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. Sarah Nagel, Communications Director of Hunter Mountain in Hunter, New York, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 12/10/2004:
loafer89: Why has the Westway trail not had the snowmaking that the other trails on Hunter West receive? Will this trail be opened more often in the future?
Sarah Nagel: Good question – I asked Bruce Transue, Hunter’s Snowmaking manager, for help with this one. He told me that snowmaking on Westway is unique to the other trails on the West Side, in that Westway requires both “weather and time”. What Bruce means, is that in order to open Westway, our snowmaking team requires at least a week of cold weather to run the snowguns. And we all know that sometimes getting one week of straight cold weather up here in the Catskills can be challenging. Hopefully we’ll see more action on Westway for the 04-05 season.
loafer89: Are there any long range plans for a high speed/fixed grip quad in the Hunter West area? Sometimes the lift lines there are very long.
Sarah Nagel: Yes indeed, there are future plans for Hunter West Expansion. Hunter is presently in the process of master-planning the entire West Side, and a lift or two would certainly be part of that plan. More effort will be put toward the West Side after completion of Hunter’s feature Condominium Facility, the Kaatskill Mountain Club, due to open this coming summer.
loafer89: If the proposed major expansion of Belleayre actually takes place, what would Hunter Mountain do to attract more skier visits; especially skiers that may now go to Belleayre?
Sarah Nagel: No matter who expands or grows, rest assured that Hunter will keep up with the times, while continuing to offer great skiing and riding on a Mountain that so many people have enjoyed for over 40 years. As mentioned in the previous answer, we’re currently in the process of master-planning several expansions and improvements throughout the resort. Russ Coloton, the President of Hunter Mountain, mentioned that Hunter plans to continue building a bigger bed-base, so that the Mountain will be able to offer greater levels of service through extended stays. In the meantime, loyal Hunter Skiers and riders keep coming back to Hunter for its great terrain, reliable conditions, and overall atmosphere, which are the same features that attract new guests. Whether learning the basics on Hunter One, or challenging the ole’ knees on the bumps and steeps of Hunter West, Hunter Mountain offers something for everyone, and is a real mountain experience, real close. When the snow’s all gone, Hunter Mountain, a four-season resort, offers mountain biking, fly fishing, festivals galore and much more, offering year-round activities for everyone.
loafer89: Could you please share with us some of the incredible difficulties that are involved in planning/building trails from the summit of such a uniquely rocky mountain?
Sarah Nagel: There are many factors that are taken into consideration when planning and building new trails on Hunter Mountain, but the two main difficulties involve cost and New York State regulations. One can imagine that blasting tons of sedimentary shale and limestone is fairly costly. Also, since Hunter Mountain land is included in the New York City Watershed, there are various regulatory and permitting matters to address. With that said, don’t rule out trail expansion at Hunter, but remember that patience is a virtue!
Klugscheisser: Is an expansion to the summit of the true Hunter Mountain (+/- 2,300 vertical?) ever going to happen, or is this just wishful thinking due to the “Forever Wild” clause?
Sarah Nagel: Trail expansion to the true summit of Hunter Mountain may be wishful thinking at this point, unfortunately. The Forever Wild Clause certainly puts a damper on any expansion plans, in addition to New York City Watershed regulations mentioned in the previous answer. Again, don’t rule it out though!
Powderboard: Hunter’s real estate department has a master plan that they show when they make their initial offer. When, if ever will dates be given for all the new amenities? New Westside lodge, golf course, etc?
Sarah Nagel: Hunter’s Master Plan is in the works, which includes the proposed expansion of our West Side, with possible plans to build a new West Side Lodge and a golf course. Currently, most of our expansion efforts are being put towards our feature Condominium facility, the Kaatskill Mountain Club. After it’s completion this coming summer, we’ll turn our efforts to the West Side. Stay tuned for expansion updates within the next year.
Powderboard: I am glad to see Hunter is committed to snow making on the main mountain, i.e. the new pump house, but when will we see snowmaking improvements on the West side?
Sarah Nagel: With a newly revamped pumphouse, Hunter is absolutely committed to constantly improving snowmaking. Look for Westside snowmaking improvements to be included in our Master Plan. Until then, we do have 100% snowmaking on Way Out, The Colonel’s Alternative, Claire’s, Taylor’s Run, Westway and Annapurna. The West side terrain is typically the last to open each year, which is primarily due to weather constraints.
I would like to mention that I appreciate the fact that Hunter has kept their season pass prices constant the past few years.
Powderboard: Couldn’t Hunter offer a first tracks program on powder days? It is a very common practice out west – you get a breakfast and first turns before the general public is allowed access. I think this would be a great added feature to being a season pass holder or as an additional ticket item. Windham offers it. Why can’t Hunter?
Sarah Nagel: Thanks! We like to hear that our guests appreciate our season pass pricing! A First Tracks program is a possibility for the future, but unfortunately not for the 2004-2005 winter season. We’re always looking for ways to add additional benefits for our season Passholders, and a First Tracks program would certainly fit the bill! Sounds like a step in the right direction.
Powderboard: Will Hunter ever offer night skiing again? I understand that it would cut into grooming time if the whole mountain were to be open, but what about running lights just up to the top of the D chair or at minimum the B chair. It would offer more activities to the new hotel residents as well as the general public and community.
Sarah Nagel: Night Skiing at Hunter is something that’s always in the back of our minds here. It’s a possibility that is never ruled out, and is considered every year. When the opportunity is right, we’ll consider it very seriously. Once Hunter completes the Kaatskill Mountain Club and establishes a larger bed base, perhaps there will more of a demand for night skiing. Stay tuned!
180: Will hunter ever have more manmade intermediate bump trails like every other mountain is doing these days?
Sarah Nagel: This season, look for more manmade intermediate bump runs. I’ve been promised that Lower Crossover will be nice and bumped up for all of you mogul hounds this season.