WILMINGTON - With holiday decorations in the stores and winter weather gripping the Olympic Region this past week, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That's good news for downhill skiers as staffers at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center began making snow on Friday, Nov. 8.
Snowmaking is essential to create a base for the trails, especially when the fickle fall weather decides to turn warm - and possibly rain - threatening the snowmaking efforts. The more snow coverage now, the better chance for the opening date, which was originally scheduled for Friday, Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. However, on Nov. 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Whiteface Mountain would open Friday, Nov. 15 and Gore Mountain would open Saturday, Nov. 16, the earliest opening dates ever for the ski centers.
State Olympic Regional Development Authority officials announced Nov. 8 that the snow guns had been fired up for the first time this season and snowmaking would continue leading up to opening day, conditions permitting, on the Upper Valley, Lower Valley and Fox trails.
Snow guns start making snow at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington on Nov. 8. (Photo by Andy Flynn)
ORDA Communications Manager Jon Lundin said the snowmaking system at Whiteface got a boost this year with an investment in new equipment.
"We're always looking for new ways to be efficient and cover the mountain with more snow," Lundin said. "We did add 35 low-energy snow guns, and that's going to provide additional coverage to popular trails such as Easy Street, Broadway and Excelsior."
Whiteface also purchased an energy-efficient boom fan snow gun to cover the mountain's Lower Valley trail. The mountain now has 98 percent coverage with its snowmaking system, using 235 guns and 40 miles of pipe (excluding the Glades and the Slides).
As for trail improvements, Lundin said skiers are looking forward to the mountain's newest glade - Rand's Last Stand.
"This is going to be an expert terrain, which will allow skiers to connect back to the Summit Chair," Lundin said.
Rand's Last Stand - named for former Whiteface manager Jay Rand - was completed in September. It is a 1,500-foot-long glade cut halfway down Hoyt's High and is Whiteface Mountain's first new trail in more than five years. In all, the glade adds 4.7 acres to the mountain's already 283 acres of skiable terrain, including 35 acres of in-bounds, off-piste double-black diamond wilderness terrain skiing on the Slides and 53 acres of glades skiing. With Rand's Last Stand, Whiteface now has 87 trails.
For 23 consecutive years, Whiteface/Lake Placid has been selected as the top destination for Off-Hill Activities by readers of SKI Magazine. The 2014 survey also tabbed Whiteface Mountain as the 10th top ski resort in the eastern United States. Whiteface also received kudos for apres ski activities (4), Challenge (4), Scenery (5), Character (6), Dining (9) and Overall Value (10).
This spring, SnowEast Magazine readers chose Whiteface/Lake Placid as New York state's number-one ski resort. The more than 6,000 participants in the survey also named Whiteface/Lake Placid as the East's second overall favorite ski resort and most scenic.
Visit online at www.whiteface.com.