Full-on winter is back at Palisades!
This report was written by Jason Dobbs
While the theme I’ve been hearing the past few days is that conditions “are actually pretty good for barely 3 feet of snow so far,” it’s better now with 4. Yes, the forecast delivered as promised, and getting out of bed was that much easier (I speak for myself and all my new skittled friends sharing this morning’s greybird-filtered skyline who clearly shared enthusiasm). We’ve gotten to know the first-runs routine pretty well, but this morning the Washeshu-to-Siberia transfer was coated in lily white and foretold of hopes of more terrain around the corner.
People were stoked all around, and it felt like we were skiing because we really wanted to, and not just because it made seasonal sense. Lyndsay, my son, and I ventured toward his favorite run from the past week, dropping off Siberia Ridge to the gully between Killy’s and Racers.
It’s always fun seeing how fast things change early season in low tide. With 20% of our season total falling overnight, it refreshed with soft pow all over, resting light and cold to the upper boot buckles. With limited terrain and plenty of hill time during school’s Winter Break, we’d gotten to know these turns pretty well, but this morning’s slope presented a cushioned surface, more inviting for charging and more forgiving to those making little mistakes.
We blasted the ridge with some bigger, sweeping turns, remembering that feeling of floating on fresh, and even though there was a full cloud ceiling, ambient light broke through giving us good definition. Jake took one good fall, coming up laughter, and I took hold of the joys of sharing these moments in the mountains.
Seeing a Gold Coast line that was much mellower than Siberia, we opted to make way for Shirley. Both Washeshu and Sibo had the kinds of lines that people claim take 30-45 minutes (I heard both) but really only take a dozen minutes to get through.
I didn’t notice then, but I now proudly see Jake is taking after Dad with “never a dull moment” training. I like playing on one ski, practicing balance on single edges while traveling through otherwise mundane stretches like this.
For our first run in Shirley, we opted far skier’s left of Shirley Bowl, where the Attic spills out. Getting all the way up against the buttress that divides shirley chutes, the snow has blown off, leaving firm remnants, but just a little ways from the edge, the deposits were doubled. We skied that line (Lyndsay, pictured).
Next run, the consensus was to head to the last tree run on Shirley, which the groomers had rolled out with nice corduroy, buried under a sheer blanket of the newest accumulation. How fun it was to bank turns on edge, whirring by the trees out in the open.
The sizeable troths of the lower bumps section before you reach the flats were all filled in, providing a much gentler descent back to the chair. Sitting on Shirley heading back to the top, I reminded my son of his New Year’s Day request, to ski the trees to the right of 5th Tree (aka Marillac’s). On the 1st, I felt the cover was too thin and we were asking for snags in the forest, but given a closer look, 8” seemed to do the trick, as riders were emerging from the Solitude side, and it looked pretty good, so yonder we ventured.
I used to call it “6th Tree,” because new run names just don’t commit to memory. This forest will always hold some enchantment to me because when he was younger, the adventure would come with tales of wildness and schussing with the wolves. Today, Jake led fearlessly, and the trees didn’t feel as tight as they would have before last night’s snow.
The traverse to access Headwall’s great terrain is a popular option among those in the know right now, and despite Jake feeling dragged along the (editor’s note: short) hike already this week, it was my one request for a run today. Now was my time to seize a decision.
Would it be North Bowl (steep but shaded), Hogsback (good for getting back to lapping Sibo), The Slot (I might burn my decision in this crowd) or Headwall Face? I went with the Face as a safe bet, since we found powder in this location before the storm, and since Jake had declared his legs toast, it allowed for a longer descent to mountain run.
After a long dry stretch, it was great out there today. Not just the way it felt underfoot, but the way it sounded—the silence, the hoots—and the way it felt in the soul. Winter was welcome, and it sits a little easier seeing that she’ll stick around. Could we finally be getting started? Today sure felt like it, and with even greater certainty, the people are ready! Thanks for a great day, team!