Whiteface Upgrades Proposed to the APA

whiteface mapAt the first meeting of the year of the Adirondack Protection Agency (APA) today in Ray Brook, NY, Whiteface proposed a slate of new mountain initiatives as part of the Unit Management Plan amendment process.

These initiatives are part of a long term plan that includes lift replacement, reconfiguration and rerouting, new trail expansion and existing trail widening to improve connectivity and skier flow, the use of an existing building as a warming lodge and parking lot expansion.

The purpose of this part of the process is to gain comments and input before the mountain seeks final approval. What follows is a summary of the highlights of the proposed new projects that were presented at the meeting today.

Proposed Projects

  • Construction of new intermediate trails on Little Whiteface (previously approved or conceptual actions in the 2004 UMP)
  • Replace Freeway lift, extending the upper terminal uphill to access new intermediate trails, relocating the lower terminal to base area
  • Add biking trails from Mid-station
  • Widen lower mountain trails including Easy Way, Brookside, Mixing Bowl, Easy Street, Boreen Loop and Boreen
  • Replace and extend Lift C (Bunny Hutch Lift) at Bear Den, creating a connection to Boreen
  • Widening of Bobcat, Bobcat Chute, Runner Up, Moose, Moose Cut, Flying Squirrel and Porcupine Pass
  • New beginner trails at Bear Den Learning Area, including one connecting Bear Den to Base Lodge
  • Add a second surface lift adjacent to Bear Den Lodge
  • Create a formal drop off area at Bear Den Lodge
  • Improve the intersection of Burtons Cut and Thruway
  • Widen Drapers Drop and Burton’s
  • Utilize existing ski patrol/radio building on Little Whiteface as a warming lodge
  • Verify mileage of existing ski trails
  • Create additional parking by adding spaces to most or all lots

Aaron’s Comments

The new Freeway will be a detachable quad that leaves from the base and ends on Approach around the top of Upper Mackenzie. The plan is to construct 2 new intermediate trails off top of this lift.

The new Bear Lift will be a quad that leaves from the base, has a midstation at the current top of Bear, and ends around the midstation lodge area.

The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area. We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.

A Conceptual Action, we’re proposing a 20M gallon reservoir behind Pumphouse 2. This project will help protect the Ausable River habitat, when the level is low, while allowing our snowmaking system to operate at full capacity.

Additional projects may be added based on ideas received during the public feedback period.

Editor’s Note: It’s important to understand that yesterday’s meeting was the beginning of the approval process. As with other changes to the UMP, there will be public comment period and then the APA will make decisions. If the APA approves any or all of these proposals, the projects will still require funding.

See these links for more detail about the proposals for see the most current UMP.

24 comments on “Whiteface Upgrades Proposed to the APA

  1. This is great news! Whiteface was always hard to share with my family due to a lack of intermediate terrain. Replacing the Freeway lift with a HSQuad and adding some blue trails on Little WF will help draw more families to WF and improve the flow out of the base area. Connecting Bear Den to the midstation will also help improve the general flow around the mountain. This needs to happen ASAP.

  2. Aside from the snowmaking upgrades which seemed to not really an important part of this, everything about this plan sucks. They have this misguided idea that they need to be more intermediate friendly. If you look at Google Earth, it’s just never going to be a blue mountain as it is way too steep. How are they going to cut intermediate trails off Approach without doing even more blasting than it took to cut Wilmington? And we know how well that worked out since it’s hardly ever open and takes 10 days to make enough snow. How are they going to widen Draper’s? And it’s usually closed for racing anyways. And what about the last Lookout trail? No mention of it and how is there going to be enough mileage with the other trails. This totally screws expert skiers to benefit low level skiers, which Whiteface just isn’t for and is never going to be forced to be for. Sick to my stomach after reading this.

  3. Whiteface does seem to have an idea that they need to be more “intermediate friendly.” Whiteface is a great advanced skiers mountain, and they should market themselves as such and distinguish themselves from other ski areas rather than spending more money trying to be something they aren’t set up to be.

    There’s nothing even close to blue pitch on LWF, and I’d hate to see that beautiful part of the mountain end up looking something like Hunter. As far as the new lifts go, both seem hardly necessary. As of now, Whiteface can’t even seem to manage opening Lookout Mountain regularly, nor do they seem interested in running the LWF double. I don’t see how they will manage more trails, and two additional lifts.

    All I an say is I will be extremely disappointed if any of the new “intermediate” trails bisect Empire. That will be a sad day if that happens.

  4. not sure where you build blue trails off approach as it’s like the steepest section of the mountain, unless you wipe out the glades which would stink. Good to divert traffic with lift from bears den to mid-station. Why you need more parking? bears den parking lot is empty on most days and this plan will encourage people to use it. a warming hut right when you get off gondola wow great idea??? How about a faster summit chair??

