Hoboken has more than 375 skiers and snowboarders who travel as far away as the Alps and as close as a few hours away in the hopes of chasing snow. Many of the Hoboken Ski Club members knew no one when joining, but the lure of friendship, fun, and travel draws many who go to the best ski towns in the world.
The club began nearly 22 years ago when Founder Bob McDonald held a meeting that fall, and then ran a January trip to Okemo, VT with 18 people. McDonald said the club began with volunteers running trips. It has evolved today into the non-for-profit having an executive board voted in by fellow members, and two volunteer trip leaders for each of their 10 annual vacations. They range from weekends away, to seven-day excursions.
The 2013 ski season trips include Chamonix, France; Aspen, CO; Telluride, CO; as well as Vermont favorites like Stowe, Killington, Mount Snow, and Stratton.
“Going to [Lake Tahoe, Calif.] with 12 feet of snow was something I’ve never experienced,” said Harris Shapiro, member and non-ski event coordinator. “With the club, I’ve skied a lot of mountains I never would have on my own.”
Join the club, gain friends
Shapiro joined after moving to Hoboken, and without knowing anyone. But the trip he wanted was sold out, so he was placed on the wait list. He got a call for Mt. Snow and Stratton, VT at 11 p.m. the night before, and decided to go. “I came back with a handful of friends and went on another trip, and made even more friends,” he said.
Mandee Bellarosa, 32, says when she went on her first trip she was hesitant about riding a bus with 40 strangers, but that soon faded away.
“Literally, after being on the bus for 30 minutes everyone started chit-chatting, mingling, and hanging out,” she said. “I met people that weekend who I am really good friends with today.” José Da Silva, 40, didn’t know how to ski when he first heard about the club. He took a few lessons, and then switched to snowboarding before deciding to join.
“Once you are there nothing matters except having fun,” said Shapiro. “When you are with these people, you put work and everything aside.”
Da Silva says he not only made friends, he also improved his skills. “The first time I went out west [to Breckenridge, CO] was unforgettable for me,” he said. “The fact you can spend the full week on that type of terrain, you get so much better.”
Shapiro said that while in Zermatt, Switzerland he spent the entire week scoping the snow beneath the chairlift, wondering if it could be skied. After snowboarding down it, he found out there hadn’t been enough snow for the last 10 years to do so.
“It’s more than just a ski club, we do events all year round,” said Bellarosa. “We really are a big skiing family.”
The Hoboken Ski Club meets every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at Willie McBride’s Irish Pub. For more information, visit www.hobokenskiclub.com. Photos courtesy of the Hoboken Ski Club and Tricia Tirella
Photos courtesy of the Hoboken Ski Club and Tricia Tirella