Whiteface is the largest resort in the East by vertical and played host to the 1980 Olympic Downhill. The New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority continues to operate Whiteface along with nearby Gore Mountain and Belleayre in the Catskills. This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an impressive $62.5 million for capital improvements at ORDA facilities for 2018-19. While the budget proposal is not yet law and does not identify specific items, it is likely to fund projects from Whiteface and Gore‘s management plans which, probably not coincidentally, were updated this month to include up to ten new lifts.
The biggest project in Whiteface’s future is the replacement of the Freeway double (a 1978 Hall) in a completely new and much longer alignment. A new high-speed quad would start at in the base area and cross over the Little Whiteface double-double, topping out on the Upper Mackenzie trail. Two new trails would be cut from the top, making this lift ideal for intermediate skiers and riders. A second project would replace the 1984 VonRoll double named Bear with a fixed-grip quad. An offload opportunity would be included near the current top terminal and the new lift would continue to the Mid-station lodge area parallel with the Face Lift detachable quad.
Significant improvements are planned for the Bear Den beginner complex. A relocated Riblet double-turned-triple currently services this zone and would be replaced with a fixed-grip quad. “The new quad and magic carpet at Bear Den will serve the extensive trail work we are planning in that area,” Whiteface General Manager Aaron Kellett tells NY Ski Blog. “We want to extend the lift top terminal higher to create better flow in and out of the area.” Last year, Whiteface proposed a new lift from Bear Den all the way to the Mid-station but that plan has morphed into a conceptual transfer lift between the two base areas. A second transfer lift (think gondola, pulse gondola or cabriolet) could link the main parking lot to the base lodge.
Gore’s new UMP includes a new fixed-grip triple or quad chair from Northwoods Lodge up Lower Sunway. A second new chairlift would serve the nearby Bear Cub run. The 1986 Riblet double currently known as Sunway would be removed. On the upper mountain, the 1966 Riblet High Peaks lift would be replaced and extended to the top of the mountain.
Gore Mountain now includes the North Creek Ski Bowl, which used to be its own ski area. ORDA added two Partek and Borvig lifts here in 2007 and 2010, respectively, and incorporated the complex into Gore Mountain. The Borvig, called Hudson, is slated to be replaced with a high-speed quad in a new alignment. Another lift is already approved to link the Ski Bowl to Gore’s main base. The existing Village lift would be extended 1,000 feet uphill to provide a longer beginner run at the Ski Bowl.
$62.5 million could buy a lot of lifts and while the state just bought Belleayre a new gondola, projects there could include replacement of two 35-year old Doppelmayr fixed-grips or the mountain’s ’86 Riblet. Belleayre also could expand into the defunct Highmount Ski Center which operated with several Mueller lifts until 1993. All of these projects at all three mountains are subject to various approvals but things are moving along and the hardest part for many private ski areas – financing – appears to be close at hand.
Peter- not able to pull up lift info for any of the lifts anywhere, getting Google errors.. do you know about this?
It’s a Google issue that happens on some networks from time to time. Try clearing your brower’s cache.
Any word on any of this? I haven’t seen/heard anything since so I’m assuming it’s not happening for 2018-2019.
Public comment period for the Gore projects ends Friday.
For Whiteface, a new high speed detacheable quad to replace the summit quad would be awesome.
The Summit Quad is one of the newer lifts, but is quite long for a fixed grip. I think the 4290 foot number for length is low and it’s closer to 4807 like it said on the trail map for a while. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it when it runs full speed, but there has been an increasing number of days they run it much slower which makes an 11 minute ride 15 minutes.
The Little Whiteface lift I think should be a much higher priority to replace than any of the projects they proposed. Even with the 2011 upgrade, it is still an old inefficient lift with a high staffing requirement and frequent breakdowns. When it goes down on a weekend, the gondola line can exceed 20 minutes. This year for about a month they ran it very slowly and only loaded every other chair and I’m not sure why. Unfortunately, replacing it now seems to be a lower priority than the new Freeway lift which makes no sense at all.
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Gore and Whiteface have such an abundance of outdated lifts and their proposals don’t fix fundamental issues including a poor mountain design. All of their projects get caught up in bureaucratic mess and, in my opinion, they have to be sold to a private entity capable of investing significant funds in projects that will make a meaningful difference.
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Gore really needs to replace Sunway and High Peaks plus add that second beginner lift in the main base. They also need better connections in and out of the Burnt Ridge and Ski Bowl expansions. Sunway and High Peaks were supposed to have been done in 2019, but the project was cancelled for the time being.
