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.”
As promised, I’ve been digging around in the past to get pumped for the season. Platty’s opening day is in sight–it’s October, we’ve got a frost warning, THE PLATTEPALOOZA FALL FESTIVAL is around the corner, and I’ve swapped Summer Ale for IPA.
My 80’s my wish list would have included (besides a time-traveling DeLorean) the chance to meet my ski idols: Scot Schmidt, my Idaho girl Picabo Street, and obviously Glen Plake. I remember first watching The Blizzard of Aaahhs and how blown away I was by Schmidt & Plake’s daring, their ridiculous inventiveness.
Maybe since the technology of that era wasn’t evolving as quickly as they were (most everyone was on the same “shape” of ski) the athletes were forced to develop individual styles in order to evolve. People didn’t have powder skis for deep days, carvers for groomers, twin tips for jibbing. They had skis. There were differences in materials, construction, and price point. But the basic shapes were arguably the same.
And they skied them in ALL conditions.
Although I’d never swap my modern skis for the long straight Rossi’s of the 80s, I’m glad I DID learn on them. Among other things, they taught me to maintain balance in mogul skiing and nasty, cut-up crud. And to appreciate today’s skis that much more.
So yeah, a BIG shout out to snowboarding.
I mean, come on—Schmidt dropped into the vertical extremities of the Alaskan Chugachs, Street crushed the super G at Nagano.
Jason Levinthal, founder of J Skis, just released the HOT DOGGER a total nod to 80’s flash and dash. And I get it—the retro vibe. The loud, garish, IN YOUR FACE ATTITUDE of it, proclaiming—THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BETTER THAN SHREDDING THE MOUNTAIN.
For this season at Platty, let’s embrace the raw, hardcore days of launching into Blockbuster, Plunge, or Freefall on a pair of K2 Extreme 207s, sporting Bollés, an eye-popping neon jacket, a wind-scoured face–and a giant, toothy grin.
Now make sure to send us your old school pictures of keeping it real or post them on Plattekill’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Plattekill
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.