This winter the state-owned Whiteface ski area will debut a new (and as yet un-named) glade on Lookout Mountain. The 1,500 foot long expert glade will be cut half-way down Hoyt’s High and will also connect the Summit Chair lift. The development of the new glade is expected to begin this week. Once completed, the glade will add an additional 4.7 acres to the mountain’s already 283 acres of skiable terrain and 3,430 of vertical, the most vertical east of the Rockies.
This is the first new trail added to Whiteface Mountain since the opening of Lookout Mountain in 2008. Other mountain improvements include the addition of 35 low energy snow guns that will provide efficient snow coverage on Easy Street, Broadway and Excelsior. The mountain has also purchased an energy efficient boom fan snow gun that will be used to cover the mountain’s Lower Valley trail. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Kirsten L. Goranowski, a 2012 graduate of Paul Smith’s College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. This is part of our series of essays by young people from Paul Smith’s College.
It was a rainy wait for the Face Lift chairlift at the base of Whiteface Mountain on March 9th. I overheard a woman complain to her husband about the unpleasant weather. There was mention of an alternative plan for the day. I myself contemplated an alternative, yet I had bought a season pass and still had to get my money’s worth. Winter of 2010-2011 was the first time I picked up the sport of snowboarding, and I’m now questioning whether any of it was a worthwhile investment. » Continue Reading.
January is National Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, dedicated to learning a new snow sport. New York has more ski and snowboard areas than any other state and hundreds of alpine and Nordic ski resorts in 22 states will be offering free and discounted lessons, rentals and lift tickets for new skiers and riders.
The goal is to get American families on the slopes and enjoy a healthy winter lifestyle. Organizers are hoping that more than 150,000 children and adults will take ski and snowboard lessons from a professional instructor. Last January an estimated 75,000 children and adults participated in the program. During the National Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, Whiteface will be offering a mid-week special for just $59, including lessons, rentals and a lower-mountain lift ticket. Lessons begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and are available for skiers and riders 13 and older.
More information about the January Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month can be found online.
It’s no secret that it’s been a difficult start to the ski season. Besides a notable lack of snowfall, the cold temperatures that ski areas need for snowmaking operations have so far been hard to come by.
I started my ski season on Thanksgiving weekend, when both Gore and Whiteface opened for the 2011-2012 season, and I’ve now got several days at both mountains under my belt. Although trail choices have been limited (both mountains are about 20% open as of this writing), conditions have been surprisingly good, thanks to efficient snowmaking plants and modern grooming equipment. You can check out my most recent visits to Gore and Whiteface here and here. » Continue Reading.
Sometime in early January, the first participants in Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program will begin arriving at Double H’s facility in Lake Luzerne. The program offers children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to participate in downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Around 30 children per day typically participate in the program, which runs every winter weekend from January through March. Most children participate for 3 or 4 days over the course of the winter, and five Family Sleepover Weekends allow the entire family to participate in winter sports together.
The program takes place on Double H’s ski slopes, which are equipped with a double chairlift and snowmaking. Like all programs at Double H, the Adaptive Winter Sports Program is offered completely free of charge to participants, and thousands of children and their families have been served since the program’s inception in 1998.» Continue Reading.
The first few snowflakes of the year have already dusted the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, and skiers and riders are looking forward to opening day. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for this winter at downhill ski centers in the Adirondack region.
At Gore Mountain, 130 new high-efficiency tower guns will provide a major improvement in the mountain’s snowmaking capabilities. The new guns will be installed on trails that constitute some of the mountain’s most popular intermediate terrain including Sunway, Wild Air, Sleighride and Quicksilver. The new guns will also be installed on Sagamore, the expert trail which forms the core of Gore’s Burnt Ridge terrain pod that opened in 2008. Emily Stanton, Gore’s marketing manager explained the significance of the new guns: “It’s huge. Not only will the new guns allow us to better utilize our pumping capacity to make more snow, they will allow us to devote snowmaking resources to other parts of the mountain more quickly. It’s the biggest upgrade to our snowmaking plant since we tapped the Hudson in 1996.”
