Entrance to Ski Slide #2
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 (2,200 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, you can ascend the Falls Trail in the streambead from just above the valley ski lodge up to the first ski lift house. From there, either take the ski trails up, or bushwhack up the remainder of the drainage to the base of the slide.
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.
The Crack, looking up
The Crack, looking down
A total of five major slides are located on the east flank (ski slopes) of Whiteface. When looking from the Ski Center, they are numbered 1-5, starting at the left (south). The Ski Slide #2, ascends to within about 150 feet of the summit ridge, and the bushwhack is relatively easy by Adirondack standards. The route gains approximately 1,600 feet (490 m) in 0.5 mile (0.8 km), resulting in an average grade of 31 degrees.
The first pitch (which is actually the bottom of Ski Slide #1) 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, Slide #2 exits to the right. Aim for the large boulder at the top of the slide, or the green rocks on the ridge.
The last portion before you reach the boulder requires a tight squeeze through a crack in the rocks. You will likely need to remove your backpack. The exit from the crack is easy.
The bushwhack begins at the boulder on the top of the slide. You can go either right or left... it did not appear that one way was better than another. Just before you overtake the ridge, you will reach an open Class 3 headwall. The rock is good and handholds are plenty. The summit trail is immediately atop the headwall.
Essential and Recommended Gear
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.
The Whiteface Glacier
The author ascended this slide on September 30, 2006. The slides were relatively wet from the previous day's rain. Although rime ice was present at treeline on the opposite side of the mountain (into the prevailing wind) and there was scattered ice on the summit trail, the slide itself was clear of ice... other than the "glacier" in the ice cave.