Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Delightful, it's Delicious, it's...Snow

There appear to be two types of people in the world, or, at least, on Facebook: those who love the snow, and those who hate it.  It's not difficult to understand why those who hate snow, do. It makes travel treacherous. It's inconvenient.  It's labor intensive.

But for those of us who dream of winter in the middle of summer, snow is joy.  What is it about that fluffy, crystalline miracle of nature falling from the skies that makes us so happy?  We are skiers, and we love to play in the stuff, especially when it's fresh and deep and untracked.  It's like eating ice cream with your feet.  Among a few other things, it's what we live for, and this ski season is off to an unbelievable start here in the Catskills.  

The Double Chair was finally open today at Plattkill, and, with it, 100% of the mountain.  But the more  intrepid of us have been hiking to unopened terrain all week.   Yesterday, I hiked across the ridge with Sean and Josh Riley.

Father and Son

 A couple of old-time skiers.

The snow was still deep and not too tracked-out by the end of the day.  And there was more to come - it was still snowing when the lifts stopped spinning yesterday.  These were the steps outside my crib in Arkville last night.

Here was the scene this morning when I arrived at about 8:15.  I love how Platty looks in the morning after a snow, before the lifts start spinning. 

Instructor  Bill Medrano getting first tracks on Overlook

 And then at the bottom of Freefall.

Looking down the barrel of Freefall a bit later in the day.  My favorite run at Platty.

Two more days of fun before I head back down to the valley.   Looking forward to seeing my son Henry and playing with him in the snow a bit next week.  Gotta get the XC skis out a bit, too.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter is Here

Winter is Here

Outside the little ski-bum room I'm renting for the season here in Arkville, NY the snow is falling hard and fast and we're hoping for 8-10" by tomorrow.  It's ski season.  It won't last long. But it's already been a memorable one for the Freeheeler.

I decided to celebrate Christmas in the manner of my forefathers - a day of skiing and Chinese for dinner.  I packed for the week, since I would be staying in Arkville and working/skiing at Plattekill through the first of the year.  

Belleayre skied very nicely, though they still only had Lift 7 spinning and only the runs between it and the top of Super Chief open.  The morning was mellow.  Crowds started to arrive about 11, but it was never chaotic.  There was a dusting of fresh snow over a good, groomed base.  A few icy patches on the headwall, but you could see them and ski around them.  

The fun started around noon, when I met up with a friend whom I had previously only known through Facebook.  Like me, Jerry's a skier, a hockey player, a Jew, and divorced.  The perfect partner to share the joy of Jewish Christmas with.  We took a couple of runs and then ran into my buddy Mark, another instructor at Platty.  Mark's a great skier and was there with his snowboarding sister, Melissa. Jerry has an agressive alpine style and Mark's a bit of a freestyler.  Together with Melissa riding her board and me dropping my knees, we had it all covered.  We were like The Avengers, each of us with our individual superpowers.

Belleayre Run was closed, but it looked pretty sweet.  Still a fair amount of tall grass poking through, but the fresh powder was calling us. We took it once from the top (the headwall was interesting, but not worth a repeat), and twice from lower down before Ski Patrol asked us kindly to refrain from skiing in closed terrain. We obeyed, until our last run of course.  It was one of those days that you know you will always remember. Skiing through that ungroomed powder got me stoked for the hut trip I'll be doing in Colorado in January. 

Jerry invited me over for dinner. And though I had been looking forward to Chinese, I was very happy to eat a nice home-cooked bird.  We had some Christmas cheer and watched a little vintage, Messier-era old-time hockey on MSG.

It wasn't where I expected to be on Christmas, but it was exactly where I belonged.

Tomorrow should be tasty at Plattekill.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ends and Beginnings

The ski season has been off to a slow start and memories of last year's virtually snowless winter haunt us. But things have been looking up of late, with cold temps and some actual snow in the forecast for the Northeast.  

I've gotten out a few days - 2 days at Mt. Snow for a PSIA Snow Sports Directors event, where I had the opportunity to ski with some great tele skiers, Mickey Stone and Keith Rodney.  Conditions were spring-like and I was just happy to be on snow.  

Took Henry - now 2.5 - up to Belleayre for a day last week. We earned our turns, hiking up Running Bear (one small step for me, one giant hike for him) a few times. He giggled the whole way down. Skiing is about kids and being a kid, no matter how old you are.  Most of us who ski as adults have great memories of skiing when were young.  My dad started me when I was Henry's age, and skiing was as close as we ever got.  So even when the pow's not deep, other things are.

Had a great day at Belleayre yesterday and met some great tele-folks, Ray and Hay, Brian, Carol and Alan.  

Took my brand-new Black Diamond Verdicts out for a test drive - I'm taking them to Colorado in January for a week, which will include a 2-day trip into the backcountry to the 10th Mountain Hut. Needless to say, I'm stoked.

There's excitement for making Plattekill a place for tele.  We'll have some rental gear available this season and we're hoping to put together a PSIA 'Learn to Tele' event that would be open to non-members as well.

Let's hope the snow really starts to fall here in the Catskills!  Happy Holidays to all.