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.”
This year for the Platty blog, there are two of us—Isaac is joining me. He grew up skiing in Idaho (more about that in his first post, coming soon). We met on the triple [chair lift], on Isaac’s first run at the mountain.
Platty’s lifts are great for such things; some of my best friendships have been formed on the double, and Isaac—no different. It was his first time at the hill, and I offered to show him around. It was also clear he could rip. Of course, he can. He grew up in the aforementioned Idaho—also he doesn’t seem to complain about skiing the East…
Talking to him after that first run, his eyes grew wide, and he could see a future of skiing in the Catskills with no lift lines, no people fighting in a lift line, or getting impatient—and also, better snow. That is the promise of Platty—to keep it real, to bring back the old school vibe of skiing, and I saw the same joy I’ve seen in countless others have at the hill. It’s the way someone recounts their first visit to the mountain as if it were the promised land. And, Isaac is also a writer. So now it’s the two of us telling you why we love it here and reporting from the hill. Also he’s braver in the trees than I and a way better skier…
It is also that time of year when I start dreaming of skiing. Actually I start in July, and I think Isaac never stops. I have two classic dreams: skiing puffy powdery bumps on Block (I’m a master in the dream in a way I never am in real life), and then strangely, skiing down a sand dune (it’s a dream after all), like I did once in Qatar. And here a shot of Platty’s opening day last year:
Now as the nights dip down into the 40s this week, it’s also time to get season tickets, check the long-range forecasts for winter (good & cold), and tune up the gear. I will be spending this weekend with a girlfriend, sharpening my skis and watching ski videos. (Her kid has just returned from racing camp in Europe…)
YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING AT the snow forecast, thinking you’ll come up and stay. Thinking you should’ve pulled the trigger and taken Pres. Week a week early. Well Platty is this mythic place where powder lasts and lift lines don’t exist. The hill is old school, vintage, the heart of skiing…. Which also translates into no mountain village, no identikit experience, no on-hill lodging. Instead to ski-and-stay you’re staying in the heart of the community (to read more click the button below)