Ski slopes plan their last hurrahs as spring arrives

Skiers are torn this time of year, enjoying the spring sunshine as much as anyone even as it inevita

Skiers are torn this time of year, enjoying the spring sunshine as much as anyone even as it inevitably destroys their sport.

Diehard skiers will make the most of these final weekends at local ski areas.

Willard Mountain owner Chic Wilson said Thursday that he is doubtful that he will be able to open this weekend, and officials at Maple Ski Ridge said that this weekend will definitely be their last. Oak Mountain in Speculator closed after last weekend.

Royal Mountain in Caroga Lake and West Mountain in Glens Falls are planning on operating at least through March 27-28. But the weather will be the deciding factor.

Wilson advises skiers to call ahead Saturday before driving to Willard. There is still plenty of snow on the trails, Wilson said, but with water running off and collecting at the bottom, it has created a sloppy mess.

“We’ve had such a good winter with such good conditions,” Wilson said, expressing a reluctance to subject skiers to the spring conditions.

At Royal, where the season always ends with a big party on the deck, owner Jim Blaise said he anticipates that the regulars will begin the deck celebration Saturday just in case continued melting jeopardizes the weekend of March 27-28.

“There’s quite a bit of melting, but we have so much snow,” said West Mountain Marketing Director Margaret Martin.

As part of the snow-making strategy, she said, huge mounds are set aside so they can be moved at this time of year to thinning areas.

West will celebrate the closing days with its annual Slush Cup at noon Saturday followed by a customer appreciation party.

On the March 27 and again April 2-3, West will hold snowmobile hill-climbs. Martin said snowmobilers will be segregated on the 27th so they do not interfere with skiers.

Maple Ridge operators are setting up a slush pond for those wild enough to participate in pond skimming and tug-of-war contests. There will also be a limbo and hula contest and a ball drop. There will be a prize for the most unique hat or headgear.

A news release from Maple said the pond is “great for little ones and us older mature-acting adults who would never be caught doing such a childish, foolhardy [thing].”

Maple is offering a $30 ticket good for the entire weekend, including tonight.

Categories: Schenectady County

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