  5. As a local there is a lot to like in the proposal.
    I do think that some misguided ideas has created this “blue” focus. Given that I have a masters in marketing I think they are barking up the wrong tree. WF is special because of its advanced and expert terrain- this should be the focus as it’s the the key thing that WF has an advantage on over just about everywhere else in the East. This is not and will never be a low end blue ski area.
    The area they want to build these new blue trails is not blue and no amount of blasting makes it blue. That was tried on Lookout and we all know how that worked out. Nice trail but decidedly not blue.
    Spending money to try to be something you are not is a fools errand and there are hundreds of case studies proving this is a poor business strategy.

  6. Looking at Google earth they will have to take down the LWF and Mountain Run lifts to put in that new HSQ or it will have to cross over both lifts at a height where it will be on wind hold just as much or more than the gondola.

    So basically they want to force everyone to go to the bottom to lap any of the trails on Little Whiteface and that will mean a trail system that funnels down to a single runout which will be like driving in NJ at rush hour. The idiocy only gets worse with this asinine idea.

    And I don’t expect them to ever open Lookout again without the snowmaking upgrade which as we well know will be the first thing to get cut from this proposal. And we will probably also see the summit open way less than it currently is.

  7. Awesome additions all of these lift upgrades and trails are things i’ve been wanting to see for years. I absolutely love the bear den family area and increasing it’s access with the new lifts is a huge improvement. The new freeway lift and more options to get to the summit chair will also be a great addition.

  8. The intermediate trail adjacent to the Freeway lifeline and the subsequent designation of Approach as an intermediate trail has been in the UMP for a long time. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. IMO that’s a good idea as it would alleviate crowding around the Excelsior corridor, and redistribute skiers to what is an underutilized portion of the mountain.

    I’m more concerned about the realignment of the freeway lift. While I think a speedier lift would be nice and a replacement will eventually be needed , I worry that a realignment would sacrifice one of the most wind protected lifts on the mountain while adding an unnecessary run-out.

  9. Ugh.

    Not a fan of widening, blasting. Where are they going to put the intermediate terrain on LWF? Skiing isn’t tennis, ski the mountain, don’t modify the terrain. I love Whiteface because of fall line skiing and lack of traversing trails. I don’t see how they can add some blue terrain on LWF without mocking up the beautiful runs.

  10. Are the diagrams linked to the most up-to-date plans? Because they differ from what’s shown in the actual Amendment to the UMP posted here for public review:


    For example, in the UMP the extended Bear lift is shown terminating at the top of L. Thruway / Calamity Lane (as opposed to Boreen Loop).

    Also noted in the UMP, previously approved trails for Lookout are still approved and not removed from consideration.

  11. I’m no WF expert, but i think this is great news. increased snowmaking capacity and intermediate options would be very welcome to many families in the metro area and it makes it a safer bet for early season. these improvements should inch it back up in the top of the east ratings, which the mountain itself, deserves.

  12. The snowmaking upgrade will be the first thing that they cut out of this plan when they realize they don’t have the money to do it all. So count on that not happening. The new intermediate trails are going to suck and be not really blues just like Paron’s and Wilmington and require blasting out LWF so it will look like Hunter. They’re trying to make Whiteface into something that it isn’t and they will fail miserably and totally ruin the mountain for advanced skiers. No reason any advanced skier wants to go to the bottom on every run, but if they build that new Freeway lift you’ll be forced to. The mountain deserves to rank highly as it is and doesn’t need to be made into a gaper paradise like Okemo to accomplish that. This will go down as the stupidest investment in a ski area ever done in the world.

  13. @snoloco Please read the editor’s note. Snowmaking upgrades will not be cut from the Unit Management Plan (UMP), because the UMP has nothing to do with finances or budgets. The UMP simply outlines potential infrastructure upgrades for approval by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) so that, when funding is available, management can act expeditiously on those items that have been previously approved. Items in in the UMP are not subjected to a timeline and may be implemented next year or never at all.

    I also question the logic of why Whiteface should not provide more intermediate options for skiers and riders, even if many blues at WF are more comparable to the likes of mountains like Jackson Hole, Kicking Horse, Taos, and Snowbird. Providing more options for intermediates at Whiteface will distribute traffic across the mountain more effectively, thus improving surface conditions for a demographic that generates a large portion of the mountain’s revenue. This is key to funding initiatives like improved snowmaking, day-to-day lift operations, and terrain expansions.

    Jackson Hole is an example of a mountain that has always been known for its advanced/expert terrain, and Jackson Hole continues to play to this strength. However, JH has done significant grading, increased grooming and lift realignments over the years to improve its offering for intermediates. The result has been steady growth in its visits. Is Jackson Hole the best option for intermediate skiers and riders? Heck no! However, it is a lot more well-rounded as a resort and better positioned to compete in the marketplace because of its investments.

