AT the top of Plattekill is something every skier should like to see. A giant hole 60 feet deep. Now partially filled with water. “Welcome to the Grand Canyon,” Laszlo says and waves his arms behind him. He’s dwarfed by said Canyon and the Komatsu excavator behind him. (This was back in November when Macker and 3 others were busy welding pipes to the Canyon.)
This Canyon is Platty’s new snowmaking pond. They’d wanted a bigger one for years and then came Irene and want became need. The original pond at the top of the hill suffered from erosion as did some of the trails. Repairing one meant repairing the others. The rock hauled out of the pond was used to stabilize trails and build a new, bigger parking lot by the lodge. (No more walking up the road on busy days). And, to get the construction crews to the top, one of the hardest hit trails – Powder Puff – was widened and some of the hairpin turns made a tad less steep. A bonus for beginner skiers.
Perhaps the sweetest benefit? The rock is also going to help with other Irene recovery efforts. It’s being used by local road crews and even on the Gilboa Dam.
The project is so big it will take two years to complete. Blasting the rock took 100,000 pounds of explosives, and the wires are still hanging out of the rock walls. But while we’re waiting for the final pond, it will still be in service this year. Given the weather so far, that’s the best news of all. As is the fact that Platty has just bought another 45 new snowguns.