Skiing As Craft: How to ski the Ice Coast

One glass of rosé at a time

How to ski the ice coast... wine helps. PHOTO: Justin Cash

How to ski the ice coast… wine helps. PHOTO: Justin Cash

This is the third essay in the ongoing series, Skiing as Craft. This story appeared in the November (42.3) issue of POWDER.

A pair of crisscrossed skis held a “Danger” sign at the top of the trail. I’d been skiing Hunter Mountain all afternoon with a friend and decided it was time to get after it. The sidehill-terrain of Upstate New York’s biggest resort had been “unique”—hundreds of Manhattanites bombing from right to left, then left to right across the mountain. On my the first ride up the Kaatskill Flyer six-pack chairlift, the guy sitting next to me pulled a bottle of rosé from his jacket and poured it into his girlfriend’s mouth. When I mentioned something about the amount of ice on the hill that day, he responded, “It ain’t the ice I’m afraid of; it’s the snow I can’t handle!”

At the top of the mountain my friend and I explored a concrete turret. It wasn’t a turret really, but a kind of summit lodge. Stairs reached down into the heart of it, where there was a cafeteria and little shop that sold classic ski-area kitsch. The night before we’d walked in awe through a maze of condos, restaurants, and bars scattered around the base that looked more like tract-housing than a ski resort.

My friend had been skiing blue runs all day, so when I saw the “Danger” sign I figured it must be a bit more sporty. I skated past the sign and dropped over the first rollover with speed. What lay on the other side I can only describe as an 800-vertical-foot frozen water park. It was all I could do to set an edge, and even then I didn’t stop my controlled fall until halfway down. From there, I had to sidestep 20 minutes to the cat track at the bottom. When I finally made it, I caught a glimpse of color flashing past. It was the man who’d been drinking wine on the lift, arms raised high, cackling with joy and headed back to the lift for another run.

More Skiing As Craft: First Tracks—Whatever it takes to beat the crowd; Getting the Ski Bug One Yellow School Bus at a Time

Add a comment

  • Stephen Pereira

    Sounds like any normal day skiing in the Northeast!!!

    • Ben

      Hunter is a disaster. definatly one of the most dangerous ski areas. It has an extremely high uphill capacity for a ski area that size, is one of the warmest and has some of the worst skiers.

  • JrMistMaker

    That’s so EC it hurts. Witnessed very similar things at hunter.

  • Cmon

    Porter – you are better than this – or at least I thought you were. Next time try Jay dude… or Plattekill. Actually – just stick to Hunter.

  • Rich Matelski

    Looking on the bright side, if you can ski Lower K27 or Westway on a day where the moguls are liked scattered VW Beetles made of ice, then you can ski practically anywhere.

  • KR

    As stated in Entourage, Johnny “Drama” Chase: “I mean, if you can ski Hunter Mountain, you can ski anywhere!” Skiing on the East Coast has it’s ups and downs, really any resort does. While there may be truth in your some of your statements, you obviously did not experience the town as a whole and all the great things it offers. Although you had one bad day it doesn’t mean every day is like that there, just saying.

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