PERHAPS A PICTURE is worth a thousand words? Because I don't have enough words to describe the creamy awesome-ness of today's tracks. It was one of those special days... a Powder Daize when the mountain opens midweek for the die-hards. No grooming, a dozen cars in the parking lot and whoops being yelled down the mountain....
It was so good that the only pics I could take were from the chairlift. Then again I could only ski the morning... work. Sigh.
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.
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!
- This map. It’s been settling arguments in the bar about length and descent since 1972. It’s beautiful. James Niehues eat your heart out.
- No lift lines. …and even if one does form, it’s so convivial that you’d hardly notice.
- Cheers. You wanna go to a place where everybody knows your name. It’s that “Norm!” moment when your ski buddies shout your name from the chairlift.
- It’s family run. If you don’t bump into Laszlo or Danielle in the lodge, you might see them on the slopes and they’ll be happy to ski with you. And now the next generation of Vajtays is stepping up to help out with snowmaking and snow tubing.
- This guy. Steve Supp – he keeps it real in his Carhartt overalls and thrift store skis (price sticker intact).
- Snow (outside). Plattekill is frequently blessed with the natural stuff, and even when it isn’t, Macker and his team do heroic things with a couple hundred snow guns.
- Snow (inside). The majestic bark creature that watches over the bar. Snow is actually a pretty good skier – look closely and you’ll see Snow favors some pretty old skool 2x4 skis.
- Free Heelers. Plattekill is the only hill where you’ll see more than one tele skier at a time, which is why we’ve coined a collective noun for them. It’s a “curtsy” of teleskiers.
- The Lodge Bar. What’s better after a big day skiing than one of those Polish beers with the funny name that only Laszlo can pronounce? Yeah, one of those please.
- The People. Which is really a thousand more reasons – the familiar faces we see only during ski season. This season has been a long time coming and we’ve been missing them. As someone put it today “whether there’s snow or not it’s good to see everyone again – it’s social”
You've heard the rumors - Plattekill is going Freeheel. It's true: we now have some rental gear in limited sizes in the rental shop - making Platty the only mountain in New York State that offers tele equipment for rent. It's a beginning, and we hope to acquire more. There are also tele lessons available for never-evers and beginner-to-intermediate freeheelers who want to improve their turns. Plattekill, with our varied terrain - steeps, cruisers, ridge runs and woods – and our unique, indie-vibe, suits telemark skiers perfectly.