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Monday, March 21, 2011

New Location for Adirondack Lifestyle!

Please follow this link to read the Adirondack Lifestyle Blog in its new location:!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another Great St. Patrick's Day of Skiing at Whiteface Mountain

Top of Skyward - highest lift-served point on Whiteface Mt.
Yes, that is corn snow.
St. Patrick’s Day 2011 at Whiteface Mountain lived up to prior years’ reputations. Note the plurals. A remarkable thing occurs when one combines this particular day of the year and Whiteface Mountain. It seems like St. Patrick’s Day is always an epic day to ski Whiteface. I wish I was more scientific in my approach to tracking coincidences like this that turn into patterns, but unfortunately I cannot cite statistical data to support the claim. My anecdotal data however suggests you can expect incredible ski conditions on March 17 at Whiteface Mountain. This year was no exception. It seemed like every inch of every trail was covered in delectable corn snow. Even The Slides were open and doing a brisk walk-up business.

Mountain Run and Wilderness at rest time.
The bright sun and warm mid-50 temperatures on deep snow pack made conditions so great it was tough for some of us to stop skiing to take a much needed water and libation break. Others found it much easier to relax and enjoy the mid-station sundeck.

Historically, March can be the best month to ski at Whiteface. This looks like a year for the history books.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Don't Let the Adirondack Corn Go to Waste!

Maple syrup is not the only Adirondack agricultural product currently thriving on the recent cold nights and warm sunny days. Although we don't grow much real corn here in the Adirondack High Peaks, Mother Nature does a pretty good job with the corn snow. Be advised: the season has arrived, the corn is in and we are harvesting! The Adirondacks have enjoyed great growing conditions for this year's crop. One of the snowiest winters in recent memory has created a deep snow pack that could last into late April.

Corn snow skiing is surely the best consolation for the imminent departure of winter. The repeated daily thaws and nightly re-freezing of the snow surface changes the snow crystal shapes over time. Like skiing on velvet, true corn snow is a delight to ski or ride once it softens in the afternoon. Corn snow is spring's version of powder, only warmer.

Did I mention one skis better in corn snow? Like magic for your legs, turns in corn snow seem effortless.

Skiers and riders on Whiteface Moutain and the surrounding peaks have already enjoyed a few days of early spring skiing with warm sunshine andl great corn snow. With a number of '42-sunny-and-blue' days predicted in the long-term forecast, it appears the 2011corn season could be an extended one. Whiteface Mountain is surely one of the best ski resorts in the east to ski corn snow conditions. In a good year, the combination of heavy snowfall, awesome snowmaking, and cold temperatures creates a great spring skiing experience at the Olympic Mountain.

If you'd like to experience the wonders of spring skiing at Whiteface after April 10th, there is something you can do. I noticed on the Facebook page for Whiteface Mountain a survey question wondering if skiers and riders would like the officials at Whiteface to extend the season because of wonderful conditions. If fans of corn snow skiing and riding around the world go to Whiteface's Facebook page and say, "Yes, please extend your season so we don't have to waste all that nice Adirondack corn snow," maybe they will stay open longer than scheduled. Invoking the amazing revival of Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, you can help keep the corn snow skiing alive. Instead of clapping, go to Whiteface's Facebook page and let them know you believe in skiing!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zooming Xoona's Backcountry Downhill Ski Race in the Adirondacks

Some vacation destinations attract tourists. Others attract outdoor athletic disciples. Lake Placid and the Adirondacks attract both. It is the latter variety however, who will be most excited about the new online community founded in Lake Placid, The brain-child of local outdoor enthusiast, Peter Fish, Xoona offers "racing for everyone" with self-timed races on courses developed by local experts.

