First the snow. It fell this week. Eight inches. And that is just the natural stuff. The other stuff came from guns, the application of pressure + water and very cold temperatures. All of which makes for a very welcome Friday morning!
Then there’s the phrase “ski the east.” It comes with a bit of bravado or bravery because we know what we can do. Ice/east, they nearly rhyme. And, here in the East we take it that we can take all conditions from rain to bulletproof to even, yes, powder and we have had all this and more this week. This has been a week where you could call the Catskills a four-season resort. That is, all four seasons in one seven-day period. And these seven days have seen many ski hills challenged and sending out apologies and mea culpas to their skiers.
At Platty, it rained too. We can’t hide that. And then the rain turned to something else, something far firmer and harder, but the water, now that might be called a blessing. A deluge one day = full ponds the next. And that translates into very fine, fine snowmaking. Especially since the temps plunged just after.
Now a game of connect the dots has translated into snowmaking on both sides of the mountain and a series of phrases:
Save the Whales becomes now a Whale of a good time.
And A river runs through it= a lot of water in the ponds, which is a lot of snow around the hill.
The other thing to add to those phrases is Save the Mountain—because this weekend will be spring skiing (AKA sunny and warm), and there has now been so much snow made that there will be spare to push around. With any luck Buckle Up will have Blockbuster and it’s 1k+ straight vert in play this weekend too.
With all this spring sunshine coming all we need are Hawaiian shirts and drinks on the deck, because you can live all four seasons in a week here.
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!
Polar bears are super cute, right? And right now they are your spirit animal.
Because Powder + Arctic Blasts = More. Of everything. So a how-to guide to surviving skiing at 0 degrees (or colder. Today is colder. Plus windchills). My tips are two of everything—goggles, handwarmers, base layers…
First the material: wool. It wicks moisture, keeps you warm. And it doesn’t get stinky. It’s my base layer of choice. I love Icebreaker. You can, in a pinch, use a merino sweater from, say, Uniqlo… On top of that is another base layer (this one actually from Uniqlo—HeatTech). Then I go for silk (an old fine knit silk sweater that has rips in it). Please don’t laugh but this is the polar-bear secret—I go for many very thin layers, but that translates to lots of air sealing in the heat. Basically polar bears have hollow-fiber hairs which trap air to provide insulation. So on top of my three thin base layers is another wool sweater –this one thin so no layer is too thick, too heavy, but there’s air between each layer.
[Also a side note. No cotton ever. It gets wet and doesn’t dry, which is why there’s a saying: “cotton kills.” It can cause hypothermia.]
Next: On top the jackets: down (more air, those geese know something) and a windproof shell.
On the legs it’s two again for the base layers. One pair of CWX insulated compression ski tights. I cut them off above the ankle so they don’t get in the way of my boots. Over that a pair of Arcteryx fleece leggings (thick) then a pair of insulated ski pants. I know it’s a lot….
On the feet: wool ski socks as thin as possible and wicking power. On my boots: battery operated boot heaters and a neoprene insulator over the boots that straps around. (Dry Guy Boot Glove…).
Next the head: 2 balaclavas (with helmet liner), one to wear and a spare. Two pairs of goggles (one to wear and one spare). Tuck your balaclave under your goggles to make sure all of your face is covered. Eventually the inside of your goggles will fog. The fog will turn to ice. Don’t try to dry them out. Switch out the goggles and balaclava. On top—a helmet = safe AND warm.
The hands. Forget dexterity. Mittens are your friend. Having your fingers together keeps them warmer. And two Grabber handwarmers. One pair I strap on with rubber bands to my inner wrist (that part where you can see the veins—the warmer warms the blood). The other goes inside the mitten over the back of the hand (more veins, more warming).
This will make you, if not invincible, certainly able to ski the powder that came with this Thursday’s storm.