Hunter Mountain (ski area)
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Snowboarder at Hunter Mountain
|Location||Hunter, New York, U.S.|
|Nearest city||Albany, New York|
|Vertical||1,475 feet (450 m)|
|Top elevation||3,200 ft (975 m)|
|Base elevation||1,600 ft (488 m)|
|Skiable area||240 acres (97 ha)|
|Longest run||2 mi (3.2 km)|
|Lift system||9 chairlifts; 1 J-Bar; 1 rope tow|
|Snowfall||85 in (216 cm)|
From its inception in the late 1950s, the management of Hunter Mountain has employed extensive snowmaking facilities. Hunter was the first ski destination in the state of New York to install snow-making, the first in the world with top-to-bottom snow-making, and the first in the world to have 100-percent snow-making coverage of the mountain.
During the mid-50’s a group of local businessmen, including Orville, Karl Plattner Sr. and Israel Slutzky, developed plans to revive the area's economy after the Great Depression, World War II and the decline of Catskills tourism had caused long-term economic distress. The sport of skiing was becoming popular, and the group considered developing Hunter Mountain as a ski resort. After a failed lobbying attempt to get the state to develop a new ski area on Hunter Mountain, the group contacted Denise McCluggage, a sports editor at the New York Herald Tribune. They told her they had a mountain to give away to any developer who would build a ski area called Hunter Mountain on it. McCluggage wrote an article that attracted the interest of a group of Broadway show-business people.
This group created the Hunter Mountain Development Corp., which was the first operator of Hunter Mountain. Headed by James Hammerstein, the son of Oscar Hammerstein II, the group included many Hollywood and Broadway stars of the time. With Orville and Izzy Slutzky providing most of the land and their firm I. & O.A. Slutzky providing the construction, ground was broken to develop the ski area in the summer of 1959. The area was given to the group to operate with two stipulations: that it be called “Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl” and that it have snowmaking capabilities, which was a relatively new technology at the time.
On January 9, 1960, Hunter Mountain opened for the first time with the original “B” Lift in operation. The original “A” Lift was under construction and was not completed in time for the first season. The old Starr Hotel served as the first base lodge, located just below the old Ski and Snowboard School administration building. When the Hunter Mountain Development Corp. went bankrupt by the middle of the 1961/62 season the Slutzky brothers took over the operation.
During the summer of 1962, the “A” lift was completed. This opened up the skiing to the summit. Over the next several years, many new trails were cut, including the opening of the Belt Parkway and the construction of the Upper Shop, and more snow-making was installed. In the summer of 1963, Hunter opened for summer skiing on plastic chips. Summer skiing lasted only a few years. During the winter of 1963/64, Hunter Mountain opened for night skiing for the first time. Night skiing was discontinued in 1972.
In the summer of 1964, construction of the present-day base lodge began, which opened on December 12, 1964, featuring a 300-seat dining room, an indoor swimming pool, sauna, health club, and massage rooms. The "D” Lift opened in December 1967, the first triple chair at Hunter Mountain. Also that winter, Hunter Mountain became the first area in the world with summit to base snow-making with the completion of snow-making lines to the summit. Also at this time the “East Side” was developed including K-27 (34 degrees, steepest run on the mountain), East Side Drive and The Milky Way.
In the summer of 1969, construction of the trails on Hunter West began. It was opened with the “Z” Lift for the season. That summer, the Summit Lodge was constructed. The first Hunter Summer Festival took place in July 1975 with the ten-day German Alps Festival. Under the direction of Don Conover and his family, the festivals grew steadily each year thereafter. The Colonel’s Hall was added to the base lodge in the summer of 1977. In addition, the Mini-Lodge in Hunter One was constructed. The Mini-Lodge has since been removed. In 1980, Hunter Mountain became the first ski area in the world to feature snow-making on 100 percent of its trails.
December 1983 saw the opening of the Sushi Bar in the Summit Lounge. In the summer of 1987, The SnowLite Express Quad was built along with the West Wing and CopperTree Restaurant addition to the base lodge.
In 1989, Hunter became the first area in the U.S. to install an automated snow-making system. The system installed on Racer’s Edge by York International was and still is operated remotely from the Upper Shop. This year also saw the completion of the first LiftSide condominiums. Construction and development continued into the 90’s, with lifts, trails and shops added to the complex. During the summer 2010, the resort acknowledged the need to replace the aging AA- Snowlite Express and decided that a high speed six person chairlift from Leitner-Poma would be the replacement. It was completed by opening day for the 2010–2011 season. Also new to the season were the Mid Mountain Tour and the Adventure Tower, operated by Zipline New York. 150 new snow guns were also added for the 2010–2011 season. The summer of 2011 also saw some major changes, including another 150 new snow guns and miscellaneous improvements to the terrain park. The biggest improvement was the installation of a new high speed quad on the west side to replace the Z and Y lifts. The new lift, named the Zephyr Express, was the former AA- Snowlite Express, which had undergone extensive renovations and new station designs.
Orville Slutzky died on April 18, 2013 at the age of 96.
- Base: 1,600 ft (490 m)
- Summit: 3,200 ft (980 m)
- Vertical drop: 1,600 ft (490 m)
- Skiable area: 240 acres (97 ha)
- Number of Trails: 58, beginner 30% intermediate 30% advanced 27% expert 13%
- 1967: Hunter became the first area in the world to feature summit to base snowmaking
- 1980: First area to achieve 100% snowmaking coverage
- 2006: Over 1,100 snow machines installed. Most of the snowguns are mounted on towers to insure the maximum amount of "air time" for falling snow to freeze. Hunter has enough air and water available to run half of the snowmaking arsenal at once under marginal snowmaking conditions.
Hunter Mountain's grooming fleet consists of four LMC 4700s and three Pisten Bully Edges for normal grooming operations, in addition to a PB300 Winch Cat for grooming steeper slopes. A Pisten Bully (Snowcat) Park Bully and Pipe Magician used in the Empire Park and Half Pipe round out Hunter's grooming fleet. Hunter also has one LMC 3900 for use in the Snowtubing park.
Each grooming machine is equipped with flexible roto-tillers which produce a more consistent, smooth surface than straight tillers. The concept of the flex tiller originated at Hunter Mountain and was realized through a joint effort between LMC and Hunter Mountain. Flexible tillers are now used worldwide. Hunter still owns and operates the first two-piece and three-piece snow tillers ever produced, as well as the only four-piece tiller ever made.
Hunter has a Pipe Magician that is designed for cutting the walls and floor of a Half Pipe.
In 2006, Paul Slutzky, son of co-founder Orville Slutzky, claimed that privately owned ski areas such as Hunter Mountain do not "operate on a level playing field in New York State" against state-supported areas such as Belleayre.
- http://www.huntermtn.com/huntermtn/siteassets/files/news/general-release.pdf Hunter unveils first six-passenger lift in NY State
- http://www.huntermtn.com/huntermtn/info/press_2011-2012_zephyr.aspx Hunter to Unveil New High Speed Quad on the West Side for 2011/12 Season.
- Hunter Mountain Shiobara, official website.
- Mountain News Industry Report, "The Party Rolls On In The Catskills," July 24, 2006