Winter is coming. Bad for the people of Westeros. But, (and please excuse me geeking out over Game of Thrones)—thank R’HLLOR. (Again, apologies…but the season only ended a few weeks back, I haven’t fully recovered.)
Okay, so yes—Summer. You had your place. You will always have your place. But even the best beaches, trails and Mojitos just don’t feed my soul like those first turns on SNOW.
And…here we are. Summer is winding down—packing its bags, looking under the bed, the mattress; making certain the closets are cleared out—finally preparing to check out.
I, for one, am ready to move on. Fall is emerging…bringing the promise of cool nights, crisp apples, inching us ever closer to a Plattekill winter.
I’ve been dreaming about skiing for the past three (six?) months. At least once a week it seems. For me, it really never goes away. Always there, like a Golden Retriever running alongside, stick in mouth, reminding you that there is sooo much FUN to be had, if you’ll just shelve this daily grind and FOLLOW ME INTO THE MOUNTAINS!
That voice in the back of your head…causing that weekly (daily?) click on winter videos, pictures, gear sales, all things NOT work-related.
Recently I was at a yard sale (an “actual” one, not created whilst tomahawking down a one too many steeps) and found a 1975 ski poster by Lou Zansky called simply: ON THE SLOPES.
I don’t know what it was about this picture. There are more ski–related graphics than is worth mentioning in any retailer, website, or dorm room. But this one stuck.
Maybe it was how it perfectly captured the 70’s vibe—skis long, straight, planky. Knees locked together, pivoting from the hips—a style that truly was, well, STYLISH.
I grew up skiing in Southeast Idaho, my home mountain was Pebble Creek (just a bit south of Pocatello, for anyone familiar with the area). It was such a cool, unsullied mountain. And VERY steep. I say unsullied (no this is NOT a purposeful GoT reference), because it was a local’s mountain. EVERYONE knew EVERYONE, from the folks running the lifts to the Patrollers to the kitchen staff.
Maybe because it was remote, or because of its smaller size compared to other Idaho/Utah resorts (located just a few hours from Salt Lake), it instilled a tremendous loyalty from us. And gave in return. A place that valued its own, and from this grew a true local culture.
I am sure that any mountain will claim this, and I am sure that to some degree, they all have it. But in all the years I’ve been skiing, Plattekill is the only place that has given me that same “feel.” of where I grew up. The feel of a true HOME mountain. And yeah, it’s the people. (More on that throughout the season).
I’m new to Platty. I’ve lived in the Catskills for the past 8 years after being in NYC since 2001. And I don’t pretend to know the mountain, or the culture, like any of you. But I am thrilled and honored to share my perspective as a newcomer, and I want to share what I see on the hill and spread my excitement about it to as many as I can—while of course preserving short lift lines.
And now, back to that poster.
I was thinking of celebrating the Old School in the run-up to the season. Jen and I are going to exploring the past to get excited about the very-near future—the “keeping it real” of ski history that is Platty’s feel and vibe. We will be posting classic ski videos and images to get you all primed for the new season.
If you’re cool with it, please hang with us while we dig around in the garage a little bit. In the meantime—I keep it real below: Me at 16. I’m the one in the pink goggles. Indeed.
Stella, I love you. Really what else is there to say? There might also be thanks to Laszlo and Macker and the snowmakers for making snow last weekend long after other ski hills have stopped in the run-up to the storm. But, really all there is to say is: Yes! And then list the numbers like: 36 (that is inches…as in, 3 feet). And then there are more, new numbers like 3 or 4…of snow that keeps accumulating (as in feet, not inches, but once you make three feet, who’s to quibble?).
Or, perhaps the proof is in the pictures (or really their absence). The snow was too good to stop and pull out a camera or even a phone. So instead I’ll send you to NY Ski Blog to see Harvey Road’s post. (He always stops for pictures and was riding a fine line through the trees when I last saw him on Wednesday’s Powder Daize).
So to summarize, the snow was too good to describe—too great to stop for photos. Maybe you can imagine the whoops heard from happy skiers going down the hill (they translate to “Stella, I love you!”). And for a small bit of etymology, “Stella” means star in Latin, and every flake of snow does have a tiny bit of cosmic stardust in it. So we can thank our lucky stars (or our Lucky Stellas, and maybe raise a glass of Stella to our storm in the bar afterwards).