Whiteface as I said really needs to replace Mountain Run and Little Whiteface. They are both old lifts and it requires 7 lifties to run both sides, so it is almost never done. This results in big lines for Little Whiteface on busy weekends. Little Whiteface is not very reliable as I mentioned above. Also, it really clutters the top of the Mountain Run trail having so many lift towers for the mid station on Little Whiteface and end of the Mountain Run side.. I’d like to see one high speed quad replace them both and follow the exact route of Little Whiteface with a mid station at the top of Mountain Run. This would provide a fast lift to a large portion of the mountain’s terrain that avoids the base. Also, it would allow for better snowmaking on Mountain Run because the chairs could be taken off the line.
The current lift system puts far too much traffic on the gondola. It is the main out of base lift and ends up being the workhorse lift that everyone laps because all the other upper lifts are cold, windy, and slow fixed grips. They think the issue is out of base capacity, when it really is all the people trying to lap the gondola all day. I don’t think the new Freeway lift will help with this at all. Experts won’t use it if Little Whiteface is running and there will only be one intermediate trail off it that I think will end up as more of an expert trail. Also, it would clutter up the top of Mountain Run even worse by having a lift cross over just above where the Little Whiteface mid station is. The only reason they are going to build it is for the World University Games in 2023. They want to have direct access from the base to the top of the Downhill and Super G courses, but it is not going to be of any use for public skiing after the event is over.
The new Bear and Bear Den lifts are spot on. They want to replicate the Mid Station Shuttle Double that was removed in 2002. If the gondola goes down for wind or maintenance, you are stuck with Facelift or Bear to Freeway to get out of the base. The new Bear lift would bring you right up to the mid mountain lodge where you could get on Little Whiteface and access the rest of the mountain. Bear Den needs to be expanded as they just built a new lodge there and want to move all the lessons and rentals over.
The two mountains also need significant snowmaking upgrades. Lookout at Whiteface and the Ski Bowl at Gore are rarely open, and the two mountains have a difficult time recovering from refreeze events.
I agree that first and foremost both mountains need significant upgrades to their snowmaking/grooming. If there is ever low snow or warm weather, it is night and day skiing at either mountain compared to Stratton, Okemo, etc.
Regarding Gore: Gore has way too many flat traverses that concentrate all of the skiers in certain areas and prevent adequate flow around the mountain. I agree High Peaks and Sunway need replacements. High Peaks needs to start a good ~1500 feet below where it currently does, to eliminate the traverse from Bear Mountain, and end farther up next to Straight Brook Lodge, to avoid traverses at the peak. It should also go detachable. Sunway should go detachable and end closer to where the old gondola angle station is, creating a nice beginner pod. To better connect Burnt Ridge, there should be a detachable from the main base to the peak of Burnt Ridge to eliminate the current traverse over. Burnt Ridge Quad should then have its base then moved over closer to Eagle’s Nest to eliminate the traverse from Ski Bowl. North should also be extended, go detachable, and end next to the gondola to provide better mountain access. Ideally, Straight Brook would also go detachable and be extended to the bottom of Top Ridge to allow skiers to come over from the new Sunway.
Regarding Whiteface: Whiteface has such a large concentration of trails on the Little Whiteface side and few on the Lookout side. A detachable from the base to the top of Lookout Below would provide more out of base capacity and could allow more trails to be cut on this side of the mountain for skiers. I agree that Mountain Run and Little Whiteface need to be replace with a single detachable. Freeway is really a secondary lift, so I agree that its replacement is kind of pointless. Making the Summit Quad a detachable to the actual summit would also move all of the experts from lapping Little Whiteface and spread out the crowds. If there are still a lot of people lapping the gondola, Lookout has plenty of room for more trails and could be anchored by a detachable.
Some of your ideas make sense and others don’t at all.
At Gore, new Sunway is planned to end just above the Sunway trail rather than just below it. The current terminus significantly limits trail width. You can’t extend it to the old gondola mid station as it is not green pitch all the way up. I agree it might make sense to go detachable as it will be a longer beginner lift. A fixed grip would have to run very slowly at under 400 feet per minute to facilitate easier loading.
High Peaks can’t be extended down without increasing the runout from those trails and the length of the traverse in. The primary route to the summit is Pine Knot from the gondola to the Straightbrook Quad and Wood In, while flat is perfectly fine as a secondary route up. Extending it up makes sense as it allows intermediates to more easily lap Cloud and Upper Steilhang. Doing so from Straightbrook sucks as there in an uphill stake involved.
