Ski Day 14: Friday, I got a note from Carol at Mount Peter. She said coverage was really good, and with temps in the upper 40s, today looked like an opportunity to get to a NY mountain I'd never skied.
One thing about spring skiing ... it's messes with my head to sleep late on January ski day. But that's what we did. We got up at 7:30 got in the car by 9 and arrived at Mount Peter around 10:30.
I'd never really spent much time in Orange County NY, aside from passing through on the interstate or alternate routes. I think Mt Peter is actually at the southern end of the Gunks. The area was more mountainous than I imagined and it was really a nice drive once we got off the interstate.
We arrived and headed inside to boot up. The lodge has a Plattekill feel to it. People just leave their bags in any spot they can find and nobody seems worried about it. I dig that.
When we got out on the hill it sounded like there was a race taking place off the Halley's Comet chairlift on Dynamite. We headed to Sam's Chair. It was right in front of us, there was no line, and the terrain along the liftline was softening nicely in the sun.
One thing about skiing with Neve - things workout best if you let her make choices. Still I admit - I tried to talk her out of her first choice - a terrain park we spied from the chair - Outback. I'm thinking NEVE COME ON! ... it's spring skiing! Follow the sun! Outback is like a road through the woods, with snowmaking, pitch, and rails. It's it the shade, or dappled light, but it was actually pretty soft.
Outback - Neve's first ever Black Diamond Trail
The whole region is quite pretty, and when you get about halfway up any of the lifts, you start to see rugged terrain to the northwest and off to the northeast.
We heard the race ending, so we skied over to the Haley' Comet lift. Neve chose Devil's Tail. Patrol at Mount Peter must have very high standards - there's NO WAY Gore would ever put a "Thin Cover" sign on a trail with this much coverage.
"Thin Cover" on Devil's Tail
I actually thought Devil's Tail had the best snow of any expert trail on the map. Next time up we Neve went for Dynamite and we came to the Mount Peter Headwall. It was "sled ready"...
...and over we went...
Patrol is everywhere on the mountain. They're an incredibly friendly group of people who seem to double as Mountain Hosts.
Near the top of the west side lifts, there's a little sugar shack that Patrol calls home. What I saw on the outside made me curious about what it was like on inside...
We skied and Neve ripped. She was totally into the fact that she could pick ANY trail on the hill without asking me if she could ski it. I liked it too. We spent a lot of time doing "eenie meenie miney moe."
While my own attire is notoriously drab (it's a tree skier thing) - red is my favorite color. All the ski instructors have these insanely vibrant red coats with a totally upbeat Mt Peter "Mountain School" logo on them. Either these coats are all brand new or the instructors take incredible care of their gear...
We skied until 1:30 grabbed a quick lunch, and headed back out. When Neve figured out that the Ol' Pete lift went all the way to the "real top" we rode that for the rest of the day. Wild West was in the shade and was the only trail that never totally softened. At around 2pm Neve decided Wild West was her favorite and we lapped it 3 or 4 times. Eventually we headed back to some lower angle stuff. Our best runs of the day were on St. Pete's, Cedar Lane and Rim Run. Neve discovered a "kicker" where St Pete's hits Cedar lane and we chose that trail combination a bunch of times.
At around 3pm we were coming down upper Rim Run and one of the friendly a patrollers asked us if we wanted to come into the Patrol Hut for hot cocoa. PAYDIRT. I get my chance to talk to the guys, and Neve has every reason to want to hang out.
The hut and it's denizens were very cool. Doug and the guys warmly welcomed us inside, cranked up the cocoa for Neve and we got to chatting. These guys were like my long lost brothers - they love Plattekill, Gore, Whiteface and Jay Peak, so we had PALENTY to talk about. They have a bulletin board on one wall with a trail map from every mountain they've collectively skied, and it's an impressive display. We yakked about everything under the sun, until Neve's cocoa ran out and then maybe ten minutes more. I definitely want to connect with these guys when they ski in the Adirondacks or the Catskills.
Before the whole cocoa/patrol diversion I'd told Neve we'd do three more runs and then head towards home. After 30 minutes with the guys, I figured we'd ski down and call it a day. But when we got back out on the hill Neve insisted: "you PROMISED THREE MORE RUNS." You don't have to convince me to ski more - we skied THREE MORE RUNS.
As we were about to pop off our skis, Neve spies "The Hub." It's a beginner slope rope tow - a true old style surface lift. I think she's a NELSAPer at heart. She digs the small surface lifts, and asked if we could ride it. I told her this was not easy to ride like a POMA, and that she'd really have to hang on.
We took our last run on Deer Run at 4:15 and called it a day. By the time we changed our boots it was after 4:30. Another odd feeling I had - in addition to getting up so late to ski this morning - was LEAVING a ski hill with good snow that was still loading chair lifts. Mount Peter has night skiing until 9pm and a significant number of skiers were still getting after it.
Mt. Peter has a great total package for family skiing. It's got ski racing and terrain parks. Regulars and passholders mix with skiers from the metropolitan area (I heard many different languages today). It has wall-to-wall high efficiency snowguns, it's own snowmaking pond and management that is committed to skiing. It's accessible to a lot of people, and it's got a very friendly atmosphere. Two thumbs up.
"If it's my mountain, I'm installing a fixed grip and telling the lifties to stuff the beginners into chairs as aggressively as they have to to keep it going full speed." —Brownski
Mount Peter gets the full Harv trip-report treatment. It's hard to believe that the entire region went from looking mid-January to mid-April in the space of a week.
Between this and my Mt Peter post last Saturday, you'd think that we covered most of the hill's points, but there are two things that neither of us mentioned:
For adults who need time to unwind, there's a nice bar (pretzels on every table) next to the cafeteria. Also, Mountain School Director Rob Gallo mentioned that on the far skier's right is a big cleared field alongside the parking lot with a perfect pitch for beginners that's slated to get a lift in the next few years. This will be a huge addition as it will provide a ton of space for lower green-circle skiers/boarders to work on their skillz.
What is this -- two weekends in a row without Gore? Harv must be getting the shakes. Another thing, he continues to add to his "most dedicated MASH skier" street cred. From his HQ in central NJ, I'm guessing that it's at least 1:45 (?) for him to reach a ski area along the NY state line. Yikes.
Night skiing can be really nice especially in early spring. I would sometimes make an afternoon-evening trip with one of my kids. I found that the crowds can get really thin and the light stays around longer.
Great TR for a great day. I think you have the right idea...just follow Neve. My mother-in-law patrolled here decades ago. They would leave my husband sleeping in a stroller at the chairlift and go ski. Times have changed!