My boys (both skiiers) and me (a boarder) hit Windham yesterday for our first trip of the year.
The trip also marked our first time doing to the NYCSnowBus. All in all, pretty good service. The only annoyance, and it was minor, was that we are the start of the trip in Brooklyn. So while it was great to be able to walk (with gear) to/from the bus, doing stops in Union Square, Times Square, and the UWS added 45-60 minutes to the trip both ways. The bus ride itself is $60. We don't own a car, so it's a no brainer, but also great to not to have to drive after a day on the trails.
We ended up getting on the mountain at about 9:45am (our bus left outside the Barclays Center at 6am for context). Reports were of 6" the day and night before but it looked more like 4". Trails like Wing'n It, on the East Mountain, without snow making looked a long way off from being ready for skiing with visible grass and rocks poking through. But the conditions on the open trails (i.e., trails with snowmaking) were pretty good. In the AM there were a few icy spots on heavily trafficked areas like the top of Upper Whistler, but otherwise grooming was pretty good throughout the mountain with the 1-2" of powder settled on top of a relatively soft base (i.e., no dust on crust).
Late morning my older son did Upper Wheelchair, one of the double diamonds on the mountain, and he said it was a bit skiied over in spots (as was visible from the Wheelchair double lift) but relatively in good shape. Meanwhile my younger son and I did Windfall, one of a handful of "blue-blacks" on the mountain and the only one open yesterday.
In the afternoon we headed to the East Mountain to hit Why Not, the one black open there. It was starting to get a bit skied over in a few spots, but was still ok. We then did a few laps on Wanderer the long green that was the only other trail open on that side.
Come 2:30 or so there were more icy spots and skied off areas emerging. The mountain was blowing a ton of snow on the Warmup Park trail next to the Wonderarma triple and we pretty much had that trail to ourselves so did a bunch of laps there which was a blast.
All in all really great first day. Was cold but not too cold with layers, no wind to speak of, and the bus worked out fine. I imagine that conditions may degrade a bit this week as it gets colder and high traffic areas get skiied off more, but hopefully they'll blast snow during this cold spell.
For a holiday week, the mountain seemed pretty empty. The longest lift line we were in all day was 3 deep. Most of the time there was no line at all.
Probably goes without saying, but Windham (and I'm guessing Belleayre and Hunter) really need a 1-2 punch of a couple 8-12" storms to build their base. Again, good conditions where they are blowing snow but there's a lot of the mountain left to open that seems dependent on some natural snow and I imagine come this weekend it'll be very crowded, in frigid temps now less, on the trails that are open, especially in Windham's case on the trails that run under and beside the Whirlwind Express Quad.
Re the drinking fests, as they say in Maine "hard saying not knowing" as I only have done one bus trip and the sample size is small. This caveat in mind, we had probably 15 people total on the bus yesterday. On the way up they handed out water and bagels. Getting on the bus for the trip back they handed out a can of beer and I think one person partook that I saw. I don't drink and was with my kids anyway. It felt family friendly to me -- most people slept both ways.
I think Ovride though caters to the 20 something set, especially snowboarders, and features more partaking of various sorts on the bus or before, but have not tried it yet so don't know for sure.
I definitely would do NYCSnowbus again and am very psyched to use it to play hookie for last minute trips on my own on week days to respond to snowfall. The short walk to the Brooklyn bus (Ovride is even closer for us) is a big win. Might try the Ovride Mt Snow trip sans kids, maybe with my recently divorced buddy.
Next trip planned is a NYCSnowbus day trip to Gore on 1/13 which is a 4am departure. That will be a longer day but willing to give it a shot to support Gore.
I saw a lot of buses outside of Plattekill last year. Have you considered taking a bus there?
Yeah, I'm game, but I'm pretty sure that bus leaves from the Port Authority, which is pretty far from Park Slope where I'm at. By contrast, I can easily walk - with two kids AND our equipment - to the start of the NY Snow Buys (and Ovride) so that dictates things for me a bit.
We did a couple of bus trips way way way way way back and that let us to keep a car- which we typically always had. I was one of the few NYC kids (grew up here) that had a license by 17 to get to bike races and to get away skiing on weekends. And by 18 I had a car and all but a couple of years, since then, have always had one.
Alicia (my wife) got into skiing at 21, we took a couple of bus trips and then said - forget this... To long, and though fun - we wanted to be at the mountain by 7ish or 8 to get in first tracks...
We would ski Windham alot then, though preferred Hunter as the terrain seemed more challenging and my Uncle - who is still an amazing skier now at 70, and my cousins all skied there. Windham is a great mountain, and we will check it out this season with our MaxPass...
Good report and good to know about the bus operations that go there from Brooklyn. Better to have them than not...