Ascending the ski slopes to Slide Out
Begin at the Ski Center, located on Route 86 between Lake Placid and Wilmington. There is no charge to park at one of the many large lots at the Center. If you don't want to hike the entire mountain, you can take the chair lifts/gondola, but there will be a charge for lift tickets.
Ascend the ski slopes (2,000 vertical feet) to Slide Out, located at the bottom of the Summit Quad lift. Slide Out will lead to the bowl at the base of the four backcountry slides. As an alternate route (not attempted), you may be able to ascend the bedrock in the streambead from Ladies Bridge up to the slide bowl.
Click here for a ski trail map
. Be patient, it may take a minute to download.
After summiting, hike back to the Ski Center via the ORDA trail that descends to the upper ski lift from the south ridge. During the summer, the upper ski slopes are a rocky clear-cut mess of stumps and slash. It is easier to descend towards Little Whiteface then down to the Ski Center. Some of the mountain bike trails are very nice hikes through the woods, and break up the monotony of the ski slopes. Another option is to spot a car the the Atmospheric Research Center, Wilmington reservoir, or Connery Pond trailheads.
First Pitch Upper slab (Class 2) and Slide #2 Class 2 Slab Second Pitch - Headwall
A total of four major slides are located on the east flank (ski slopes) of Whiteface. When looking from the Ski Center, they are numbered 1-4, starting at the left. The leftmost slide (#1), ascends to within about 100 feet of the summit, and the bushwhack is relatively easy. The route gains 1,600 feet (490 m) in 0.5 mile (0.8 km), resulting in an average grade of 31 degrees.
The first pitch is quite steep, with steeper steps within the pitch. The rock is polished and was slippery in places. Oddly, the rock with flowing water over it is "grippier" than the dry rock.
Once above the first pitch, it becomes a slab climb. The portions to climbers left are slimy. After another hundred feet of ascent, an obvious finger (Slide #2) exits to the right. There appears to be a very steep headwall at the end of this finger, and a longer bushwhack to the ridge trail (not attempted).
At the headwall at the top of Slide #1, angle to the left to take advantage of every bit of slab. There was a very faint herdpath leading to the summit. About 3/4 of the way through the bushwhack, you'll come to a heavy-duty electrical wire laying across the ground. It appears that if you followed it left, you'd reach the ORDA trail that extends from the upper ski lift to the summit. If you bushwhack directly to the summit, you'll be standing atop in 2 minutes.
Essential and Recommended Gear
Peering down the slide
Summer: Hiking boots or approach shoes (trail runners) with good sole. Some may opt for rock shoes, especially if conditions are wet. You may want gaiters, pants, long-sleeve shirt, and eye protection for the bushwhack portions. A hiking partner would be advisable.
Winter: Agressive snowshoes, 12-pt crampons, ice axe, avalanche safety gear
Visit the Whiteface Mountain webpage
for ski lift operating hours, open ski trails, and mountain conditions.
: Uphill travel is not allowed during ski season, so if attempting during winter, you must be on the slide by the time the chair lifts begin operating. If there is enough snow, the Ski Center will officially open the slides to skiing, and uphill travel will not be allowed. Obviously, be aware of avalanche potential... these slides are here for a reason.
: Uphill travel is allowed, but be aware of mountain bikers bombing down the trails, trail maintenance equipment, and logging operations. If you don't want to hike the entire mountain, the gondola to Little Whiteface remains operational during the summer, but you will be charged a fee.
: Expect ice and snow to remain on the upper portions of the slide into mid-May. The backcountry slide area of Whiteface is a notorious blackfly breeding ground. Typical blackfly season is Memorial Day (late May) to Independence Day (early July).
: Expect ice and snow on the upper portions of the slide beginning in early October. Since the slide faces east, overnight frosts will likely melt by late morning.
First Pitch - Winter