Whiteface Mountain is located in the heart of the Adirondack mountains, in the town of Wilmington, NY. The ski area is approximately 9 miles from the village of Lake Placid, NY, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter games. Its proximity to Lake Placid is the reason Whiteface is consistently rated as one of the top resorts in the Eastern United States for off-hill activities. Opportunities abound, including ice skating on the Olympic Oval, tours and events at the Olympic Center, elevator rides to the top of the 120 meter ski jump and snow tubing at the Olympic Jumping Complex, luge and bobsled rides at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, cross-country skiing and more.
Whiteface and Lake Placid are also regular stops on the World Cup Freestyle Skiing and World Cup Bobsled tours, providing an opportunity to see some of the world's top winter sports athletes compete.
Whiteface is most well known for its size. With a vertical drop of 3,430 feet, it tops the East, though the lift served vertical drop comes in slightly less, at 3,166 feet. The disparity includes The Slides, which require a short hike from the top of the Summit Quad chairlift. Unlike many other mountains, the reported vertical drop at Whiteface represents true top to bottom, continuous fall-line skiing.
Whiteface is sometimes referred to as “Iceface” and to be sure, it does live up to the reputation from time-to-time. With an elevation of almost 5,000 feet weather at Whiteface can be brutal, with temperatures well below zero degrees and wind speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. Wind holds on the lifts are not uncommon, so it is always wise to consult weather forecasts before planning a trip, and to have a backup plan for days when the weather is not cooperating.
Whiteface can be broken down into five separate sections: the upper mountain, the main valley area, Little Whiteface, Lookout Mountain and Kids Kampus.
The upper mountain is serviced by the Summit Quad, and has a vertical drop of 1,830 feet. The trails here are long and steep, though there is a beginner trail called The Follies, which is a series of switchbacks allowing novice skiers the opportunity to ski down from the top. Access to “The Slides” is also found here. The Slides are a unique, lift-served side country ski experience, consisting of unmaintained natural terrain, including trees, rocks, ledges and even a frozen waterfall. The Slides are not open often, so consider yourself lucky should you get a chance to ski them.
The main valley area is made up of mostly beginner and intermediate trails and is served by the Cloudsplitter Gondola and the Face Lift quad. These are long, gently sloped trails, providing an excellent opportunity for novice skiers to improve their skills.
Little Whiteface consists of a series of steep moderate length expert trails, most of which terminate at the mid-station lodge. Little Whiteface can be accessed from the Cloudsplitter Gondola or from a pair of chairlifts at the mid-station lodge.
Lookout Mountain is the newest addition to Whiteface. The terrain here is difficult. Sections of the intermediate rated Wilmington Trail would warrant an expert rating at virtually any other mountain. The installation of snow-making on the Hoyt's High trail for the 2012-2013 season has been a tremendous success for Whiteface.
Kids Kampus is a novice area, separated from the main mountain, where all of the children's programs are located, including the nursery. There is a separate parking lot and base lodge located here, which includes a small equipment rental shop and a cafeteria, though the food service at the cafeteria could use some improvement. There are several beginner trails here and a “magic carpet.” There are ski trails connecting Kids Kampus with the main mountain, and shuttle bus service is also provided between the main base lodge and the Kids Kampus lodge.