Climbing into the loft Saturday night was excruciating. My fall in the Slides Saturday nearly ended my season prematurely. Despite skiing out and finishing the day, I was in pain.
Shuffling to the out house on uneven snow filled me with doubt about my first visit to Gore. My limp was pronounced as I dragged myself into the lodge and slowly got changed. To say I was not “feeling it” would be an understatement.
We boarded the Northwoods Gondola at opening bell and Harvey led the charge down Foxlair to Sunway. I was grimacing the entire way. The pain varied from throbbing to excruciating on a groomed green circle. I tried to hide my frown as we reboarded the gondola. I couldn’t bare to share with Harvey what I was thinking–this next run is going to be it. I can’t go on. Worse than the pain was the thought that I could wreck the post-lift season in a needless masochistic effort.
I thought I could handle a groomers only day. As disappointing as that would be, it was better than the alternative of driving home having only skied two runs at Gore. So we took Uncas and Topridge which further tested my resolve and pain tolerance. With each turn the pain subsided slightly; but I never completely felt in control. I was sliding along desperately trying to get the edges to bite without pressuring my right ankle. It was absurd–but I couldn’t yet push past the pain. We headed for the summit so I could at least see the rest of the mountain before crying mercy.
I started feeling the Gore vibe on Chatiemac, a classic winding old school trail where we found some small soft bumps. I tentatively tried the bumps and successfully hacked down them without too much pain. I had to at least try the trees so we turned left into Straightbook Glades where I continued to hack and struggle lacking any confidence in my turns. But I was surviving. And exploring. Next we cycled back and filled in the figure eight via Hawkeye, another delightful winding old school trail, to Chatiemac Glade. Gore was quickly growing on me.
We skated over to the Darkside next where I continued to push through the pain in the glades. I was delighted by Gore’s often short but very well cut glade and tree system. Similar to many great tree skiing mountains, the trails are primarily used to cut across to the next glade. I lamented that despite feeling better, it was unfortunate that I couldn’t do the mountain justice.
The decision was made to cut back to the Straight Brook Quad via Lies. It was the best decision of the day resulting in my pulling it together. Lies was bumped but soft. I found a rhythm. The pain was sweating out of my body through my pores. I saw an amazing line, my eyes opened wide. I yelped in excitement and tore into it forgetting to breathe. The pain was gone, snow confetti was arcing back past my head. I owned it. When Harv got to the bottom of Lies, I turned to him and announced that “it’s on.”
After skiing the big soft bumps of Rumor, we dropped into Double Barrel where I found my run of the day. The upper section was delightfully thin coverage so line choices were slim. But below Hawkeye, I found a pair of sensational lines. I powdered down tight line after tight line and skied the shit out of that run ending with an aggressive double pole clank and a fist pump. I knew I could ski anything at that point. The pain was gone.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur of bark and bumps. We randomly happened across dozens of tele skiers that Harvey regularly rips with and I was really feeling the strong community vibe of the mountain. It reminded me a lot of Cannon: a tight community brought together by similar passion and a tree skiing culture that continues to push the boundaries. Everyone was only too happy to show the New Hampshire guy around Gore’s finest offerings.
Gore is a really cool mountain. Its bizarre layout is actually a strong point of the mountain as it gives you a lot of looks and aspects. You can move around as various faces ripen and you can follow or avoid the weather as needed. Little tree shots abound everywhere which feature delightful moderately spaced trees on moderate pitches. While lacking in the pucker factor, Gore’s tree lines are clean and well maintained. The moderate angle works to the mountain’s advantage due to its diminutive average seasonal snowfall. Sadly, we were not able to sample Gore’s longer glade offerings since the Burnt Ridge Quad was closed for the season.
Character rich trails are everywhere at Gore including winding moderately pitched sidewinders such as Chatiemac and Hawkeye. I was aghast that the Gore faithful were ducking into the nearby woods when incredible skiing was found on Lower Steilhang and Upper Darby. And the liftline “glades” such as Double Barrel and Darkside were to die for with great bumps amongst interesting and exciting terrain features.
Whereas Whiteface features consistently steep groomer rippers, Gore is limited in that category with only a few equivalents such as Uncas and Topridge. But Gore shines where Whiteface does not with an expansive glade network and kick ass liftline trails (I mean “glades”). Both mountains market vertical stat padding via a waste of a lower mountain. But as with Whiteface, this is a great setup for families and beginners seeking long gentle slopes. Advanced skiers can high speed out of the base area and not return until calling it a day. But unlike Whiteface, the mountain essentially is not skiable top to bottom so it skis significantly shorter than its massive vertical boast might suggest.
This was an awesome awesome day book ended by devastation and redemption. After having shown Harvey my favorite shots at Jay, it was really cool to reverse roles and discover his home turf. Since Harvey tremendously undersold Gore and was concerned about my potential disappointment, I was setup for a stunning over delivery of fun and excitement. Two days in the Dacks was not enough for this New Hampshire skier.
More Trip Reportage from today can be found at the Harvey Road Forums.