Tuesday, February 7, 2017
I wasn’t exactly wishing I was back east, but the reports I heard while I was at Whistler sounded like conditions at Gore and Whiteface were about the best they’ve been in two years. Luckily, those conditions only got better during the week that followed.
We’ve been splitting our time between Gore and Whiteface this year, and since Beth and the kids skied Gore while I was at Whistler, we headed up to Whiteface this weekend. With a foot and a half of new snow for the week and favorable snowmaking temperatures, the mountain was just about fully open with excellent packed powder conditions.
The lifts are only open so many hours, so a skier’s gotta have priorities. We came up with a tick list for the day that included Lookout Mountain, Cloudspin, and a few other favorites that only open when conditions are prime. Lookout hadn’t opened at all last year (a casualty of the winter that wasn’t), so we headed there early in the day to ski the Wilmington Trail (Hoyt’s High and Lookout Below are still getting the snowmaking treatment). We don’t usually get all excited about a blue intermediate trail, but the Willy is different: 2600 vertical feet that runs uninterrupted for more than 2 miles, with panoramic views. Squalls put a kabosh on the views, but snow conditions were excellent.
Next up we really wanted to hit Cloudspin and Empire, two of Whiteface’s classic, old school black diamonds. You’ve heard me say many a time that the snowmaking crew is a skier’s best friend, but these two trails have been wisely spared from the snow guns (Cloud has snowmaking pipes, but they haven’t been used in years). Neither trail sees much traffic, and the result is soft, natural snow bumps that you just don’t get on expert trails with snowmaking. When these trails are in, they’re a treat.
We mixed in a few other favorites like Wilderness and Mountain Run before calling it a day with a final run down Cloudspin and an excursion through some off-the-map trees. Our final ride up the summit quad was crazy, yet at the same time classic Whiteface. The temperature dropped and the wind picked up, swirling snow into a tornado-like pattern. For just a few seconds the sun pushed though the dark grey clouds, illuminating a single skier on Skyward. Just in case anyone forgot, Mother Nature is still in charge.
Looks like we’re in for another round of up-and-down weather this week. With a little luck, some snowfall on the backside of Wednesday’s front along with snowmaking and grooming will set up the coming weekend for more good skiing.