Polar Peak Ski Bowl, NY

Over the summer, we encountered a character on Facebook named Snowmaker Seven. He was an outspoken snowrider from New York who — we assumed — worked at Catamount or in the Catskills.

Polar-Peak-Night-Skiing

Earlier this month, he declared online: “Summers been fun but it’s time to test the snowmaking system! Bring on winter 2013-2014!” Curious, we pushed for information on his home hill. His response: “I work at Polar Peak in Columbia County!”

This got our curiosity up. Way up. Students of the map of New York and yet we barely knew of Columbia County, much less Taghkanic, NY. We found the location with the help of Google maps and tracked down Polar Peak’s website. A fascinating story emerged.

Polar-Peak-1994-Snowmaking

At the ages of 9 and 11, Tom Herishko and his older brother Mark (aka Snowmaker Seven) got the idea to build a ski area on their father’s farm.

Before either graduated from high school, they had cleared trails, built a surface lift, installed snowmaking and constructed a base lodge.

Polar-Peak-Base-Area

Polar Peak is a private ski hill with 114 feet of vertical drop and a southern exposure. The lower portion of the hill below mid-station provides good beginner and lower intermediate skiing and riding.

Above mid-station is the steeper terrain. The longest trail, the Polar Run, meanders a quarter mile from the summit to the base area.

Polar-Peak-Ski-Bowl

The story of Polar Peak Ski Bowl has several fascinating aspects including the relationship the boys developed with the king of New York snowmaking, Israel Slutzky.

Izzy became a mentor, first inviting the boys to tour Hunter Mountain in the early 1990s, showing them the snowmaking plant and sharing spare parts from their legendary arsenal.

Polar-Peak-Snowboarding

Also notable is the length of the Polar Peak season. The hill often opens in early November and closes in April. In the spring of 2013, The Peak had its first May closing, spinning the Summit Express for the last time on May 1, a full nine days after Whiteface closed on April 21.

This season Mark was the first snow rider to enjoy lift-served ski area in New York, making turns at Polar Peak on November 4.

10 comments on “Polar Peak Ski Bowl, NY

  1. Charming story. Kinda reminds me of the kids on HR who used to make their own snow. Was it Connor and/or TBatt ? They’re very enterprising.

    In Glens Falls, way back in the day, a family used to have a sled/ski hill in their back yard that they let others use. It seemed to get good use. Kids would knock on the back door and a hand would reach out, grab the electric cord, pull it inside and plug in the rope tow for them.

  2. I have been following this story for years. They have always been good about keeping up their web site. It was/is the dream for many of us. I think I read about Polar Peak in Skiing magazine. I just checked the site. They were mentioned in the Mar/Apr 1993 Skiing. polarpeak.com.

  3. I think what you guys have done with that little area is nothing short of incredible! Keep up the great work that you do over there. I am also intrigued by your association with the Slutzky Family and Hunter Mountain. You’re a true inspiration to any kid or adult, for that matter including myself, who has ever tried to make snow in their own back yard.

    You both have certainly taken it to the next level for sure.

  4. Almost sure I’ve seen the area from the Taconic… maybe 15 or so miles south of Hudson? Of course, back then I thought it was a mirage. Nice scoop!

  5. Hi everyone! Thanks for the positive comments on Polar Peak.

    x10003q, you’re right! We were in Ski in 1993 and Skiing around the same time, I think the skiing article was a smaller one, I think I just found that article again this past summer.

    Ml242, that’s about right, we are a little less than 11 miles southeast of Hudson, probably can see it from the Taconic if you look close enough.

    Jamesdeluxe, the cost for us to make snow is about $22/hr. About 90% of that cost is to compress the air (air compressor rental and fuel for it). To keep cost down (operation and infrastructure) we run a low pressure system (<110 psi). This is pretty uncommon nowadays. This allows us to keep snowmaking affordable, however it prevents us from becoming very efficient by using HKDs and other low energy external mix snow guns.

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