Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let it Snow: A Look At The Local Downhill Scene

Not long ago, as much as a foot of snow fell in the mountains of the Adirondacks and other high places in the Northeast. It was a rare early notice that winter is just around the corner.

For those of us who enjoy playing in it, that means it’s time to sharpen and wax our skis or boards and get ready to begin the season.

And that, too, is just around the corner. Whiteface plans to opens about a month from now, on Nov. 26, with Gore expecting to start around that time as well.

That means it’s also time to start thinking about how to save on those expensive ski passes. Fortunately, there are a number of options. For frequent skiers, Gore and Whiteface are selling their season passes (good for both resorts) at $825 before Nov. 19, $175 cheaper than normal.

For day-visits, Whiteface only will continue their discounted Sundays program, offering $35 adult tickets on Dec. 12, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 13 and April 3. In addition, every Wednesday at both mountains, adults can buy a ticket for $38 after presenting a Coca-Cola product at the ticket window (yes, you can drink it first).

Meanwhile, the smaller resorts in the Adirondacks continue to work on volunteer power. Both Oak Mountain in Speculator and Big Tupper in Tupper Lake will be operated mostly by volunteers. Outside Warrensburg, Hickory Ski Center — which reopened last year after a long hiatus — has already been organizing volunteer work crews to prepare the slopes. Expect all these hidden gems to begin operation around Christmastime, or perhaps a bit earlier if the snow cooperates.

And let’s not forget the tiny Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake, where many locals learn to make turns for the first time.

In Old Forge, McCauley Mountain will continue to be operated by the Town of Webb. They’re planning to open on Dec. 11.

Need some gear? Check out the annual Ski and Snowboard Expo at Albany’s Times Union Center on Nov. 5 to 7. It’s a great place to pick up terrific deals on ski equipment and clothing. And the first 400 people on line Saturday and Sunday get a free ticket to Gore, West or Whiteface (with, admittedly, pretty stiff blackout dates from late December to early March). For more info, click here.

I’d suggest you get there an hour ahead of the 10 a.m. opening time if you want a close-enough place in line!

The Adirondack Sport and Fitness Magazine is planning its own Winter Expo at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Nov. 20 and 21. Admission is free, and a hundred exhibitors will be there representing all facets of winter sports and travel.

This year, visitors can try an indoor luge set up by USA Luge, which will offer free, wheeled rides on a tiny track. Got dreams of Olympic glory? The team will be looking for luge talent in kids as they try their luck down the “slope.” For more info, click here.

 

Alan Wechsler

Alan Wechsler writes about outdoor recreation and is a regular contributor to Adirondack Explorer.

Alan has been coming to the Adirondacks since his uncle took him on his first backpacking trip—with wet snow, followed by temperatures down to zero degrees—at age 15. He says he still hasn’t learned his lesson.

Today, his frequent adventures into the park include mountain-biking, skiing (cross-country and downhill), hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and climbing (both rock and ice). A long-time newspaper reporter and avid outdoor photographer, he also writes for a number of regional and national magazines about the outdoors and other issues. Alan’s piece for Adirondack Life, Ski to Die, is an International Regional Magazine Association first-place feature-writing winner.


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