With Spring right around the corner, the Spring Equinox falls on March 20th, many people are looking for flowers to bloom and are excited for the warmer temperatures. But not the folks at Plattekill Mountain. Hews of brown and green surround the mountain and the trails at Plattekill stick out like a neon sign promoting Winter, bright white carved throughout the mountainscape. The snowguns at Plattekill are still creating a haze of Winter only on the mountain, which those Spring seekers are more than happy about. However, it looks as if Mother Nature has decided that she’s not completely done with Winter either. With a major snowstorm in the forecast the first week in March, Plattekill still has a lot in store for the remainder of the Winter season.
Winterfest, being held on Saturday, March 5th, has become a well-known fundraiser for the well-trained volunteers of the Plattekill Ski Patrol. So, on Saturday, after a day of skiing, snowboarding or snowtubing, Plattekill will be serving up a chicken dinner prepared by the 2016 winner of the James Beard Award (like an Oscar in the restaurant world), Brooks BBQ, at 5:00pm, while there is a live performance by the band Esquela, a raffle for great prizes and wrapping it all up with the annual Torchlight Parade, a glow of serpentining red flares being carried by skiers cascading down the mountain, at 8:00pm. This is an event suited for everyone, from the very young to the young at heart and is hoping to attract the local community as well as people visiting the area.
Also, on March 5th, the I LOVE NY bus, operated by Hampton Jitney, will be making it’s last visit to Plattekill for the season departing from New York City and Long Island. This is the second year that the I LOVE NY program has teamed up with Plattekill to bring people to the Catskills for Winter day trips. Andrew Lynch, Vice President of Hampton Jitney stated “The feedback on these trips has been very positive and we’re looking forward to continuing them in the 2016-17 season.”
All in all, Winter in the East has been anything but normal during the 2015-16 season, but taking the brutally warm highs and the bitterly cold lows in stride, Plattekill Mountain is putting on a pretty awesome show.
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.
Not so fast, you Debbie Downers! There is no conclusive data from ANY weather source regarding El Nino years. Some reports say that we’ll have below average snowfalls and other reports are indicating a much higher than average snowfall. I’ve heard that someone coined a phrase for those who “wish” we’d see a snowfall – “wishcasting.” Yup, that’s what we’re doing here at Plattekill a lot of WISHCASTING!
So, we’re going to keep things positive … there are reports out there that the things we termed last year … such as the Polar Vortex is moving into a position that will bring cold air to the East. And a couple years ago, we talked about Arctic Oscillation (2009-10) which just dumped snow on us – YAY Artic Oscillation!
So, don’t give up hope. The report is now that a more favorable weather pattern is heading our way! Our snowmakers are ON IT! Temps are already starting to drop and we will resume “Operation Snowstorm” tonight here at the mountain and be ready for the upcoming Martin Luther King Weekend holiday!
Check out what The Weather Channel reported about the potential for Eastern SNOW …
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…
Winter, as we know it, is “slow approaching” this year, but don’t let that keep you from visiting the mountains where we still have lots of fun both on and off the slopes. If you’ve seen the romantic images of a ski lodge, happy people relaxing by a fire with a warm drink in hand …we’ve got all that here! Plus, we have snow too! Although not much from Mother Nature up to this point, but - with snowmaking - we’ve been piling the snow up any chance we get.
You can shush down the slopes with board(s) on your feet or, of course, you can sit back and enjoy the thrill of the winter season on a SNOWTUBE at Plattekill Mountain.
Snowtubing is simple, no experience necessary. All you have to do is enjoy the ride – then do it again! When you get to the Tubing Park, you’ll be towed, in the tube, up the hill, then you’ll go to your lane (kind of like a sloped bowling alley with bumpers) and zoom! Away you go!
We have the snowtubes and all you need… all you have to do is dress the part (we recommend a waterproof layer over the jeans so they don’t get cold and soggy), jacket, a pair of boots, gloves and hat – and you’re all set!
It’s fun for the whole family! Then, as in those romantic images, when you’re done, come into the warm, cozy lodge and retell the stories of your day on the Platty slopes! We plan to open the doors on New Year’s Day - Friday, January 1, 2016 for a season of skiing, snowtubing and après snow activities!