Thursday, May 16, 2013

State Run Adirondack Ski Areas Rebound in 2012-13

Whiteface Dec 12 2012According to preliminary data for this year released by the National Ski Areas Association, after a disappointing 2011-12 winter, ski resorts reported an 11% increase in visitation nationally, with a 20% increase in skier visits in the Northeast region.

Not surprisingly given the reduced snowfall last year, results at Gore and Whiteface, both operated by the Olympic Region Development Authority (ORDA), improved significantly for the 2012-13 season.

According to Jon Lundin, ORDA’s Public Relations Coordinator, Whiteface logged 195 thousand skier visits for the 2012-13 ski season versus 165 thousand the year before. At Gore, there were 197 thousand skier visits versus just 156 thousand the year before.  Whiteface officials logged 145 days of skiing versus last year’s 122, and 140 days versus 111 for Gore.

Though snowier and colder than the winter of 2011-12, snowfall and temperatures for 2012-13 were at best merely average. Heating degree-days, which represent the number of degrees by which the average daily temperature falls below 65 degrees, totaled 5480 for the November through March period, as measured by NYSERDA for the Glens Falls region. That’s 17% colder than last winter’s 4673 degree-days, but still almost 5% warmer than the long-term average. At Whiteface, snowfall for the 2012-13 ski season totaled 182 inches, a big improvement over the previous year’s 129 inches but a bit shy of the long-term average of 200 inches. Snowfall at Gore was dramatically improved: 168 inches for 2012-13 versus a paltry 76 inches for the previous year and better than the long-term average of 150 inches. Unfortunately, that snowfall wasn’t enough to provide for Hickory Mountain in nearby Warrensburg, which failed to get enough natural snow to open again this year.

Gore straightbrook glade Feb 9 2013Of course averages are just averages, and what really matters to skiers is how good your own personal ski season was. I logged just about 40 ski days between Thanksgiving and mid-April. That’s a bit more than last year’s count, but the quality of this year’s skiing was head-and-shoulders above last year. My favorite skiing is on natural snow in the glades and trees at Gore, which were only marginally skiable for most of 2011-12. This year, we were rewarded with good skiing in the glades from late December through the end of the season. My skis are hanging in the basement now, but I’m already looking forward to the first snowfall of next winter.

Note: ORDA skier visit data is based on preliminary estimates and subject to revision. ORDA’s annual report and audited financial statements are expected to be released in June.

Photos: Top: Whiteface Mountain in mid-December. Bottom: a skier in one of Gore’s glades in early February.

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Jeff Farbaniec, of Saratoga County, is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.

Jeff's emphasis at the Almanack is on the ski sports - everything and anything related to Adirondack skiing. Jeff lives in Wilton, just south of the Blue Line, with his wife and their two young children.

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