There will be expanded glade terrain at Gore this winter as well, with two new black diamond glades at the Ski Bowl and an extension of the intermediate Chatterbox glade. The entire Ski Bowl terrain pod and the Chatterbox glade were themselves new last year. The new glades at the Ski Bowl will provide a by-pass to the headwall section of 46er, the expert trail that follows the line of the Hudson Chair. That headwall section of 46er was unskiable last year due to unfinished trail grading and a lack of snowmaking, and unfortunately it will likely remain unskiable this year. Stanton explained “with all the other work that’s been going on, we just weren’t able to get to 46er this year.”
Gore’s base lodge will see a complete renovation of the Tannery Pub, a new outdoor grille, and a new lower level patio. The grooming fleet has also been upgraded with the purchase of a new groomer at the end of last season.
And last, Stanton mentioned excitement over the Saratoga North Creek Railroad’s ski trains this winter. “The train isn’t just transportation, it’s an experience. They’ve really done a first class job. Ski packages for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, late December through late March, are already set up on the railroad’s website. It’s is a wonderful marketing opportunity for us, and a year-round asset for North Creek too.”
At Whiteface, General Manager Bruce McCulley and ORDA Public Relations Coordinator Jon Lundin gave an overview of what they’ve been working on during the summer months. In the lodge, the rental shop and retail store will be extensively re-modeled, as will the kitchen for the J. Lohr café. The rental shop will also be outfitted with new “rockered” Rossignol skis. Rockered skis are a recent ski design trend that allows for easier turn initiation, a plus for beginners.
A new winchcat groomer has been added to the fleet, terrain in the Sugar Valley Glades has been expanded, and four new high-efficiency automated fan guns have been added to the snowmaking plant. The fan guns are considered state-of-the-art in terms of their automation, consistency, and ability to make snow in marginal conditions over a large area.
Last year, Whiteface was plagued by a number of lift malfunctions, and the Little Whiteface double chair was taken off-line in late February for the remainder of the season. That lift has been extensively renovated this summer, including new towers from mid-station up. McCulley elaborated: “That lift had an awful lot of hours on it. Some of the towers were as old as 1958, others went back to the 70s. We’ve gone through the entire mechanism, overhauling or replacing just about every component. Functionally it’s the same lift, but the mechanism is essentially new.” The Little Whiteface double serves a key role as an alternate for when the gondola is on wind-hold, and as an option for skiers who wish to access upper mountain terrain without returning all the way to base to ride the gondola.
Whiteface had one of its most successful seasons ever last year, as measured by skier visits and revenue. “It was a perfect storm” said ORDA’s Lundin. “We had a favorable Canadian exchange rate, and all it did from Christmas until spring was snow.” Marketing efforts helped as well, with programs like the Whiteface Road Warriors and recognition as the East’s #1 ski resort (Ski Magazine, December 2010). Lundin is clearly excited for this winter: “We’re looking to ride the wave of last year’s snow and follow up with another blow-out year.”
Not every skier is looking for the big mountain experience – and price tag – offered by Gore and Whiteface. Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake and McCauley Mountain in Old Forge are excellent small-to-medium sized alternatives. At Mount Pisgah, the ski area’s 1940s-era T-bar is being replaced with a new T-bar lift. The lift replacement is expected to be completed by November, along with new lighting for night skiing. Big Tupper is another alternative for skiers, and the area is expected to be run again this winter by community volunteers. Surprisingly, there is even free skiing to be found at small, municipally operated hills like the Indian Lake ski slope and Dynamite Hill in Chestertown. The importance of these small- and medium-sized “feeder” areas can not be underestimated: besides providing an opportunity for beginning skiers to learn the sport, these areas also provide a positive regional economic impact.
