Thursday, February 19, 2009

Car Travel

Over the weekend we had several days of yuck weather. Where "yuck weather" can be defined as good for the resort, but bad for driving. In this case it was rain that changed to snow, bringing with it some cloud levels, and generally making the drive not so nice.

I had a late start to the resort due to a handful of reasons, mostly all around too little sleeping the night before. As I drove up the mountain, it became apparent that many folks were not prepared for the weather. One euntrapaneur set up shop selling chains just before the chain up area from the back of his truck. Judging by the line, he was making a killing.

Two or three blind turns later, I see a car passing me on the left. Normally this isn't a bad thing, as it's a two lane road, but today the conditions just make it silly. I slow and let him pass, as do the two cars in front of me. As I drive around the next sharp turn I find that same car now is now facing down the mountain road, snowboard sticking out the broken side window. On the right lay a woman clearly in pain, bleeding pretty badly. Several of motorists stopped to help with the scene while waiting for emergency services. Turns out the woman was putting chains on her car when the speedy car swept a little wide and crunched her. Emergency services was surprisingly quick to arrive and took over fast.

I haven't heard any details on the woman's status since, but a strong lesson learned. When putting on your chains make sure to be completely pulled over to the side of the road. Plus it might be wise to wedge your car a bit to protect you from a possible side swipe.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I was pretty impressed with the crowds we had this weekend, given that it was Valentine's Day. Typically we see very few people on the slopes that day. Apparently though someone managed to mix in a Presidents Day holiday and this just brought everyone out for the whole weekend.

On Sunday, after having classes from 10-3pm I took a brief break to eat something. The weather had moved from being an ugly snowy morning to a beautiful blue sky day somewhere around 1. So nice that I had to start shedding layers. At about 3:15 one of the other instructors pulled me out of my lunch stupor with the idea of getting some time in the out of bounds area before the sun set.

After two chair rides and a long hike, we found ourselves at the upper edge of the boundary line. Standing there waiting to close was Ski Patrol, looking down the same area we were thinking of hitting. Patrol looked at us, looked back down the line and calmly said "Damn, I thought I'd be the first to hit this line today."

We promptly took off down the run before he could say anymore. Steep terrain, some fresh inches, a north facing slope, and some tight trees kept this line pretty hidden from most while maintaining the snow quality. Five turns in and about 100 yards down my legs let it be known that they are tired. I realized this was going to be a rough ride when I found myself sitting back on the skis in the steeps.

A lot of washed out turns later, we reached the low slope section through thick trees before the next drop. At the next drop all adventure stopped as we realized the area had a minor slide sometime earlier in the day. Neither of us had heard of this area sliding before, nor did we have any real back country gear with us. The decision was to cut across the top on the flat-ish part, heading back towards the boundary line.

Finding a new route down, hitting a little ice, and having the first tracks through this area just made the entire weekend worth it. We then did the run two more times, with me being worse each time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Just Add Fuel

Justin B likes to talk about it a lot over at ski-blog. I've talked about the overall expense of skiing a few times too. For those in the New York area though, the cost of taking a family out to enjoy the outdoors is about to increase. Introducing the Amusement Tax, better known in the area as the Ski Tax to the resorts and employees of New York State.

Since tax law is about as thrilling as life can get, cutting to the section in question is highly advised (paragraph 10 of subdivision D in section 1101). The general gist of the entire PDF is the state of New York is apparently no different from the rest of America. It too has a finite amount of money to spend, and when it's constituents stop spending money, it needs to find new sources of revenue. In this case it's places of amusement, which ski resorts are lumped into.

Overall, I'm not a huge fan of the concept. This looks like it will introduce a sales tax on lift tickets, rentals, and lessons. I'm not sure how much good it will do, but there do seem to be two petitions already started on this. The first Stop The Ski Tax and the second oniPetitions.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Slow Down

Super Bowl Sunday was an interesting time on the mountain. Normally we expect to have a low number of guests on the slopes that day, but historically high numbers in the lodge(s) and bars. Or really anywhere they can watch the game.

This year the resort was empty. The slopes were early in the day had low numbers, by the time the Super Bowl started, a small handful of people were still enjoying the snow. The lodge, empty.

This gave me a chance to talk with a couple of the departments I don't normally get to talk with. Generally I thought the resort was doing well through the economic downturn, given that I see everything still running strong and typically large numbers of people on the slopes. Cat maintenance though told me that they have cut down the numbers of employees this year to 10 mechanics and 5 drivers. Park Crew tells me they are down to 6 people to maintain all the parks and pipe (from a usual 15).

The economy looks like it has finally hit the resort.