Night Skiing

Keystone, Colorado

This time of year when I was a kid, I used to sit by our phone and wait for Bob Rose , our wonderful friend and neighbor, to call and tell me when he was picking us up for the weekly trip to the mountains. My mother would make an early dinner for my sister and me and we would pile into the Rose’s station wagon for the weekly ski season trip to the Rich’s house on County Line Road near Seven Springs The first outing of the weekend was night skiing and oftentimes it was brutally cold weather at night.

Dixon Rich and I still skiing together 59 years later
Seven Springs Mountain Resort at Night

In the early days, there was no snowmaking and the grooming was slim to none. We had to negotiate frozen slopes and trails with wooden skis, cable bindings, and leather boots. But all of us kids didn’t care because we were skiing and that is all that mattered. Seemed like more trips to the fireplace in the ski lodge than during the day, but as long as we could get a hot chocolate and thaw out in front of the roaring fireplace, we were fine and back out we went.

As we became teenagers with better equipment, the benefit of snowmaking and grooming became appreciated. But usually on Friday nights, the groomers were not out yet and night skiers had to deal with frozen moguls and deteriorating conditions until the groomers did their magic overnight for us to have perfect conditions the next morning. Didn’t think much about visibility in those days, just where we were going to build a jump so we could hit it all weekend long.

Fast forward and night skiing took on a new meaning as we included it in the itinerary for trips to Holiday Valley in Western New York with wicked snowstorms blowing in off Lake Erie. Night skiing there was at a whole different level. It was at that time that visibility became a little more important to me as we charged down the slopes making sure to stay near the edge to have the best lighting. Skiing at night is fun but you have to be able to see fairly well because the lights are limited in their range and you can ski in and out of dark spots. And again, it is really cold at night in a ski area. One of the more interesting signs that I have seen was on a chair lift stanchion at Killington and also at Whiteface that said” These slopes are as cold and lonely at night as they were during the 1700s. Don’t ski alone” Wise advice especially if you night ski.

Now in my 59th year of skiing and having skied in 111 different ski areas, night skiing is not a priority with me. Now don’t get me wrong. I still will include a night skiing session when my buddies and I venture northward to Western New York in the early season. We will take anything early on and if it includes a session at night, we do it. I have also night skied in Keystone, Colorado with my friend Norm which was an adventure. Keystone makes it their business to light some black diamond slopes which can be a challenge if the visibility at night is compromised by weather. But the same rules apply to when I was younger. Stay near the edge and take advantage of the best light coming off the stanchions. Norm and I got some extra skiing by venturing out at night. We loved to pack it in and that extra cold session in Colorado always will be remembered.

The bottom line to all of this is that at 66 years old, I still get as excited for skiing as I did as a kid. My first outings are local and then on to the scheduled trips out west and to the Adirondacks. But if someone said to me, ” Pat- lets go night skiing” – I would not hesitate, if it meant more time on the hill. I love to ski and will kick, claw, drive through brutal conditions, ski in the rain, sleet, blinding snow, and work real hard to get my time in. How about you? I close my eyes and think back to this time of the year when after all day Saturday and Saturday night skiing, Bob Rose would find me passed out in front of the fireplace in the ski lodge. ” Get up dummy. Time to go.” I laughed and poured myself into the station wagon. What I would give to do it all over again. You don’t quit skiing because you get old. You get old, because you quit skiing. Thanks for reading and enjoy the winter. It is upon us.

19 thoughts on “Night Skiing

  1. Chip Ganassi says:

    Pat
    Love the night ski stories! Brings back some memories at 7SP.
    Hope you’re well!!!
    Chip

  2. Bill Boucher says:

    Wednesday nights were high school races on Tyrol.

  3. Great times. In our teens, we skied Friday night, sat, sat night and Sunday till close. Boy, we were in good shape.
    I always said and thought that the eastern skiers were better than those in the west when conditions were poor. Don’t know how that plays today.
    The three quarters I attended college in Johnson VT, I skied smugglers notch. I skied with a few college buddies. They asked me, where did I learn to jump like that? I gleefully say Seven Springs.
    What else is crazy about that time? I skied with the guys and gals who were vying for a spot on the olimpics. None of them made it.
    I recognized I didn’t have what it took. That was ok. I was left with the gals, drugs and rock and roll. I still dream about Johnson State College.
    Thanks for the chance to reminisce.

  4. Keith says:

    Pat enjoy your perspective and the picture you paint with a literary paintbrush. I think back to when skiing was simpler yet required more effort such as dealing with cold and conditions. Think Snow !!!!

  5. skimeister says:

    Great time to reminisce since there is snow in the forecast. I have done more than my share of night skiing so it would have to be a very special occasion to get me on the slopes at night. I like your quote, “You don’t quit skiing because you get old. You get old, because you quit skiing.”

    I got to ski with my good friend, former co worker and roommate from the 60’s this past season this past March at Holiday Valley and Holimont after 53 years. We have biked together for the past 10 years.
    We reminisce about the good times we had skiing together back in the 60’s and 70’s in Upstate NY, the Adirondacks, Vernont, NH, Maine as well as out west and in Europe.

    Thanks for sharing. Rus

  6. Paul K. Vey says:

    Great fun Pat!!!!

    Headed for JH tomorrow at 6 AM for the boys trip. Still as excited as ever and every trip reminds me of our mutual adventure down Corbetts.

    I loved night skiing but do so remember blisteringly cold nights with snowmakers pumping, to boot!

    In the early 70s snowmaking was a generous description for what emerged from Hermans guns, but we loved it!

    How much would I give to hear the ski report from Lars on KDKA!

    Thanks for your your blog….always Great! Best to you and Janet!

    Paul Vey ________________________________

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  7. Ken Griffin says:

    Pat, thanks for bringing back many memories from my “side-hussle” in college of teaching at night at Seven Springs! Many great memories and great friends, even though there were a few cold nights of teaching and clinics.

  8. Bill Rothermel says:

    Always with a smile do I ski! Thanks ! Hope tomorrow brings enough snow to ski my back hill! That’s a tradition here!

  9. Lea says:

    Really enjoyed the article.

    Holiday Valley was the 1st time I ever rode a chair lift.

    I’ve skied 119 ski areas as of now.

    Lea Givens

    ________________________________

    • patmccloskey says:

      Wow! You have me beat. But Ogden Nutting from Nutting Publishing fame and owner of Seven Springs Mountain Resort here in Pa has over 500 areas skied. He is in his 80s. Impressive for sure.

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