Sunday, January 4, 2015
Gore and Whiteface: 01/02 & 01/03/2015
In all the years that we've had season passes to Gore and Whiteface, I've never doubted that our family got our money's worth. But weekends like this, when our passes play double duty at both mountains, the value really hits a home run. We hit a home run with conditions too, with both mountains in great shape following the Christmas thaw.
Friday, at Gore, was a real surprise. We knew the snowmaking crews had been hard at work all week re-surfacing the mountain, but we hadn't realized that the summit trails had been absolutely buried in man-made powder. An inch or two of natural snow overnight didn't hurt either.
The summit black diamonds were in nice enough shape that we stayed up top all day, except for a run down to the saddle lodge for a quick lunch break. Hawkeye and Chatiemac were a treat, bumped up with big rounded moguls. These trails are too often groomed flat - keep the bumps!
Lies was in good shape too, although you had to work a little harder to find the best snow. After weeks of skiing groomers on the lower mountain (with the exception of the stellar conditions the weekend of Dec. 13), it was a real treat to spend the day up top. Kudos to the snowmaking crew for getting the mountain back into such great shape!
I don't think we could have gone wrong going back to Gore on Saturday, but we decided instead to head up to Whiteface for a change of pace. Lake effect snow the day before had brought a half foot of new snow to the mountain, winds were forecast to be calm and temperatures to be moderate (teens), so we knew conditions should be good.
When Whiteface is good, it's great and it seemed that the snowmaking team, grooming crews and Mother Nature all worked together to deliver a great ski day on Saturday. I love the contrast between Gore and Whiteface: the steeps, the sustained vertical and wide trails make Whiteface feel more like a western mountain.
After a couple warm-up laps skiing nicely groomed snow on Excelsior and Northway off the Cloudsplitter gondola, we headed to one of my favorite lines on the mountain: Approach to Mountain Run. Mountain Run had some of the nicest man-made snow I've skied, dry and chalky top to bottom.
I hadn't expected to ski Skyward, but Ullr must have been smiling on us when we noticed skiers on it just after 11am. Skyward may be my favorite east coast trail, it's certainly in the top 5. Of course Daniel and I had to ski it (Beth and Sylvie did another gondi lap instead). Snowmaking crews were just shutting down the guns as we skied down, so we got the double benefit of beautiful snow and views. I'd drive up from Saratoga any day just for one run down that trail, and I feel lucky to have gotten to ski it on the first day it's open this season.
Whiteface and Gore skiers love to debate which is the better mountain. Personally, I don't really care - I'll take them both.