Whiteface (NY) VS Killington (VT)
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catskills
July 30, 2004
Member since 06/29/2004
53 posts
I am curious why people here at DCski talk about Killington but don't talk too much about Whiteface in Lake Placid, NY.

Whiteface is only 15 minutes longer to drive than Killington (see mapquest). After a 7 hour drive from DC area what is another 15 minutes. Whiteface is also a true 3000+ feet of vertical serviced by 2 lifts. Killington true vertical is much less than 2000 feet.

Now the Canadian dollar is gone south, there is a lot less Candian's at Whiteface which means shorter lift lines. In fact, total skier visits at whiteface is probably half Killington.

For the spouse that does not ski, the town of Lake Placid is a lot more interesting than Killington.

I know Whiteface marketing is not very good. Still curious why Whiteface does not seem to be on the favorite ski discussion list here at DCski?
JohnL
July 30, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Three reasons: marketing, marketing and marketing.

Killington is probably the most marketed resort in the eastern US. And one of the most frequently visited. Love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion on K-Mart, oops, I meant Killington.

Plus several posters on this site went to college in Vermont plus others grew up in New England. We know more about ski areas in New England than we do about upstate New York because we skied them growing up.

I've never been been to Whiteface, but I've heard some good things about it. I've also heard that it can be very, very cold (stated by some pretty hardy folks) and it also doesn't get as much snow as Vermont. The main reason I go the extra distance to Vermont is the natural snow trails, not the groomed runs where snow making rules. Plus, Vermont is a lot more convenient to Connecticut than is upstate New York. I go to Vermont a lot after visiting family in CT.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
July 30, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
I have some strong opinions on this question. There's more than marketing at play. I like Killington a lot and I'm not the biggest fan of Whiteface (made many trips to K, made two to Whiteface). Whiteface skis small given the big vert. Not that many trails run down from full vert. Surface/trail conditions have been less than great for both my visits, I conclude that Whiteface snowmaking is not the greatest. WF seems to me like an overgrown day-ski area, it lacks the infrastructure (slopeside lodging/restaurants/nightlife) to attract people coming from a long way who are looking for a resort atmosphere to spend an entire week. Finally, I will admit my wimpy side, I find Whiteface a hard place to ski. Many of the trails from the highest points are pretty steep with pretty hard surfaces (I consider myself a single black diamond skier). The cold hasn't been a factor in my two visits, but the Whiteface rep for that could dissuade others too.

Conversely, on a weekday Killington skis huge (at least horizontally) and I get a great feeling of expansiveness. Surface conditions have rarely disappointed for about 10 visits spanning almost 30 years. There is plenty of tough stuff at K too with Bear Mtn and Canyon areas. Tons of intermediate terrain and nearby lodging and après-ski options. It is expensive though and crowded at prime times.

I would never condemn a place based on two visits and I acknowledge that some of the "drawbacks" like few fancy resort amenities and strong suit in real tough terrain are advantages to some folks. They have made some nice lift upgrades in the last few years. Also, I never went to Lake Placid during my visits to WF, so I missed this nice aspect and plead ignorance on how enjoyable it may be to stay there and ski WF. One thing I'll say about WF: driving up the access road it has got to be THE most impressive looking ski mountain in the East. But from my experience, Whiteface doesn't quite fulfill the promising first impression when your ski day is done.
comprex
July 31, 2004
Member since 04/11/2003
1,326 posts
I dispute none of JimK's information.

I prefer Whiteface. I don't mind hardpack at all. (Some have accused me of liking it. This is untrue- I love it). Moreover, Whiteface gets enough early and late-season lake-effect snow to keep me happy.

Killington, in the fringes of the season, tends to shove all the visitors into one, two, maybe three corners on the mountain, so that you feel confined to one lift with all the other visitors.

So. Come mid-March with a big storm, if I can't get plane tickets to UT cheap, I know where I'm driving to. And, I can bring a few cases of NY riesling home too.
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 31, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I've skied Killington about 5 times but never skied Whiteface. I've always wanted to go to WF but Vermont has a strong draw for me. I'm originally from the Boston area, so I grew up skiing VT and NH. To me, it's hard to connect skiing with NY. I know the NY has great mountains but VT just screams winter and skiing. I associate NY with the city and VT with mountains. That's terribly unfair but sadly true for me as well as many others from DC.

Admittedly, Killington is not the most attractive part of the state, but it is near Woodstock--one of the cutest towns there. Furthermore, the skiing is consistantly decent. I often ski New England early in the season when the Mid-Atlantic resorts are closed or just getting going. Killington does a remarkable job on the snowmaking front and that's always been the draw for me early season.

