A day at Gore, from top to bottom
As a slogan, it has certainly caught on since the Lake Placid-based agency Ad Workshop proposed it 10 years ago to the ORDA-run ski area in North Creek. With the exception of “Mad River: Ski It If You Can,” I can’t think of another tag line that has stuck around so long.
Sometimes though, it seems to me that Gore Mountain gets taken for granted by folks around here.
I was thinking about that the other day when I was at Gore just finishing up at the Ski Bowl Lodge where I started out six hours earlier.
As we all know, ski conditions during Presidents’ Week have been outstanding everywhere. Having more than two feet of new snow just before a mid-winter holiday week is as good as it gets for a ski area. It not only means good business for nine days, but great momentum going into March when days are longer, the weather is warmer and discounted season-pass sales for next year come on the market.
My goal at Gore was to ski the area end to end and back. I was not a man on a two-aspirin mission. I just wanted a plan for a comfortable day on the boards.
My day went like this. Starting out at the Ski Bowl, which was the original ski hill in North Creek, I took the Hudson Chair to the top of Little Gore. You can go north through the glades from there, but I chose to warm up with a couple of intermediate runs off the Oak Ridge trail — a groomed flat cruiser, followed by a moderately bumped up run off the same lift. Both trails wind through the woods. It was a very pretty way to start the day.
Next, it was back up the Hudson Chair, but this time across the Peaceful Valley trail to Eagle’s Nest to the Burnt Ridge chairlift. This is the quad chair that makes the Ski Bowl-to-main-mountain connection possible. Up the chair for a lap on the black diamond Sagamore Trail, then back to the Burnt Ridge peak for a run down The Hedges to the old North Chair. This quad is a slow poke, but it services five nice intermediate runs that rarely attract crowds. On a snowy day, you can usually count on fresh powder here much longer than any other trails at Gore.
At the top of the North Chair is the Saddle Lodge, a good place for a break and a beverage. If you want more, a family can easily drop forty dollars or more for the convenience of burgers and fries and soft drinks at mid-mountain.
Refueled, it was time for a run to the main base area on Upper Sleighride, then Showcase, which has been the signature trail since Gore opened in 1964. Once Showcase was the main thoroughfare for skiers, but since the Northwoods Gondola was installed a decade ago, it is just one of several long, intermediate cruisers that characterize the mountain.
The gondola can be a lifesaver on cold, windy or wet days. Even on nice days like this, riding in a bright indoor cabin is a nice break.
From the top of the gondola, you can head off in any direction. I chose Pine Knot to the Straightbrook Chair to the top of Gore Mountain. There are choices to make there too, including a traverse to The Rumor, the steepest trail at the area. This time, I picked Chatiemac, the farthest south of the main mountain trails. Like its adjacent trail Hawkeye, this, for many years, was the rite of passage for skiers looking to move up from intermediate to advanced. It is still a challenging run.
From the bottom of Chatiemac, it is a cruiser down to the base of the Top Ridge area. This pod of terrain didn’t exist before the current gondola was put into service. With its south face, it is the sunniest and most temperature-friendly area on the mountain and generally the first to offer soft spring conditions.
OK, it’s back to the gondola peak on the Top Ridge triple chair for a ski down to the main Gore base on Foxlair to Sunway to Quicksilver to the Lodge where food, water and indoor plumbing await.
It is now well past the lunch hour. The skiing so far has covered the entire area from north to south with lots in between that hasn’t been tried today. Indeed, the entire High Peaks area, a regular part of most days at Gore, hasn’t been tried.
The break is 15 minutes, enough time for a hot chocolate, but not so much for the legs and thighs to organize a protest.
Back up the gondola. Then it is Ruby Run to the Saddle Lodge, then a wrap around to Pete Gay then, at the base of the North Quad, the long slog back to the Ski Bowl. There are some areas at Gore still where a long flat traverse is required and those on snowboards can expect to work up a sweat no matter what the temperature.
The interconnect at the Ski Bowl is the gentle Peaceful Valley trail. At the bottom is the Ski Bowl Lodge. But today, one more run is in the cards. It is the pleasant Oak Ridge trail where the day began, only this time it is covered by an additional four inches of new snow since the first run in the morning.
More Gore? This was a long, full day with as much skiing as this former teenager is ready to tackle. Yet, there was lots more if I wanted it. I’d bet that I could do another full day, maybe two like this and never ski the same trail twice. That’s enough Gore for me.
Freddie Anderson will turn 93 Saturday. The founder of the Schenectady Ski School and head of the instruction program at Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam since the 1960s has been teaching young people how to ski for seven decades. This year is no exception. She plans to be out there on the hill again this weekend.
LAKE PLACID LOPPET
Lack of snow should not be an issue this time. The 35th Loppet, originally scheduled for January, will be held Saturday, March 8, at Mt. VanHoevenberg. The competitions, largest in the Eastern U.S., will be at 25 and 50 kilometers in both classic and skate styles.
I love the Winter Olympics. I’ll be watching right up until the end to see my favorite events, the 4x7.5k biathlon relay and the four-man bobsled, to be run Saturday. I’ll review the highlights and the lowlights of the 2014 Games in next week’s column.