NORTH CREEK — The snow was beginning to soften under a bright sun as my father, Charles, and I hiked toward the top of Little Gore Mountain, skis slung over our shoulders, boots clunking through the slush.
After about a 15 minute hike up from the Upper Pipeline trail on the north side of Burnt Ridge Mountain, we reached the top — sweaty and winded — and were greeted by four members of ski patrol who gathered around a circle of fold-out camping chairs. They thanked us for making the trek up and handed out commemorative pins to wear proudly on our jackets before pointing us down a freshly cut network of trails on the north side of Gore Mountain planned to open at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
Rather than having skiers hike up in the future a new triple chair-lift will be installed, connecting the historic North Creek Ski Bowl — which currently offers one lift, beginner trails and tubing — to the other ridges of Gore. The new expansion will increase the mountains overall skiing vertical from 2,300 to 2,500 feet, sixth highest in the East.
The new interconnect was open to the public on Saturday, March 6 for a two and a half hour window as a preview of the new trails. And my father and I were happy to check it out.
Charles has been cruising down the slopes of Gore Mountain Ski Resort for more than 40 years since learning to ski there in his early teens. I don’t quite remember the first time I skied at Gore, but I know I was still in diapers when my parents attached me to a pair of skies and sent me down the hill.
“It’s feels pretty weird being on a new part of the mountain, doesn’t it?” Charles said, before we set off down the Oak Ridge trail at the top of Little Gore.
Pointed sticks and rocks shown through the un-groomed trail, lined with tall snow-covered oak trees, as we weaved our way down. A few more members of ski patrol were scattered around the trail, waving people on as if standing on the sidelines of a marathon.
I trailed my father, skiing fast, as we ducked through a short patch of dense glades and onto the middle section of Moxham, a steep and narrow intermediate trail. The snow was soft and quick. We raced down the lower section, passing a Gore Mountain photographer who huddled on the side of the trail snapping shots. As the terrain flattened and the snow became wet and sluggish, we coasted into the Ski Bowl. A good run. Short, but worth the hike.
Near the bottom of the trail a metal frame sits at the foot of the hill. A sign nearby introduces the Hudson Triple Chair: “Coming soon.”
The event was the first time in this millennium the trails were open to the public, but Little Gore Mountain and the North Creek ski bowl have a long history in relation to downhill skiing.
“What you just skied was the old Ridge trail,” said Emily Stanton, marketing manager of Gore, who met us at the bottom of the hill near the lodge. “We used the same profile as trails that existed in 1946, so what we’re skiing here today are essentially new, old trails.”
On March 4,1934, a snow train carried 378 winter enthusiasts from Schenectady to the North Creek station located in the heart of the Adirondack Park — a date that put the area on the map as a winter recreation destination.
These early events paved the way for the establishment of Gore Mountain, one of the first commercial ski areas in the country.
Among those in attendance, as groups of people skied down the historic section of the mountain, was senior vice president of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Jeff Bryne and Gore’s Mountain Manager Mike Pratt.
“It’s great to see all of this being reincarnated,” Bryne said. “We’re thrilled to open up a new part of the mountain. It gives us all something to get excited about.”
According to Pratt, 110 visitors got a chance to ski down the new terrain throughout the day.
“We had a great turnout and we’re glad to bring back some of the history to this area,” Pratt said. “There’s a whole generation of people who remember the old trails from the glory days.”
Gore is a deceiving mountain. When visitors first arrive it doesn’t look like much. Only a few trails are visible from the base lodge along with one dinky double chair, a gondola and a triple. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
When skiers arrive at Whiteface, Gore’s sister mountain, the snow-blown peak is visible right from the parking lot. But Gore’s summit, at 3,600 feet, is hidden far away from the base area.
Gore Mountain is home to 12 lifts including the 8-passenger high-speed gondola, 400 skiable acres with a total of 35.13 miles and 96 trails on four different mountain peaks.
Both Whiteface and Gore are state owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority. They are marketed separately, but work together in bringing events and skiers to the area. The travel time between mountains is about an hour and 15 minutes.
All season passes sold at either Whiteface or Gore cover both mountains as well as multiple day tickets.
“It really makes for a great vacation,” Stanton said. “The two mountains are close together, but they’re different in a lot of ways. If you’re in the area to ski one or the other, why not hit both?”
Gore offers terrain for all skiers from steep diamonds to rolling beginner trails such as Sunway a two-and-a-half mile long trail perfect for beginners just starting to get their ski-legs.
But the mountain’s pride and joy may be a gnarly run at the top called the Rumor. Although Whiteface is known for having the steepest vertical on the East Coast, Gore claims the Rumor may be the steepest trail. With a 70-percent pitch, it often gets so built up through the season that moguls turn into head-high ice cliffs and even the best skiers tend to loose their composure. The first time I skied it, I was shaking in my ski boots.
In 2008, Gore opened a new high-speed quad on Burnt Ridge Mountain — neighboring the historic ski bowl — which offers six trails with a wide variety of terrain including the the Cirque Glades a 1.2 mile long glade featuring a unique ampitheatre-like rock formation.
“Our glades are really a high points of the mountain,” Stanton said. “Gore has the most acreage of any mountain on the east coast and we make really good use of all the space.”
Gore continues to expand and undergo changes that add terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels.
“This is an exciting time for Gore,” Stanton said. “We’ve made a lot of great changes and continue to do so every season.”
Charles Voorhis, of Port Jefferson, climbs up a trail toward the top of Little Gore Mountain for a preview of new trails that will open at the Gore Mountain Ski Area in North Creek. Below, the Gore Mountain base lodge as seen coming down an adjacent trail.
Phtos/Eric Voorhis/Lake Placid News
Fact BoxIf you go ...
Take I-87 to Exit 26 (Pottersville). Follow the Gore Mountain “Trailblazer” signs through Olmstedville then left on Route 28N to North Creek. Make a left turn onto Route 28 and then a right to 793 Peaceful Valley Road. Lift tickets rates: $64 one day pass; $111 two-day pass. For more information, call 251-2411 or visit www.goremountain.com.