Hickory Ski Center, in the southern Adirondacks, was recently brought back to life after having been shuttered from 2005 to 2009. Since the area re-opened in January, 2010, the lodge has been renovated, new grooming equipment and an electronic ticketing system have been purchased, and the lifts have been refurbished. Hickory relies exclusively on surface lifts (2 Pomas and a T-bar) to serve its 1200’ of vertical, and the lift upgrades have virtually eliminated breakdowns.
Historically, Hickory never really had adequate grooming capability, but a state-of-the-art winchcat purchased last year now allows the ski area to provide groomed corduroy conditions on its mid- and lower mountain terrain, broadening the area’s appeal to beginners, intermediates and families. Hickory’s challenging upper mountain terrain and its natural snow conditions (no snowmaking) have long appealed to advanced skiers, but Hickory is looking to emphasize the area’s appeal to families. “We’ve had many families associated with the mountain for a long, long time and I think that’s one of our strong suits,” said Bill Van Pelt, a shareholder. “Our target market is absolutely families.”
Just outside the Blue Line, West Mountain and Willard Mountain have been busy with improvements and upgrades as well. West is adding several high-efficiency automated fan guns (West’s snowmaking operation is 100% fan guns), and is looking to leverage its electronic lift ticketing system (new last year) to provide skiers with more convenience and flexibility. Willard is also adding fan guns to their snowmaking plant. Like most ski areas, both Willard and West make investments in their snowmaking operations every year. Chic Wilson, Willard’s GM and owner, calls snowmaking “the most important part of our business,” a sentiment echoed by Mike Barbone, GM at West Mountain.
ORDA’s Lundin summed up what every skier is already feeling: “Get out. Ski. It’s gonna be a great year.”
Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.
A number of notable avalanches have occurred over the last month in the Adirondacks. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center officials have told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that two avalanches have occurred this season on the Slides area of the mountain. Officials said both events were triggered by one or more skiers. The most recent (Tuesday morning) is believed to have been caused by someone who entered the Slides area from Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. The Slides are not accessible by chairlifts, but can be accessed by a traverse from the top of the summit chairlift. The previous Whiteface avalanche occurred at the Slides on February 26th. About five avalanches are reported to have occurred at Whiteface over the past ten years. Forest Ranger Jim Giglinto, who patrols the High Peaks, told the paper that there was an Avalanche in the Trap Dyke during the mid-February thaw. He said there have likely been other avalanches that have not been reported. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued an Avalanche Warning at the beginning of February.
On February 27th of last year two backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche on Angel Slide, Wright Peak. The potentially deadly avalanche occurred just a month after Phil Brown wrote A Short History of Adirondack Avalanches. Ian Measeck of Glens Falls told his story to Adirondack Almanack readers here. A skier died in an avalanche on the same slide in 2000.
While avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls, as well as during thaws, avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions. DEC warns to take the following precautions when traveling in avalanche prone terrain (between 25 and 50 degree slope with little vegetation): know avalanche rescue techniques; practice safe route finding; carry safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel); never travel alone; know the terrain, weather and snow conditions; and inform someone where you plan to go and when you expect to return.
Information on avalanche danger and safety precautions is available on the DEC website. A brochure titled “Avalanche Preparedness in the Adirondacks” is also available for download [pdf].
There’s more than 160-inches of snow at Whiteface, in Wilmington, N.Y., and you know what that means. More great skiing and riding for the entire family well into March at the Olympic mountain, not to mention the longer days, more sunshine and warmer weather.
Celebration activities have been planned to welcome spring at Whiteface Mountain. the events kick off with Mardi Gras, March 5-6 when visitors can ski, ride, collect beads and enjoy food and drink specials and live music from the funk, R &B and soul group Jocamo at the Cloudspin Lounge. Kids will have the chance to play in the snow with Curious George, March 4-6. The PBS character can be found at Kids Kampus each day and parents who enroll their children in a full day kids Kampus program with Curious George will receive a $20 discount off a one day lift ticket. More information about Curious George and the Whiteface Kids Kampus can be found online.
