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Downhill From Here

Downhill from here: Gore Mountain a jewel in upstate New York

  • Bear Peak Summit: This may look like the top of a ski area, but there’s another whole mountain above and one below. Gore has lots of terrain . . . (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Bear Peak Summit: This may look like the top of a ski area, but there’s another whole mountain above and one below. Gore has lots of terrain . . . (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Gore Base: This was the longest lift line we saw on a cold and windy Monday morning with perfect corduroy at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Gore Base: This was the longest lift line we saw on a cold and windy Monday morning with perfect corduroy at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Gore Monday: A cold and windy Monday morning meant perfect corduroy and no crowds at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Gore Monday: A cold and windy Monday morning meant perfect corduroy and no crowds at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Bear Peak Summit: This may look like the top of a ski area, but there’s another whole mountain above and one below. Gore has lots of terrain . . . (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • Gore Base: This was the longest lift line we saw on a cold and windy Monday morning with perfect corduroy at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • Gore Monday: A cold and windy Monday morning meant perfect corduroy and no crowds at Gore Mountain in New York. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

You can tell a lot about a ski area by the base lodge. Some base lodges are warm and rustic, others are more efficient, even institutional. Some feel really commercial, while others are clearly for people who are there to ski, not buy things. Some are small, and others are really, really big.

I think Gore Mountain (518-251-2411, goremountain.com) in North Creek, New York may have one of, if not the biggest base lodge I’ve ever seen, though I have no way to quantify that. It’s been recently-rebuilt, and doesn’t look that big from the outside, but once you are inside … The main room where the cafeteria is is huge, and there are other rooms tucked behind, and more down in the basement. Seriously, it looks like there’s seating for hundreds upon hundreds of people at one time.

Then again, maybe it just looked huge because it was so empty on a beautiful Monday morning. If it hadn’t been for 90-plus high school racers there to compete in a Super-G race, and their coaches, parents, race officials, etc., the place would have been so empty, you’d have heard your footsteps echoing in the cavernous rooms. Perfect! I love having a great ski resort practically to myself!

Some resorts, especially those with lots and lots of slopeside lodging, don’t really need a big base lodge. But someplace like Gore does. Gore is owned by the state of New York, so there are no condos impinging on the views. That also means there are very few people with multi-day ski and stay packages. Most Gore Mountain skiers either live in the area, daytrip there from Albany, or have a second house there. So Gore must get really busy on weekends and holiday weeks, especially when the weather and snow are good. Why else would they need that huge base lodge?

But, truthfully, I’ve never seen Gore crowded – and I like the mountain and the North Creek area enough to get there almost every year. Usually I go mid-week, but the handful of times I’ve been there on Sundays, it just hasn’t felt crowded.

You see, like some other areas, Gore is perfectly designed to spread out folks over a large area. The main mountain, called the Northwoods Area (sort of like that huge main room in the base lodge) on Bear Peak has a gondola, a high speed triple, a double and some surface lifts servicing 26 trails on 153 aces. To the left as you are looking at the mountain, there’s the Topridge Area, south-facing, with some steep diamonds (five trails total), two major glades and it’s own triple chair. To the right, there’s Burnt Ridge that, has 70 acres, five trails, a bunch of glades and its own high speed, and beyond that, is the North Side, with 37 more acres, some lovely blue-square cruisers and it’s own quad.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But then you realize there’s another whole mountain above Bear Peak. That one’s Gore Mountain proper with two separate areas of its own – Straight Brook with 57 acres, a quad chair and a bunch of scary-steep trails and glades, and the High Peaks,Area, served by a double, with more black diamonds and “navy blue” squares. Not for beginners. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s another whole mountain below Bear Peak, called Little Gore Mountain with two triples, eight trails, and three glades on 47 acres. Seriously, this is a massive ski hill that most New Englanders have never visited.

On this particular Monday, the bottom had dropped out of the thermometer, and the wind was trying to tear everything off the mountain. So we spent most of the day just cruising perfectly groomed, beautiful, mostly-empty blue square runs off the comfy gondola. We did ski one steep black diamond off Topridge on fresh snow blown in on the wind. But the ride back up with that wind in our faces was brutal, so even I didn’t go back for more.

Seriously, it was a great day on a magnificent mountain. If you haven’t tried Gore, you really should. There’s snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?

Here’s the deal

Starting next Saturday, Feb. 16, you can pretty much kiss any deals goodbye until Presidents’ Week is over – unless you want to travel to Quebec where things stay reasonable quite until Canadian school vacations start in early March.

But Ski NH (800-887-5464, skinh.com) is bucking the trend with “February Four-packs” on sale until Feb. 26. These fully-transferrable, anytime tickets save you anywhere from $10 to $26 off your lift ticket from now through the end of the season.

Tickets must be selected to at least two different ski areas, with no more than 50% of the tickets from one ski area and are broken down into five price categories of $20, $30, $45, $58 and $68 per ticket. Overnight shipping is available.

Ski areas included in the offer are Loon Mountain, Cannon Mountain, Waterville Valley, Mount Sunapee, Gunstock Mountain Resort, Cranmore Mountain, Pats Peak, Ragged Mountain, Black Mountain, King Pine, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge, and McIntyre. There are limited quantities available: tickets to Bretton Woods have sold out for this season and inventory for several other areas is getting low.

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

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