JOHNSBURG — This season, Gore Mountain Ski Area attracted more than 215,000 visitors that took advantage of more than 120 inches of natural snowfall.
The season is not done yet, either, as skiers take advantage of longer days and comfortable temperatures.
Gore Mountain Marketing Manager Emily Stanton said the mountain was on ski day No. 140 on Saturday and hopes to open next weekend as well.
The mountain saw an increase of visitors, 215,804 as of Friday, compared to 214,512 during the 2016-17 season, with less natural snowfall than last year, 145.5 inches. So far this season, 120.5 inches of snow has fallen, with the potential for more over the weekend.
“While the MLK and President’s holiday periods met us with some adverse weather which affected our numbers somewhat, our focus on strategic snowmaking/grooming and offering a variety of programs and events helped the season be a long and successful one,” Stanton wrote in an email.
Gore Mountain General Manager James “Bone” Bayse said season pass sales are ahead of forecast for next season.
Assistant General Manager Howie Carbone said the mountain has seen a 10 percent growth over the past three years.
Carbone said the mountain was named one of the top 10 best-kept secrets in New England for skiing, helping to build its brand.
He attributes this to world-class snowmaking and grooming as well as the Nordic Center’s success at the North Creek Ski Bowl.
UMP report details
The mountain recently amended its UMP report in January, which includes potential projects from trail widening to new lifts and trails and upgraded facilities.
Bayse said this summer’s projects will focus on widening of the beginner terrain on the lower mountain; expansion of the snowmaking pond; and adding a dedicated shuttle lane loop to speed up moving skiers to the base lodge area.
Another “hopeful” project includes expanding the base lodge to offer a venue for weddings, banquets and conferences, with additional locker room space on the ground floor.
Bayse said the expansion would be off the Tannery Bar. He said the project is still in the bidding process and designs have been made but not finalized.
Last summer, the mountain renovated the Saddle Lodge, turned the former gondola unloading station on the summit into the Straight Brook Lodge and expanded the Northwoods Lodge, at the base of the mountain, which houses ski rentals. This was all thanks in part to $20 million from New York state.
“It was so nice to welcome our guests to impressive renovations of the Summit, Saddle and Northwoods lodges this season. Those new amenities made such a difference,” Stanton said.
The North Creek Ski Bowl is owned by the town of Johnsburg, and Supervisor Andrea Hogan said more plans are in the works to expand mountain biking and the trail system.
Hogan said as a “community, we are incredibly excited about the future of the ski bowl.”
She touched on the town’s close relationship with ORDA. “We really have a lot happening, working closely with ORDA.”
Hogan said, “Grants are in the process, too, for mountain biking expansion this year.”
As for the big picture, Hogan said, “We look to have benefit added. Compliment whatever the weather throws at us.”
Other big plans at the Ski Bowl include a zip coaster, high ropes course and a summer and winter tubing site.
According to Carbone, the zip coaster is in the permitting phase. “We would love to pull the trigger,” he said.
Other proposals in the amended UMP report include relocating the Hudson Chair and trails at the Ski Bowl, but a land swap would be required with the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest.
Bayse said town land only requires Adirondack Park Agency approval for these projects and Gore wants to be good neighbors with Johnsburg. Bayse compared it to Whiteface’s relationship with the town of North Elba, which is home to the ski jumping facility.
This will all come down to funding, which comes from the state in two forms: operation and capital improvement funding.
“I have every confidence in Gore,” Hogan said.
Recently, the state approved $62.5 million for the three state-run ski facilities at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, Belleayre in the Catskills and Gore Mountain in Johnsburg.
The three mountains will split about $50 million for capital improvements, with the remaining $12.5 million to cover operational costs.
“The more economic impact we can show to the state, the better we are off,” Bayse said. “We also need to be careful of our spending and make the best decisions that they can.”
The economic impact is huge when it is broken down. The three state ski areas attribute $156 million to New York, according to the latest reports. They create more than 3,100 jobs and spin off more than $104 million to the economy.