Updated: Mar 9, 2020
2020 Annual Ski Fest Recap
I’ve often said I would rather choose to ski shitty snow with great people over great snow with shitty people. The Adirondacks are sort of the epitome of this philosophy. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions to the rule, we can get some truly excellent conditions here and certainly have our fair share of characters. As a whole though, and especially the past few seasons our winters have been fickle at best, seemingly struggling with any sort of consistency. One day we get snow, the next rain, and while it can be incredibly frustrating and (in extreme cases) totally demoralizing, there is something strangely beautiful about the resilience it fosters in the people that choose to call this place home.
Outdoor endeavors in the North East, particularly in the Adirondacks, require a certain sort of masochism to truly enjoy them. That said our variable weather and exceptionally rugged terrain makes, in my opinion, some of the best people. The typical “beat down” one must endure in order to explore this place fully, if repeated enough times, creates a sort of tough kindness imbued with a learned humility. And without a doubt one of the best exhibitions of this trait is the annual Mountaineer SkiFest.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, having an annual Backcountry Skiing event is no small feat. Equal parts luck, skill and optimism are mandatory for success. And even with so many odds stacked against them, the outstanding folks at the Mountaineer, phenomenal local Guides and amazing crew at Otis Mountain somehow pull off one of the best Adirondack experiences around.
There are very few things in life where high expectations are routinely exceeded. For me a day at Otis Mountain is one of these unicorn like experiences. Having spent as many days as possible over the years glomming a worn pair of kinco gloves and being whizzed up the two hundred vertical feet that it services, Otis Mountain always leaves me grinning toothily from ear to ear (and frequently emitting high pitched youps for no apparent reason).
The stoke is simply undeniable and due in large part to owner Jeff Allott. Jeff is a beacon of what this place fosters. Up early, grooming the trail with his vintage Spryte, coordinating all the odds and ends, maintaining his custom tow and with the rope in hand eagerly explaining the proper method when new skiers and riders approach the lift. Jeff and the crew that regularly attend have made something that is truly special in an era of exclusivity that can be at times rife with an all-too-serious attitude regarding activities that are ultimately intended for exactly the opposite.
I can tell you that it's not the snow, or the vert, or even the terrain that makes SkiFest so special. It is 150% the people. I had the good fortune to shoot some photos of the event this past weekend, it is my hope that these pictures capture, even if only slightly, how fun and amazing this place and these people are. Rest assured–– the soul of skiing is in great hands.