Whiteface 3/4 - 3/5/11

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Whiteface 3/4 - 3/5/11

I had very low expectations for my recent trip to Whiteface.  Every time I looked at the weather models, the forecast only seemed to get worse.  Saturday's forecast, which seemed salvageable early in the week with the possibility of morning snow, was later revised to simply rain and high winds.  Friday, which initially looked dry, was later subject to clouds and the threat of freezing rain.  All of this was on the heels of a mixed bag of precipitation that fell earlier in the week.  Not willing to cancel my trip north, I resolved to stop obsessively checking the weather forums, blogs, and models, and instead focus on the upsides the springlike weather could bring.  After all, you can't change the weather...

So when I arrived at the mountain Friday morning with blue skies in all directions, I was pleasantly surprised.  The air was still, and the chill from the previous night was quickly fleeing the brilliant sun.  Most of my morning runs were a delight.  Surfaces were especially nice on Skyward and Mountain Run, and I thoroughly enjoyed soaking in the views on Paron's and The Wilmington Trail.   Although there was some significant areas of hardpack on Victoria and Upper Parkway, and most of the natural or ungroomed runs were left closed for the better part of the day in spite of the coverage, I was content having gotten such a beautiful ski day.

An even bigger surprise than the weather, was the opening of The Slides.  I never even considered that they might open that day.  Even the sign at the base of chair 6 echoed my pessimism.  "Slides Closed: don't even ask" , it read early in the morning.  Imagine my excitement when I went up to do another lap on Skyward and the sign stated that they were open!

Towards the bottom of #3

Conditions in the Slides were challenging.  I slogged my way down Slide #3, attempting to surf the crusty chunks of snow.  A lot of people in there were complaining how poorly they were skiing, and how they should have opened them a couple weeks ago.  I didn't disagree, but I was happy to get in there nonetheless.  

Looking up #3

The base of the Slides

On Saturday the winds howled as expected, closing all of the upper mountain lifts by about 9:30.  The weekend crowds showed up but largely fled by noon complaining about the limited terrain and the "slushy" conditions.  I thought that what was open skied pretty well and was typical of good spring conditions.  I stuck to doing laps on Mountain Run, occasionally dropping down to ride the Freeway lift.  Lower Mackenzie, which had been rough in the morning skied nicely by the afternoon as the bumps softened and the lines became more defined.  The precipitation, never more than a drizzle in the afternoon, held off until the evening hours before picking up in intensity.  Considering the realm of possibilities, and my low expectations for the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this weekend at Whiteface.

Now back to sulking as some of you get to enjoy the massive dump...