Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Whiteface: 1/21/2017

Whiteface, Satuday 1/21/2017.

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

No skier would actually wish for April temperatures in January, but nobody was complaining at Whiteface on Saturday when temperatures climbed into the upper 30s by opening bell. The mild weather softened surfaces from base to summit, delivering spring conditions that were a vast improvement over the frozen ice cube that would have greeted skiers had temperatures been 10 degrees colder. In the middle of what has been a vicious January thaw, we got the next best thing to a powder day.

Visibility was a bit tricky at the top of the gondi and summit chair, but improved drastically just a few hundred vertical feet below. The sun made an occasional appearance and blue skies mixed with the clouds. Only half the Saratoga Skier family came out - the girls had other plans at home. That allowed Daniel and me to lap our favorite upper mountain trails at our own pace: Skyward, Mountain Run, Wilderness, Mackenzie. Conditions were pretty consistent across all terrain: soft, spring "hero" snow.

Tricky visibility at the top of Skyward...

...but quickly improving a short way down

Skyward is near the top of both Daniel's and my "favorite trail" list, so we did a bunch of runs there. Mostly we stayed on the upper mountain, riding the Mountain Run, Little Whiteface or Summit chairs, but we did a few top-to-bottom runs following Skyward -> Lower Skyward -> Victoria -> Upper Valley -> Brookside. When you ski Whiteface it's pretty much mandatory to give your legs the 3,000 vertical foot test.

Daniel at the top of Victoria

Daniel diggin' the soft snow conditions

I've got to admit that Saturday's spring conditions were just what I needed to shake the January thaw blues. Even better, as I write this blog post, the thaw is coming to an end with a winter storm delivering 6+ inches of snow to the Adirondacks and colder temperatures on tap for the weekend and next week.

Mountain Run, Wilderness and Mackenzie

Rainbow over Wilmington

Here's hoping the second half of winter delivers lots of cold and plenty of powder days. As temperatures cool off this week and into the weekend, look for the snowmaking crews to spiff up some of the open terrain before moving on to Lookout Mountain. Hopefully by the next time we're up to Whiteface (first weekend in Feb?), we'll be skiing Hoyt's High and the Wilmington Trail in powder and packed powder conditions. The next spring day can wait until April.

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