My wife, however, HATES Killington. She thinks the skiing is borring. It's not just the limited Vert., but the constantly intersecting beginner trails, which she claims, keep her from enjoying many of single black and blue slopes. "You always have to slow down and watch out for the newbies cruising down GREAT NORTHERN or GREAT EASTERN," she claims. Also for her, the intermediate terrain at Killington really is not that much better than the groomers at Timberline.

For her, "there is no place like Stowe." In fact, she argues that Stowe is the only mountain outside of the Mid-Atlantic on the NE coast that's worth the drive. Interestingly, she doesn't ski the front four, but enjoys the long, steep blues like Perry Merril, Lord, and Gondolier. Killington does not have any upper level intermediate terrain that compares to those slopes.

I suspect WF might, but as Jim stated, it's not a good early season play.
catskills
August 2, 2004
Member since 06/29/2004
53 posts
Quote:

I'm originally from the Boston area, so I grew up skiing VT and NH. To me, it's hard to connect skiing with NY. I know the NY has great mountains but VT just screams winter and skiing. I associate NY with the city and VT with mountains.


NY has more state park land than any ohter state. In fact the NY state owned parks (Adirondacks and Catskill Mtns) are larger than the 3 biggest National Parks put togehter. I have backpacked all over the east coast and some out west. Best east coast trail is Adirondacks ADK Lodge, Marcy Dam up to Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. Just awesome. You then have two 5000+ feet mountains (Alogonquin and Marcy) right there. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Unfortunatly or fortunatly all that NY state park land is protected by Forever wild law which means very few ski areas and no nothing. Very high artifical tree canopees have grown and their is very little food source for many mammals and birds. Other birds like large wood peckers have plenty of food.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 2, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
What I am trying to say is that NY has an image problem with respect to its great outdoors. The state's marketing people need to put on their thinking caps and figure out how to better market their wilderness areas to people on the Eastern seaboard. Currently, the "image" of NY as a place to enjoy the outdoors does not compete well with VT.
JohnL
August 2, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Does anyone remember the "I Love New York" commercials several years back? Camera shots of people vacationing in gorgeous surroundings in upstate New York.

First person: "I'm from Kansas, but I love New York."
Second: "We're from Canada, but we love New York."
Third: "I'm from Florida, but I love New York."
Last: "I'm from Brooklyn, but I love New York."
JohnL
August 2, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
After reading some of the posts here and on Epic wrt Whiteface, an early to mid-March trip with The Slides open sounds like it could be a great time ...
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 3, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Quote:

Does anyone remember the "I Love New York" commercials several years back? Camera shots of people vacationing in gorgeous surroundings in upstate New York.

First person: "I'm from Kansas, but I love New York."
Second: "We're from Canada, but we love New York."
Third: "I'm from Florida, but I love New York."
Last: "I'm from Brooklyn, but I love New York."




I think of the Billy Joel song: "I'm in a New York state of mind." Maybe NY could use that song as the basis of a new marketing campaign focused more on the state than the city.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
August 3, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
Whiteface - NYC is actually a greater distance than NYC - DC. My sister, who lives in Rochester NY, often points out that she lives further from NYC than I do. She takes offense at people using New York and New Yorker generically for NYC. NY is a very diverse and interesting state, Adirondack Park and the "North Country" being an important part of the reason.

I love Whiteface when conditions are good. (It can be windblown and icy) The summit lift (now a HSQ) serves 1900 vertical feet of consistently pitched expert terrain with no flat runout. There is never a line at the lift and there are some excellent hidden powder stashes off the trails. The lift ride is as scenic as any in the east that I know. I know Wildcat very well but never been to Cannon. The summit lift makes Whiteface a great mountain IMHO and has no equal at Killington. I say summit, but there are another 400 feet of vertical above the lift and you can climb for access to the Slides. They are rarely open and I've yet to ski them. Not sure they opened (= patrol OK'd it) at all last season.

The Adirondacks are by far the most extensive piece of backcountry in the east. I am very partial to the area around Mt. Mansfield, VT as well which has more and better snow and some very challenging terrain. But the Dacks are much more extensive. Here's a report from last winter.
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0402c&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=22338
JimK - DCSki Columnist
August 3, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
Extremely cool report and photos Denis. Thanks for sharing. Isn't Mt. Marcy over 5000 feet and highest mtn in NY state? One thing though, I'm not sure which is the harsher environment: 1) summiting Marcy in dead of winter or 2) overnighting in a cabin with 6 guys who just polished off 10 lbs of chili! LOL.
JohnL
August 3, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

I think of the Billy Joel song: "I'm in a New York state of mind." Maybe NY could use that song as the basis of a new marketing campaign focused more on the state than the city.




I could have sworn the song was used for a previous New York advertising campaign... At any rate, very good song choice.

Denis,
Some very good points about how big New York state really is. Buffalo is more of a Mid-Western city than an Eastern city.

