Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Last Day at Gore - 4/17/11

People generally have a feeling of anxiety as the ski season winds down. On Sunday, I felt a general malaise. I had heard that the skiing was kind of crappy on Saturday, cold and snowy - nowhere near the epic spring conditions that we had enjoyed the previous weekend. I figured that the weekend of the 9th and 10th would serve as a pretty good bookend to an excellent season of resort skiing (definitely the best in the past 3-4 years). Besides, I had gone to the SMBA Trail Maintenance Day on Saturday, built some bridges, moved some rock, and rode my mountain bike for about 3 hours in the afternoon. I was really starting to get into the summer frame of mind, and freezing my ass off on a windy Sunday wasn't really something I wanted to do.

But when you're a skier, you ski.

That's what you do.

So I ate some breakfast, waited until around 10:30, filled my car with $4 gas and drove up to the mountain. Things started off kind of strange when a woman stopped me in the parking lot and asked me if I thought it was worth it.


"Do you think it's worth skiing today? We usually ski Whiteface, but all the lifts were on wind hold, so we drove down here."

"Well, you're already here, so you might as well get in some runs."

"Is that it?"


"Is that the whole mountain?"

"No, don't worry, there's a whole 'nother mountain area behind that one. It's the last day, I'm going skiing."

After that strange exchange, I booted up and got on the lifts around 11:45. It started off cloudy, dreary, and cold. And they had lost a lot of snow from the previous weekend.  But at least the place was empty.

We skied Uncas down to the Straightbrook chair.  It was okay, nothing special, but okay.  Then we did Hullabaloo, Darby Woods, and some off the map glades down to the Darkside Chair.  Those were interesting.  Fun to ski trees on April 17th. Then we looked at the top of Lies, but it was super sketchy (icy crust that broke into fragments that looked like shattered glass).  We skied Straightbrook Glades and Reaper, both of which involved careful line selection to avoid getting trapped in a snowless dead end.

We felt that everything could use some more time to warm up, so we headed down to Topridge to do some runs in the hazy sun that was trying to break through the clouds.  The snow on Topridge and Uncas was a lot better than the snow higher up (corn vs. granular), so we did a lap of each.  Then, as we rode the Topridge Chair we saw some people poaching Rumor.

Later I heard a story that there was a call over the Patrol's radio:

"There are 5 people in dark jackets poaching Rumor!!! We can get them at Headwaters"

"Just let them go"

Shortly thereafter, Rumor was open for business

(Sorry for the crappy pics today, All I had was my cell phone. Also, that photo has a warm filter on it)

After 4 laps of Rumor, we called it a day.  The scene on the deck was pretty mellow.  The sun had come out, but it was still cool.  There were lots of extended breaks and pregnant pauses in the conversation.  Lots of looking up at the mountain with silent stares.  I couldn't tell if everyone was longing for more skiing time, or just reflecting on a solid year.  For me, it was a little of both.  "Anticipatory satisfaction".  In fact, the whole thing reminded me of the second to last scene in Ocean's 11.  It's like we just pulled off an wholly unbelievable heist, and we're all looking forward to whatever comes next.

And when it was time to go, we left in the same way.  One by one, we said our goodbyes and walked off.  Some people I'll see over the summer, but some I won't see until next year.  How do I know I'll see them next year? Well, they're just like me.  They're skiers.

And yes, it's always worth it.


  1. Great piece. Loved the "Is that the whole mountain?" line -- that happened to me at Belleayre.

  2. +1. Every season, we all say goodbye to skiing in our own way. And there are always those people that still don't get it...

    Having said that, winter is not letting go without a fight. There is a winter storm warning not far from where I live.

  3. We didn't ski the final weekend because we wanted to close out our family's ski season on a high note, but we've skied other days for no other reason than because we're skiers and it's what we do. And it is always worth it.

  4. No doubt this has been a great season. Matt, you and I skied together more this year than ever before, and I really enjoyed it.

    I can't ever remember being on the hill and wishing I hadn't come. That can't just be good luck - it is a mindset. The last two paragraphs of this piece are especially chilling. Love reading MC2.

  5. Great post to end a great season - of writing! Perhaps a summer theme?