The Burnt Ridge and Ski Bowl expansions were greatly rushed and done on the cheap instead of properly. They really should’ve done it with 3 lifts instead of 2. Going from the Ski Bowl to the rest of Gore isn’t a problem at all. Eagle’s Nest has sufficient pitch to make it all the way through and then ride to the top of Burnt Ridge. Once you’re at the top of Burnt Ridge, you can take Echo to the main base. The problem is when it’s closed for racing you have to take Hedges to the North Quad which is a snail, especially when crowded. Getting into Burnt Ridge sucks. The only good way over is to take Twister and cross to Echo and then you can build up enough speed to make it down Cedars to the lift. If Echo is closed for racing you have to do a very long traverse on Pipeline or Cedars. My solution would be to install a transfer lift from the bottom of the North Quad to the top of Burnt Ridge. This could be a used lift like maybe the eventually replaced Sunway Double or Hudson Triple. This would coincide with building out the remaining Burnt Ridge trails that are currently approved on the Unit Management Plan. A high speed quad from the main base to the top of Burnt Ridge would be a very expensive solution. If Gore is to get another detachable in addition to the one planned for Hudson, it should be on the North Side or Topridge.
At Whiteface, the biggest problem is that management has this misguided idea that they need to be more intermediate friendly. They won’t focus on their strength which is expert terrain. That’s why you see them wanting to blast out more trails on the already dense Little Whiteface rather than finishing Lookout. The triple on Lookout is fine. No need for it to be detachable, and no need to build a long and expensive detachable from the main base. The Summit Quad could go detachable, and I’d love to see a bubble-6 up there, but wind and space constraints may require that the lift stay fixed grip. I see snowmaking as the absolute top priority for Whiteface as their current system is quite possibly the worst in the east. There are so many inefficiencies and constraints of where and when snow can be made. They didn’t open Lookout till February 1st for that reason. That needs to be upgraded before any lifts are upgraded or new trails added.
Just a few counterpoints and an opportunity to explain my logic:
Regarding Sunway: If the lift were to be extended to the old gondola mid station, it could still have beginner terrain to the top. The few first hundred feet or so of a trail may have to cut across the mountain rather than go directly down, but after that it would be ideally pitched. The reason I had suggested the extension would be to allow skiers to take this lift and ski to a lengthened Straight Brook to give a nice one stop ride to the summit avoiding Bear Mountain.
Regarding High Peaks: Eliminating Wood In is the only way to avoid the traverse, I understand that. I think you are underestimating how far I would extend it, as I would go essentially to where Pete Gay intersects with Wood Out. This would make Pete Gay the connector trail instead of Wood In. Yes, this would create a longer runout for skiers lapping the lift, but there is a slope on Wood Out so its not a hike. This would also be not only for gondola passengers as a secondary route, but for Adirondack Express skiers as well, giving them an easier route to the top.
Regarding Burnt Ridge: Your ideas are very interesting and good alternatives. My reasons for going with a base detachable over a transfer quad are: A) making the lift be attractive to be lapped, B) adding more out of base capacity, and C) I understand the funds are lacking and Gore isn’t getting a large number of detachable so this is in an ideal scenario where Gore is well funded.
Regarding Whiteface: I agree snowmaking/grooming is above everything and in the most desperate need of attention, but this is Liftblog not Snowmakingblog so I am going to assume those issues are addressed. With that in mind, I still think a Lookout detachable and new out of base lift to the Lookout side of the mountain are necessary. The gondola is essentially the lifeblood of the mountain and the side is flooded with trails and skiers. The Lookout area has plenty of room for terrain expansion within the existing SUP at similar grades to Little Whiteface. These dual lifts, along with new trails (and yes snowmaking), will entice skiers to spread out to this side of the mountain, thereby easing pressure off of the gondola. This is very similar to what Stratton did with the Snow Bowl lift this year. By replacing a fixed grip with a high speed lift, it enticed skiers to use a previously underutilized area of the mountain and URSA’s lift lines have been noticeably lower as a result even though Stratton has reported higher skier visitation numbers.
MORE snow making. That is what Whiteface needs! They are so far behind everyone else on the east coast. All of Whiteface is not even 300 acres yet every year it takes until March to open Lookout. POINTLESS. Use the Ausable. Lots of water there. Stop letting the enviro-Nazis dictate MT operations. As pointed out. Sale to a private company would fix everything. But this is Govt land. Will never happen . It is run by politicians. Primarily Democrats! All the proposed lifts and trails are pointless. The only lift needed is a new summit lift. 1800′ vertical on a fixed grip? 4500′ up in the ADKS? Its torture on a windy day. Desperately need a detachable bubble for the summit. Better yet.. extend the gondola to the summit as well . Making Little Whiteface an optional stop. Even better… go all the way to the top. Clear out some of the slides. What a bowl that would be!!! This Mountain is incredible. Just needs to be run by pros. Not politicians. LOVE WHITEFACE!!!