An October ski on the toll road
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As usual the

Whiteface toll road delivers for the first ski tour of the year. With the recent snowfall of 12 inches on the summit, the road was sure to have enough to play on. The toll road is an excellent place to shake off the summer legs and get your feet back under you.

I got a bit of a later start than most on the mountain and I was afraid I missed the snow down low by the gate, but after asking around, I apparently didn’t. I got to the toll gate and right away realized I would need to walk the start of this day. It was over a ½ mile before I put on my skis and even then I scraped a bit. The ascent was really fast and my Spiders gripped really well.

At about 3000’ in elevation I saw something in the trees and at first thought, I figured it was a skier that went out of control, but in fact it was a decent sized buck; I had never seen one along the toll road and this high up was also a bit odd. I actually got within a hundred feet of it or so, it didn’t seem to be nervous at all. In fact I was so close I could see the frost on his whiskers and he could see mine.

I pushed on up past windy corner and began to get a bit nervous about the descent being sloughed off from so many skiers being up there for first strike. I stopped just below the castle near where the hiking trail came up, mainly because I got locked into a rather lengthy conversation about winter slide climbing and mountaineering with a hiker passing by. This guy was interested in climbing the slides on Whiteface in winter. I assured him it’s not a challenge to be taken lightly, but worth every minute on the rock.

The ski down for me, at times, was terrifying. My knuckles must have been white as a ghost from gripping my poles so tight. My legs hurt from holding a tense position for so long. I wasn’t expecting it to be so fast. There was plenty of snow in the road and not once did I scrape bottom. But, on two occasions I skied off the road to the side where I figured I could slow down, I did. Actually, my skis slowed down but the rest of my body kept going fast. I doubled up on my Superman crashes and to what I believe to be a record for hang time and distance; I broke my own record, but nothing else luckily.

I ended up stopping about 1-mile from the gate, roughly about the area where I figured I would begin to scrape bottom.

Interested in skiing the Toll Road or maybe a bit of crosscountry or backcountry skiing, maybe a lesson, check out a local guide service for details or pick up a copy of Adirondack Skier, a Skiers Guide to the Adirondack Trails – available this holiday season. Need to get your skis tuned, stop into a local ski shop for the best care for your equipment, want new gear; I’m sure they can set you up as well?

Spencer Morrissey

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