On March 12 and 13 Whiteface will celebrate St. Patty’s Day including Super Shamrock Sunday, March 13 when visitors can ski and ride all day for just $35 for adults, $30 for teens and $25 for juniors. Afterward there will be a party in the Cloudspin Lounge with live music by Trenchtown Oddities.
It’s Reggae Weekend, March 19-20, with music in the Cloudspin Lounge from the Big Take Over, Saturday, March 19, and the following weekend, March 26-27, it’s a Pirate Party at Whiteface, featuring music from Y Not Blue.
Every Wednesday it’s Coca-Cola Why Not Wednesday’s?, Present any empty Coca-Cola product and get a one-day adult lift ticket for only $38. Offer not valid with any other offers, programs, promotions, discounts, or frequent skier products. Limit one ticket per can.
There will be free mountain tours each Saturday and Sunday and on March 5, Lake Placid’s own Andrew Weibrecht, the 2010 Olympic Super G bronze medalist, will be at the mountain to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
Winter sports of all kinds are taking place in Lake Placid this weekend when the 2011 Empire State Games kick off on Friday February 25th, giving New York State athletes the opportunity to compete in their winter sports. The Olympic Style Opening Ceremonies, in which the athletes march into the arena with their respective sport teams, will be on Friday at 6 pm in the Olympic Center 1980 Herb Brooks arena. » Continue Reading.
Whiteface is ready to open for its 53rd ski and ride season on Friday, Nov. 26, at 8:30 a.m. Snow guns have been making snow since Thursday, Nov. 18, in preparation for opening day.
The Cloudsplitter Gondola will carry intermediate and above level skiers and riders to the summit of Little Whiteface to access Excelsior, Upper Valley, and the Summit Express. Skiers and riders will then load the Little Whiteface chair to return to the summit of Little Whiteface. At the conclusion of their day, they will then download on the Cloudsplitter Gondola.
The Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl trails are expected to open for the season Saturday for top to bottom skiing and riding. Whiteface boast the East’s greatest vertical drop and was recently chosen by readers of SKI Magazine as the #1 ski resort in the Eastern United States and #1 for 18 years straight for Off-Hill Activities. Readers of SnowEast Magazine also tabbed the Olympic mountain the East’s favorite resort.
Opening day lift tickets are $47 for adults (20-64 years old), $37 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), and $24 for juniors (7-12) and Seniors (70 and older). Children six and under ski and ride for free any day of the season. These prices will be in effect through Friday, Dec. 3. Early season prices begin on Saturday, Dec. 4, $57 for adults (20-64 years old), $47 for teens (13-19) and seniors (65-69), $34 for juniors (7-12) and $38 for skiers and riders 70 and older.
“We have great coverage on Excelsior and Upper Valley, and with a few more cold nights we should cover the Lower Valley, Fox and Mixing Bowl for Saturday,” said mountain manager Bruce McCulley. “This will give us 2.5 miles of skiing for Thanksgiving weekend, which is a great start to the season.”
Opening day will also feature the final installation of the 80-foot long mural in the lower tunnel of the Main Base Lodge, created by local area youth entitled “Seasons.” The mural features over 300 individually painted leaves and snowflakes and skiers are riders are encouraged to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony.
Throughout the 2010-11 season, skiers and riders can enjoy super savings on lift tickets with programs including Super Sundays presented by Bud Light, Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesdays” and the Vertical Club.
The five Super Sundays are scheduled for Dec. 12; Jan. 2; Feb. 6; March 13 and April 3. During those five selected Sundays, tickets prices to ski and ride Whiteface’s 3,430 feet of vertical will be $35 for adults 20 years and older, $30 for teens and just $25 for juniors. The themes include Stylin’ Sunday (Dec. 12), Island Madness (Jan. 2), Super Football Sunday (Feb. 6), Shamrock Sunday (March 13) and Retro Sunday (April 3).
