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Snow and a hotshot ski star in the Adirondacks

Conditions look good for backcountry festival

March 1, 2012
MIKE LYNCH, Outdoors Writer , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Two key elements are scheduled to arrive just in time for the Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival this week: another snowstorm and Glen Plake, who is considered by some to be the pioneer of extreme skiing in America.

The snow is forecasted to fall tonight through Thursday. Up to 10 inches may fall.

Plake is known in skiing circles for his freestyle backcountry skiing and his appearance in numerous movies. He's been in at least four Warren Miller movies and in 1988 starred in the "Blizzard of Aahhhs." He's well known for his trademark mohawk hairdo.

Article Photos

Extreme skier Glen Plake has been featured in at least four Warren Miller ski films. On Saturday he will be at North Country School in Lake Placid as part of the Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival.
(Photo provided)

Drew Hass, who runs the website Adirondack Backcountry Skier, called Plake the most recognizable backcountry skier he knows.

"To a backcountry skier, this is the equivalent of playing catch with Willie Mays," Haas said.

Plake is originally from the Lake Tahoe, Calif., region but now lives in Chamonix, France. In 2011 he was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Mich.

Fact Box

After the demo day, Plake will give a presentation at 7:30 p.m. at Keene Central School in Keene Valley. Admission is $10 at the door, and high-end clothing and gear will be raffled off as well.

"I'm going to the Adirondack Backcountry Ski extravaganza," Plake reportedly said, as quoted on the Adirondack Backcountry Skiing website, which Haas runs. "It's like the one thing on my calendar right now. There's an outside chance I'm going to the Himalaya in September. But everybody is like, 'What are you going to do this winter?' And I'm like, 'I'm going to the Adirondacks.'"

Plake is arriving Friday in time to get some rest before he heads over Saturday to the North Country School, off state Route 73 outside Lake Placid, where he will greet the public during a free demo day. The Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival is a charity event that raises money for the Adirondack Ski Touring Council and the New York Ski Educational Foundation.

Haas works at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, which organizes the event with Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides, also of Keene Valley. Cloudsplitter leads intermediate and advanced tours into the backcountry. Those tours take place Saturday and Sunday and are currently full, although in past years there have been some last-minute openings.

The tours lead people through popular ski routes in the High Peaks, including Avalanche Pass, the Wright Peak ski trail and the lower reaches of Mount Marcy. The destinations change year to year, based on the current ski conditions. Most routes appear as if they will be in good shape for this weekend because of the snowstorms late last week.

"There's good snow on all of our hiking and ski trails, making travel a lot more efficient and more enjoyable," Haas said.

During the demo day from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the public is invited to test telemark and alpine touring boots and skis. There will also be free clinics on various aspects of backcountry skiing, including avalanche beacon rescue, skinning and telemark skiing.

The clinics will be held on the North Country School's ski hill, which has a rope-tow lift.

After the demo day, Plake will give a presentation at 7:30 p.m. at Keene Central School in Keene Valley. Admission is $10 at the door, and high-end clothing and gear will be raffled off as well.



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