Skiing is in full swing, get out there

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Photo by Bob Nesoff
Photo by Bob Nesoff

Overlook Lodge at the upper mountain level at New York’s Belleayre Ski Resort, provides a respite for skiers looking to have a hot chocolate…or something with a bit more of a kick.

This season has been a mixed bag for the skier so far. One day it tops 70 degrees and the next day your hair can freeze and chip off. Some areas in Vermont have been the recipients of copious amounts of snow and then watched as heavy rains cut the base down to ground level.

Fortunately it looks as though that has turned around and the opportunities for some terrific skiing are finally at hand.

For those who are looking for some blood pressure lowering activity, the time has arrived.

There are a couple of really nearby hills that can be visited for some easy downhill exercise to get your legs in shape. Some, such as Mt. Peter, offer a free ski lesson for first timers. One could assume that also includes snowboards.

Mt. Peter isn’t the only one with such an offer and you are best served by contacting the ski resort before heading up to see what specials, if any, they may have. Some will discount tickets during certain periods, but don’t expect much of that on weekends or holidays when ski resorts make much of their bundle for the season.

Three of the most easily reached areas are Belleayre, Hunter Mountain and Windham, all within about a half hour from the New York Thruway. They are off Exits 19, 20 and 21 respectively.

One minor word of caution here is that the roads leading to the ski resorts have speed limits that are frequently strictly enforced and some of the local cops like to pull out-of-state plates over, sometimes on what could only be described as “…a really vague violation.” They go on the assumption that you will not show up for the hearing and they can collect by default, thus adding to the local municipal budget without annoying the residents.

That being said, follow the speed limit and don’t break any laws and you should be safe.

Belleayre has made a major change in its operations this year. It had been operated by the New York State Department of Environmental protection for many years. It is now participating in the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority that also includes Gore Mountain and Whiteface at Lake Placid.

The ORD was formed in 1980 to promote use of the facilities that had been developed for the winter Olympics in the area and has grown to include Belleayre and Gore.

Belleayre somehow survived being run by a state agency and has developed into one of the better and more popular ski areas in a day’s radius of North Jersey and New York City. Over the years it has added new facilities and lifts, such as the Super Chief, that keep lift lines moving and waiting times short.

The Super Chief was a welcome addition as it gave more proficient skiers and opportunity to go from top to bottom on the mountain without the need to hike from the lower lifts to the lift serving blue and black trails. The “Chief” is easily reached and moves a ton of people.

Belleayre is basically divided into the Lower Mountain and the Upper Mountain. Parking is more than ample and the area does stop selling tickets when it is determined that they’ve reached max capacity. This is a rare incident and usually only happens on a major holiday.

The lodges here are basic and tend to get crowded. As with any lodge putting your gear on a table does not reserve the space for you. If you aren’t there, anyone can move the stuff onto the floor or a ledge and sit down.

Belleayre also tends to be less expensive than other areas and that is a draw. But the bottom line is that if the experience is not a good one, the price will not bring people in.

Belleayre has extensive snowmaking equipment and it is in use whenever temperatures permit. It has one of the higher elevations and that produces a lot of natural snow.

The ski school here is the equal to virtually any other and has turned out a lot of skiers eager to show their proficiency. Located just to the right of the lower lodge, the ski school is convenient and can move learners down a slope to the lift without terrorizing them.

Give your cardio system a present and get out, enjoy the clean mountain air and ski.