AlpineZone Challenge 2007 – Jessica Pezak of Hunter Mountain

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. Jessica Pezak, Communications Director of Hunter Mountain in Hunter, New York, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 9/10/2007:

JimG.: The trees in between Milky Way and Lower K27 were well cleared out last season, probably due more to MTB trails than anything. Well, that was a nice little glade to get your feet wet in, great for my 2 oldest sons to learn to ski trees. I took them in there as much as possible while it lasted and the reward for my boys was they got good enough skiing trees to take advantage in early April at Wildcat when we got 3 great powder days in the trees. Hunter could use a few more gladed areas on the map. Intermediate/advanced pitch for newbies. Any plans?

Jessica Pezak: At this point, I am not aware of any plans to create new gladed areas, but we’re always trying new stuff. We have discussed glades at several points. We need permits to do these. We have had very little demand for this type of terrain, but we’ll take the question into consideration.

You saw some of the new moguled areas last year and the leftover CMS course on Midstation, so I wouldn’t totally count it out. From what I saw last year, our grooming guys have expressed some interest in experimenting with new features, so we’ll see what happens this season.

NJSkiBabe: Any chances for a lift to run all the way up to the top of High Line on Hunter One? It’s a great trail and not always open to the top.

Jessica Pezak: I think you are referring to The Highlands – they were not opened last winter, and When snow falls and cold temperatures permit we open over there. But last year was unique, we hope, and we’ll keep it in the plans to open as we do every year. Lifts are not in plans at the moment. May be in the future…

millerm277: Are there any plans to follow through with the proposed expansion that was often shown while you were selling the KMC timeshares, I can’t find the exact map, but it was similar to this.

Jessica Pezak: That depends on many different factors. Right now, we are planning on further expanding real estate (The Pinnacle condos will be open in November, and there is other construction going on). I think a lot of resorts have put things on hold due to the fact that last season was so unstable.

We’re also focusing a lot of energy more on the off-season, with better festival layouts, expanded mountain biking and other activities. We must drive revenue year round to be successful. Despite the fact that we have plenty going on year round, weather dictates our most lucrative season, and we have to keep an eye on that.

Greg: Jessica, we had a few questions regarding snowmaking. millerm277 asked, “While Hunter has some of the best snowmaking I’ve ever seen, there is always room for improvment, and some of the trails have very old snowguns, are there any plans for buying new guns/other upgrades to the snowmaking system?” dmc asked, “Hunter is having problems from the state getting approval to drain more water out of the Schoharie creek for snowmaking. Interesting thing is they want to use the creek from Oct 15th to April 15th. I can understand wanting the water in October to beef up November snowmaking, but April? So my question is – Is Hunter planning on snowmaking until April 15th?”

Jessica Pezak: The proposal for taking water from the Schoharie had more to do with taking it out, storing it, and then using it when we need to. It does not necessarily mean that we will stay open into April, but it does mean that when times are difficult, we will have that water to use for snowmaking. The meeting held at the resort showed unanimous consent throughout the town and neighboring areas.

As far as new guns and upgrades, that is constantly being done. As technology improves we continue to acquire guns. We do have some automated systems (Racer’s snowmaking system is automated), and may add more of those. If anything, the aforementioned water withdrawal will make a difference.

millerm277: The summit HSQ has been aging fairly rapidly, while I know there is a large amount of work being done on it this summer, are you thinking of replacing it or any other lifts? And if so, when would we expect this?

Jessica Pezak: At this time, we are not planning on replacing any lifts. We service our lifts over the summer, and we are aware that we will eventually have to replace some of the lifts. As I said before, we are really keeping our eyes on what happens this season with the weather.

dmc: With the KMC doing great and new condos going in at the top of the lodge. Seems like Hunter’s starting a village. Since there will be people staying around the lodge, Will the bar stay open later now?

Jessica Pezak: Ah, many people have asked this question. The answer is probably not. On one hand, it’d be nice to stay open later, but the area needs to be cleaned and locked down.

I think, personally, it’s also nice to send those people who want to continue drinking to other places, such as MacGreg or’s and O’Neill’s, so that local businesses can prosper throughout the season.

maplevalleymaster: Is there any chance that the “Z” lift may be replaced soon? I love the trails back there, but its a long lift.

Jessica Pezak: Please see question 5.

catskills: With the new lift side lodges, has Hunter Mountain become more of a destination resort? Although I personally like the higher 13 percent of double diamond trails at Hunter, the percentage of blue intermediate trails at Hunter is under 30 percent which is less than most ski areas. For example, Belleayre has over 55% blue intermediate and Windham has 45% blue intermediate. Obviously this means Hunter has a very different business model and is predominantly going after a different customer than Belleayre and Windham. Many of Hunter’s customers I would imagine are 10+ or 20+ day per year skiers that probably live here in AlpineZone. I would imagine, in general, a good percentage of Belleayre and Windham’s customers are the 5 to 10 day per year skiers. My question: Does Hunter have any plans to open up more blue intermediate trails in the future?

Jessica Pezak: Hunter distinguishes itself as a place of expert and advanced skiers. We have very diverse terrain. However, I will say that the Learning Center is a vital part of our mountain, as more and more people are coming here to learn to ski. At this point, we do not have plans to build new blue trails, but it definitely could be something to happen in the future, due to the sheer success of the Learning Center and the advent of learning to ski and ride at Hunter Mountain.

At the same time, we really cherish our history with advanced skiers and make it a priority to open the West Side and other areas for those long-time fans of our blacks and doubles. A large portion of our consumer base has a longstanding history here, and we really appreciate the opportunity to open trails like Annapurna for our other demographic.

skid bump: Heard there was a 3 mountain ticket for Bellearye, Windham, and Hunter this coming season. What a great way to do a long weekend only 2.5 hours from NYC. Any information?

Jessica Pezak: Unfortunately I do not see something like that in the cards for the three resorts this year. Hunter and Windham pair up for March Mountain Madness, but there will not be a 3-mountain ticket involving Belleayre. Last year, we paired up with Mountain Creek because they were really suffering from the poor weather in the beginning of the season – a lot of these spur-the-moment deals depend on weather and other circumstances

rjc1976: What on-mountain improvements is Hunter making this year? Anything new for the skiers and snowboarders?

Jessica Pezak: Hunter has released an array of new products. We’ve really kept our focus on new product offerings rather than on-mountain improvements (other than real estate, of course). I think after last season, we were presented with a great opportunity to improve our operations and create more attractive deals and features for our customers, and we took that challenge.

To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: width=