The experience of Plattekill is the sublime combination of natural terrain, incredible people, and right now - the blessings of a March filled with week after week of perfect snow. Each, a key ingredient…making up the soul of a place.
This past Friday Chris S., Ray, Chris R. and I gathered at the end of the most amazing tree run I’ve ever skied in my life - it was the most amazing skiing I’ve ever experienced, on piste or off.
Before dropping in, as we collected at the top, passed around water, and prepped our gear, I was both nervous and excited - I’d never skied this kind of terrain before. The trees were untouched, the snow was knee deep, as I quickly discovered after stepping out of my skis to rest. Snow fell around us, feathery and light, adding itself to the copious gobs of untracked, delicious powder waiting below.
Chris R. dropped in first, finding a smooth line, traversing across the mountain below. I followed, staying alongside, but also wanting to cut my own path. Chris S. and Ray - the two veterans - came down after, flying past as though it were second nature. Which of course, it was.
From there we leapfrogged down. Beautiful lines through acres of empty forest. No sound but for the swish of skis and shouts of unabated joy. And for once (thanks to Alan’s and Chris’s patience) I managed to keep up.
Nothing but us, the knee-deep powder of raw terrain, and the trees commanding it. One word filled my head – Pure.
It’s how I think of that day; of how I think of Plattekill. Nothing between you and the experience, no extravagant garbage selling you a manufactured experience. Just the mountain. The snow. And, if you are fortunate enough – some great people to show you the way.
Emerging from the trees, we were somewhat overwhelmed. Our faces glowed with an astonishment, as though none of us expected to be as good as it was.
“Well…that didn’t suck,” Ray said.
Nope. It surely didn’t.
Alan is one of those skiers that is good at everything. Rips through crud, bumps, catches smooth airs of natural features, and finds great lines that are an absolute blast to follow.
He has been skiing Plattekill for 20 years, and except for the nursery becoming locker space, he says not much has changed. At least in the ways that count - there are still no lift lines to speak of, the terrain remains the best of any mountain in the area, and it’s still the place he chooses to make the 3 ½ hour drive to from the Jersey shore every weekend.
Last October, we’d cut some great lines through the trees. This past Saturday, I followed him into the woods to get my first taste.
Generally, I suck in the trees. I tend to tense up, lose confidence, and ultimately – balance. I understand the concepts “don’t look at the trees,” “stay light on your feet,” “make quick, technical turns,” but the concepts haven’t 100% found their way to my skiing yet.
To be fair, the snow was thick, on the heavy side and made for some difficult turns, but Alan carved through effortlessly, and I…well, not so much. Luckily for me, he was very patient, helping me see the lines, giving me tips on how to manage it.
Alan seemed to dance through the glades, demonstrating what was possible - inspiring me to improve. The trees are home to some of the best snow, the best terrain. There is NO way I’m giving that up; I’d worked too hard cutting some of those lines.
Plattekill really is a mecca of great skiers and snowboarders. And whether crushing a bump run down Plunge, shredding through the trees, catching air off a natural spine, or laying down smooth carves on piste, someone is always doing it better (than me). When I get the chance to ski with someone I can learn from, I try to soak in as much as I can.
It's said that if you want to grow, surround yourself with people who are superior to you in some way. Plattekill gives anyone PLENTY of opportunity to grow. Home to quite simply some of the most outstanding skiers I’ve ever had the pleasure of skiing with. Coast to coast.
And Alan, he’s one of the best. Makes sense – he’s been skiing Platty for 20 years.
The past two weekends have given us some of best the skiing/riding yet. (I am still grinning from the incredible track-refilling snow of Super Bowl Sunday).
Long weekend coming up. I look forward to my next lesson.