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Philip Johnson's Ski-Lines
by Philip Johnson


A Daily Gazette sports blog
Ski season in Upstate NY

A day at Gore, from top to bottom

More Gore?
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.
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.

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February 21, 2014
11:35 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Great column today.

I had a very similar day at Gore on Wednesday but mine started and finished at the main base area rather than the ski bowl. North Creek was one of the places where I learned to ski along with Oak and Royal. I had been wanting to ski at the bowl since they made the connection, but as I only ski Gore mid week it has never been open when I was there. I was determined not to pass up this opportunity to go back to my roots.

My day started with a ride up the Adirondack Express followed by a warmup run down Showcase. After a Gondola ride I took Pine Knot to the Stright Brook chair. My first run from the summit was on Hawkeye which was groomed but a little icy. I followed that with one run on the ungroomed Chatiemac which was more fun. Back up Stright Brook one last time It was time to go to the other side of the summit and ski Stielhang and Cloud to the Saddle. After a brief rest I was off to the North side for one run each on Tahawus and Sleeping Bear. It was time for lunch so after a return to the saddle I headed off to Quicksilver which is probably my favorite trail on the lower mountain.

After lunch it was time to gradually make my way to the bowl. I went back to the saddle on the triple chair then down Twister to Twister's Little Sister and on to the Burnt Ridge Chair. Sagamore looked so good I had to give it a run and liked it so much I skied it again. I could have skied it all afternoon but my goal was the bowl. From the top of Burnt Ridge I took Hedges to Sleeping Bear to reach the Pipeline. I was tired and Pipeline made me even more so, but once you're on there is only one way to go.

Pipeline led me to the Peaceful Valley and after almost 40 years I was back on little Gore.I I've heard it said that you can never go home again and I guess it's true. Very little looked familiar, the trail layout on the left was similar but different. Moxham is kind of where the old Ridge trail was but I am not sure if they are the same. It was a fun ski anyway. On the right side (going up) the fearsome Hudson trail of my youth is now a glade. I don't know why they didn't rebuild the legendary trail the way it use to be, it was what made North Creek the place to ski. Anyway after one run on each on Moxham and Oak Ridge it was time to head back to the main area. It's a much easier trip in this direction and soon I was at the bottom of Burnt Ridge. After a quick ride on the speedy chair it was Echo to the base lodge and my day was done and so was I.

Does anyone have trail map of the ski bowl from sometime from the mid 50s until it closed. I looked online but couldn't find one. I would love to see how it compares to the current layout. It's too bad the old lodge burned down, it had so much more character than its sterile replacement.

Bob Galinsky

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