I was at work on Monday when I saw the images of the earliest opening of the Whiteface Slides that I can recall. I was hungry to return to some of my favorite terrain and determined to get to the mountain for a run during my lunch break on Tuesday.
When I arrived I heard that The Slides weren’t open, so I left my beacon in my locker. When I got to summit I saw that they were open. I booked back down to the base, grabbed my Ortovox and shot back up to the top.
As I was riding the lift, I watched a cloud socking in the summit and had just about talked myself out of going in alone in low visibility. Thankfully, when I arrived at the top there were a couple guys headed in and I asked to tag along. I passed Patrol’s beep test and headed in.
Skiing Whiteface can be a life changing event for some skiers, an inbounds approximate for the terrain in Tuckerman Ravine perhaps. Some of the aura comes from the two Olympics that Whiteface hosted. Seeing the start gates and score boards makes the mountain the ski equivalent to the old Yankee Stadium.
More importantly to me, the Adirondacks have a seemingly infinite wilderness, even from the safety of the manicured slopes of its signature ski resort. If nothing else, on a sunny day the views reinforce the actual meaning of the word awesome. My first pilgrimage to the steeps this year found the mountain in excellent shape, certainly set up for a big spring. After brutal winds shut down the upper mountain on Friday, today seemed earned even if we were only riding the lifts.
The Slides at Whiteface are some of the most exciting sidecountry in the northeast. The steep, ungroomed terrain, the all natural conditions and the fact they’re open only a few days a year, heighten the mystique and generate a lot of curiosity about what first time skiers can expect. We’re often asked for information by those who haven’t had the opportunity to ski the Slides.
In August of 2010, Highpeaksdrifter penned our first guide to skiing the Whiteface Slides. It provided insight for the uninitiated and pure stoke for those who’ve been into the cirque and long to return.
The initial response to the Slide Guide was very positive. Over the last year, we’ve wanted to upgrade the guide to include larger photos and more information. In addition, since the original guide was written, the rains of 2011 have changed the terrain in the cirque, especially between Slides 2 and 3. We’ve upgraded the guide, creating an Slides Overview and giving each inbound slide it’s own page. This new guide is a cooperative effort between Highpeaksdrifter, Coach Z, ScottyJack and NYSkiBlog.
Our goal, as stated in the overview, is to prominently feature this terrain, and to give uninitiated, qualified expert skiers an idea of what to expect when skiing this exciting terrain. It is NOT our intention that this piece be taking as a recommendation that any skier attempt to ski the slides. Only the most qualified and confident skiers should attempt this terrain. Always respect the terrain, proceed with extreme caution and above all obey Patrol. Whiteface Patrol is the most qualified to determine when the Slides should be skied. We hope you enjoy…
The updated NYSkiBlog Guide to Skiing
The Whiteface Slides
Please note that this blog post includes all the comments that were posted under Highpeaksdrifter’s original post. The pages of the new guide do not have space for comments. We ask that any comments related to the guide be posted under this entry.