Winter at Whiteface: Five Favorite Ski Trails
The dog days of winter in the North Country are upon us. I’ve always considered SLU students a different breed because we still trek through snow with the same smile that we would have with our flip-flops on in late August. I was raised on winter sports and leisure: Ice-hockey and skiing. Weekend family ski trips to Vermont defined most of my childhood.
Winter, for me, is about waking up on a frigid, dry morning with three or four friends, throwing the skis and poles in the car, stopping at Dunkin Donuts for food and hot coffee while enjoying the beautiful drive, through the winter wonderland that is the Adirondack Mountains, to Whiteface Mountain.
However, my day at Whiteface isn’t quite complete without at least one run on each of my favorite five trails that I’ve been ranking in my head since freshman year. Feel free to use these as suggestions or to see if you agree with me at all. The latest version is as follows:
5. The Wilmington Trail: This easygoing blue trail off of Lookout Mountain is as far to skier’s left on the mountain as possible. This is quite possibly the perfect warm-up run, whether it’s the first of the day or after the ginormous chili bread bowl you just inhaled at the mid-station lodge for lunch. The trail consists of breathtaking views of the surrounding Adirondacks.
4. Mountain Run: I love a double-chair lift. There are two of them at Whiteface which run adjacent to each other. If the gondola line is crowded, it is sometimes smart to hang around the mid-station lodge area instead of heading back down to the base of the mountain. Mountain Run is a fantastic, wide, single black diamond that allows you to carve wide or tight turns, especially in the morning when the groomed corduroy is still there.
3. Excelsior: The first five letters of this trail name might intimidate some economics students, but the trail itself is as generous and easygoing as they get. Whether coming off of the gondola or the Little Whiteface chairlift, Excelsior is a great way to get your legs and edges under you. What is even more fun is a game of follow-the-leader if you have a group. Just make sure to watch out for fellow skiers and snowboarders.
2. The Follies: I have always considered this blue trail as Excelsior’s older sibling because you can go right into the Follies from the former. They are very similar trails. They twist and turn like snakes. The summit is not as intimidating as people think it is!
1. Upper Skyward: Ah… the summit chair of Whiteface, or as I like to call it, the Stairway to Heaven. It is usually in your best interest to take Shrek’s advice and not look down or behind you but I cannot help myself. On a sunny, bluebird day, nothing gets me going more than taking that staircase up to the roof of the mountain and standing above Upper Skyward for thirty seconds before diving down. Camels Hump and Mt. Mansfield (Stowe) can be seen in the distance while Lake Champlain is impossible to miss. As one of the widest trails on the mountain, Upper Skyward on a clean, groomed or, if you’re lucky enough, powder day is the quintessential run to get your blood going early in the morning. But, no trail at Whiteface disappoints. It’s about the experience of being there with people you love and with whom you share a common interest: Winter in the North Country!