Thursday, April 26, 2018

Whiteface: 04/21/2018

Whiteface Mountain, Saturday 4/21/2018.

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

Some skiers spend the winter chasing powder days, or more accurately, powder hours. Others live for the soft snow, blue sky and longer days of spring. If you're a spring guy, last weekend brought some of the best skiing of the season, with Whiteface serving up some of the best terrain in the east.

April's been cool, dipping below freezing at night - often well below - and frequently struggling to get out of the 30s during the day. True spring conditions have been a scarcity, but the cool weather pattern has helped preserve the snowpack. Earlier in the week I was worried temperatures might remain too cool over the weekend for good spring skiing, but each run of the weather models trended a little bit warmer and a little bit sunnier. By Saturday morning, the peaks were white, the sky was blue and ski conditions were the best of both worlds: powder and packed powder up high and soft spring conditions from mid-mountain down.

Empire, April 21, no rope ducking required

Daniel skiing Empire


The boys hitting the Cloudsplitter trees

Daniel skiing Cloudsplitter glades with beautiful pack powder conditions

Incredibly, the north-facing shaded slopes stayed packed powder all day, even on our final run through the Cloudsplitter trees late in the afternoon. But most of the mountain faces east, and perfect spring conditions ruled the day across all the Little Whiteface black diamond classics: Mountain Run, Wilderness, Mackenzie, Thruway and Drapers Drop.

Daniel and the kids on Upper Thruway

Mackenzie bumps

Late afternoon Mac run

Our friend Collin skiing Mac

The boys (Daniel and his bud Zach) were all enthused for Whiteface's pond skimming (promo vid from this year's event). Daniel had done the Killington pond skimming the weekend before. Swept along - or sucked in - by their enthusiasm, I signed up too. But when noon rolled around, the boys decided the skiing was just too good to "waste" their time pond skimming, leaving me to hold up the family honor in the competition. No, I didn't make it (nobody made it all the way across) but I came pretty close - you can watch my attempt at minute 23 here.

Sylvie scoping out the bond before the skimming event. "Don't do it Dad!"

Of course I kept skiing after the pond skimming. I squeezed (most of) the water out of my polypro layers and dumped the water out of my boots and headed back out for more laps on the Little Whiteface chair. While I was waiting my turn to skim the pond, the boys decided to hike up Paron's Run so they could ski Skyward (the summit lift wasn't running due to ice on the cable). With a fresh groom on Sky and soft snow (it faces due east), the boys reported a Top 10 run for the season. Maybe a dozen skiers made it up there all day. Yeah, I would have loved to be there with them, but they had an awesome adventure and that means more to me than getting up there myself.

Text from Daniel: Hanging out with Zach at the top of Skyward

Here are a few more views from the day. You just can't beat Whiteface for spectacular scenery on a day like this:

I guess it's worth mentioning some lift issues during the day. As mentioned, the summit quad never opened (it did run on Sunday). To be honest, the skiing was so good on the rest of the mountain I never really missed it, even though Skyward is my favorite run. The gondi went down sometime late morning, started back up, and then went down for good sometime just after noon. Not that big a deal at that time of day. The Mountain Run chair started up late (10, 11?), then closed when the lift crew shifted over the the Little Whiteface chair. Not a big deal, but all the switches kept skiers scratching their heads for most of the day.

It's been an amazing stretch of skiing for eastern skiers since March 1. With plenty of open terrain, deep bases and wall-to-wall coverage it's hard to believe we're already past closing date for a "normal" season. The latest Whiteface has ever closed is May 1 (2001). They've already announced one more weekend (the 28th and 29th). I was chatting with Aaron Kellet, Whiteface's General Manager, just before the start of the pond skimming, and he'd like to see Cinqo de Mayo. That sounds awesome to me...


  1. What a ski weekend it was.I also was at Whiteface on Sat. Conditions and weather were perfect.Thanks for pics and stirring my memory on just how good it was!

  2. Was an incredible weekend! Probably the best of the season. Miss you and the family.

    1. Hoping to connect with you guys for at least one more spring skiing weekend!