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!
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.”
While you’re preparing for both turkey and the ski season, Isaac and I on the blog are reliving the past. Actually not reliving our past, we’re discovering it as neither of us was skiing in the 70s.
In 1971 Plattekill was keeping it real and still the hidden gem we know today. Stan Fischler (sports writer and hockey historian) wrote for New York Magazine: “I’m always amazed to discover that on any given weekend, long, maddening lines snake their way behind the chairlifts not to mention the cafeterias at such snow centers as Belleayre and Great Gorge [now defunct], while a resort like Plattekill, less than an hour past Belleayre [ed. note: it’s 20 minutes…] and with equally challenging terrain, remains a schussing wilderness and a beautiful one at that.”
Fischler lists these unheard of areas “in order of my favorites” starting with Plattekill, then Highmount [sadly also defunct], Catskill Ski Center [many recall as Bobcat in Andes and alas no more] and Noname [some of you know as Bearpen and also defunct, but rumored to be amazing if you can hike in]. His original text is below and the original image that ran in New York Magazine is above:
Plattekill in Roxbury, New York, is a gem, and good skiers have been tight-lipped for years in fear that it would be discovered. It hasn’t yet, and even on the weekends when conditions are ideal a five-minute wait on the lift-line is regarded as long. [ed. note: still true].
Owners Bonnie and Gary Hinkley [who first built the hill. Gary skis there every day it’s open] are a couple of young locals who are on the slopes as often as their customers. Their 3,000 foot “Plattekill Plunge” – with a 970-foot vertical drop—will gratify any expert, [still true] and the intermediate “Ridge Run” is high, wide and negotiable. A popular misconception is that Plattekill is mostly for advanced skiers. [people still think this] In reality it boasts some gentle novice and intermediate dips and a pleasant lodge with brown stain, red trm and Alpine background music [okay, that last detail has changed. The music is mostly of this century, though an ocassional track from the 80s has been played…]
As the seasons change, we've decided to switch things up a bit for summer 2017. Best known for featuring one of the longest mountain biking seasons on the East Coast, this year, we are offering biking on a more limited basis, instead shifting our warm weather focus to the expansion of our wedding venue operations and private catered events.
As some of you already know, we are still opening mountain biking to the public the first two weekends in July and the first weekend of August, September, and October in conjunction with our free Saturday Music on the Mountain concerts. “Our decision is meant to create more of a festival-like setting” according to Danielle Vajtay, Plattekill's Marketing Director. “We hope these efforts will bring more people to the mountain on specific weekends where guests will find all the activities offered.” If you were able to make up to the mountain last summer, we hope you enjoyed the live music! It was a huge success and we've gotten some great feedback, so this year, it made sense to continue offering biking and chairlift rides in conjunction with concert weekends.
Freeing up the summer calendar also means we have more availability for a variety of private uses, including corporate group functions in the base lodge, private parties, and the ever-growing rustic chic wedding business. In an effort to expand weddings specifically, we offer mountaintop wedding ceremonies, complete with chairlift access to the summit for all guests, which and has become a popular choice.
With more than 400 acres of terrain, there are endless possibilities for private use including parties, adventure and endurance races, testing grounds for bicycle manufacturers, and biking and hiking for summer camps. The base area and facility size and layout makes for a perfect setting for so many opportunities for small to large groups and the mountain is now available to anyone who has an interest.
For more information, you can always check out our events page, or call (607) 326-3500. If you have interest in a private group event, feel free to call Marketing & Group Sales Manager, Christy Jaromack at (607) 326-3500, x116 or send her an email.
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!
The warmer weather looks like it's here to stay, though it seems like we didn't really get away from it this past winter.
The springtime foliage is blooming and there's a whole new group of people who want to experience the sport of lift accessed mountain biking and fall in love with this great Catskill Mountain experience.
Now, you don't have to run out and buy a bike, and you surely don't want to get something that won't be able to handle the true mountain bike terrain. The recommendation is to try it first, as your "dream bike" might cost a couple thousand dollars or more, not to mention the protective gear that comes along with it.
Plattekill Mountain offers the experience (over 20 years) and everything you need for a great mountain bike adventure at an affordable price. Beginner to advanced mountain biking trails, lift access, bike and gear rentals, you will find it all at Plattekill.
The sport of lift accessed mountain biking is fun and exciting and has greatly expanded over the last couple decades with the advent of full suspension bikes and some pretty crazy or totally inspiring (depending on your point of view) stuff from GoPro videos posted on YouTube.
When you head to the mountain, be sure to wear comfortable clothing (nothing too baggy), closed toe/heel shoes (no sandals), bring water to hydrate and that's about it.
A good way to begin is to first find a ride within your limits (beginners will appreciate Plattekill's Greenhorn trail), with someone who is knowledgeable (like the folks at Plattekill) and you'll find that mountain biking can be a really fun and safe sport. As with any new sport, you have to build up your skills and confidence by getting out on the trails and gaining experience. You may be used to riding on the road or possibly off-road, but it may take a bit to develop your skills in downhill. Negotiating roots and rocks is an education in the great outdoors itself. And that's not even getting into what good ol' Mother Nature will throw at you and how the conditions change from dry to wet and vise versa.
With all that being said, one thing most experienced riders agree on is the necessity of protective gear, especially a helmet.
So, Plattekill Mountain has made it easy and all-inclusive with their 2 Hour Rise & Shine or Full Day Beginner Package. That way, you don't have to worry about if you forgot about something really important as you're on your way up to the summit or anything else for that matter. Both packages include a KHS full suspension mountain bike, all your protective gear, lift pass, and a personalized guide. It's the perfect outdoor mountain experience when visiting the Catskills for a day or weekend. If you're in the Catskills and wondering "What is there to do?" plan a visit to Plattekill Mountain for a great Catskill Mountain adventure.
