Rain sucks. This weekend I had planned to head up to the Catskills for some backcountry riding with a buddy from the Philly Chapter of the American Alpine Club. However after much debating and a forecast of 58 degrees and 100% chance of rain we bailed. However I saw a decent forecast for today so I changed my day off from Friday to today and decided to try my luck solo in the Poconos. I am still working on finishing up my post about my first time on the Splitboard in the backcountry, but I felt today’s debacle was worth sharing first. A few weeks back I was stoked and rather surprised when two local mountains responded to my splitboard access question. Blue Mountain responded with an interesting response:
“We do not disallow Splitboards. We welcome someone who is thoughtful enough to consider asking and considers others.”
This was promising but after contacting them to ask about skinning today I found that they do not disallow splitboards as long as they are only going downhill, no uphill travel allowed. Kinda defeats the point. I know this mountain well and feel like there are some areas on a rainy Thursday that would be safe. O well. However Camelback also responded to my email with a yes….kinda:
“Andrew …….. we do allow split boards and skinning. Attached is the skinning policy in force at our resort. Make sure you stop and see us before going on the mountain.”
Based on this I made the drive up this morning and got to the mountain just as the ticket window opened. After shelling out $55 for a half-open mountain I made my way to the Ski Patrol Office. This took some time as it was rather hard to find and did not scream “First Aid” as I would have liked it too. Anyway I walked in and explained who I was, what gear I had (including a reflective vest), and what I wanted to do. The guy in the office radioed for the head of the Patrol. A few minutes later he came in. I explained what I had and he asked if I had been here before, I said no but came based on the email. He said that he did not feel comfortable letting me skin up as I did not know the mountain and the normal uphill routes are closed. I was bummed but respected his decision. To be fair the mountain was only half open and many people would be on the easier terrain needed to skin up. I thanked him for his time and made my way to the lift. This finding local powder and uphill access thing was proving harder than I though.
The mountain was pretty much empty with zero lift lines and I was on the lift almost as immediately. I was frustrated when I got to the top as there was virtually no one on the slopes, I could have easily and safely skinned up. I also did not anticipate it getting anymore crowded as rain was in the forecast. On the bright side however there was no one on the slopes and I could have the trails to myself. My focus changed from skinning to seeing how many runs I could slam in before the rain. I even used the splitboard all day to get the feel for it. I quickly found that I could not notice any difference in performance compared to my resort board. The board carved great, held its edge on steepish icy diamonds, and still was fast on the groomers. I was even able to get up to 35mph+ on some of the mellow runs. Overall I had a great morning on the slopes and headed out after it somehow started to get crowded….seriously who pays to ski in the rain. Stay tuned for more.