Thursday, August 18, 2016

Adirondack ski areas by the numbers: 2015-16 season

Adirondack ski areas by the numbers: 2015-16 season.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Most eastern skiers would probably prefer to forget about the winter of 2015-16, also known as The Winter That Wasn't. Besieged by mild temperatures, lack of snowfall and one rain event after another, ski areas throughout the northeast pushed the limits of their snowmaking plants and crews to salvage what they could of the season. But you can fight mother nature only so much, and skiers suffered through limited terrain, event cancellations and a shortened season. Skier visits in the northeast were down a whopping 28% from the previous winter. Whiteface and Gore followed that trend, with significant decreases in both skier visits (down 21% and 44%, respectively) and revenue (down 21% and 37%, respectively). Here are the numbers:

2015-16 ski season results

Whiteface operating days
Gore operating days
Whiteface skier visits
167 thousand
212 thousand
Gore skier visits
118 thousand
211 thousand
Whiteface revenue
$7.70 million
$9.80 million
Gore revenue
$6.31 million
$10.04 million
Whiteface snowfall
Gore snowfall
5213 degree days
6897 degree days

2014-15 season results fine print:
  • Operating days, skier visits, revenue and snowfall are from ORDA's Annual Report and audited financial statements, available here.
  • Gore's long-term annual snowfall is 133 inches. Whiteface's is 200 inches.
  • Temperatures are heating degree-days as measured by NYSERDA for the Glens Falls region for the Nov-April period. Degree-days represent the number of degrees by which the average daily temperature falls below 65 degrees. More degree-days equals colder temperatures. The long-term average number of heating degree-days for the Nov-April period is 6356.

But every ski season starts with a clean slate, and the long range forecast for next winter is looking a lot more promising. There's even snow in the forecast for this weekend in the northern Rockies.

Besides summarizing last winter's results, ORDA's annual report also gives some insight to future projects that are being given consideration. One of the most intriguing proposals is a much needed renovation and enlargement of Gore's saddle lodge and the creation of a summit warming lodge and restrooms:

The photo on the left is Gore's Saddle Lodge, located at the top of the Adirondack Express II. The antiquated structure is poorly designed, too small, and an unsuitable representation of Gore. Presently it is the only upper-mountain facility that offers food and restrooms to the hundreds of thousands of guests that ski or ride Gore each year. Plans call for an attractive remodel that uses the existing foundation, but adds a much-needed second floor and outside entrances for restrooms.

Another structure in need of an update is the unloading station of the historic gondola, shown on the left. This is the first building skiers/riders see when arriving at Gore's summit. The only summit facilities presently available are an outdated warming shack and randomly placed outhouses. Renovation of this barn into a summit warming lodge, with waterless toilets and some simple skier services, provides the basic comforts for guests to remain at the summit, rather than ski or ride towards more congested lodges and trails.

Although there is no timetable for completion and funding is not yet in place, it is encouraging to see Gore and ORDA prioritizing these much needed improvements. Hopefully these projects will become reality in the next few years.

Photos courtesy of Whiteface and ORDA


  1. We are banking on the Farmer's Almanac? What's next, Punxsutawney Phil?
    Those lodges desperately need to be done, and they want to move the summer ops to the Ski Bowl, moving the Hudson Chair up to replace High Peaks. But with 2015-16 rev down 37% and 2016-17 season tickets undoubtedly down, these are 10 or 20 year project plans.
    Always good to see the numbers, thanks for sharing.

  2. I couldn't agree more, those lodge improvements are really needed. Even if there's no funding or timeline yet, at least seeing them in ORDA's annual report is one step closer...
    And yeah, our blind monkey with a dart board was busy for the weekend, so we used the Farmer's Almanac. It's about as valid as anything this far out...