This is the season, this is the quote. This is from Macker. He is the master of snowmaking at Platty. Now this could be a conversation that includes phrases like “wet-bulb temperature” (relating to humidity) and “inversion” (warmth in the upper atmosphere) both of which have taken a toll on snowmaking across the Northeast. Or, there’s the more commonly bandied “El Nino” (which sounds to me about like an armed bandit right now).
But, at Platty there is snow. A mountain of it. And, trails. And, the reason is not those big words but the heroes on the hill, working in the middle of the night. This is Macker’s team. Normally they’d start in the evening and leave in the morning whales of snow in their wake, but this year because of the inversion, because of the wet-bulb temperature, because of El Nino, they’ve been beginning at times like 2 AM to catch that window when the temperature drops to freezing.
To return to Macker here (BTW he’s a man who says “I am happiest when I’m making snow and pushing it around,” – also to note he’s a man of few words, and those are generally bitten down and he relishes riding alone in a groomer with no one else around – “watching waves of people walking into the parking lot skis on their shoulder.”) So he has been worried and says it was so warm it felt like November, and that perhaps the world needs a leap month, that is how crazy the weather has been. He also says, “You can make snow at 32 degrees. You just get less of it. It’s not that it’s too warm, but you get way less production.”
He thinks not just about Platty but every other hill. (He is also not one to pick and choose his words carefully even for the mountain blog—eg he is hones and in his honestly talks about everywhere is suffering). “For every ski area Christmas is a third of the season, a third of the income…” His voice trails off and he talks of the impact on hills and employees and the snow. In Vermont Magic Mountain has only just opened this weekend, and Mad River Glen, whose die-hards are like Platty fanatics, did a video in December about “Skiing the Patch" (That is advertising skiing the 3 patches of snow on their hill).
Laszlo, Platty’s owner, walks in the office, talk of that year and talks of one year that was worse. 1995. He was not even 30 and it was his second year of ownership. Macker came to help out and the New York Times came to pay a call. The season before had record snowfall. That year Platty was the only ski area not afraid to talk on the record.
It was January 19, nothing was opened in the East. Back then, 21 years ago, the hill had 7 guns, and virtually no snowmaking. But they got a headling in the TIMES: "Ski Areas Suffer from an Endless Summer." Now Plattekill has a couple hundred guns plus the requisite blood, sweat and tears (and water pumped up of a less saline quality from ponds) to run them. Instead of standing on a grassy hill, Macker and Laz are here in mountains of snow. Thanks to a few heroes who are cheering on winter and giving it a helping hand.
- This map. It’s been settling arguments in the bar about length and descent since 1972. It’s beautiful. James Niehues eat your heart out.
- No lift lines. …and even if one does form, it’s so convivial that you’d hardly notice.
- Cheers. You wanna go to a place where everybody knows your name. It’s that “Norm!” moment when your ski buddies shout your name from the chairlift.
- It’s family run. If you don’t bump into Laszlo or Danielle in the lodge, you might see them on the slopes and they’ll be happy to ski with you. And now the next generation of Vajtays is stepping up to help out with snowmaking and snow tubing.
- This guy. Steve Supp – he keeps it real in his Carhartt overalls and thrift store skis (price sticker intact).
- Snow (outside). Plattekill is frequently blessed with the natural stuff, and even when it isn’t, Macker and his team do heroic things with a couple hundred snow guns.
- Snow (inside). The majestic bark creature that watches over the bar. Snow is actually a pretty good skier – look closely and you’ll see Snow favors some pretty old skool 2x4 skis.
- Free Heelers. Plattekill is the only hill where you’ll see more than one tele skier at a time, which is why we’ve coined a collective noun for them. It’s a “curtsy” of teleskiers.
- The Lodge Bar. What’s better after a big day skiing than one of those Polish beers with the funny name that only Laszlo can pronounce? Yeah, one of those please.
- The People. Which is really a thousand more reasons – the familiar faces we see only during ski season. This season has been a long time coming and we’ve been missing them. As someone put it today “whether there’s snow or not it’s good to see everyone again – it’s social”
It’s been quite the test of faith this winter when trying to gear up to travel to the mountains for winter fun. You look out your window and see earth tones of brown, yellow or possibly some green but not much snow. But there you are with Season Pass in hand or looking to purchase your first ticket for the upcoming season, anxious to put your skis or board on the snow.
November comes and goes, December comes with the record breaking warm temperatures, then goes … the New Year comes and goes, and finally January feels like January! You’ve waited all Summer/Fall, November, December for this moment.
So, to compensate for the lack of natural snowfall this year Plattekill has begun ‘Operation Snowstorm’. As long as the temperatures stay where they should be, we are making snow around the clock to bring winter to Plattekill snow enthusiasts, and you can thank a Plattekill snowmaker for that!
Best part is that our snow is not far off from the real deal. How? We blow our snow light and fluffy and don’t need to worry about making it firm to withstand high traffic flow on our trails. As you know, if you’ve skied here before, even when our lodge and parking are filled, there’s lots of elbow room on our trails. They call that a low “skier per skiable acre ratio”, we think.
Either way, until good ol’ Mother Nature blesses us with a blanket of the white stuff, we’ll make it ourselves. So have no fear. Pack up your boots, your board(s), grab your warm winter clothes and head to Plattekill for some skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing fun – it’s all here! We know it’s been a test of patience, but don’t wait any more, winter has officially arrived at the mountain. Now, come spend some time on the snow with us…