, which strikes me as quite philosophical. (There he is below, philosophical and catching air).
He also decided to try Slopestyle this year. He has no coach and had no real experience other than skiing the Plattekill every weekend. His dad and uncle also grew up skiing at Platty, and at one race at Windham his father who can take all comers and is happy to catch air, swallowed and said he was scared of the jump. Dylan’s response: Dad, this is what I love. This season Dylan placed second for the Catskills USASA division, which meant he qualified for Nationals. Alas, too much school to miss, but if you come to the mountain this weekend, chances are you can see him rip the bumps.
Hannah and John Lamont’s mother explains her kids take on Platty (which could also be her take on parenting Platty-style). “For them Plattekill lets them push themselves to ski more than they would somewhere else—doing jumps and having freedom. They can be independent on the hill and ski with their friends. They’re in school all day and in a world of electronics, but to be out with their friends on the hill for 6, 7 hours and to make their own choices, to see that they can make smart safe choices with their friends is great. It gives them a safe place to develop those skills to be responsible and check on each other. They get both independence and dependence on each other. The mountain is big enough and hard enough and comfortable enough that we don’t have to worry about them.” John and his friends Lucy and Lucas Daubel are in the terrain park below:
The hill gives them freedom to roam in a world where kids are often tied to home or screen or school. And last weekend they were skiing the trees, checking on each other, catching air and having a blast.
There’s a new generation coming up here that skis tele from the start like Hannah did. Henry Crane here on Plunge in February. Hiss dad, Jeff, ia head of the ski school and the person behind Telefest…
There are also those who've already grown up on the hill, like the Vajtay brothers who both made it to states in ski racing for Roxbury this year, along with Andrew Chojnowksi who also goes to RCS and skis and works at the hill.
The experience of Plattekill is the sublime combination of natural terrain, incredible people, and right now - the blessings of a March filled with week after week of perfect snow. Each, a key ingredient…making up the soul of a place.
This past Friday Chris S., Ray, Chris R. and I gathered at the end of the most amazing tree run I’ve ever skied in my life - it was the most amazing skiing I’ve ever experienced, on piste or off.
Before dropping in, as we collected at the top, passed around water, and prepped our gear, I was both nervous and excited - I’d never skied this kind of terrain before. The trees were untouched, the snow was knee deep, as I quickly discovered after stepping out of my skis to rest. Snow fell around us, feathery and light, adding itself to the copious gobs of untracked, delicious powder waiting below.
Chris R. dropped in first, finding a smooth line, traversing across the mountain below. I followed, staying alongside, but also wanting to cut my own path. Chris S. and Ray - the two veterans - came down after, flying past as though it were second nature. Which of course, it was.
From there we leapfrogged down. Beautiful lines through acres of empty forest. No sound but for the swish of skis and shouts of unabated joy. And for once (thanks to Alan’s and Chris’s patience) I managed to keep up.
Nothing but us, the knee-deep powder of raw terrain, and the trees commanding it. One word filled my head – Pure.
It’s how I think of that day; of how I think of Plattekill. Nothing between you and the experience, no extravagant garbage selling you a manufactured experience. Just the mountain. The snow. And, if you are fortunate enough – some great people to show you the way.
Emerging from the trees, we were somewhat overwhelmed. Our faces glowed with an astonishment, as though none of us expected to be as good as it was.
“Well…that didn’t suck,” Ray said.
Nope. It surely didn’t.
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.
A quick shout out to Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis, Never Summer, Harpoon Ales and Bomber! And an even bigger shout out to the Plattekill crew for battling the warm weather to give us some great snow to ski/ride this past weekend.
What a great demo day.
Companies like these are close to my heart - small, independently-owned and operated, and like Platty – representing a true love of the sport. Or, rather – a lifestyle.
Because that is what it is, isn’t it? It goes beyond just being a sport. Skiing/riding…it’s a way of life, a way of experiencing the mountains, creating memories. The essence of skiing is a real engagement with the outdoors, not just an appreciation for it. You develop a relationship with it, and ultimately, a true respect for it.
My friend (and fellow blogger) Jennifer said that she loved seeing young people take up skiing because she felt that it was as though they were the “social security” of the sport. That the industry would continue to thrive both for us, and for future generations.
I feel the same about small companies, such as those who demoed with us. They are making sure there are new ideas, new innovations – always evolving. And these new industry voices are also our “social security.” Small, independent American companies giving people who love the sport a career built from their passion. A passion you can see in the craftsmanship and design of their work.
This is not only their lifestyle - it’s their livelihood.
Being able to test out and then to speak to the actual artisans who design and craft Shaggy’s skis was such an inspiring experience. You could hear the pride when they explained the materials, and the different models. They weren’t just repping a product – they were sharing their very own creations.
It’s that same feeling of pride and ownership I find at Plattekill. Both on the mountain, and off. Everyone seems to want to share their experience. On the lift, you’ll hear people yelling down, encouraging their friends, their fellow skiers/riders. You can't help but notice a tremendous sense of community and love of the place. A kind of personal attachment to something you feel something is truly special.
I was lucky enough to be able to ski with my friends Jennifer and David (who rip), and even though the open terrain was limited, we skied the hell out of it. The snow was so good, so fun… we just couldn’t stop, and had to literally force ourselves inside for sustenance. “Did someone mention Quesadilla?”
And after, there was a great band in the lodge, even a ski raffle. (I didn’t win, but congrats to the guy who did).
