Thursday, December 10, 2015

Whiteface Mtn: 12/09/2015

Whiteface Mountain, Wednesday 12/09/2015.

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

In a way, Whiteface’s marketing department couldn’t have picked a better day to showcase the mountain for its annual Media Day event on Wednesday. Even though the ground was as bare and brown as my own backyard, the open trails were covered top to bottom and edge to edge with snow. The difficult start to the ski season is a reminder that without snowmaking, right now there’d be no skiing at all anywhere in the northeast.

Hug a snowmaker!

We skied on 2400 feet of vertical served by the Cloudsplitter Gondola, on Excelsior, Upper and Lower Valley, Essex and Northway. Despite the warm temperatures and lack of natural snow, that’s on par with the amount of terrain Whiteface usually has online at this point, just two weeks into the season (Whiteface opened on Thanksgiving Day).

Empty trails, wall-to-wall coverage

Anne-Julie from Montreal - not bad for her second day on telemark gear!

Surfaces started out nicely groomed, with the snow softening up in the sun and at the lower elevations, where a bright sun pushed temperatures to 40+ degrees. With the exception of the very bottom of the mountain, coverage was excellent with no thin or bare spots and only the occasional rock kicked up by the groomer. And being a mid-week day, we practically had the mountain to ourselves.

Upper Valley

The view from the new Taste of NY cafe

Naturally, much of the lunchtime presentation by Aaron Kellett, Whiteface’s general Manager, and other Whiteface / ORDA staff, focused on the mountain’s snowmaking and grooming capabilities. Low-energy snowmaking guns not only use just 20% of energy traditional guns use, they are also able to operate at marginal temperatures, allowing the snowmaking crews to use the cool nights that we’ve had to maximum advantage. That strategy has allowed Whiteface and Gore to be among the only ski areas open in New York so far this season (Belleayre opened last weekend and Hunter may open this weekend).

No natural snow to be found, even at high elevation

Almost looks like summer...

Temperatures look warm for the next several days, but once the cold returns snowmaking will resume, with crews making a full-court press to expand terrain and build base depths leading up to the Christmas holiday week. For anyone planning to ski at Whiteface this weekend, show up in a full Santa suit (a Santa hat ain’t gonna cut it) on Sunday and ski for free, or bring a new toy or a new or used coat for a half-price lift ticket.

The way I look at it, if you're a skier you can either sit around at home and complain about the weather, or you can get out and ski! We'll be hitting the slopes again this weekend.


  1. A Great Day it was Jeff. Anne-Julie sure had me fooled. She has great style.

  2. It probably took me 2 years to get as good on tele gear as she was after 2 days.
    Great skiing with you Peter!

  3. Hey Jeff! That's an awesome post. Thanks for the nice picture. Yes, it was my second time this year and I had the chance to practice 3 other times last year. I'm getting it faster than I expected. It was really nice skiing with you and Beth and Peter as well. Looking forward to make some turns with you guys!