Monday, October 3, 2011

Season Preview Outtakes: Gore Mountain

Following is the first in a series of interviews with Adirondack ski area personnel. In this post, I talk with Gore Mountain's marketing manager, Emily Stanton. I've intentionally omitted the parts that have already appeared in my Season Preview article on

Jeff: The snowmaking improvements this year are really impressive. Can you give an update on the status of the 30 additional guns that are slated for Showcase and Wild Air?

Emily: They have not been ordered, however they have been prioritized. There is still time, and we are hoping that order gets approved.

Jeff: What details can you give on the new terrain at the Ski Bowl?

Emily: There will be two new black diamond glades located north of the Hudson Chair. The northernmost glade will be named Ski Bowl Glade. The glade closer to the lift line will be named Hudson Glade. It will follow some of the historic Ski Bowl terrain, and will also provide a by-pass to 46er. They’re both going to be really nice, clean glades.

Jeff: Speaking of 46er, will that trail get snowmaking for this winter? You have the pipe on hand, right?

Emily: Not this year. It’s not as much of a priorty until we get some of our other infrastructure upgrades further along, including snowmaking and opening up more routes to and from the Ski Bowl and Burnt Ridge, to increase people’s ability to get there efficiently. As for the snowmaking pipe, the pipe that we have on hand isn’t specifically for 46er.

Jeff: Where does the Ski Bowl fall in terms of snowmaking priority?

Emily: With the new high-efficiency guns, not only will we be able to make more snow, but we’ll be able to reallocate some of our existing inventory of guns to other parts of the mountain. So while the new guns don’t have a direct impact on the Ski Bowl, it means we’ll be able to get to other areas like the Ski Bowl sooner. Keep in mind the gondola will always be our first lift to open and the first trails to receive snowmaking. From the gondola we expand as quickly as we can to other areas of the mountain. Typically Topridge is next – or even simultaneous with the gondola - and then we move to the summit. From there we expand out to Burnt Ridge and the Ski Bowl.

Jeff: Are you pleased with the interconnectedness of the new terrain?

Emily: I appreciate you asking me that question. Historically, the Cloud traverse used to be our biggest customer service problem. But the development of the Topridge area allowed us to create a work-around to that traverse. And just as we created a work-around to the Cloud flats when we opened Topridge and Tannery, we will continue to develop work-arounds to improve access to and from other areas like Burnt Ridge and the Ski Bowl. We did work on the Cedars trail two years ago, and we’ve improved access to Cedars from Echo. And of course people can now use the Ski Bowl and Hudson Chair as their base and avoid Cedars entirely. We will always have a big list of projects to accomplish, but we’ll get there eventually. For instance, the Hedges trail will eventually improve access to Twister from Burnt Ridge, but it requires more blasting than we are currently able to do. It’s a matter of prioritizing these improvements along with the snowmaking, lifts and other projects.

Jeff: Speaking anecdotally as well as from my own experience, it seems families and snowboarders have the most difficulty with the traverses, while for advanced skiers it’s basically no big deal.

Emily: We are a mountain who wants to be family friendly and snowboard friendly. We recognize that people want to get around the mountain efficiently, and we want people to know that we’re aware of those difficulties and working to improve the experience.

Jeff: Mid-week skiers often encounter terrain and lift closures: the High Peaks chair, North quad, Burnt Ridge quad and Hudson chair. Could some changes be made to the operating schedule that would open more terrain mid-week, or make that terrain available on a more defined schedule?

Emily: We want to create a variety for skiers. For example, we may trade off running the North Quad with the High Peaks chair. The mid-week ticket price is less for a reason. We don’t charge as much partly because there’s not as much terrain available. The mid-week pass and the full-season pass are two separate products. That said, we offer the most terrain in the state of New York and we want to make it available regularly to all of our guests. So we will continue to rotate around, but we won’t have every lift running every day. From a demand, cost, and even environmental perspective it isn’t justified.

Jeff: The controversy over paid parking seems to have quieted down. Are you pleased with the way paid parking has worked over the past two seasons?

Emily: Yes. First, it’s optional. Second, we’ve developed more parking areas, more shuttles, and we’ve improved the traffic flow through the drop-off area to make the parking experience better. People should recognize that improvements on the mountain are supported in part by the ancillary revenue sources like paid parking. Those funds are being directed right back into the mountain.

Jeff: What kind of role do you see for Gore during the summer months and off -season?

Emily: Gore certainly wants to be, and is, a leader in community development, including offering a variety of activities for guests year-round. However, the winter season is our bread and butter, and with all of the improvements that have been made over the past several years, that’s where our focus needs to be right now. But with many of these improvements now under our belt, we may be able to give more attention to off-season activities. If the town continues to see this as a priority, we’d be happy to underwrite a plan with them. Many of the areas that we’ve been compared to, when criticized, have invested millions of dollars in water parks, zip lines, golf courses. And they have lodging right at the base to sustain those attractions. Furthermore, our gondola is not really a good destination for a summer scenic lift because it’s enclosed. So Gore is different in those regards.

Jeff: From what I’ve read, the Saratoga North Creek Railroad has gotten off to a successful start.

Emily: I know that during the summertime the train was regularly bringing in over a hundred visitors a day to North Creek. We're really excited about the ski train packages for this winter. This fall, we’re offering a scenic gondola ride package with the railroad. And speaking of our fall events, we’ve also got a Carl Heilman photography workshop this weekend (9/24) that’s already full, a 5K trail race the following weekend (10/1) with a lot of people already signed up, and our fall finale is the following weekend (10/8) with our Harvest Fest.

Jeff: A couple more quick questions. Will the Tannery Pub keep the red gondolas?

Emily: Yes, but it will be completely renovated. The lodge renovations are really great: the deck, the patio and the Tannery restaurant.

Jeff: How about a web-cam at the lodge or at the top of the gondola?

Emily: Probably not this year.

Jeff: Thanks very much, I really appreciate your time.

Emily: You’ve got me really psyched for ski season now!


  1. Thanks for the insight, tho I don't exactly agree with all the answers, i.e. midweek operating schedule.

  2. Pathetic that Gore refuses to put up a webcam.
    It really costs very little money.
    Most every other ski area in the world has one.

  3. I don't personally rely on webcams much myself - you just can't see all that much in most webcam views. BUT... since just about every ski area has one, I agree that it seems difficult to justify NOT having one.

    As for mid-week ops, I'm in agreement with the commentor above. But given the state's budget issues, I'm not expecting the mid-week schedule to change anytime soon.

  4. I've opted out of my midweek pass until Gore gives us more terrain. Im not looking for every lift, but there's no reason more of the mountain cant be open. Till then, I'll be skiing wednesdays and at Killington. I feel that an extra half hr each way is worth being able to ski alot more of the mountain.

  5. Thanks, Jeff, for the interview. One question I would ask Emily is why there is no free wifi available at the Base Lodge. You can get it thru Adirondack Internet, but it is crazy expensive. You'd think the $5k I spend at Gore every year would get me a simple wifi connection; it is 2011, right? Seems archaic. Just my 2 cents.