For sure, the season is winding down. Several ski centers have been closing at night, shortening hours and are getting ready to pull the plug. You might not like it, but the harsh reality is unless they have marketing staffs who can create reasons for riders to visit, then their business model tells them to close. It doesn’t pay to keep the lights on when nobody is showing up.
That presents some thinking out of the box for those of us who aren’t ready to pack our boards in the basement. If your home hill closes and there’s still a good base, like at mine, then you still have options there.
For skinning, a.k.a. ski touring, you’ll need the right bindings, skis with skins and possibly boots. You’ll also want to be in good physical shape. Skin up the hill, ski down, repeat. With the lifts not running and the hill closed, you’ll want to do it with someone. Most areas don’t mind whether they’re open or closed for the season.
Some people pile into a larger van or SUV and drive to the top of the hill with the gear in or on the vehicle. (Many ski areas have access from the back side of their properties.) The passengers hop out and ski down. The driver heads back to the base. It can be a lot of fun and cause for a picnic on a nice, sunny spring day.
In these scenarios, remember that you are doing so at your own risk. There is no ski patrol to haul your injured butt down and administer aid. Further, you are on someone else’s property. Play nice and respect the slopes.
What I recommend is to pick a date and place for one last road trip. There are areas within a two-hour drive that will be open the first week of April. Plan your spring day and take your last run of the season with mud in the parking lot and a strong run-off into the creeks at the base. Take in the fresh air and give thanks for the terrific season we’ve had.
It’s been quite a winter, with record lows yet with some high temperatures throughout. Some areas experienced some real dumps; others missed it. That’s the way it is in Central New York. We’ve been due for a good winter; the last several have been dull. According to a sign at one of the churches in LaFayette, on U.S. Route 20, “Will the person who is praying for snow please stop.” That was me! With what appears to be approaching 100 days of skiing available, I’ll stop.
My thanks to the owners of the ski centers in our back yard for their time and allowing me access, to the editor of the Syracuse New Times for the opportunity to write this series, and most importantly to the readers of this column for your interest and support. Good skiing!
Scott Launt grew up in Cortland. Much of his misspent youth was at Greek Peak. He is a member of the National Ski Patrol at Labrador and a member of the Onondaga Ski Club.