Skiing at Whiteface Mountain, New York

Trip Start Jan 28, 2008
1
7
Trip End Mar 12, 2008


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Flag of United States  , New York
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Whiteface Mountain is the premier ski area in the Adirondacks and was host for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic downhill ski events.  With a 3,166 foot vertical drop from top to bottom, Whiteface Mountain is probably the only ski area in the eastern United States and puny Appalachian Mountains tall enough to host such an event.  Killington in Vermont, where I have also skied, claims a similar vertical drop, but I've experienced the long narrow run there down to a condo gulch way below the base that's served by a single lift, and that just wouldn't do for an Olympics. 
This was my first time skiing at Whiteface Mountain, so I was quite excited.  I didn't find the lift system or the terrain to be overly extensive, however.  I'd characterize the ski mountain as being tall but skinny, and it seemed like I was riding the same two lifts up the mountain all day.  Whereas many other ski resorts sprawl over several mountains with dozens of ways down via different runs, at Whiteface there's a rather limited number of very long runs.  This will change somewhat soon, though; an expansion that will increase the skiable terrain substantially has already been cut through the forest and is scheduled to open for the 2008-2009 ski season. 
My choice to ski Whiteface Mountain on Wednesday was a carefully planned decision.  Why Wednesday?  Because I checked it out on the Internet and found a silly ski deal called something like "Coke Wednesdays", in which you are eligible for a discounted ($35 instead of $67) lift ticket on Wednesdays at Whiteface if you present a coke product at the ticket window.
Another snowstorm through the night and into the morning made for some generally nice skiing, although there were some near whiteout conditions at the top.  I'm not quite sure in the new snow was a boon or a bane, though, since it seemed to hide the especially icy patches from the ice storm a few days before, making for some treacherous skiing.  I haven't had many major falls skiing in recent years, but perhaps because of a combination of icy conditions and skiing aggressively because I felt strong after all the iron I had been pumping at the gym I had a few real doozies this time - an amazing face plant, a summersault in which one ski went flying deep into trees beside the trail, and a third on which I must have continued sliding slowly downhill on my bum for 100 yards, unable to stop because of smooth icy surface. 
The gondola at Whiteface is a little cozier than the chairlifts which constitute most of the uphill rides at ski resorts, and I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some conversations.  I was trying to figure out where people were from by their accents before the content of their conversations gave it away.  Foremost was a large number of invaders from the north who were not too difficult to pick out whenever they used words like "Hoose" and "Abooot"; the second contingent was the Upstate New Yorkers with a very clear but somewhat high-pitched and nasal way of speaking; third, the Megalopolitans with the harsh urban accents of East Coast cities like New York and Philadelphia; and finally a few New Englanders and some Slavic language speakers I assumed were rich Russian gangsters (because it's fun to assume that about people who speak Slavic languages at ski slopes who are skiing rather than working the lifts).   
On one ride up I was in a cabin full of high-powered urban dudes in their 30s who were discussing number of "verts" and number of days skiing days they got in that season, as if they were in some kind of competition (verts meaning number of vertical feet skied - a trip from the top to the bottom at Whiteface would be 3,166 "verts").  "I've been on the slopes 55 days this season and I should get in two million verts by April," one said. 
"Yeah, dere wuz dis one season I wuz livin' in Tahoe and I skied almos' everyday and got in t'ree and a half million verts," one of his ski buds responded. 
I wanted to interject and say, "Dudes, chill out!  Don't you have enough competition in your daily lives and marketing jobs not to have to apply same level to your recreation?  Enjoy it for the fun and the adrenaline rush; don't make into just another thing  to beat other people at." 
There's actually more to Whiteface, the fifth highest in New York, than just skiing.  On visit to the Adirondacks in June 2005 I drove the Veterans Memorial Highway up the backside, a road which goes to a parking lot within three hundred feet of the summit.  From there I walked up the trail to the top for another pretty stunning view of the Adirondacks region, but it's also possible to cheat and walk into tunnel deep in the mountain to be whisked up in an elevator.  The road project was actually somewhat controversial at the time it was built during the Great Depression with some early environmental opposition.  Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, though, believed disabled people like himself should have the same access as others to mountaintop views and strongly supported to road. 
And if you're still wondering, no, I did not try the Olympic Ski Jump at the ski jumping complex just outside Lake Placid town.  I also didn't fork out the $75 for a single ride down the Olympic Bobsled Track at Mount Van Hoevenburg, but still felt like I had a full five days of play in Winter Olympics Town USA.
 
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Comments

shred13 on

I think maybe you should keep your "bum" on your side of the pond. the last thing we need clogging up our slopes is another stuck up brit. no disrespect intended.

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