Skiing

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After an exceptionally warm September, followed by an October and a November that presented variable weather, the 2015-2016 winter season is now officially under way.

With a burst of cold fall conditions, the first resorts to open in October were Killington, Vermont, and Sunday River, Maine. After subsequent warm weather sent skiers back to the golf courses, we have finally hit the kind of steady temperatures that are nirvana for snowmakers.

Clear, cold nights give crews the chance to make copious amounts of dry snow in a relatively short period of time. The timing is perfect as resort operators strive to open as much terrain as possible leading into the busy holidays.

If there are no warm spells or rain outs, conditions over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday recess will be exceptional as no one does snowmaking better than the east.

Great for kids

You can include Maple Ski Ridge in Schenectady among those making the smooth velvet surface for its guests. If you have a youngster itching to learn these invigorating winter sports, a facility like Maple Ridge is perfect.

Lots of times, kids and their concerned parents get overwhelmed at the destination resorts. Not at Maple Ridge, however, which retains a family and neighborhood atmosphere. From December 28 to January 1, newcomers and novices to skiing and riding will be offered a 90-minute lesson, followed by a four-and-a-half-hour area pass to build mileage into their new skills. All this for just $210. Equipment is additional.

Trust me, having seen this with my own daughter many years ago, all that the little ones need are a bit of instruction, some imitation and lots of miles. It won’t be long before you’ll be chasing them. As I said, trust me on this one!

New features at West Mountain

If you’re up for a short drive, consider a trip to West Mountain in Glens Falls, as management there is debuting a new triple chair—The West Express—and a top to bottom run, Gnar-Wall.

Tack on 20 new energy-efficient snow guns, an expanded terrain park, better lighting and upgrades to the ticketing system. The West Mountain management change, which occurred less than two years ago, has definitely been for the better, with guests feeling it before they hit the snow as well as in the off-season.

Green on white at Jiminy

Going in the opposite direction, Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires is arguably the most sustainable ski facility in the nation. They are proving that green is actually good in the ski business. There’s a 12-acre site near the base of the mountain lined with 7,500 solar panels, totaling 2.3 megawatts of new solar energy-generating capacity. It’s the largest community solar project in the northeast.

Combined with Jiminy Peak’s existing 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, 75-kilowatt co-generation unit, and extensive conservation efforts, this new solar array will enable the resort to offset 90 percent of its energy needs, including snowmaking, from local renewable resources. Some of those savings are spinning off into nearby communities.

Finally

As world events have evolved over the past month, it is important for us to seek the comfort of the mountains, with the peace and solitude they offer.

As you ski and board this month, try to take a lift ride by yourself. Make it a point to scan the panorama before you without being obliged to indulge in conversation. Let’s consider ourselves fortunate as we immerse ourselves in these winter wonderlands and the activities that come with them. Considering where we live, they are literally at our beck and call.

And let us enjoy the company of our families and friends, on and off the slopes, during this holiday season.

 

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