This past Saturday was spring skiing at its absolute finest. The snow was soft, slushy – exactly what you want when the sun is out, the jackets are off, and the beer is on ice. Which it was.
I felt as though I was at someone’s backyard party, complete with an outdoor bbq. With a fantastic ski resort thrown in. The spring vibe was everywhere, t-shirts, sunglasses, and the wide grins of those who know they made the right decision.
I quickly met up with a great group of guys who were kind enough to let me tag along. We immediately hit Freefall which, yes at the top was a bit thin (thank you John for discovering the first line not to take, i.e. the first rock). Once we found our way down twenty or so yards, skier’s left transitioned out into perfectly spaced, soft bumps.
Freefall has such a nice pitch, you could hit them hard, cutting up a wall of snow, or light, quickly bouncing from one to the next. I found myself wanting to cut hard, though the trenches, because digging into soft spring snow is so damn satisfying.
From there it was Plunge, North Face, Upper Face, and eventually, Bumps to Blockbuster… Block was my favorite as it was smooth with about three inches of soft hero-like snow. Being able to lay down carves on that steep of a pitch…. yesssss.
The kind snow that makes you want to play, to goof off. To ski a little faster, to maybe jump a little bigger.
It is a party after all.
Everywhere I looked people were jibbing, carving, slarving….skiing with an almost frantic enthusiasm, desperate to eke out every last second of what has been an incredible season.
Afterward – basking on the sunlit desk, toasting PBRs, and soaking up every last moment.
SO IT WENT from 65 degrees to six inches of pow in 24 hours. On Wednesday I ran six miles in shorts, sun, summer. Thursday I split my desk at 2 to ski 12 runs in the afternoon and I brought the wrong skis. Too narrow. I had the best turns of the season and I took no photos. It was too good to stop. But, I am posting this because it was stunning. And conditions were amazing. (The drive home a tad hairy but by today I'm sure it's fine). The mountain is well set up for this weekend. And if you're over the winter whiplash, the what-season-is-it-now, the if-it's-tuesday-it-must-be-summer kind of weather we've had. Or if you've coined a new name for it, say Sprinter. Wring (anything that combines spring and winter), well, there is now hope.
The strange period of warming and oscilation we've had is coming to an end, and if you want a detailed breakdown of this: read on as the folks at NY Metro Weather explain:
This type of retrograding high latitude block, where blocking moves from Greenland westward into Canada, has been associated with some of the more memorable winter weather periods, and large storms in general, in the Northeast United States.
And, of course, it will snow next weekend. I promise. I'm going away for a week to ski out West. Which is as sure to bring snow as any high latitude blocking from the Barents Sea to Greenland.
Your heart is here—That’s what we heard this Valentine’s Day as a group came to ski at the mountain.
And here this winter, there’s been a lot to love. (Plus check out Dylan and Gavin who've grown up at Platty in the terrain park)... Storms dumping more than we expected, cold nights where we’ve come to turn on the snow guns soon as temps were right. We made snow this week and will again on Friday and Saturday and on into the season… For many ski hills President’s Day is when you stop making snow. Not for us, not as long as the cold holds out…. And there is snow stockpiled around the mountain to make sure the skiing stays great. And also Mother Nature will be lending a hand on Saturday with snow in the forecast… Laszlo (Platty’s owner) has a guess of around 6 inches falling. We're calling it for first chair Sunday morning...
Meanwhile if you want to go to the bar, Magic Hat is doing a tap takeover on Saturday… There will be giveaways and special drinks. Plus Talking Machine play live on Saturday and on Sunday it’s Dave Mason…
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 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…)
These pictures speak for themselves: "Come ski, and bring on a long weekend! Welcome MLK Jr. Day!"
The hill is covered top to bottom: Plunge, Blockbuster, Northface...all in deep white. It’s the first time snowmaking on all the runs has happened by Jan 15! And witness these photos (and video) just to show you how much.
The snowmakers—“Snow Cowboys,” as Platty’s Head of Operations, Macker (also in some of these photos), calls them—have been hard at work. Long days, long nights, and bless Mother Nature too, for keeping it cold. And while this week has been a bit warm, Plattekill has the advantage as a weekend-only hill, so grooming won't ruin that snow. It won't turn it into boiler plate.
In short and we’ve written about this before: If it rains, don’t groom. The water will run through the snow all on its own and not turn to ice. Groom after the rain is done falling. This is something other hills—those open 7 days-a-week—don’t have the luxury to do. But Platty can promise good terrain and conditions for the weekend.
December 21 marked the first day of Winter and we couldn't be happier. If our opening day (December 17) was any indication, it looks like we're in for a great season! We received an awesome foot of fresh powder, allowing our guests to take full advantage of the whole mountain—it's been quite a while since we were open 100% on DAY ONE!
Even though the next day's weather was rainy, we have been fortunate to have low temps since, which means our snow guns have been blasting 24/7 to gear up for our Holiday Week! Plattekill will open at least 7 trails on Saturday, December 24. We will close on December 25 but then we'll open the slopes and snowtubing park again from December 26 - January 2 for Holiday Week!
Most of our beginner trails and several blue runs are ready to open, and we even have some more difficult areas for those of you who are ready to get right into it. And after you’re all worn out from a long day of carving or shredding, don’t forget to join us for some après–ski live music in the lodge Saturday nights! Also, on December 28, there will be a film screening of Warren Miller's "Here, There & Everywhere" will be shown at the Union Grove Distillery. Here's a toast to a snowy 2017!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Plattekill Mountain! We can’t wait to see you!
SKIING AT PLATTEKILL can often feel like being part of skiing’s heritage. The hill is old school, keeping it real. There are even skiers on long skis – and not because they didn’t update their gear, but because they believe in skiing the way it once was. Harder, more challenging. True to its roots. It’s also why tele skiers sing Platty’s praises. (And why there's the Telefest this weekend). But the hill also has its own historian of skiing. George Quinn. You’ll find him in the shop. He’s also just published a book Skiing in the Catskill Region on the sport’s history from its earliest days when Norwegians brought ski jumping to the area. (Click the read more button to see the rest of the post....)
A picture better be worth a thousand words, because today all I have for you are photos taken on Platty's first PowderDaize of the 13-14 season. And that second one here is the only lift line I've ever stood in at Platty. Thank you Sarah Rogers for holding my place at the front (proving there are friends on a powder day at least until you get off the chair). And this being Platty you know there will still be stashes on the weekend because I am coming back for seconds....
While just about everything in the Hudson Valley is being labeled “the New Brooklyn,” we can promise you Platty is not the “new” anything. It’s about as old school as you get. Lodge with good bar (check). Fixed double chair (check). Long runs, good vert (check and check) and good snow. Now Brooklyn thanks to the Diamond bar is coming to Platty. (Click that little read more button below to get the deets).