- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All-Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 3
- Nightlife 5
Pros: Expert Terrain, Uncrowded, Vertical, Lake Placid, Great Skiing, Gondola
Cons: Rude Parking attendants, indifferent employee/management attitude.
Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Feb 1, 2010
Whiteface is known as a skiers mountain and nearby Lake Placid is a great ski town
Whiteface is a unique ski mountain. The very things that make it great have a flip side which can make it not so great. Whiteface is a big mountain by eastern standards. It has the most vertical of any lift served mountain in the East. And it has some of the best skiing to be had anywhere when the conditions are right. When conditions are bad, it can be very dangerous to the unwary. Whiteface is owned by the State of New York and located in the Adirondack Park in which development is severely limited in a heavy handed fashion by the APA (Adirondack Park Agency). As such Whiteface is unlikely be fully expanded to it's potential for trail development or slope side or base lodging. This creates the paradox the mountain being a forever locals mountain versus commercial and crowded. Management is selected based on politics and the core base of employees are long term State employees who do a pretty decent job of shedding the "state worker" mentality, but this explanation will help the visitor make sense of why the parking lot attendants are rude and act like you are a problem rather than a customer. The management style is rather "what is convenient for the managers and employees, got a problem with that?" For example, many resorts will do mid day grooming. Not here. Also there is a small army of free loaders wearing orange and yellow jackets the management has foolishly and erroneously taken on as volunteers. Their only interest is free lift tickets for themselves and their families in exchange for minimally fulfilling some required obligation such as being rude and overbearing parking lot attendants. Plus the early arriving employees are allowed to take the closer parking relegating the customers to the further away parking. Yet the sister resort Gore, also owned by the NY State has the employees park remotely and shuttles them in. Gore also has parking lot signs rather than rude attendants. I guess if I was doing a job better accomplished by a sign, I might be rude and surly too., In exchange there are few lift lines, small crowds except vacation high times, and some really great skiing.
You will see a lot of very good skiers at Whiteface. Whiteface tends to develop expert skiers who aspire to ski the most challenging terrain offered. The majority of the skiers you see are experts, racers, former racers, racing coaches, or just really good dedicated skiers. When I ski at western resorts and New England resorts I feel like a standout skier. At Whiteface I am merely average.
Beginners and intermediates learn at and enjoy Whiteface too. But it is the least likely place to become a "terminal intermediate". The terrain and the other skiers temp learning skiers up to the next step. Most of the really good skiers you see got that way at Whiteface. The typical Whiteface skier will adopt a favorite trail and might happily ski the same trail all day. But for people who like to explore a different trail every run, you might like a spread out mountain like Killington, VT better. So the very thing some skiers love is a turn off to others. There is an old saying "If you can ski every trail on Whiteface, you can ski anywhere in the world". While that saying has merit, it was lessened in preparation for the 1980 Olympics. Stumps and rocks were blasted and covered by countless loads of hay helicoptered up. Snow making was expanded to the entire mountain, lifts were upgraded, the trail widened, and almost the entire mountain can now be groomed. An intermediate run from the top was made allowing for a summit to base intermediate run. Although that is a blue trail at Whiteface, many mountains would mark it expert. The variable conditions can also change this run and the entire mountain from one range of difficulty to another. Another area on the mountain has been opened with a new lift and several new trails cut. The snow making is really good and capable when the management lets them go at it. The flip side is much of the snow making is happening while you are skiing and that can be noisy, cold and wet. Every have a wet snow gun aimed toward the lift to glaze your clothes and ski bottoms? While it's not necessarily an everyday experience at W'face it happens, and no apologies should be expected.
Lodge food and beverage.
Whiteface has a huge base lodge! It has seen improvements to give it more of a lodge feel. If you have a lot of people and gear you should drive into the unloading/loading area to drop your gear, then park your car in one of the outer lots or pay extra for the closer in parking. If you plan on going back and forth to the car very much this might make sense.
There is a ski equipment rental, ski school desk, a food court, a coffee shop, a ski shop, a huge bar upstairs, lockers and more in the lodge.
Midstation is the only other place to go inside and get food and beverages. The location is ideal. The crowd there flows like on a working schedule, coffee break at 10 am, lunch at noon, and another mid afternoon coffee break. There is the normal average cheeseburger, fries, chili, soup ect available upstairs at the normal high ski lodge rates wherein you are paying for location. There is also a nicer restaurant downstairs the offers better food with more comfortable seating, less hustle and bustle, and a much nicer atmosphere. In fact for the price of a cheeseburger and fries upstairs, you can usually get a very excellent special of the day.
The area around Whiteface.
Whiteface does not have a base village. There is NO lodging right at the resort! Although it is located in Wilmington, NY, Lake Placid is where most of the lodging and restaurants are. Lake Placid deservedly gets the attention as a premier ski town that is great for families, singles and groups alike. This is much to the chagrin of the closest town of Wilmington which despite marketing efforts is unable to cash in on what they feel is there share of tourist related business. There used to be a clever ad on the radio chanting "turn left", "turn left". And indeed turning left as you leave the mountain brings you to some very great restaurants and bars in Wilmington. At the same time there is an old joke saying they roll up the streets in Wilmington at 8:30 pm. That reflects the truism there is great apres ski activity in Wilmington but little or no later night activity. But for those wanting to be as close as possible to the action should check out the offerings in Wilmington. I know they exist but can't personally give any feedback on motels, inns, or B&B's in Wilmington, but I can tell you Steinhoff's Sportsman Inn is famous for their "small order of french fries" which fills a dinner plate. A large order is enough for a group of six. I've eaten dinner there many times and always had good food and service. The atmosphere is casual and there is a mix of those dressed in ski togs coming from skiing and those coming from work, many from the mountain and this is the direction that that most of the non skiing employees reside as well as many of the skiing employees. The other 3/4 turn right.
Lake Placid is a review all in itself. There are many alternative outdoor athletic activities available such as skating, x country skiing, mountaineering skiing, back country skiing. There are too many restaurants and pubs to count and a huge variety of lodging. The main street offers shopping galore.