Monday, January 21, 2013

Whiteface Mountain: 01/20 & 01/21/2013

You can always count on Whiteface to deliver a bit of adventure for your ski day, and we got a good dose on Sunday and Monday in the form of wind (Sunday) and cold (Monday). Luckily, the adventure included plenty of great skiing too.

Whiteface Mountain, January 20, 2013.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Driving up from Saratoga Sunday morning, we must have transitioned between snow and rain a dozen times. But I wasn't worried about rain at the ski mountain, I was worried about the high wind advisories that had been posted by NWS for the day. Sure enough, we arrived at the mountain just as the wind holds were posted for nearly every lift.

20 minute wait for the Face Lift

Fortunately the Face Lift and Freeway Lift were both spinning, and skiers who braved the wind and endured the lift lines were rewarded with surprisingly good snow conditions.

Riding the Face Lift

View of Mountain Run from the Face Lift

Four inches of snow on Saturday into Sunday left nice packed powder conditions on sheltered trails like Broadway and Upper Valley from the Face Lift. I was skeptical about conditions off the Freeway lift, but we found excellent snow down Mountain Run, probably the best of the day.

Loading on the Freeway double chair

A blustery look down Mountain Run

Beth on Mountain Run

Daniel skiing Mountain Run

Temperatures weren't terribly cold on Sunday, but the wind made it feel at least 10 degrees colder than the air temperature. Occassionally, skies cleared and the sun came out, only to be followed by clouds and snow squalls a few minutes later. By mid-afternoon, most skiers had packed it in for the day and lift lines essentially vanished, and we called it a day earlier than usual too. Between the wind and the lift lines, we only logged 6 or 8 laps between the two runnning lifts.

End-of-day squall

Fortunately the winds died down overnight, but temperatures dropped to about zero by Monday morning. I'll take cold over wind any day.

Nice grooming at the Kids Kampus Family Center, our base for the two days

Minus 9 at the top of Whiteface's summit chair, Sunday, January 21, 2013.  

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
With all lifts spinning Monday morning, we made it a priority to get up to the summit early. We skied Essex down to the Summit Chair and made two quick laps on Skyward, possibly my favorite trail at Whiteface. If winds on Sunday had scoured Skyward, groomers had restored it to packed powder for Monday, well worth multiple laps. Even with views obscured by clouds, Skyward has a big-mountain feel that you just don't get at Gore.

Summit chair

Skyward, Little Whiteface in the background

Daniel skiing Skyward

Beth had gone cross-country skiing at Mount Van Hoevenberg and Sylvie was in the daycare until 2pm, so Daniel and I stayed on the upper mountain for just about the entire day, occasionally skiing all the way down to the base so we could ride the gondola and get a break from the cold. Like Skyward, every trail we skied (Essex, Wilderness, Mountain Run, Excelsior) had nice packed powder over a firm but very edgeable base. Roughly 50% of the mountain was open, and while it would have been nice to ski Cloudspin, Mackenzie, and Lookout Mountain, we had more than enough terrain to keep us busy. With a prolonged stretch of cold weather and a chance for significant snowfall late in the week, trail counts will surely go up for next weekend. We'll be back at Gore then, but we'll certainly have a return trip or two to Whiteface before winter is done.

Summit view from the top of Little Whiteface

Who could get tired of this view of Lake Placid?

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