Whiteface Mountain, NY - A Pictorial
By Jim Kenney, aka JamesJ
EpicSki Travel Correspondent
How is Whiteface ski area like super model Gisele Bündchen? They are both a tall, cool glass of water with beautiful curves, nice moguls, and a friendly forest. All joking aside, my son and I made a visit to Whiteface in late March 2014 and found it to be a spectacularly unique ski destination featuring the highest lift served terrain in the Northeastern US (elevation 4,386'). No Eastern snowrider's resume is complete without checking this one off the list...and maybe going back for a double check. Whiteface has a bodacious diversity of terrain from long beginner-intermediate groomers to steep glades and extreme off-piste. The trail layout has a genuine Olympic pedigree and is just ten easy miles from the outstanding après ski opportunities of the elegant, year-round resort town of Lake Placid.
To paraphrase French philosopher Voltaire, with great prominence comes great exposure, and to best enjoy the big mountain feel of Whiteface a visitor must be ready to embrace its variability. Howling snow, cold temps, mixed conditions, and yes, a little ice may all be implicit with the Whiteface experience, but so is the greatest vertical drop in the East (3,166'), stupendous Adirondack High Peaks scenery, and thrilling advanced skiing across approximately 85 trails and 300 acres. Whiteface is a state-run ski area operated in a no frills manner, but the lift network and base infrastructure are Olympic caliber and highly capable of facilitating an epic day on snow.
I had skied Whiteface twice before in 1971 and 2000, but it wasn't until this trip that I finally got to see the town of Lake Placid, host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. We stayed on the edge of town in TMax-N-Topo's Hostel for $20something per night and dined in the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery beside scenic Mirror Lake. The town was hopping for a weekday in late March and we took a quick spin down Main Street and past the Olympic skating venue. It was the eve of the ECAC college hockey league tourney and team buses and fans were pouring into town. Union College, NY won the ECAC title and a few weeks later captured the school's first NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship. At Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain winter sports greatness just seems to come with the territory!
Please click on the photos for expanded views. All photos are by Jim Kenney.
Arriving from the south on March 20, 2014, we went from springtime back into winter weather and winter sports. This is Mirror Lake with the town of Lake Placid in the background.
Little Whiteface Peak (elev 3676') to the left is served by the 8-person Cloudsplitter Gondola (2,432' vertical). The true Whiteface Summit (elev 4867') can be seen in the background right.
At the top of the gondola is a terrific view of Lake Placid and the Adirondack High Peaks.
There is excellent glade skiing off Little Whiteface including lower angle terrain. We spotted this glade skiing class in what I believe was 10th Mtn Div Glade.
Things get a little steeper and tighter in nearby Cloudsplitter Glades.
About five years ago Whiteface made a significant new terrain expansion with the addition of the Lookout Mountain triple chair (1,560' vertical). This is a long groomer on Lookout Mountain called The Wilmington Trail. It connects with a lower mountain run called Boreen for nearly 2800 continuous vertical feet of scenic intermediate cruising. Lake Champlain can be seen in the distant left.
Lookout Mountain also features some expert glades and this fine mogul run, Lookout Below. The brown bump ninja is my son Vince.
The Whiteface Summit Quad Chair (1,830' vertical) takes you to the highest lift served terrain in the Northeast US, elevation 4,386'. This is a shot of the extreme terrain adjacent to the lift called The Slides. We didn't get in there because avalanche gear was required on the day of our visit.
Even from the highest points at Whiteface there are manageable intermediate runs with great views like this from The Follies trail.
Shred the Daks!
Whiteface Mountain website: http://www.whiteface.com/
Whiteface Mountain trail map: http://www.whiteface.com/files/public/WFCEMT-1314x_copy.pdf
About the Author
- Husband, father and civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a Washington D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim’s ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism’s Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article. To read other articles by Jim, click here.