Mohawk Mountain, ski resorts, early season spring conditions

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Albert S. Neubert

Last week felt more like a glimpse of spring skiing and riding as temperatures in the northeast soared in the 1950s and 1960s. Even mighty Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, set a high temperature record last Thursday, reaching a mild temperature of 41 degrees on its peak of 6,288 feet. In comparison, a typical daytime temperature at this time of year at the summit is more like 10.

The good news is that there was little wet snow last week so whatever trails were open they remained that way. Surface conditions suffered during the thaw, being more grainy in frost in the morning and loose and wet grainy in the afternoon. Plus, with daylight reaching its shortest time of year, the sun doesn’t have much time to do much damage, as it does in March and April.

However, it looked like we finally hit the mark last weekend with a decent-sized snowstorm arriving in the northern New York and New England areas and at least a mix of snow, sleet and rain in more southerly areas on Saturday. It sparked a bitter cold Sunday night and finally our rear ski areas were able to start pumping white gold and open in time for the holidays.

Despite the lack of natural snow, snow cover and surfacing allowed Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Connecticut to open the 2021-22 ski season with its Mohwak and Nutmeg trails.

Mohawk enjoying artificial snow

You heard me mention that the only local ski area open for a few weeks already this season was Mohawk Mountain in the Litchfield Hills of northwest Connecticut. Mohawk has a rich history and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season. The region was founded by Walter and Margaret Schoenknecht in 1947. These same two developed Mount Snow in southern Vermont into the first mega resort in the East in 1954.

My father took me to Mohawk when I was a teenager in the 1960s. Since we could not afford the lift ticket for the two chairlifts, the area management offered a separate lift ticket and affordable for all nine cable cars that went in series of three to the top.

The ski area is located in Mohawk State Park near the city of Cornwall and the area operates in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Walter Schoenknecht was a pioneer in snowmaking and installed the first snowmaking system in a ski resort and this same technology serves as the basis for current technology used around the world. The slopes and slopes at the ski resort are pretty much as they were when I was skiing them decades ago, but the ski lifts and facilities have been modernized.

The cables were gone and they were replaced with five triple chairs and four elevator treadmills. Mohawk has 25 trails and trails, with a good mix of terrain for beginners, intermediates and experts. The summit rises to around 1,600 feet and the total drop is a respectable 650 feet. The buoy is also available, as is night skiing on 16 tracks.

Despite the lack of natural snow, snow cover and surfacing allowed Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Connecticut to open the 2021-22 ski season with its Mohwak and Nutmeg trails.

I visited Mohawk on Sunday morning as temperatures started to drop after the long day of rain on Saturday. A few flurries of snow were falling when I pulled into the parking lot a little after 9am and the temperature was already in the upper 20s. Snow cannons and cannons dumped the white stuff onto the slopes of a number of trails that had remnants of snow piles from previous snowmaking efforts a week earlier. However, the area management kept the guns on the trails open which included the Mohawk Intermediate Trail from the Summit and the Nutmeg Beginner Trail in front of the Base Lodge which was serviced by its own triple chairlift.

This was my first chance to use my new Indy Pass and I have to admit it was a bit of a weird feeling going to a ticket office without a physical pass. I told the counter clerk I had an Indy Pass and all they did was ask for ID (my driver’s license in this case) and they found my name registered and they traded in one of my two free days at the ski area this season.

Since Mohawk installed a new RFID card reader system, you need to purchase an RFID card for $ 5. It’s reusable every time you visit the area – even if it’s next season – so keep it.

As for the conditions, they really surprised me, given my expectations for dazzling ice cream and frozen pellets with chunks of ice and chicken heads. Instead, the bases were so deep that the grooming provided very easy to sculpt and smooth surfaces that held up despite members of the Mohawk racing team training with ski instructors and patrollers in the areas. clinics.

These are the best conditions I have encountered so far this season. After ten runs in just over an hour, with no waiting in the chair, I had another good tune-up session. Mohawk was a pleasant and rewarding surprise, and the scenery looks more like Vermont than a simple tri-state ski area.

Always have a backup plan

Are you ready for your first day on the snow?

During a recent visit to my orthopedic surgeon to have my knees checked, we were talking about the start of the season. He is an avid skier and said he dreaded having to go to the attic and other areas of the house to find his ski equipment for that first visit to the slopes.

This process is usually repeated each time throughout the season – gathering your gear only to find that when you arrive at your destination you forgot your goggles, ski socks, gloves or one of the many critical items of your ski. . and snowboard set. Then the ski shop in the ski resort has to pay five times as much as if you had bought the forgotten item without constraint.

I told my orthopedist that I had a simple solution. A few weeks before the start of the season, I prepare two bags with my equipment. Most of us snow sports enthusiasts have multiples of everything so I basically pack a rescue bag that includes everything I would need to fully equip myself on every trip.

I happen to have extra ski boots so they go in a separate boot bag with an extra pair of ski socks. These bags remain in my vehicle with a pair of skis and extra poles. It saved me many days of skiing when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and drove for hours to a destination resort for a day trip only to find that I left my main shoes at home, or my skis, or some other key part of my outfit.

Think less about Omnicron, more cold for snow, natural snow. Have a good ski and a good ride!

Albert S. Neubert is a freelance writer. Send him an e-mail at [email protected] or follow him on Instagram at @asneubert.

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