Every non-holiday Wednesday is a Coca-Cola “Why Not Wednesday” at the Olympic mountain. A one-day lift ticket is just $38 when a skier or rider brings a Coca-Cola product.
The Vertical Club allows skiers and riders the opportunity to save every time they visit Whiteface or Gore. As a Vertical Club member your first visit is free and it’s $15 off future visits to Whiteface to Gore. Use the card five times and your sixth visit is also free, plus Vertical Club members can cash in on extra savings days announced throughout the season at both Whiteface and Gore. The card must be purchased three days in advance and is available on-line at http://www.whiteface.com/summer/tickets/wf_special.php.
Photo: Making snow on Whiteface on Sunday, November 21st.
You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that it’s been cold the last several days and nights, ideal for dusting off the hoses and guns and making snow at Whiteface. “We saw an opportunity to take advantage of some good temperatures,” said Whiteface general manager Bruce McCulley. “We’ll keep watching the weather and the temperatures over the next several days and make snow when it makes sense so that we have a good product for opening day.”
This season’s snowmaking is far ahead of last year’s, when the mountain didn’t make its first snow until Nov. 16, pushing back opening day until Dec. 5. Starting at about 6 p.m. last night, 35 guns began blowing snow from the mid-station down, laying the based for the Friday, Nov. 26, opening, weather permitting. The early snowmaking also should serve as a reminder to skiers and riders that Thursday, Nov. 18, is the deadline to purchase discounted 2010-11 season passes for Whiteface and Gore.
Whiteface boasts the greatest vertical east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails and was recently named the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States by readers of SKI Magazine. The mountain also received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill Activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well as events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.
Whiteface was also chosen by SnowEast Magazine readers as the East’s favorite resort. Whiteface topped such resorts as Sugarloaf and Sunday River, both in Maine, and even Killington, in Vermont. More than 3,500 readers took part in the poll and they also tabbed Whiteface as the most scenic resort and their favorite destination village. Photo: Snowmaking at Whiteface, from Mid-station down. Photos courtesy of Whiteface/ORDA.
McCauley Mountain and the Polar Bear Ski Club will hold their annual Season Ski Pass Sale and Consignment Sale this Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 9 am until Noon at McCauley Mountain Ski Area in Old Forge. From 10 am until Noon the Ski Patrol will be demonstrating chair lift evacuation. Spectators are welcome.
There will be new equipment vendors on site for the event, as well as used equipment by consignment. Items for the consignment sale should be at the McCauley Mountain Chalet between 8 am and 9 am on Saturday morning.
Season Passes purchased on the day of the sale include a free lunch. Season Ski Passes will be processed and issued immediately. Season Pass sale prices are $239 for an adult, $179 for juniors ages 18 and under, $99 for seniors ages 60-69. There is a special maximum family price of $836. There is also a Five-Day Pass good for any five days for $119 each. November 6th is also a volunteer workday to help prepare the slopes for the upcoming winter ski season. Participation of area youth is requested, and all volunteers are welcome. For additional information, call McCauley Mountain at 315-369-3225.
The Adirondack Ski, Snowboard & Snowmobile Spectacular, a three-day event dedicated exclusively to winter sports, will be held at the Adirondack Sport Complex (The Dome) in Queensbury, NY (at Northway, Exit 18) this weekend, October 29, 30 & 31.
The Spectacular was established to provide information, education and entertainment, according to event organizer Jeff Fraser. The event features a combination of exhibits, hands on demos, feature areas and thousands of products and services for skiers, snowboarders & snowmobilers including Fashion Snow Shows, Tubby Tube Rides, A BMX Park, Rockwall and The Sky Riders Aerial Show. The highlight of the weekend for many is the 12,000 square foot Giant Ski, Snowboard & Snowmobile Swap, an opportunity to turn your old equipment into cash, or find great deals on “previously enjoyed” snowmobiles, skis, boots, poles, boards, clothing or accessories. If you have equipment to sell, it can be dropped off at The Adirondack Sports Complex (The Dome) today until 8 pm or tomorrow, Friday October 29th between 8 am and 2 pm. Your equipment will be catalogued, tagged, and you’ll receive a receipt.