Fish's ultimate goal is to develop a national network of 'hubs' that will allow people to race anywhere in the country. The pilot location for the project was established this past fall when Xoona partnered with Placid Planet Bicycles and created the first Xoona racing hub in Lake Placid. Lake Placid's decades-long history of hosting international caliber competitive athletic events allowed Placid Planet's owner, Kenny Boettger, to create more than forty self-timed race courses in a variety of endurance sports. From the Ironman swim course in Mirror Lake, designated running routes, a road bike time trial, to a couple of backcountry downhill races courses, the self-timed competitive options available are designed to appeal to all types of endurance athlete. The Xoona concept is simple and works like this: "join Xoona, race for free, submit times, view results."

My personal interest in Xoona began when a friend's post on Facebook caught my eye. He wrote he had participated in a fun "backcountry downhill ski race." Although I've participated in many organized cross-country ski races over the years, the solitude of the backcountry has always been more appealing than interval training. Since I admit to being just a tad competitive in nature, love going downhill fast, and enjoy the challenge of skiing Mother Nature's slalom gates, this Xoona backcountry downhill ski race sounded like something worth investigating.
The mogul section of the Xoona backcountry downhill race at Avalanche Pass. offers two backcountry downhill ski courses from which to choose. The first course is on the Jackrabbit Ski Trail at the Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid and starts at the Placid Lean-to at the height of land and finishes at the DEC sign-out. The second designated backcountry downhill course is in the High Peaks and is the descent from Avalanche Pass to the Marcy Dam Pond. It was an easy and obvious decision to choose which course to ski as my first Xoona race. I couldn't wait to time my favorite quickee backcountry ski - the descent from Avalanche Pass to Marcy Dam Pond.

A few weeks ago on March 2, I had the time and the mountains had the snow, so I headed into the backcountry for my first Xoona race. Armed with my 25-year-old faithful Karhu XCD GTs and my sport watch, I was looking forward to an interesting few hours of climbing, solitude, and speed.

The start house for the Xoona backcountry downhill ski race at Avalanche Pass.

The debris pile at the bottom of the slide on Mount Colden on the Avalanche Pass ski trail is the designated start house for this course. Like all downhill start houses, this one is located at the height of land. As any downhill racer will tell you, the wind blows colder and stronger at the start building. This is where racers strip off their warm-up layers and stand shivering in race lycra waiting for the start official to count down to their start. For a backcountry downhill race, the process is just the opposite. Because you climb up the mountain using human power instead of riding a lift, you usually arrive at the height of land, or at the start in this case, stripped down to base layers to avoid overheating.
After my climb, I dallied at the "start house" to add warm layers of clothing for the descent and fortified myself with hot mocha and a  snack, while pondering my downhill strategy. Pondering my strategy did not take very long since after 25 years of course inspections, I already knew how to ski this course. The idea was to simply point my skis down the hill and turn only when the trail turned. The challenge for me was having the gumption to actually perform this without skidding a turn or slipping in a stem christie when the speed seemed out of control.
The finish line of the Xoona backcountry downhill ski race at Avalanche Pass.
 I can't say I had all the gumption required to ski as fast as the mountain and my skis allowed, but I made it to the "finish" at the Marcy Dam Pond giggling with exhilaration and trembling quadriceps. My time was nothing to write home about but it was one of the most enjoyable "ski races" I have ever completed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Adirondack Lifestyle Companion

Writer's block.
Pictured is Ziggy, my excuse for the recent dearth of blog posts. To call him my writer's block is an understatement and is just one description of this darling new resident here at Adirondack Lifestyle HQ.

Monday, March 07, 2011

March Winter Storm Dumps 20+ Inches Snow on Lake Placid

After two days of warm temperatures and wind-driven rain, the cold air swept in and turned the rain to snow. A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for the Adirondacks until this afternoon. So far, we have received approximately 20 inches of snow here at Adirondack Lifestyle HQ.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Quote of the Day Explains Why Places Like the Adirondack Park Are So Important

"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."
Edward Abbey

Today's photo features Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, photographed this morning from HQ at minus 23 degrees.