As the season winds down, experienced and pragmatic skiers make lemonade, finding a way to relish the end. This year — with lift-assisted skiing on Cinco de Mayo at Whiteface — we made margaritas.
With some help from mother nature, Whiteface went for it, spinning a lift this past Saturday May 5, her latest closing date ever. While setting a record was a feather in the cap for Whiteface Ops, it was also a nod to the Whiteface faithful. One last chance to ride the lifts, make some turns, hang on the deck and make connections while celebrating the holiday. I cleared my schedule and hit the road at 6am Saturday to be part of an historic occasion.
Soon after I left, Harvey called to tell me about the severe thunderstorms that swept through the north country late Friday evening. I knew in advance the day would bring challenges, but I was still surprised by the impact of storms. Locals recounted overnight winds that were the worst they had ever seen.
Whiteface is great about updating the website early in the day when last-minute decisions are being made. I picked up my brother and we read the morning update together: No power at the mountain with only the FaceLift to start. Despite all challenges, Whiteface didn’t backdown and neither did we. On the drive north we passed dozens of downed and cleared trees, leaving us wondering what the day would bring.
Our 9:30 arrival left us wondering all that much more. The day was brown and still, with murmurs from the crowd about nothing running. I looked around. A groomed ribbon was heading up Wolf, a cook was making breakfast burritos on the grill and ladies were serving up margaritas on the patio. Whiteface was determined to hold up their end. I wondered if the skiers would do the same.
Challenges included thin cover (walking required), limited terrain, the lack of power and of course there were those challenges that are presented by the human mind. How we manage our own expectations and adapt to distill the best from situations is as important in skiing as it is in life.
For me skiing is an individual sport and a social pursuit at the same time. I like making connections and opportunities to share were presented continuously on Cinco de Mayo.
I met a dozen people at the summit, who like me, were undeterred by the dormant summit quad. We talked about the weather, the view, Pink Floyd, Heady Toppers, the best ways to re-glue climbing skins. We made small talk too.
We skied from the summit ending the season on nearly 2,000 vertical feet of uninterrupted corn and slush from the bottom of the Skyward headwall to the Tower 10 hill.
At the end of the day we wound down with a couple cold ‘ritas, relaxing with friends new and old, listening to a lone acoustic guitar coming through a speaker powered by a Chevy Silverado. Experiences like this help to make us who we are.
From the infant spending a sunny afternoon on the deck, to the uphill ladies ski team from Jay Peak, VT, it seemed everyone had a good time. I felt privileged to be part of a unique experience with them. All different, yet all sharing their love for skiing and the mountains.
For the record, it was hard to ask for a better day on Cinco de Mayo. Thank you Whiteface for making it happen, and thanks for another great ski season.