Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Whiteface: 03/24/2018

Whiteface Mountain, Saturday 3/24/2018.

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

We've spent a lot of time skiing in Vermont lately but our visit to Whiteface last weekend was a good reminder of how great the skiing can be in New York. When conditions are as good as they were on Saturday, Whiteface rivals any mountain for King of the East. And when the Slides are open, if you ask me there's no contest.

Just like the ski areas in the state across Lake Champlain, Whiteface benefited hugely from March's string of nor'easters. What looked like an early close to the season a month ago now looks like great skiing into mid-April. The extra snowfall not only means extra base for spring season, it also puts natural snow terrain like Cloudspin, Empire and the glades back into play. And yes, the Slides. About the only thing I can find to complain about is that Whiteface was unable to get Hoyt's High and Lookout Below - two of the best black diamonds on the mountain - open this year.

We started our day with a couple warm-ups on Little Whiteface - Wilderness, Mountain Run and Northstar / Cloudsplitter Glade - before heading over to the summit quad. I hadn't really expected the Slides to open, but on our second or third ride up, there was ski patrol dropping the rope on Slide In.

Daniel alone on Wilderness

Macintyre Range view from Little Whiteface chair

Summit view

Sylvie skiing Skyward

Summit quad

Timing is everything with the Slides. They're only open on Gold (unrestricted access) status a handful of days each season, I've only got one other Slides day. I had 4 kids with me (2 of mine and 2 of their friends, all strong skiers), double checked that everyone was up for the challenge, and let the boys lead across the traverse to the top of Slide 2b.

The board you want to see at the summit quad

The kids on the Slide In traverse

Zach leading the traverse past Slide 1

Top of 2b

Daniel scoping out an alternate line

Sticking the landing

Further down 2b

Looking across at the frozen waterfall on Slide 1, the reason we chose 2b

We took our time picking the best route down 2b. Coverage was excellent, and most lines were pretty bumped up from skier traffic the weekend before. It was the girls' first time in the slides, and they both did great handling the terrain. Both boys had skied the slides previously and have lots of experience on advanced terrain, so they were right at home.

After a quick lunch break, I told the boys they should do another Slides lap while the girls and I skied Skyward and Cloudspin. They ended up getting 3 Slides laps, all on 2b, and reported the snow conditions got better each run. I missed getting a second lap in myself by about 30 seconds. Bummer, but I'm as stoked for the boys' 3 laps as I would be if I got 3 laps. We all finished the day with a run down the Wilmington trail and a few more laps on Skyward and Cloudspin.

Daniel skiing Blazer's Bluff, another fun but rarely open line off the summit quad

Sylvie skiing Skyward

Another look back up at the Slides

It's been a great March. The weather is edging close to spring with temperatures finally getting above freezing this week. It looks like the great run of snow conditions we've had all month is over, but it also means we can look forward to some great spring skiing around the corner.

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