Thursday, December 10, 2015
Whiteface Mtn: 12/09/2015
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.