Such Great Heights

Whiteface is something to be experienced. Its views of blue skies and luscious green tree-covered mountains. Its sights of miles and miles of gorgeous fall foliage. The natural minimalism of snow-covered everything during the winter months. And spring, because it’s the start of all that’s new. (That’s a good spin on cold, rainy weather, right?)

It’s easy to pick out adjectives from that mental thesaurus to describe something eye catching or an experience that (oddly) can be tagged with the phrase “there are no words.”

Amazing. Breathtaking. Captivating. Delightful. Exceptional. Fantastic.

The view from Whiteface. [Photo by C. Malone]
Sometimes the most obvious words simply do. An exception is surreal. It’s probably the worst word to describe something real. Unless a person is tripping on some type of psychedelic drug or trying to recreate a Salvador Dali piece in a paint-and-sip outing, nothing is surreal.

Regardless the time of year, the ride up Whiteface is probably not one for someone plagued with acrophobia or vertigo, but can certainly serve as a cure. The unaffected can enjoy the surrounding nature in its (al)most raw form.

The humming of the gondola is a peaceful soundtrack while gazing out for what seems to be never-ending stretches of land with those snow-covered trees accenting the countless mountains. Rocks, water, various terrain and the occasional squirrel passes beneath the enclosure. Facing the mountain allows wondrous side-to-side views. When in the seat facing down the mountain, the whole panorama is able to be experienced.

Thoughts cease, breaths slow. Nose air fogs up the glass. Thoughts that may blossom are not of worry, but of what if and reflection.

Cue the bursts of wind rocking the gondola and the creaking. Like turbulence, the uneasiness will pass. There is also a very slim chance that cable will unbraid or snap. But, even if it did, Heaven forbid, at least the last view would be a pleasant one.


To hit the hit the slopes at Whiteface, a day pass will run a winter sport enthusiast $95. Should you buy a ticket in advance, and my advice would be to consider that deal, depending on when, the pass will run you varying monetary degrees of less.

What does cost get you? What’s the real value gained a price tag, especially when considering something so limited such as this one-and-done ski opportunity? It’s like a holiday or a birthday. There is a great, exciting build leading up to that one day and — poof! It’s over.

Regardless of what a person pays to hit the mountain’s slopes or is simply there for the rides and atmosphere, the goal is to get as many runs in as possible after 8:30 a.m. and before 3:30 p.m. rolls around. That’s the goal or first thought of a skier to figure out the monetary breakdown for ski lift worth. It’s also satisfying for the super competitive types.

Lake Placid, which is a notable home to past Winter Olympics, is obviously stamped as a year-round tourist destination.  The area is gorgeous with a lot to offer as far as food and shops go. Going back to the beginning, the area boasts year-round activity, especially eye candy for the nature gazers. Adult visitors still pay $22 for a ride up the Cloudsplitter gondola.

Subtract that from the cost of the daily ski pass. The remainder cash split among the powder, the ski down and everything else.

I’m talking about awareness, self-reflection and human connection. Call me a sappy-sap, but it’s true. The best way I’ve found to connect with myself is by surrounding myself with nature.

“Look deep into nature,” said Albert Einstein, “and you’ll understand everything better.”

Like trying to break a fear of heights by facing the fear or convincing a delusional mind the slope of the hill is still ground and is connected to the earth. It starts with a personal push; it’s saying this has been done before.

It may be sharing the gondola with a friend or partner, but the other bodies may have unfamiliar faces, young to middle-aged or older. Start a conversation. You never know what kind of connection it’ll bring you to. The guy who took the photo of my cousin, his friend and I at the Vatican was from Liverpool, N.Y. It starts with a simple hello. It’s a simple push of air through the pharynx.

And there’s the thought of everything else. Looking across the miles around the varying geography, there’s nothing aside flora and fauna typically found in the deciduous forests of upstate New York. In the summer there will be the campers and mountain climbers, but that’s only for part of the time. Nature outnumbers the human enthusiasts.

Nature had the upper hand for eons. It’ll still exist after we’re gone. It’s not that the human race is facing extinction any time soon, but we as individuals are nothing more than temporary.




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