Bring on the Powder!
The first snowflakes of the season are behind us; we've reorganized the garage (packing away the camping gear in exchange for the snowboards, skis, boots and poles), and now we are getting antsy to hit the slopes. Don't let the waiting game slow you down this winter... start planning your family ski trip to the Adirondacks now, allowing you more time to enjoy the mountains later. Who knows, with a little research this might be the year that you discover a mountain or two that could be your new favorite!
An insiders' GUIDE:
There are a variety of ski areas in the Adirondacks to choose from and each of them carry their own distinct identity. Here are some tips to help you navigate through two of my favorite New York ski areas: Oak Mountain & Big Tupper!
1. Bigger isn't always better...
Yes, large ski areas with multiple lodges and cool amenities are great. But when it comes down to it, we need to evaluate what our ski trips are all about. Is it about skiing and riding with family and friends, or is it about how many different lodges we can drink hot cocoa in over the course of a long weekend?
These smaller ski areas still have all the aspects we expect to find: the terrain, the challenge, the amenities but at a fraction of the cost and time. Time waiting in line, time looking for parking, time looking for members of your ski party that ended up at a different base area, the list goes on. But my favorite part about these ski hills is that the corporate feel of larger resorts is replaced with a family atmosphere that is refreshing to expose your family to. A place where sooner or later, everyone starts to recognize and look after one another as part of the greater ski mountain family.
However, before I go any further, I need to make one quick clarification: by "smaller ski areas" by no means am I trying to say that they are small! check out these specs:
Located in the Town of Speculator, NY, Oak Mountain Ski Area boasts:
- Base Elevation: 1,750 feet
- Summit Elevation: 2,400 feet
- Vertical Drop: 650 feet
- Snowmaking: 50 % (up from 30% for the 2014-15 season)
- Lifts: 3 (Quad Chair & 2 T-bars)
- Number of Trails: 14 trails
- Longest Run: 7,920 feet
Located just a few miles north of Hamilton County in the Town of Tupper Lake, Big Tupper Ski Area boasts:
- Base Elevation: 2,000 feet
- Summit Elevation: 3,165 feet
- Vertical Drop: 1,151 feet
- Snowmaking: 100% natural snow
- Lifts: 3 (2 Chair Lifts & A Beginner Lift)
- Number of Trails: 23 trails
- Longest Run: Ski over a mile without getting back on a lift
2. Skiing doesn't need to break the bank
Affordability is one of the biggest perks at these mountains. Check out these awesome deals:
For the 2014-2015 ski season, Oak Mountain's full day lift tickets are $38 for adults and $27 for juniors. But these low prices are just the start as there are so many other great deals lined up:
- Season passes are only $289 if you purchase by October 31, 2014.
- Children under age 5 & seniors 70 and over - ski FREE!
- Oak Mountain offers Military and group discounts
- 4 hour anytime passes are even cheaper
- A wide variety of package deals and advanced tickets discounts are available on Liftopia.
At Big Tupper you have the opportunity to ski at one of the top 5 mountains in New York State (for vertical drop) at an amazing low rate of only $25 per day! Other great deals for the 2014-15 ski season include:
- The Powder Pass - Purchase 10 tickets for only $200. These tickets can be used by anyone, not just the ticket holder. So purchase and share, or simply do as I do and hoard them for yourself. (Powder passes will be available in December)
- Active military ski & ride for FREE!
- FREE lift tickets for those under age 7 and those 70 and over!
3. New for the 2014-15 ski season
This time of year it is always fun to learn what new projects and improvements are happening at the ski areas. Recently I spoke to the owners and operators at each mountain and got the rundown of what we should expect to see new this season.
- Snow making capacity has increased from 30-50% with a custom built, new portable snow making system.
- Chef Lou Petrozza from Hell's Kitchen Season 4 is now running the food operations at Oak Mountain's signature Acorn Pub & Eatery.
- Oak Mountain has purchased all new Rossignol rental equipment and taken over operation of their rental shop.
- A New 14-week racing program has been introduced at Oak Mountain.
- Big Tupper has cut two new glades.
- They have widened the transition area at the top of Chair Two so that it is "more accommodating" for all ski levels.
- The Adirondack Club & Resort project is in the pipeline for future seasons which includes an upgrade to the ski lifts, snowmaking and amenities at Big Tupper.
4. Think family first!
I had touched on this earlier, but it is worth noting as its own reason to ski and ride at these ski areas: both Oak Mountain & Big Tupper are true family mountains! They offer some of the best PSIA & AASI certified ski & snowboards schools, they have terrain for every ski ability (from beginner to expert skiers), but more than that: they offer a family-friendly environment.
At Oak Mountain, the O'Brien family pride themselves on operating with their "family first" motto. They love what they do and see the value in keeping the mountain affordable for family enjoyment. And at Big Tupper, the mountain is run by 100% volunteer force who want the mountain open so that their friends, family, grandchildren and guests can ski and ride at the mountain they fell in love with so many years ago.
Today, both of the mountains continue to foster the kind of atmosphere where older children can ski off with friends and parents don't need to worry, a place where people look out for one another and are welcoming. It is an atmosphere that can only be understood by experiencing it yourself.
5. Don't forget events!
When planning your ski and snowboard trip, don't forget to look at the events calendars for both Big Tupper and Oak Mountain. The personalities of the ski mountain differ greatly when it comes to events - offering up something to fit every niche. From the crowd favorite Pond Skimming Contest at Oak to the elegant Snowball Fundraiser at Big Tupper, events are definitely part of the culture of ski mountains. Don't miss out! Start planning your Adirondack winter getaway today (who knows you might just find yourself with a new favorite ski mountain).