The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Sandy Caligiore, Communications Director of Whiteface in Wilmington, New York, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 7/26/2007:
thetrailboss: Sandy, we got some questions regarding future plans at Whiteface. Highpeaksdrifter wants to know what work will be done this summer and fall on the Lookout Mountain expansion? When do you expect work on cutting trails to start? ComeBackMudPuddles would like to know about the details for the new Lookout Mountain Lodge, and if it will have bathrooms and a brownbag area.
Sandy Caligiore: Currently, we have flagged the trails and are selecting some vendors to work on the Lookout Mountain project. Due to the sensitivity to the Bicknell’s Thrush, we cannot cut trees above 2,800 feet until August. Right now, we are awaiting final approval from the APA and DEC on our stormwater prevention/pollution plan. Hopefully that will be soon. We expect to get the project underway in earnest immediately with in-house staff and will work until the weather dictates differently. The bid on the triple chair is due Apr 3. We intend to install the lift next summer. We’ll commence engineering snowmaking lines and the pumphouse this fall. Initially we will cut the intermediate trail first since it will be the longest at 2.5 miles.
The Lookout Mountain lodge that you speak of was born Porcupine Lodge. Plans are not final at this time. Really, it’s not a lodge as you might envision but it does have character. There is a trail that leads in and out of Porcupine Lodge. The building is about 25‘ by 60‘ and has a 1940s design. To make it usable, we’ll need to study it more and get an APA permit. We want to eventually offer some amenities (food and drink), but it’s too early right now to say what or when.
takeahike46er: There is mention of widening Empire in the 2006 UMP. It seems to be a controversial proposal based on the reactions I have seen. Could you clarify the reasons for the changes and to what degree Empire will change?
Sandy Caligiore: Widening of skier’s right on upper section was proposed. Currently, it’s not on the front burner and there are no immediate plans to follow through.
ComeBackMudPuddles: Regarding the mid-lodge, is there still a plan to move it to the left and out of the middle of the trails? If so, will the old lodge be moved, or will there be all-new construction?
Sandy Caligiore: There was a plan several years ago to move the mid-station lodge to the side that you referred to (above Burton’s cut-off). There is no immediate plan to do this currently. Rationale was to open up that section for future world-class racing. That’s a low priority right now.
ajl50: The focus on opening up the summit early was duly appreciated and the snowmaking improvements sure helped a great deal with that. Are they anymore improvements w/r/t upgrades in the guns? Locations? Focus on certain areas?
Sandy Caligiore: Thank you for the compliments. We will continue a major emphasis on snowmaking improvements. We are changing out a number of compressors during the off-season and will be more efficient environmentally. In addition, they will help us create more and better snow. We will continue to upgrade other hardware, too, such as snow guns. Revision of pumphouse one will result, next year, in greater pumping capacity. Additional low-energy guns will be added to this season’s inventory; these guns will be the present and future of Whiteface.
L2RAFO: Last year there were five demo days at Gore while, for the first time I can remember, Whiteface had none. I know that this was due in part to the fact that Whiteface’s demo days are still arranged by the mountain instead of the individual shops (which is how it’s done at Gore). Seeing as the local shops would be the obvious beneficiary (from an equipment sales standpoint anyway) of a demo day, would it be possible to let them arrange, through the mountain obviously, to get the demo teams up from each vendor they represent, and get us the type of multiple demo day schedule Gore has enjoyed for years?
Sandy Caligiore: This year, we will work with our individual shops to set up demo days. High Peaks Cyclery offers their Tele Demo Days featuring several companies historically on the third weekend of December. We also have Burton providing snowboard demos during our World Cup Snowboard competition in March.
****I also remember that in the original list of questions there were comments regarding the Cloudspin Lounge. This winter marks Whiteface’s 50th season. So we will bring live bands back to the Cloudspin Lounge beginning in January. Each Saturday will feature a different decade. Look for the Ski Sweater Ball January 26. It is going to be an awesome evening celebration at the mountain! We will also work with Centerplate, our concessionaire, to offer more diverse bar promotions.
highpeaksdrifter: The First Tracks program is very popular during Christmas and President’s Weeks. Has offering it every weekend ever been considered?
Sandy Caligiore: We did offer first tracks during Martin Luther King weekend and during March break. But as for weekends, yes, it has been considered and it should happen in honor of our 50th winter season, pending weather.
thetrailboss: Sandy, we also got some questions regarding the limits of any future expansion. L2RAFO notes that he has heard on the Ski ADK that the Whiteface trail system is limited to 25 miles. Some say there is 2.5 miles left, and others say that the Lookout Mountain project gets us to that limit. Would you provide the “official” answer on this subject, and could you discuss what, if any, steps are being taken to amend the NY State constitution to allow an increase for trail development at Whiteface in the future? Highpeaksdrifter also notes that there is a limit and wants to know if there is an acreage limit, what it is, and how close you are to meeting that limit.
Sandy Caligiore: Whiteface is limited to 25 miles of terrain. Currently, we offer 18 miles. Lookout Mountain will create another 4.5 miles, leaving 2.5 thereafter*. There is no effort underway to amend the state constitution nor will there be. Honestly, we have not maxed out what we have. So for the immediate future, there seems to be no need to expand that 25-mile figure. As for the acreage question, as soon as we hit 25 miles we will hit the acreage limit.
* Edit (7/30/2007): Just checking with whiteface management….they have done a re-calculation of the mileage. With completion of Lookout Mountain, according to our Unit Management Plan, Whiteface will have 24.45 miles of trails. As you know, our ceiling is 25 miles. So in two years, we will essentially be maxed out.
takeahike46er: As you are probably aware, Greene County has called for a moratorium on the expansion of all state-owned ski areas until there is an investigation into the potential harm to the private ski industry. Will this have any real effect on the expansion at Whiteface?
Sandy Caligiore: The only expansion at Whiteface is Lookout Mountain and right now, that’s full speed ahead.
ajl50: Will the terrain park remain on Brookside for the upcoming year?
Sandy Caligiore: Yes.
highpeaksdrifter: Any chance of adding more on mountain web cams besides the one in the lodge that points at the Facelift? How about one in the mid lodge pointing up at Mountain Run? Thanks.
Sandy Caligiore: I agree that we need to portray some other angles and vantage points. We have discussed this, off and on, for several years now and have been investigating better cameras giving us wider shots and better clarity. I hope we can move forward with some add-ons, but can’t really say right now when that will be.