Category Archives: Hunter
In April of this year the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) unveiled the most recent unit management plan (UMP) for Belleayre Ski Center. It included a recommendation for $74M in upgrades over the next several years. At the same time they released a revision of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Belleayre Resort development.
The UMP for the Belleayre Ski Center calls for the construction of three new lifts, refurbishing two others, cutting 16 new ski trails (primarily at Highmount) and upgrading the ski center’s snowmaking infrastructure. The plan also includes a new lodge, expansion of both the Discovery and Sunset Lodges and several parking lots.
In its current form, the Belleayre Resort project includes plans for two hotels, 270 hotel rooms, 250 fractional units and an 18-hole golf course. The most recent proposal is about half the size of the original and would be privately funded.
The EIS estimates that the Belleayre Resort would create 771 full-time and seasonal jobs with $25M in annual payroll. It’s also estimated that an additional 264 jobs would be created from the economic impact of the resort. Precise numbers aside, no one would argue the point: this public and private investment is going to produce economic development along the “Onteora Trail.”
Orville Slutzky was born in 1917 and developed a love for skiing early in life. Raised on a farm in the Catskills, he and his brother Israel made their own skis and slid down the gentle slopes of the farm owned by their father Isaac.
In the 1950’s the sport of skiing was gaining popularity in New York. A group of businessmen, lead by Orville and his brother Israel, developed plans to create a ski resort at Hunter Mountain. When plans to work with New York state didn’t materialize, the brothers sought other investors to advance the project. They created the Hunter Mountain Development Corporation, the first operator of the ski area.
The brothers were pioneers in snowmaking technology which was new at that time. The Slutzky Brothers’ Construction Company built the resort from the ground up. On January 9, 1960, Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl opened for the first time.
The Hunter Mountain Development Corporation faced adversity and bankruptcy. But the Slutzky brothers were not deterred. In the middle of the 1961-62 season Orville and Israel took full control of the ski area.
The brothers were relentless innovators, always willing to try new things. In 1964 Hunter became the first area in the world with top-to-bottom snowmaking with the completion of water lines to the summit. By the mid-1960s skier visits increased dramatically and the brothers reinvested profits to grow the business. New trails were cut and more snowmaking was installed. In 1980, Hunter Mountain became the first ski area to have snowmaking coverage on 100 percent of its trails.
The story of Hunter Mountain is a tale of determination and Orville Slutzky was a driving force behind skiing in New York State. Today Hunter is one of the most successful ski resorts in the northeast.
Orville’s Slutsky passed away peacefully, in the company of friends and family today at the age of ninety-six. He had an indomitable spirit and will be missed. A celebration of his life and funeral services will take place on Sunday, April 21, at 10 A.M. in the Colonel’s Hall of the main base lodge at Hunter Mountain.
NYSkiBlog sends our sincere condolences and best wishes to the Slutzkys and the entire Hunter Mountain family.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain.
I like spring skiing best of all. We get to strip off the layers, the sun is high in the sky, and the hard conditions of the winter transform to soft easy skiing. After a decent season for snow and snow making, Hunter was looking really good for the weekend.
Saturday was Hunter’s Beach Bash and Pond Skimming Costume Contest. The sun was shining and there were blue skies, but with temps in the high teens and a 25mph wind, Hunter was in midwinter form. When I arrived, there was a thin layer of ice on top of the skimming pond.
Yesterday I called in sick. I almost lost my job, but it was worth it.
It wasn’t clear to start the day that my gamble would pay off. Plattekill pulled the plug on a planned Powderdaize, when the sun rose on a disappointing three inches of frozen precipitation.
Fortunately NYSkiBlog HQ got me the information I needed and I traveled an exit farther north on the Thruway to Hunter Mountain where I met up with Lemmycaution and Scottski.
On my way in to grab a lift ticket, I ran into a Hunter employee and asked about the conditions. “They’re, um… interesting. Three inches of wind-effected sleet. I need to do some office stuff.”