Holiday Valley prides itself on its terrain diversity. And for a resort that is under 1,000ft of vertical from top to bottom, there is some rather diverse terrain. From the wide open groomers of Morning Star to the steep pitch of The Wall and everything in between, there is truly a little of something for everyone. As for what portion of terrain is the most fun, well that is purely subjective but if you ask us, the trees are the place to be!
Recently, we caught up with local tele-skier enthusiast Mike Paterniti, or as many people in these parts know him, Mikey P. You can find him on Instagram at @mikeplivefree. On powder days at the Valley, you can most likely find Paterniti gliding through some of his favorite glade runs, hooting and hollering and living it up!
What is the most fun part of skiing/riding in the trees?
MP The trees provide the best powder skiing and riding available to us. There's powder even days after a storm; especially mid week. The trees are cold and protected from the wind, and it is where all the snow blows into when the winds are whipping. On top of that, the trees have amazing natural features that form up when winter is in full-swing, like rollers and jumps and tree-rides, from steeps to low-angle, the tree skiing and riding at Holiday Valley is some of the very best in the EAST!
Say Ellicottville just got a foot of fresh and you are the first person in the lift line. What tree run are you going to hit up before anyone else gets there?
MP If a foot of fresh snow has fallen and I’m on the first chair up, my first trees of choice would probably be the Shadow-Cracker trees (I will leave that up to you to interpret where :)
Some of my other fav’s when the snow is deep, is between Yodeler and Edelweiss (we call ‘Squirrely’s’) and the Champagne Trees (between Champagne and Independence).
And don’t forget to hit either side of Eagle!
And if you want super fun low-angle trees, definitely the get into the newly gladed ‘Devils Glen’ (between Northwind and Morning Star), between Moonshadow and Morning Star, and of course, the newly revamped Happy Glades off the Tannenbaum chair!
Aside from the physical aspects of the trees themselves, what makes skiing/riding in the trees more challenging than in the moguls or on groomers?
MP Skiing in the trees poses many challenges. Of course there's the obvious potential to catch a ski or board on something underneath, or on snow snakes, so you have to always be aware. I wouldn’t say skiing in the trees is more dangerous, because the speeds that we ski and ride at tend to be significantly slower than groomer skiing. The potential consequences, though, can be a little higher due to the obvious reasons.
What is it about the glades that call to you, personally?
MP I have a deep and special relationship with the trees and the forest in the winter. It is the quiet, the peace, and solitude, and/or the sounds of your friends hooting and hollering through the woods. It is the complete transformation of the forest floor, to a smooth creamy wintry surface that covers everything underneath, and allows for some of the most fun you can have on two feet. But also it is a deep appreciation for nature, its beauty, and it’s offering of enjoyment and fulfillment of the soul.
Which glade run is your underrated favorite (one that is awesome but gets overlooked by most people)? And why?
MP If there is one glade that consistently gets overlooked and is vastly underrated, I would say it would have to be ‘Geoff’s Trees’, between Ego Alley and Yodeler. So much snow stacks up in that little slice of trees, and everyone skis and rides Ego Alley and Ego Trees beside Champagne. This is a local favorite and is right under the Yodeler Chair and generally gets way less attention- and we like it that way :)
There you have it. Straight from the mouth of the man who spends as much time in the Holiday Valley glades as anyone else. So the next time Ellicottville gets a fresh snowfall, make your way over to the Valley and keep a lookout for Mikey P. making tele-turns in the trees. And if you’re new to glade skiing, take a lesson from Holiday Valley Snowsports and learn to navigate the trees from some of the Valley’s top instructors.