In that vein, I wonder if I am asking for too much. I mean, shouldn’t I be happy with what I have going? I have a house. I have a great job, with plenty of vacation time, a decent salary, and great benefits. I have a great wife who loves skiing (and biking) as much as I do. We live in a great area. Gore is an hour away, Whiteface is 2:15. My parents’ lakehouse is 2:45 away, with a boat and a jet ski. Ace’s parents’ condo is 45 minutes away and 20 minutes from Gore. Mountain Biking at SMBA is about 25 minutes away, at Luther Forest about 15 minutes away. Any number of Road Bike Rides are available right out my front door. We have a lot of friends in the area for the summer, and we have a lot of friends at the mountain for the winter. Our families live close. And I love Gore. It’s definitely top 5 in the East for trees (Stowe, Smuggs, Jay, MRG), which is what I like to ski most.
Really, if I was to pick up and move west, it would be for the following reasons:
- Change of Scenery – I’ve lived in this area for (pretty much) my entire life. I took 3.5 years off to go to school in Maine, and half a year to do a semester in New Zealand. Other than that, I’ve lived in Upstate NY.
- Snow – As much as I like Gore (and most of the East), the lack of natural snowfall is a killer. It’s great when we have it, but sometimes we seem to spend weeks waiting for it. I don’t really know how much snow I want (I don’t necessarily need Alta’s 500 inches, but Crested Butte’s 240 inches doesn’t sound like enough)
- Terrain – As much as I like Gore, there’s no doubt that the terrain of a western resort is far superior in both acreage and variety.
- Ski Town Vibe – I hate to dis where I grew up (because it worked out well for me), but Clifton Park, NY is a suburban wasteland. The town is overcome with raised ranches (one of which is mine) and contains every single fast food restaurant, Friday’s/Chili’s type joint, and big box store known to man. A proper ski town isn’t like that. I picture Victorian houses and quaint streets. And for me, there’s a certain feel to a ski town, where everyone is on vacation, and you can’t help but have your mood lifted.
And that’s about it. Let’s look at the list, and see what would be different.
#1 is a weak reason. It doesn’t take too long to adapt to a new place, and once I settle in and find my favorite spots, would I move again just for a “change of scenery?”
#2 is big, but how big? We get about 3 to 5 Powder Days at Gore per year. By driving around a little bit, I might be able to squeeze another 3 to 5 out of other parts of the East Coast. That’s 6 to 10 pretty good (5-7” +) powder days. Granted, we hardly ever get the 12-24 inches that pile up overnight at western resorts. I’m thinking the average western resort gets more like 18-30 awesome powder days a year . . . 3 times as much. But the other thing is that, with all the natural snow, even the “droughts” are really good. 20 day old natural snow is a lot better than 20 day old manmade snow (that’s why I like “natural” trails in the east – no ice pellets to screw up the consistency). Finally, we almost never see the rare and fantastic blue sky powder day that you always see in ski pictures. So that’s a really big driver.
#3 is pretty important, because even when we do get a big power day (Valentine’s Day storm a couple of years ago), you need a mountain that can deliver the goods. Let’s face it, some of the runs on the lower mountain don’t have enough pitch to keep you going on a really deep day. They’re great cruisers in a snow drought, but just not cutting it when there’s 36” of fresh on the ground. The top of the mountain, however, rocked on that day (and the day after . . . and the day after that . . . and the following weekend). A lot of mountains out west have serious vertical right down to the base (I would just have to be careful when I choose).
#4 is really more of an image, I think, than a want. Life in a ski town, while it looks glamorous, is not as cool as I’m making it out to be. Great Jobs are few and far between, and there’s probably not going to be any health insurance. There’s not even any guarantee that I will get to ski on those epic blue sky powder days. Everything is expensive, the paycheck probably won’t be consistent, and I’d have to hustle to make things happen for myself (which may cut into my ski time).
So, I have to decide if the good (all that stuff in #2 and #3) outweighs the bad (all that stuff I mentioned in #4). And right now, I just don’t see it. Better Snow and Better Terrain seem like a reason to vacation there, but the negatives I listed in #4 prevent me from moving there (at this point in my life). Things will happen, though, over the next few years. People will move away, global warming might destroy eastern snowfall totals, and I might win the lottery. For now, I’m just going to keep on keepin’ on. And hopefully, I’ll learn to appreciate the things that I do have . . . Right after I buy myself some sweet rockered skis.