The harbinger of winter

Ron Konowitz, left, and Mark Meschinelli on the toll road a year ago. Photo by Phil Brown.
Ron Konowitz, left, and Mark Meschinelli at the Lake Placid Turn on the Whiteface Mountain toll road a year ago. Photo by Phil Brown.

We had a brief snow squall in Saranac Lake this afternoon. No accumulation, but the cedars outside the office window got a nice dusting.

So I wasn’t too surprised when Ron Konowitz called to say he had just skied the toll road on Whiteface Mountain.

As the robin is to spring, Ron Kon is to winter. He is usually the first, or among the first, to hit the toll road in the fall and the last to put his skis away in the spring. Last season, he went skiing more than 160 times, mostly in the backcountry.

This season, he got off to a late start, thanks to a dearth of snow. Usually, he manages to squeeze in five or six trips on the toll road in October. After a freak snowstorm many years ago, he went skiing on Labor Day weekend.

“This is the latest I haven’t been able to ski,” he remarked.

On Friday morning, Ron and a friend, Katie Tyler, hiked 3.5 miles up the toll road as far as the Lake Placid Turn, where they put on skis for the remaining 1.8 miles to the summit castle.

Ron said there was five or six inches of snow up high. He and Katie did four laps between the castle and the Wilmington Turn (about 0.8 miles) and then skied back down to the gatehouse.

Ron said the skiing was very good for a few miles, on Styrofoam snow, but the cover became thin at the lower elevations. They would ski on the sides of the road, sometimes gliding over frozen grass. In a few spots, they had to walk.

“It was worth it, for sure,” he said.

Like many backcountry skiers, Ron is looking forward to skiing some of the new slides created by Tropical Storm Irene.

“It’s going to be an amazing winter,” he said. “All we need is snow—the magic ingredient.”

Ron is the only person to have skied all forty-six of the High Peaks. Click here to read an interview with him about this feat.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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