LAKE PLACID – The secrets are now out – Whiteface insider tips will upset the few who know how to effectively maneuver their way around the Olympic Mountain, especially on busy days. But we just couldn’t continue to hold these close to the vest any longer.
These are the secrets and navigational skills that skiers and boarders love to talk about at the end of the day or at the end of the Whiteface season. Truth be told, some Whiteface insider tips can be used at many ski resorts, so please consider this a public service.
To begin with, forget about sleeping late. Those are the posers. Real skiers and riders get their gear and clothing ready the night before, rise up by dawn and feed the beast with a hearty breakfast. If you’re a guest of the Mirror Lake Inn, drive down Lake Placid’s Main Street and don’t make another turn for 10 miles. When you see the flashing light and ensuing mountain road sign, turn left…..you’ve arrived!
Now it gets really good.
What this skier does is completely forego the main parking lots and main base lodge. Instead, upon arrival off Route 86, I cross the bridge at the foot of the mountain, wave to the Whiteface ambassador, turn right and head directly to Bears Den Lodge (formerly Kids Kampus).
Whiteface has this great attribute: Bears Den has everything you need in a ski/board experience. You’ll find ample parking, lifts, ticketing, ski school, dining and a massively expanded lodge that looks straight up the trails so mom and dad can keep an eye out for the kids, and walk right outside to bundle them up, if necessary.
Bears Den is separate yet connected to the big mountain. Road, shuttle, lifts and trails make it easy to work back and forth any way you choose.
Leave it to poachers like me to work that system. Once I wave so-long to those parking at the main mountain, I’m able to get my vehicle close to EVERYTHING at Bears Den – park near the lift and lodge, walk a few feet for a ticket, walk a few feet to get booted up, and then walk a few feet to the Bunny Hutch Triple Chair. It’s almost too easy.
Granted, the lift is slow, but understand, it’s not for people like me (or you), but for youngsters just getting started in our great snow sports, so I’ll tolerate that ride because it’s the only one I’ll take on that chair all day.
Once I get off the lift and do some stretching, it’s time to join the big people. Just start down and keep bearing to the right. This will enable you to make some good warmup turns before hitting the connector, which drops you into the lower part of Easy Street. Turn left and finish the run.
Now you’re on the Whiteface Mountain you drove all this way to enjoy, and you’ve eliminated tons of aggravation.
At this point, first you’ll slide up to the high-speed, four-seater Facelift chair, and then, further down, to the high-speed, eight-pack Cloudsplitter Gondola.
Now you’re ready to roll for the rest of the day.
My suggestion, especially if it’s during a busy holiday period, is to stay up on the mountain. There can be lift lines at the gondola and Facelift, but at mid-station and the summit chair, waiting is virtually non-existent. Keep arcing turns up above where you can easily access Excelsior on Little Whiteface without heading all the way down to the base. We’re talking laps!
From up there, it’s easy to take Excelsior to Summit Express and right into the corral for the Summit Chair. Now, if you want, you have intermediate and/or expert trails that will take you down the full 3,161 vertical feet. For me, that’s option two. Option one on Whiteface insider tips is to remain on the top half of the mountain. Again, we’re talking about laps on the upper mountain and staying on easier terrain if you so choose.
Eventually, you’ll stop for lunch. Again, if it’s busy, you have to beat the crowds. What I do is eat early. Whiteface insider tips indicate that the early bird doesn’t wait in line. That bird also gets a table and chair because most people are outside. When you’re done eating, the masses are coming inside. What you’ve done is beat them both ways: at lunch with a table, and then getting back out on the hill with a few less people.
When it’s time to head home, returning to Bears Den is simple from anywhere. Just get yourself on to Easy Street. Once you do, look left for Bears Den signs. You’ll return to the top of the triple chair. Ski/ride under the lift right into the lodge.
If you get discombobulated and wind up in the main base lodge, don’t worry. Just walk outside and ride the shuttle to Bears Den Lodge. You’ll get dropped off just a chip shot from your walking shoes.
Either way, in just a matter of minutes, you’ll be in your vehicle headed to Happy Hours. When you get there – if you’re smart – you’ll brag about the great day you just had skiing our mountain, but make sure to keep Whiteface insider tips all to yourself!
Photos courtesy ORDA/Whiteface Mountain