Thank you Platty. Thank you for the lifestyle.
MLK weekend and Plattekill, like all other area resorts, was up against it.
All of that beautiful, heaven-sent snow was being washed away by a very inconsiderate and torrential rainstorm rudely descending on our mountain just as the weekend approached and we were finally thawing from a glacial freeze.
But you can’t keep a good mountain down. As soon as the temps hit freezing the guns were prepped and the fight was on.
Ice crystals hung to literally every branch, making the entire forest look as though it were made of glass. I have to say, it was pretty amazing, and it took a bit of the sting out. A reminder that whether the conditions are perfect, or challenged - these mountains are absolutely beautiful.
As I took a line down Upper Face under the guns, it was all I could do not to laugh as I snaked turns in the fresh snow – snow that was being made in abundance, and had completely transformed the resort from an ice rink the day before. The conditions were getting better by the minute.
How else to toast our favorite mountain?
Psyched for this weekend and all the NEW snow!
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.”
While you’re preparing for both turkey and the ski season, Isaac and I on the blog are reliving the past. Actually not reliving our past, we’re discovering it as neither of us was skiing in the 70s.
In 1971 Plattekill was keeping it real and still the hidden gem we know today. Stan Fischler (sports writer and hockey historian) wrote for New York Magazine: “I’m always amazed to discover that on any given weekend, long, maddening lines snake their way behind the chairlifts not to mention the cafeterias at such snow centers as Belleayre and Great Gorge [now defunct], while a resort like Plattekill, less than an hour past Belleayre [ed. note: it’s 20 minutes…] and with equally challenging terrain, remains a schussing wilderness and a beautiful one at that.”
Fischler lists these unheard of areas “in order of my favorites” starting with Plattekill, then Highmount [sadly also defunct], Catskill Ski Center [many recall as Bobcat in Andes and alas no more] and Noname [some of you know as Bearpen and also defunct, but rumored to be amazing if you can hike in]. His original text is below and the original image that ran in New York Magazine is above:
Plattekill in Roxbury, New York, is a gem, and good skiers have been tight-lipped for years in fear that it would be discovered. It hasn’t yet, and even on the weekends when conditions are ideal a five-minute wait on the lift-line is regarded as long. [ed. note: still true].
Owners Bonnie and Gary Hinkley [who first built the hill. Gary skis there every day it’s open] are a couple of young locals who are on the slopes as often as their customers. Their 3,000 foot “Plattekill Plunge” – with a 970-foot vertical drop—will gratify any expert, [still true] and the intermediate “Ridge Run” is high, wide and negotiable. A popular misconception is that Plattekill is mostly for advanced skiers. [people still think this] In reality it boasts some gentle novice and intermediate dips and a pleasant lodge with brown stain, red trm and Alpine background music [okay, that last detail has changed. The music is mostly of this century, though an ocassional track from the 80s has been played…]
As the seasons change, we've decided to switch things up a bit for summer 2017. Best known for featuring one of the longest mountain biking seasons on the East Coast, this year, we are offering biking on a more limited basis, instead shifting our warm weather focus to the expansion of our wedding venue operations and private catered events.
As some of you already know, we are still opening mountain biking to the public the first two weekends in July and the first weekend of August, September, and October in conjunction with our free Saturday Music on the Mountain concerts. “Our decision is meant to create more of a festival-like setting” according to Danielle Vajtay, Plattekill's Marketing Director. “We hope these efforts will bring more people to the mountain on specific weekends where guests will find all the activities offered.” If you were able to make up to the mountain last summer, we hope you enjoyed the live music! It was a huge success and we've gotten some great feedback, so this year, it made sense to continue offering biking and chairlift rides in conjunction with concert weekends.
Freeing up the summer calendar also means we have more availability for a variety of private uses, including corporate group functions in the base lodge, private parties, and the ever-growing rustic chic wedding business. In an effort to expand weddings specifically, we offer mountaintop wedding ceremonies, complete with chairlift access to the summit for all guests, which and has become a popular choice.
With more than 400 acres of terrain, there are endless possibilities for private use including parties, adventure and endurance races, testing grounds for bicycle manufacturers, and biking and hiking for summer camps. The base area and facility size and layout makes for a perfect setting for so many opportunities for small to large groups and the mountain is now available to anyone who has an interest.
For more information, you can always check out our events page, or call (607) 326-3500. If you have interest in a private group event, feel free to call Marketing & Group Sales Manager, Christy Jaromack at (607) 326-3500, x116 or send her an email.
These pictures speak for themselves: "Come ski, and bring on a long weekend! Welcome MLK Jr. Day!"
The hill is covered top to bottom: Plunge, Blockbuster, Northface...all in deep white. It’s the first time snowmaking on all the runs has happened by Jan 15! And witness these photos (and video) just to show you how much.
The snowmakers—“Snow Cowboys,” as Platty’s Head of Operations, Macker (also in some of these photos), calls them—have been hard at work. Long days, long nights, and bless Mother Nature too, for keeping it cold. And while this week has been a bit warm, Plattekill has the advantage as a weekend-only hill, so grooming won't ruin that snow. It won't turn it into boiler plate.
In short and we’ve written about this before: If it rains, don’t groom. The water will run through the snow all on its own and not turn to ice. Groom after the rain is done falling. This is something other hills—those open 7 days-a-week—don’t have the luxury to do. But Platty can promise good terrain and conditions for the weekend.