What type of gear do you guys use? Anyone user radonee?
Denis - DCSki Supporter
August 4, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
Well, Jim, farts are warm, right?
Actually we were very lucky with weather. The low for our 4 days was 8 deg. and it never got above freezing and was cloudy with a little light snow. Pretty rare to have 4 such days in a row in the Dacks in Feb. The cabin was very comfortable. 12 bunks with rather thin worn mattresses (better to bring your own pad), high lofted ceiling, a propane heater and a big tank of propane outside. If the weather had turned bad we could have battened down the hatches and been very comfortable in the cabin. It can be rented though the Adirondack Mountain Club and you can google up lots of info on "Camp Peggy O'Brien".

All of us on that trip used telemark equipment. Mine was a lightweight backcountry setup, Fischer Boundless Crown skis with scales, bindings Voile VP-2, boots Scarpa T3. The whole setup weighs less than 13 lbs. The skis are 179s with a 99/69/89 profile, full steel edges and air channeled wood core, and weigh 5.5 lbs. I was undergunned for the conditions. These skis work great in powder but are pretty light for crust busting. They do OK with a wind crust but this was a heavy rain crust. Faced with similar conditions on another trip I'd use my fats; they are heavy but will power through anything.

One of the other guys contributed meal was some sort of Kielbasa surprise. I don't know the full list of ingredients but it had a lot of sauerkraut and beans. It was shall we say interesting.
jimmy
October 12, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
but denis, do you snore ?

How far is white face from Harrisburg PA? Sounds like trip to tahoe is off; instead we're heading to K for three days with a stop at WF along the way. I figure five days total for skiing. Could spend two at WF three at K, or one at WF, 3atK and sneak up to MadRG for a day, what to do?
fishnski
October 12, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005
3,530 posts
Jimmi why don't you do the NY tour? Windham(Catskills) could be the 1st stop..They are under new ownership & a Good place just got better..Then head further up 87 to Gore Mtn(great views of the big boys of the Dacks..Marcy included) & then finish up at WF..All these areas are accessed from I87...Do the VT tour & then the NH tour on seperate trips! WF has pumped up thier snowmaking & I have noticed over the years that they pick up a lot of the early season Lake effect..seems like the early season wind sets them up better than most places. This changes as the winter gets more established. I would love to do that trip this year but the Misses wants to stay & play house at our new place in WV
tommo
October 13, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
An all NY tour is a GREAT trip. I think you'd find the whole ADK area to be much more rugged and far more challenging than lower VT. Whiteface and the High Peaks region are the real deal for backcountry winter adventure in the east, and if you have access to snowshoes and crampons (depending on conditions), even a short day trip into the backcountry is incredibly memorable (do, however, go VERY prepared if you hike in - weather can change quickly and many areas are quite remote.)

If you like the TL, MGR, Alta, CV vibe, you'll fall in love with Whiteface and Gore. They're pretty much the anti-Killington.

Wish I could go!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
October 13, 2006
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
One thing that hasn't been said yet is that Gore tends to catch and hold powder whereas Whiteface tends to get blown off and hence icy. Gore has a lot of blue cruisers that are fun and interesting, with twists and turns and gentle rollovers alternating flatter/steeper sections. It also has some very steep but short trails, perhaps the steepest on the map trails in the east (I have not skied them all). Overall I like WF better for its big mountain feel but Gore is worth a look too. It's also an hour or more shorter drive from DC.

Neither mountain has the quality of tree skiing that you find in northern VT but there are glades there if you poke around.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
October 13, 2006
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
Denis did you hear they may do a big advanced terrain expansion at Whiteface starting in 2007, to skier's left of the Slides:
http://www.firsttracksonline.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=472
TerpSKI
October 16, 2006
Member since 03/10/2004
167 posts
Quote:

If you like the TL, MGR, Alta, CV vibe, you'll fall in love with Whiteface and Gore. They're pretty much the anti-Killington.




Very true, but IMO Stowe also still has that old time vibe, and the snow and layout are way better than Iceface. I am glad I treked to Whiteface, but IMO it is not worth the longer than Stowe drive.
Roger Z
October 16, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Glad to hear they're going to expand onto that ridge- it's been a long time coming- but not so glad about the widening on Little Whiteface. Empire was something of a legend of traditional east coast skiing; shame to be losing it.

I have a poster that I bought- well, my mom bought me- when I was about eight years old of Whiteface. It's a clear day, maybe 1979, shows the whole mountain. In the photo, Wilderness is a gnarly little mogul run maybe 40 feet wide with a double fall-line on the upper part. I compare it to the photos I see of it today: just another wide open slope stripped of character. There's nothing "wilderness" about Wilderness. Why do the same to Empire?
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