Sellers will need to return to The Dome on Sunday October 31st between 3 pm and 6 pm to see if your gear has sold. Unclaimed or abandoned items will be donated to a local charity.
Admission: A one day General Admission is $7.50; Children under 10 admitted free with paid adult admission; A three day admission is $9.00. All carded High School race team members get in “free” Friday, October 29th 4 pm – 9 pm with one paid adult admission.
The votes are in, they’ve all been counted and SKI Magazine readers named Whiteface, as the number-one ski resort in the eastern United States, second overall in eastern North America. The independent survey of 7,000 readers put the Olympic mountain back on top for the first time since 2003. In 2009-10, the mountain was ranked fifth. Only Mont Tremblant, Quebec stood atop Whiteface in the SKI survey. Whiteface, which boasts the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies, 283 skiable acres and 86 trails, received high marks for its Après-Ski (#2), Dining (#2), Family Programs (#2), Scenery (#2), Terrain/Challenge (#2), Lodging (#4) and Overall Satisfaction (#5). And for the 18th consecutive year, Whiteface/Lake Placid was chosen number-one for its Off-Hill activities, thanks to its array of Olympic-style sports including bobsledding, ice skating, cross country skiing, ski jumping, as well events such as World Cup racing, shows and concerts.
Over the past 10 years, Whiteface has invested in a gondola, chairlifts, parking, improved and increased snowmaking and grooming, terrain parks, upgrades to the base lodge and dining areas and expansion of the Kids Kampus, to name a few. Most recently, Whiteface opened Lookout Mountain in January 2009 and last season added 25 additional acres of glade skiing with the opening of the Sugar Glades.
For a complete look at the “Top 50 Resort Guide,” visit www.skinet.com.
2010 Olympic gold and silver medalist Billy Demong will speak at the Town of Harrietstown’s Dewey Mountain Recreation Center at 4 p.m. Monday, October 4. The Vermontville native, who cross-country-ski raced at Dewey as a kid, returns to his home mountain to kick off a fundraising campaign to replace its base lodge. All are welcome.
Demong will be available to meet well-wishers and sign Dewey stickers after remarks, which will also feature Saranac Lake skiers and coaches Natalie Leduc and Kris Cheney Seymour. The public is invited to stay for coffee and cookies, and to walk or mountain bike on Dewey’s trails. Dan and Debbie Stoorza of the Bean-To will introduce “Hammer Down,” a limited edition of its popular Hammer roast coffee. Demong and the Stoorzas came up with the idea for Hammer Down last winter, inspired by the four-bean blend and the phrase Demong uses to psyche himself up at the start of a race. The proceeds from each bag of Hammer Down beans sold this ski season will go toward Dewey’s lodge-replacement project.
From 4:30 to 5:30 the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League will register kids ages 5 to 13 for this winter’s program. Parents must accompany children who want to sign up.
Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters, operators of Dewey Mountain under a contract with the Town of Harrietstown, will sell season passes for skiing and snowshoeing.
Demong, a four-time Olympian in Nordic Combined, and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, a two-time Olympian and 2009 World Cup leader in Biathlon, are dedicated alumni of Dewey Mountain. They are also honorary trustees of Dewey Mountain Friends, which is fundraising to improve Dewey’s facilities in partnership with the Town of Harrietstown and the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation.
Dewey Mountain Recreation Center is on State Route 3 west of Saranac Lake, between Algonquin Apartments and the National Guard Armory. For more information call 891-7450.
Photo: Billy Demong with Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League members Adrian Hayden, left, and Ruben Bernstein, right, in March. Photograph courtesy of Chrissy Hayden.
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