I got to Winterplace about fifteen minutes after they opened this morning to beat the “crowds”; fortunately for me, these crowds never materialized. I was figuring that with the beginning of MLK weekend, the resort would start to receive the large crowds that are typical of this holiday. Much to my surprise, I skied onto the lifts all day and often rode a lift by myself because there was no one else in line. I can’t vouch for this being true for the rest of the weekend, as lots of people tend to show up there on Saturday’s in particular, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were less crowded than normal for such a popular ski weekend. It certainly helps that the resorts are opening more terrain and spreading out the masses of people on the increasing number of open lifts.
When I got there, they had 9 trails open (contrary to their snow report on the website, which I will get to later), including the lift to the middle of the mountain. The snow when I got there was very nice groomed granular, which eventually turned into granular/wet granular/variable conditions as the day went on. It sprinkled rain off and on throughout the day, though there was a period in the afternoon that the sun came out for a little while. If the weather pattern remains similar for the next few days, it should provide for fairly decent skiing conditions; the rain wasn’t so bad that it became more than an annoyance, and the snow conditions were fairly good. They would have been better if it weren’t for the beginners scraping snow off the trails, but that’s a rant for another article.
Now on to the snow report. When they made their last website update at 10:14 AM, they reported 11 trails and 5 lifts open. I was really excited when I left the house this morning because there was finally going to be a black diamond open, and a decent run at that (Drop Off). I promise you that at 10:14 AM, there were definitely only 9 trails open and 4 lifts operating, and one of those was not Drop Off. Was Winterplace being disingenuous with their snow report, or is it ok as long as they got the run open later in the day? I will leave that up to you.
They finally got the trail open around 2:30; I think a major part of the delay was the management giving the ski patrol a run-around with posting caution poles and closed signs. Evidently every time the patrol tried to open it, they would get a radio call with some new task they needed to complete first.
When I began down Drop Off I noticed a crowd gathering at the lift at the bottom, and I figured they were just waiting for the liftie to reach the top station. Unfortunately, I discovered that right as the first person arrived, the lift broke down (with the liftie halfway up, whom the ski patrol had to retrieve with the rescue kit). For those of you unfamiliar with Winterplace, this meant that the 20 or so people at the bottom had to hike back up past the snowtubing park to get back to an open trail.
I had been waiting for weeks for some decent steep terrain to open. I came to ski Drop Off, I waited around all day skiing intermediate and greens to ski Drop Off, and finally when I get the bottom after one run, the lift was broken. Phil Pugliese of EpicSki fame once said in a forum post that most of us who obsess about skiing are the 1% of the populace, the diehards who couldn’t do without it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am one of those people, and I came to ski Drop Off. So what did I do? Inspired by a snowboarder who decided one run wasn’t enough for her as well, we hiked it. Earn your turns, friends, earn your turns. Is this a little silly on the east coast for a 30 second run? Maybe. Did they finally get the lift running later in the day? Yes. Was it worth the hike, the chance to be the lone skier making first tracks down an untouched side of the trail? (and the 1% will agree)….You bet!
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