    While I understand the skepticism towards the proposed intermediate runs, the comparisons to the Wilmington Trail are hyperbole, especially for the run adjacent to the Freeway lifeline. Spend some time with the topo map or in those woods running along the ridgeline (warning: there’s lots of deadfall) and an intermediate trail is not that hard to envision.

  14. The 20m gallon reservoir will undoubtedly help the snowmaking effort. But I believe it’s raison d’etre is to diminish any impact on the Ausable River. Filling the pond when levels are high can even out the demand. It will often help, but not always.

    @takeahike46er, thanks for the clear description of the APA’s part of the process.

    Great input all.

  15. While the snowmaking upgrade won’t be cut from the UMP, it will most certainly be the last part to be funded, yet it is by far the most important thing. The reason Whiteface should not be cutting any more intermediate trails at this time is because they don’t have the snowmaking capacity to cover them as well as all their existing terrain. Want to never ski Hoyt’s again? You won’t if they put in any rocky blasted out intermediate trails.

    Jackson Hole has had intermediate terrain for years but recently they built three new detachables, two of which improve access to it. Whiteface has to blast out completely new trails and take out three existing lifts to build one new one that will suck for experts because it will force you to go to the bottom every run which will be like driving in NJ at rush hour.

    I’ve spent many hours on Google Earth and there’s no way to create intermediate trails anywhere near the Freeway lift without just as much or more blasting as Wilmington took. And they all face south so they’ll be having to constantly remake snow on them to keep them open when they normally would’ve opened or resurfaced expert terrain. Jackson Hole’s upgrades at least improved things for experts, but this asinine idea is going to attempt to make Whiteface into a Stratton or Okemo at the expense of their product for experts. Patrol is going to be forced to become even more of the “no fun police” and close perfectly skiable expert runs because Joey bag o donuts is going to get dumped at the top of a predominately expert pod and not know what trail to take.

  16. I am all for it, with the exception of extending lift C, that had previously been a Longer Double, and was found to be too challenging for early stage Beginners, in addition to which, granting access to Boreen means that more higher level skiers off of Boreen and the Willmington Trail will be heading into Kids Campus, not adventageous for those skiers just starting out, and lastly, if you connect in on the top side to Boreen, you can no longer make the statement that you have a seperate Learning Area.

  17. The statement was made of replacing the Freeway lift, would that mean the Removal of lifts G, and H as well? If so, I would seguest scrapping that plan, back when the Mid Station Double was removed it made a difficult situation for beginners, without the mid-station unloading on the Valley Tripple, and without the Mid-Station Double a lift with 1,500, and 1,100 person/hr. And replaced by the facelift with only 2,000/hr (much nicer though); it left beginners without a choice but to compete with higher level skiers in the “coon pit” the problem here lies in this, many experts take the little whiteface Double to escape the crowds of the gondola, the upper end of “G” the “little whiteface double” just had new towers put in only a few years ago, plus sending skiers to the base would prevent Early Opening Possibilities when you can only open above Mid Station, and late season operations where the sumit is solid but lower valley is a pond. The key to wheather or not to replace Freway (lift I) is if it means you would have to remove G and H… I believe G and H should remain, if you want to upgrade G and H with a Midstation unloading still, and switching it to a single lift line go for it, but the access to the top of little whiteface should not be dependant on a Gondola that is on Wind hold as often as it is not…

  18. I don’t believe that the snowmaking pond will get cut from the plan for budgetary reason like loco does. I do believe that it will have trouble getting thru the environmental review especially if the nut jobs that delayed Tupper get involved. Ultimately it would minimize the impact on the river but I expect a fight to get it approved.

  19. They hardly ever run the Little Whiteface lift nowadays even if the gondola has a 30 minute line or is on wind hold. They seem determined to force you to ride it whether you like it or not.

  20. Empire and 10th Mountain are classic Whiteface. We’ll do everything we can to protect them. Thanks everyone for your feedback and your passion for Whiteface.

  21. I am glad that we currently have a state executive that sees the value in Whiteface and Gore and is willing to invest in them. Well thought out improvements are needed and welcome. This years lodge improvements are a step in the right direction.

    Unfortunately, the mountain is not effectively operated even with the assets that are there now. As noted in other comments the Little Whiteface chair is rarely operated and the Lookout Mountain trails are only opened for a small part of the season if at all. Advanced skiers do not like to drop below mid-station, but are forced to almost every day.

    Obviously, improved snowmaking is essential and so is hiring an adequate and well trained workforce. A good start would be to treat employees fairly and provide them with a living wage so that they feel valued and are willing to return season after season.

    In addition, customers do not return if they have a poor experience. Let’s work on getting the parking lots plowed before guests arrive, the sidewalks shoveled and the restrooms cleaned properly.

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