Titus Mountain: Where the Passion Began
A family-friendly ski center at the edge of the Adirondacks brings the roots of skiing to life.
The anticipation for winter in Malone and the surrounding areas is palpable. We live in a region that allows us to take full advantage of the four seasons that Mother Nature intended--beautiful hiking and adventurous rafting in the spring, stunning golfing and relaxing kayaking in the summer, breathtaking foliage viewing and soothing camping in the Autumn, and of course daring snowmobiling and exhilarating skiing in the Winter.
So, while my Timehop reminds me that 3 years ago I was trying skiing for the first time in Malone, I reminisce about fond memories and strike an air of disbelief at how my passion for skiing started only 3 years ago. I look out my window and long for a new season filled with many fresh memories filled with friends, fluffy powder, and lots of good drinks.
How it all began
Titus Mountain is where my passion for skiing began. It was not my first time skiing--that milestone goes to the Austrian Alps, where I had the amazing opportunity to ski in Dorfgastein, Austria, with a serviced summit of over 7,000 feet, 129 miles of trails, and lots and lots of fresh powder. It was a first time never to forget--veteran skiers and riders may even be salivating at the idea--but I came back to the states and didn't pick up a pair of skis again until I moved to Malone, NY over 2 years later. It was fun, but it was just an exciting experience and nothing more.
I moved to Malone to work at a local hotel selling golf packages to the Malone Golf Club and ski packages to Titus Mountain. I signed up for golf lessons to better understand the sport and when winter rolled around, it was time to get on the snow so that I could be a more knowledgeable source for our hotel visitors. A passion, an obsession, and a favorite pastime began.
My first time skiing in Malone, honestly, is not one to reminisce about. I spent 99% of my time on the learning hill: riding up one chairlift and down one slope repeatedly. In fact, I fell off the learning hill chairlift. Twice. When I did venture off the learning hill, I ended up off-trail in the woods, and not on purpose. When my skis popped off I couldn't get them back on. For all intents and purposes, one would think that my first time skiing was a bust. After all, statistics show that many first-time skiers never make it back to the slopes because of the same things I experienced my first time.
What made Titus different? Why did I choose to come back time and time again, willingly getting bundled up in the depths of winter and driving in snow storms to strap on two planks of board to my feet and slide down a snow-covered hill, just to sit on a chair that brings me up a mountain to do it all again? Why does anyone do it?
Learning is where it starts
Spend time at the learning hill at Titus and you will see it packed with children, a sense of wonder present in their eyes. Watch them scoot over to the Magic Carpet Lift and see their faces light up with surprise as the conveyor catches their skis and whisks them up the hill as if by magic. Watch them take some turns, and even some tumbles, and witness the determination to get down the hill--without falling--next time. And when they finally do it, the sense of accomplishment is beaming for all to see.
Newly changed at Titus, advanced skiers can no longer whip through the learning hill as the area is closed to only those who take the Beginner Lift or Magic Carpet. New skiers and riders need not worry; they are surrounded by people just like them. Instructors, parents, adults learning to ski, school groups... all of these people can be found on the learning hill, testing their balance and fortitude as they experience the thrill of snow sports. A sense of camaraderie is built in an hour-long lesson. Here, skiing is back to basics. No times to beat, no points to make, no competition with anyone but yourself.
Away we go
Wander over to the main lifts of the Lower or Middle Mountains and you find yourself in a smattering of people: skiers, snowboarders, newbies, experts, racers, freestylers, and everyone in-between. Every lift at Titus (outside of the learning hill) services at least one green/beginner trail, one blue/intermediate trail, and one black/difficult trail. There is no separation between the good and the great. There is no judgement as to what part of the mountain you frequent. There is just the love of skiing: if you are on the lift, you're one of us.
One of the most frequently commented things about Titus Mountain is the lift line wait - particularly the lack of it. Because of the widespread terrain at Titus, even at peak capacity, a wait for a ride back up the mountain is minutes at most. There are no corral lines to be herded in to. There is no "singles" line. If you are in the mood to sit by yourself on a chair, reflect on your last run, soak in the beauty of snow-encrusted trees while watching voles scurry across the mountain, and take some me-time, know that you aren't pressured to share your chair. In the mood to make friends with your fellow skier? Catch a ride up the chair with someone else and make conversation, chat about your favorite run of the day or where the powder stash is hidden.
Once you leave the lift, the choice is yours! When I first started skiing Titus Mountain, there were 27 trails. Now Titus touts 50 trails, glades, parks, and features. "Forever Wild" areas are scattered across the mountain where skiers and riders can ski the beauty of the outdoors the way nature intended. Grooming is impeccable at Titus, and one can ski "groomers" and un-touched corduroy all day. Glades offer skiing and riding literally off the beaten path. Three terrain parks are spread throughout the mountain. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, and to each their own as they exit the lift.
Finishing the experience
Finally, when the day is done and my legs are jelly, one of my favorite parts of skiing, just like fishing, are the stories afterwards. Cozy up in the Lower Lodge and look around. There are skiers and snowboarders of all ages. Titus Mountain's oldest season passholder is 91. Their youngest is 2. There are families and there are couples, groups of friends and solo skiers. Ever heard of Toby Keith's famous song, "I Love this Bar?" Titus Mountain's Lower Lodge is just that. The food is delicious, the drinks are flowing, and the conversation is second to none.
Titus Mountain brings people back to the roots of skiing. There is the thrill of going downhill and the sense of accomplishment of making your runs and your turns better. There is the beauty of being outdoors in the heart of winter and feeling a chill on your face but a warmth in your soul. There is the feeling of solidarity with your fellow skiers and riders and a peacefulness in going alone but never truly being by yourself. That is skiing. That is Titus.
Why, after a less-than-stellar first time at Titus did I feel the compulsion to continue the sport while in Dorfgastein it was just something fun to do? The second you walk on to the slopes of Titus you feel like home. And just like there comes a time when every person leaves home to explore bigger, better, and different things, Titus knows that you will ski other mountains and experience new things. But I know that no matter how long I'm gone, Titus will always welcome me back with open arms and a seat right next to the bar. And whenever life gets too complicated, and sometimes even the sport of skiing can feel overwhelming, I know that Titus will remind me why I ski.
It's amazing what a reminder from my phone can make me remember. Three years ago I was falling off a chairlift. Now I'm waiting with bated breath for the temperatures to fall, the snowmaking to resume, and for life to get a little less complicated. The snow can come anytime.
New to skiing - or holding the hand of a newbie? - check out this first-timer's account of what to expect at Titus! Ready to plan your trip? Book your rooms, find delicious eateries in town, and plan on hitting the slopes this winter!
This week in related Adirondack skiing news:
Ski or snowshoe right out the door at Dewey.
Cross-country along the Coast.
Snowshoe & ski the slopes in Schroon.
Skiing in the heart of the ADKs.
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