Spring is a time when most people’s thoughts turn to warm weather and flowers. Truth be told, that used to be me. Growing up in Georgia, spring meant warm rains and blooming dogwood trees. And, of course, pollen and allergies.
But not in the Adirondacks. Spring is about skiing!
That’s right. While you’re watching the crocuses push up through the dirt, we’re watching the snow fall on our beloved slopes. And no place is better for spring skiing than WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN! It’s not uncommon that March winds up being our snowiest month. Pair that with Whiteface’s high elevation and the ski season can last well into mid-April.
Spring skiing differs from regular skiing in a number of ways. Most notably the weather. January and February can be very cold and generally overcast (hopefully with snow clouds). But in March and April we start to see the temperatures climb into the 30s and blue bird days become more regular.
Then there’s the snow. When the snow pack is firm in the winter, it’s easy to forget that you’re actually riding on several feet of snow. Whiteface has an average base depth of 36-48 inches. In the spring, all that base starts to soften up and take on a different character.
You may have heard your ski bum friends talk about mashed potatoes and spring corn. Mashed potatoes is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine that you were skiing on a big pile of mashed potatoes. Heavy and soft. Word to the wise: your leg muscles will get a work out!
Spring corn snow is generally found higher up on steeper terrain. In the warmer temps the snow’s surface begins to break up into little kernels. It’s great fun as you can go fast but still hold an edge for some fun carving.
Since Whiteface is a tall mountain, you’re going to encounter changing conditions from top to bottom. From the bottom of Summit Quad to the base lodge may be mashed potatoes, but the summit may have a powder day.
I generally try to get as high up the mountain as possible as soon as I get there. Then I use the Little Whiteface Lift at Mid Station and the Summit Quad to stay up high. I know winter ends sometime every year, but what can I say? I’m in denial. As long as I stay high up on the mountain, winter will last just a little bit longer.
The sun will also play a factor in the changing conditions. The strong spring sun will speed up the softening of the snow, and shade will do the exact opposite, especially late in the day.
Another great part about spring skiing is being able to relax outside in the sun. Mid Station is a great place to do that. The deck at Mid Station will be packed, so get ready to make some new friends!
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