WILMINGTON - The ski season at Whiteface Mountain ended April 12. Or did it?
While most people across the country were getting ready to honor members of the United States Armed Forces who have lost their lives and enjoy barbecues and other activities, there were some in the North Country who gathered their ski gear and hit the slopes.
Mother Nature supplied the means as nearly three feet of snow was dumped on Whiteface over the Memorial Day weekend. The News met up with a handful of skiers and snowboarders who flocked to the slopes on Monday. There was so much snow in fact, that the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was forced to close - it has since reopened.
Snow covers the top half of Whiteface Mountain on Memorial Day while the lower half is green. Note the ski trails with and without snow.
Photos/Richard Rosentreter/Lake Placid News
For one skier, the snow seemed like a great birthday present. Alex Hohman, of Wilmington, was celebrating his 15th birthday on Monday, and decided to hit the slopes once he saw all the snow on the mountain. He spoke to the News as he walked down the mountain near the Facelift chairlift.
"I never thought I'd be skiing on my birthday, but here I am," Hohman said.
Hohman said he started his "ski trip" at 8 a.m. with a hike to the summit that took him two hours, but his long hike was worth the effort. When asked about the ski conditions, Hohman said there was about three feet of slushy snow, but, "It's great spring skiing."
Hohman said he was going to take a nap before enjoying some birthday cake.
Arthur Hallinger of Champlain spoke to the News as he got ready for his hike to the summit a little past noon. He said he traveled to Whiteface "because there's snow."
"It's always good to be able to ski in May," he said. "Whiteface doesn't usually get hit with snow like this, but they're the hot spot this time."
There was also a group of four teens who traveled from Plattsburgh to hit the slopes.
"Do you think it's worth it?" they were asked by the News.
"I don't think so," one replied, "but they do, so we're gonna do it."
Several other groups and individuals were seen heading up the mountain, each toting a backpack that had either skis or a snowboard and boots strapped on.
Olympic Regional Development Authority spokesman Jon Lundin told the Associated Press that 36 inches of white powder blanketed the nearly 5,000-foot tall mountain. According to Lundin, the snow began lightly falling Saturday and steadily dropped Sunday, finishing in the evening. He didn't know if the 3-foot snowfall was a record for Whiteface.
Whiteface Mountain General Manager Aaron Kellett told the News it took three days to clear the snow from the scenic highway so it could reopen. He added that he's glad people were able to enjoy the slopes this time of year.
"It's great to have the Veterans Memorial Highway open and tourists can get a little taste of winter on top of Whiteface mountain," Kellett said, adding that he's never seen it snow so much this late in the season. " I think it's great. It's alway s cool to see people who have a passion for the sport.
Kellett said he saw ski tracks on Skyward, Excelsior and the memorial highway.
"Unfortunately I did not get out to ski, but as always, snow brings out skiers and boarders any season of the year," he said. "If we got this snow in August we would see skiers on the mountain."
Burlington, Vt., National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Muccilli said the mountain experienced steady snow and gusty winds throughout the weekend, and that Mount Mansfield, in Stowe, Vt., had 13.2 inches of snow Sunday, the latest in the season it's ever had a foot.
The snowstorm also was covered on The Weather Channel and a video clip filmed from a vehicle traveling the Memorial Highway was aired for several days - but with one major gaff. TWC listed the location of the highway as Lake Placid, an area that did not receive the snowfall. As locals know, Whiteface Mountain and the highway is located in Wilmington.
The Associated Press
contributed to this report