Ski /Ride Whiteface - Visit Lake Placid
by Lauren Traub Teton


Answer this quick: What northeast ski mountain has a higher vertical drop than Killington, or even Mammoth? The answer is ...Whiteface. This low key but high Adirondack mountain barely registers on most people's mental radar, since so much focus of northeastern U.S. skiing and riding is on the state of Vermont. But Whiteface in Wilmington, NY, is a great place to slide! And it is ten miles from the center of one of the most charming winter (and summer) villages imaginable - Lake Placid. Lake Placid was the home of two Winter Olympics, and offers a wide variety of winter activities, both active and passive. It is filled with lots of small non-chain roadside inns and motels, lending a European air. It has full service hotels with meeting and banquet facilities as well. And of course, restaurants galore.

The Mountain
Whiteface Mountain boasts of the highest vertical drop in the East at 3430 feet, and is the East's only Olympic mountain. It was ranked number one in the Eastern U.S. by Ski Magazine in 2001 and 2002. There is terrain to please every skier and boarder, from wide shallow green slopes to steep mountaintop double black diamonds. North America's fastest heated gondola ascends one of the 2 peaks, and the spectacular 360-degree views from the top are some of the best anywhere. A 450 foot long Super Pipe (with it's own chair lift!) is awesome and long enough for six to eight good hits. There is of course, a challenging terrain park. A 3 1/2-mile run descends from the high peak, and there is a bistro half way down for your refreshment. People are friendly at Whiteface, and nobody seems to lock their gear. There is a half day discounted lift ticket available after 12:30pm, but it's not advertised on the sign or site.

A two-day women's ski/snowboard clinic was being offered during my visit. I signed up for the snowboard clinic, which ended up being one of the best bargains on earth. There were one or 2 riders in my class depending on the skills we were working on. We got to work on all of my pet projects, including racing, the halfpipe, and general style. We were even videotaped for post-class critique. My teacher, Crete Dorsey is such a passionate snowboarder that the clinic went on all day, instead of the expected four hours. And on Sunday, she even brought us her homemade soup for lunch. The cost was just $90, plus a two-day lift ticket. My improvement was quantifiable, and I will try to get back for a racing clinic soon.

Lake Placid
Lake Placid has a Hilton, and a Holiday Inn, but not like the ones you've seen. The hilltop Holiday Inn is decorated sumptuously, with cozy fireplace sitting areas. And two of the windows in public areas are centered directly on mountain peaks, creating a breathtaking sense of harmony and serene feng shui. There is also an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna.The Hilton has a waterfront annex where the rooms have decks hanging right over Mirror Lake. Ask for one of the rooms with the wooden decks to get one of the best. Stand on your deck and watch the dogs that pull the tourist dogsleds over the iced lake as they friskily jump and await their orders.

The Cobble Mountain Lodge is the closest motel to Whiteface from Lake Placid, just 8 miles away and offers double rooms for $45. They also have complimentary in-room coffee, and an outdoor Finnish-style sauna for apres-ski.

Restaurants run the gamut from pizza and wing pubs to deluxe gourmet. The Lake Placid Lodge is expensive and sublime. The beauty of its lakefront location and perfect decoration of this former Rockefeller camp makes it an unforgettable experience. The service and food are near perfection.
Paradox Lodge Bed and Breakfast and Fine Dining give a taste of the personalities of owners/Chef Moses and Nan LaFountaine. Dining there is like dining in their own warmly decorated home, and the open kitchen is visible. Especially delicious homemade breads and salads start off the meal, and there is a terrific wine list, well priced.

Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain make an outstanding ski or snowboard destination. The secret is out!

Lauren Traub Teton is a snowboarder and writer and has written on winter sports for the Mountain Times in Vermont and The Record Review in Pound Ridge/Bedford, NY. Contact her at