Ski /Ride Whiteface - Visit Lake Placid
Answer this quick: What northeast ski mountain has a higher vertical drop
than Killington, or even Mammoth? The answer is...Whiteface. This low key but
high Adirondack mountain barely registers on most people's mental radar, since
so much focus of northeastern U.S. skiing and riding is on the state of Vermont.
But Whiteface in Wilmington, NY, is a great place to slide! And it is ten miles
from the center of one of the most charming winter (and summer) villages
imaginable - Lake Placid. Lake Placid was the home of two Winter Olympics, and
offers a wide variety of winter activities, both active and passive. It is
filled with lots of small non-chain roadside inns and motels, lending a European
air. It has full service hotels with meeting and banquet facilities as well. And
of course, restaurants galore.
Whiteface Mountain boasts of the highest vertical drop in the East at 3430
feet, and is the East's only Olympic mountain. It was ranked number one in the
Eastern U.S. by Ski Magazine in 2001 and 2002. There is terrain to please every
skier and boarder, from wide shallow green slopes to steep mountaintop double
black diamonds. North America's fastest heated gondola ascends one of the 2
peaks, and the spectacular 360-degree views from the top are some of the best
anywhere. A 450 foot long Super Pipe (with it's own chair lift!) is
awesome and long enough for six to eight good hits. There is of course, a
challenging terrain park. A 3 1/2-mile run descends from the high peak, and
there is a bistro half way down for your refreshment. People are friendly at
Whiteface, and nobody seems to lock their gear. There is a half day discounted
lift ticket available after 12:30pm, but it's not advertised on the sign or
A two-day women's ski/snowboard clinic was being offered during my visit. I
signed up for the snowboard clinic, which ended up being one of the best
bargains on earth. There were one or 2 riders in my class depending on the
skills we were working on. We got to work on all of my pet projects, including
racing, the halfpipe, and general style. We were even videotaped for post-class
critique. My teacher, Crete Dorsey is such a passionate snowboarder that the
clinic went on all day, instead of the expected four hours. And on Sunday, she
even brought us her homemade soup for lunch. The cost was just $90, plus a
two-day lift ticket. My improvement was quantifiable, and I will try to get back
for a racing clinic soon.
Lake Placid has a Hilton, and a Holiday Inn, but not like the ones you've
seen. The hilltop Holiday Inn is decorated sumptuously, with cozy fireplace
sitting areas. And two of the windows in public areas are centered directly on
mountain peaks, creating a breathtaking sense of harmony and serene feng shui.
There is also an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna. The Hilton has a waterfront
annex where the rooms have decks hanging right over Mirror Lake. Ask for one of
the rooms with the wooden decks to get one of the best. Stand on your deck and
watch the dogs that pull the tourist dogsleds over the iced
lake as they friskily jump and await their orders.
The Cobble Mountain Lodge is the closest motel to Whiteface from Lake Placid,
just 8 miles away and offers double rooms for $45. They also have complimentary
in-room coffee, and an outdoor Finnish-style sauna for apres-ski.
Restaurants run the gamut from pizza and wing pubs to deluxe gourmet. The Lake
Placid Lodge is expensive and sublime. The beauty of its lakefront location and
perfect decoration of this former Rockefeller camp makes it an unforgettable
experience. The service and food are near perfection. Paradox Lodge Bed and
Breakfast and Fine Dining give a taste of the personalities of owners/Chef Moses
and Nan LaFountaine. Dining there is like dining in their own warmly decorated
home, and the open kitchen is visible. Especially delicious homemade breads and
salads start off the meal, and there is a terrific wine list, well priced.
Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain make an outstanding ski or snowboard
destination. The secret is out!
Lauren Traub Teton is a snowboarder and writer and has written on winter sports
for the Mountain Times in Vermont and The Record Review in Pound Ridge/Bedford,
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org