I’m not sure I’ve had a better pre-Christmas ski outing than the one Gore Mountain offered up last Sunday.
I was flanked by two daughters and two good friends, the sky was cloudless, there was no wind and the snow was a nice mix of fresh and man-made.
Gore snowmakers were able to take advantage of recent cold temperatures to coat summit staples Hawkeye and Open Pit and both offered something different.
Hawkeye was groomed and pretty firm, but still edgeable and fast.
Open Pit, quite to the contrary, offered softer snow and huge man-made bumps to challenge us.
And the lower terrain, the cruisers like Showcase and Quick Silver, had perfect soft snow allowing skiers and riders to lean into turns without fear of icy washouts.
And despite early temperatures hovering around zero, warm clothes, the sunshine and the lack of wind made it really comfortable and kept the snow fluffy.
So condition-wise, it was perfect.
Company-wise, even more perfect.
Kirsti, now 20, and Sarah, now 17, were my chairlift mates throughout the day and nothing makes me happier. Sarcasm, a family trait, filled each ride up. We shared trail mix, stories about school and life, and we reveled in the beauty Gore offered that day — from the snow-coated white trees etched against a blue sky backdrop to the gorgeous Adirondacks mountains we saw when we turned our heads around.
And you know your day is going well when your car keys fall from your parka pocket on the chairlift and somehow get caught between the seat and bar to avoid being lost for good in the snow below.
We also popped into the new Strait Brook Lodge on the summit, the old gondola house, for a look. It’s modest, with tables and chairs, bathrooms and vending machines, but it also offered a neat trip down memory lane with the freshly-painted gondola wheel and rigging still hovering above.
Probably 40 people were in the lodge when we were there, some warming up, others hitting the rest rooms or grabbing a drink.
I randomly started chatting with one man, seeking his thoughts on the new lodge, but he wasn’t really interested in talking to a reporter and pushed me toward his friend, Mark Parobeck, who incidentally just opened Becks Tavern at the base of the Gore access road.
Parobeck, who was with his 11-year-old son James, said he was impressed with the summit lodge and with Gore’s improvements in general.
“I think it was well done. It’s exactly what Gore needed, exactly what I need when I arrive frozen sometimes at the summit,” he said.
Parobeck said a lot of good things are happening in the Gore area including the new Stewart’s and Gore improvement and added that his new cedar-sided tavern near the Gore Mountain Lodge can be included in that comment.
“It’s based on the Austrian Alps and how they do après ski there,” he said. “And we’re kinda doing it.”
Parobeck said Tuesday’s warmth and rain was a bit of a downer, but he said it snowed a couple of inches at the end so everything returned to white.
“The new general manager (Bone Bayse) has been blessed by the snow gods and the cold gods so far,” he said.
I didn’t feel great Saturday, likely the product of the end of the semester at Castleton University and a lot of sneezing and snotting students sharing the wealth, but The Cure at West Mountain Ski Center was calling.
For too many years I have whined that that steep, narrow chute wasn’t open. So I had to go on opening day and ski it in its new, widened state. I was only there for an hour or so, but savored the turns, like everyone else was.
It truly will be West’s signature steep trail and allow its racing program to elevate. Kudos to the mountain’s owners for sharing it with us!
Bay Meadows tracks
My trusty dog, Bear, and I have been cross-country skiing at Bay Meadows Golf Course three times already this winter, and I have cut a pretty nice trail for others to enjoy. Owner Deric Buck says he doesn’t mind skiers using his course, he simply asks that they stay off the greens. And to reward him, pop in for a drink or bite to eat when you’re done. The deer seem to already be enjoying my tracks.