It has been a good winter for skiing. In the grand scheme of things, that may be a trivial thing but there it is. I’ve been a nomad this winter. I skied more then ten different hills, including four new ones. Of course nothing lasts forever. The seasons change and we must move on. With the warm weather and impending rain, giving up on the ski season this weekend would have been understandable. But I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
I wanted to keep skiing. Until Saturday, I hadn’t included any ORDA mountains in my ‘20/‘21 ski odyssey so I figured it was a good time to take a break from exploring and retrace the well worn path to Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills.
I made it to the hill in plenty of time to be booted up and ready to go when the Tomahawk Quad started loading at nine. My sons were both occupied with other things so I was on my own for the day. Because I wasn’t sure how cold it had gotten overnight I did not know what conditions to expect. I had no expectations except that I would get to ski.
The hill was shrouded in mist when I reached the top. I figured there would be corduroy to carve up, whether it was hard from an overnight freeze or pre-softened. On the other hand, if the whole mountain was an ice rink I would make do with that and have a good time.
What I found on my first foray down Deer Run was something in between. The hill had not come through the week unscarred but Belleayre’s groomers made the best of it. There was some dirt and there was some boiler plate but I found decent corduroy too.
I zoomed to the bottom of the Tomahawk and hopped back on, then spent the morning skiing around that end of the resort. There were plenty of sporty spots. The top of Peekamoose was melted out almost entirely with only two narrow entrances still connected on either side of the trail. I guess it must have deterred others because the snow below remained good all morning. I returned there for multiple runs.
Late in the morning, as the patches of boilerplate softened to puddles of slush, I made my way over towards Belleayre Run, where there are usually moguls to be found. I had to get out of my skis on one of the connector trails so I could cross over some running water but I made it. Lift seven was not running so I continued down past the Overlook lodge to the Superchief Quad.
The chair ride up revealed that there were indeed bumps to be found on Belleayre Run. Many of them showed dirt in the troughs between them but they looked skiable. Belleayre Run was fun but I enjoyed Watanuska more- I’m not sure why.
I did a couple more runs on the Super Chief and then made my way down to the bottom of the gondola to catch a ride back to the other side of the hill. I had to click out again for another water crossing. After another run down Peekamoose, I took a break in my car in the Tomahawk lot.
The recharge did me good. I spent the rest of my day back where I’d started, skiing off the Tomahawk, with a couple cruiser runs down Deer Run to the gondola for variety. Mostly I skied Seneca and Peekamoose. It was adventurous skiing for sure.
I am actually impressed that Belleayre left as much open as they did, given the weather challenges. This time of year, I try not to be critical. I consider myself lucky to still have snow to ski on, lucky to be a skier really. Maybe Saturday was my last day of the year. If it was I have no complaints.
17 comments on “Belleayre: Not Giving Up”
It is actually the Belleayre Express Quad now!
Belleayre is doing a really remarkable job keeping the hill going long after most would have called it. I was there yesterday and every trail off the top remained open in spite of huge gashes down every one. Really impressive how ORDA keeps things going so long. As a bonus, the snow was soft and no one was there. Glad you got after it.
I was there on Saturday as well. Conditions were certainly “interesting.” I thought that Peekamoose was the best run. Snow was surprisingly enjoyable too bad you had to take off skis near the Tomahawk to get to Lower Deer Run and the narrow stony pass by the Overlook lodge surely did a number on a lot of skis.
As a predominately VT, NH and ME skier I managed to try five new NY places this season: Whiteface, West, Greek Peak, Plattekill and Thunder Ridge. Additionally I did repeat visits to Gore, Belleayre and Windham. New York has a lot to offer and I’m glad you are showcasing the variety. I also discovered night skiing for the first time this year. I liked it so much I picked up clear lenses for my goggles.
I hate to admit this but the last time I skied Belleayre it was only $10 to get in.
Having moved to Michigan 25yrs ago I do miss New York State skiing.
If I ever win lotto I will reopen Silvermine ski area, where it all started for me.
I am a Plattekill skier, at Belleayre, it is April 1 & it is not April fools. There is fresh powder on Deer Run but ice on on dot Nobel trail. Only 2 current trails open but any day open is a good day on the mountain.
Your story and photos reminded me of a warm January 1st at Belleayre many years ago, when I was first learning to ski. Glad you had a good day!
“New York has a lot to offer and I’m glad you are showcasing the variety.”
David… at the beginning of this season we saw an opportunity and went for it. We really upped our NY coverage this year with several “new to our front page” ski areas. (Thanks primarily to Robert, Brownski and Stu.) Glad you enjoyed it.
Will you be back full time in VT, NH and ME next year, or will you consider NY too?
Thanks Harvey, yes, Whiteface, Gore, and Plattekill will be part of my permanent line-up. The NYSKI3 pass worked out really well and having Greek Peak on the Indy Pass was terrific too. A lot depends on which pass product I pick up next year but Whiteface/Gore are definitely on the itinerary for next season. The Lake Placid area is beautiful and provided the backdrop for my favorite trip this year. I’ve also loved Gore since it was on the Max Pass (remember that) many years ago. This year it was off the charts when I went.
Sweet write up Brown! Only time I was there was a long time ago with as coaching lower level racers from Hunter, I imagine they took the “reigns “ from Hunter with their mountain management being old school, workers not afraid to get dirty or keeping trails or the mountain closed for “skiers safety “ which is BS as skiing is a risky sport , keep up the awesome writing !
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never…
I was there on Tuesday 3/30/21, beautiful sunny day. Belleayre has always been my end of the season go to. It didn’t disappoint although things were really getting thin around the side of the Overlook Lodge on the way to the Express/Superchief lift. Hoping for one more day before they close.
Great write-up. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve enjoyed my outings to The Belle this year. The crew has done an admirable job there.
Lucky you, have fun ?
This past Saturday was amazing after a cold Thurs/Fri. Even some pow from Thursday. Snuck over to Yahoo for a helluva smooth ride. Open tomorrow and Tues. Wish I was still up there.
How did the lodge look? It was hit by a slush avalanche around Christmas.
Many good memories of Onteora High School ski races at Belleayre with coaches Barthel and later Thompson.
Don’t recognize the new lift system now and miss halcyon days at nearby Highmount.
Thanks for the feedback as always folks. Mike, the lodge looks remarkably good, considering what hit it last year. They put it back together like new.