Whiteface Mountain

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Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain from Lake Placid Airport.JPG
Whiteface Mountain
Highest point
Elevation 4,867 ft (1,483 m)
Prominence 3,110 ft (950 m)
Listing #5 Adirondack High Peaks
Coordinates 44°21′57″N73°54′10″W / 44.36583°N 73.90278°W / 44.36583; -73.90278 Coordinates: 44°21′57″N73°54′10″W / 44.36583°N 73.90278°W / 44.36583; -73.90278
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Whiteface Mountain
Location of Whiteface, northeast of Lake Placid
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Whiteface Mountain
Whiteface Mountain (the United States)
Location Wilmington, New York, U.S.
Parent range Adirondacks
Topo map USGS Lake Placid
Easiest route road

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the U.S. state of New York, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks and clear-day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada, where the skyscrapers of Montreal, 80 miles (130 km) away, can be seen on a very clear day. Located in the town of Wilmington, about 13 miles (21 km) from Lake Placid, the mountain's east slope is home to a major ski area with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies, [1] which hosted the alpine skiing competitions of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Unique among the High Peaks, Whiteface features a developed summit and seasonal accessibility by motor vehicle. Whiteface Memorial Highway reaches a parking area at an elevation of 4,600 feet (1,400 m), with the remaining 267 feet (81 m) being obtained by tunnel and elevator.


Conceived and initiated prior to the Great Depression, Whiteface Castle and the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway were funded entirely by the state of New York, though the timing of the project led to a widespread belief that they were Depression-era public works projects arising from the New Deal. [2] Construction on the toll road began in 1929, after passage of a necessary amendment to the state constitution, with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring then-New York State Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. Eventually costing 1.2 million dollars (18 million in 2019 dollars [3] ) and ending vertically within 300 feet (90 m) of the summit the roadway is 5 miles (8 km) long and features an impressively steep 8% average grade. Officially opened July 20, 1935, in a ceremony featuring Roosevelt, by then President, the highway was dedicated to veterans of the Great War. The Highway is usually open to vehicles from May to October.

Whiteface Castle, built with granite excavated during the road construction, dominates the summit area. From the adjacent parking lot there are two routes to the summit proper. The first route is the Stairway Ridge Trail, a footpath with handrails and intermittent cement and stone steps approximately 0.2 miles (0.32 km) long. The second is a 424-foot (129 m) long tunnel into the core of the mountain. At the end of the tunnel is an elevator, which rises 276 feet (84 m), approximately 27 stories, to the summit.

Whiteface Mountain Ski Area

Whiteface Mountain Ski Area
Whiteface Mt and Mt Esther seen from Jay ridge.JPG
Location Wilmington, New York, U.S.
Nearest major city Lake Placid - 13 miles (21 km)
Coordinates 44°21′57″N73°54′10″W / 44.36583°N 73.90278°W / 44.36583; -73.90278
Vertical3,166 ft (965 m) (lift-served)
3,430 ft (1,045 m)
Top elevation4,386 ft (1,337 m) (lift-served)
4,650 ft (1,417 m)
Base elevation1,220 ft (372 m)
Skiable area314 acres (127 ha)
Runs87 total
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg - 20% easiest
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg - 43% more difficult
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg - 37% most difficult
Lift system 1 gondola
9 chairlifts
1 conveyor lift
Terrain parks 7
Snowfall 190 in (480 cm) [4]
Snowmaking yes
Night skiing no
Website Whiteface.com

Whiteface was part of the post-World War II growth in recreational skiing attributed to the efforts of returning veterans of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division. It is a major ski area, run by the Olympic Regional Development Authority. Known for its big-mountain skiing, Whiteface is consistently ranked as one of the top ski resorts in the Northeast. It was a prime venue of the 1980 Winter Olympics, hosting all six of the alpine ski events. [5] Whiteface regularly hosts major alpine ski events, such as the US Alpine Skiing Championships, most recently in 2010, and is a U.S. Olympic Training Site.

Whiteface's ski area boasts 90 trails stretching over 25 miles and encompassing three peaks. [6] Whiteface's highest lift unloads at 4,386 feet (1,337 m), a vertical drop of 3,166 ft (965 m) to the base area at 1,220 ft (372 m). Its hike-to terrain, The Slides, is 264 ft (80 m) higher at 4,650 ft (1,417 m), providing Whiteface with the greatest continuous vertical drop in eastern North America at 3,430 feet (1,045 m). Its neighbor, Little Whiteface, tops in elevation at 3,676 ft (1,120 m). Whiteface has a total of 22 miles (35 km) of ski terrain, spread out over 88 trails. 314 acres (127 ha) of skiing area includes 35 in-bounds, off-piste double-black diamond wilderness terrain skiing on "The Slides" (conditions permitting), 85.5 acres (34.6 ha) of tree skiing, 35 acres (14 ha) of expert extreme adventure terrain. The Slides is an unmaintained wilderness area that is rarely open due to safety hazards. They can only be accessed by hiking from the top of the Summit Quad. Whiteface has a separate area for beginners known as Bear Den Mountain (formerly Kids Kampus).

In recent years there have been major improvements in snowmaking and grooming. Whiteface contains 90 trails accessible by one gondola, nine chairlifts, and one conveyor lift. Some 98% of the trails are covered by snowmaking, excluding the glades and the Slides. The Slides are double-black diamond runs that are usually only open at the end of the skiing season due to avalanche danger. They are between 35 and 40 degrees with high natural hazards (such as waterfalls, rocks, cliffs, trees, and variable conditions) vertically for over 1,250 feet (381 m). The Slides are considered[ by whom? ] to be one of the most challenging[ further explanation needed ] ski slopes that are marked on a trail map in the Northeast. [7]

In summer, Whiteface Mountain offers gondola rides and mountain biking.


Whiteface Mountain has a subarctic climate (Dfc) according to the Köppen climate classification, with very cold, snowy winters and mild summers. The average snowfall at Whiteface Mountain averages 190 inches per year plus 99% of the mountain trails are serviced by snowmaking. During the 2016-2017 season Whiteface boasted a record-breaking 281 inches of natural snowfall [8]

Climate data for Whiteface Mountain, New York (1937-1946 normals, extremes 1937-1946)
Record high °F (°C)42
Average high °F (°C)16.3
Daily mean °F (°C)7.5
Average low °F (°C)−1.8
Record low °F (°C)−36
Average precipitation inches (mm)4.11
Average snowfall inches (cm)27.0
Source: Western Regional Climate Center [9]

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  1. "Interactive Trail Map - Check Open Lifts and Trails". Whiteface Mountain. Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  2. Plattsburgh Press-Republican, September 14, 2010, Whiteface Memorial Highway feted at 75 (full text here)
  3. Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2020). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved September 22, 2020. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  4. Whiteface Stats - mountain stats
  5. 1980 Winter Olympics official report. Volume 1. pp. 20-8.
  6. "Interactive Trail Map - Check Open Lifts and Trails". Whiteface Mountain. Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  7. "Best Ski Towns In America" . Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. "Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort | SkiCentral.com". www.skicentral.com. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  9. "WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN, NY". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved May 23, 2020.