SARANAC LAKE - Mount Pisgah Ski Center will welcome its first skiers and riders today.
The village-run ski center had been scheduled to open for the season on Dec. 17, but the opening had to be pushed back to today due to a brief spell of warm weather and rain.
Since then, Manager Charlie Martin said the mountain has rebounded nicely, thanks to some colder weather.
Mount Pisgah Manager Charlie Martin stands at the base of the mountain’s T-bar lift on Wednesday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"We've been making snow as much as we can the last few days," he said Wednesday. "I'm excited. I think we're ready."
Martin said the mountain's racing hill - the Suicide trail - has 14 inches of base. The main hill has a 5- to 10-inch base, but lost some snow Tuesday night when temperatures rose.
"We're hoping for some new snow, but we're good enough to open everything up and get things moving," Martin said.
The tubing hill, which also opens for the season today, has a 10- to 12-inch base.
Skiers and snowboarders will notice a few changes at the mountain this year, including a new season pass system. To buy a season pass, people will need to go to Mount Pisgah (not the village offices), and bring a photo of themselves or get their picture taken at the mountain. The season pass holder's information is entered into a database and a wallet-sized card with the photo on it is printed out. A barcode with an identification number is also printed on the back of the card.
The goal of the new system is to eliminate the bootlegging of season passes, which Martin said had been a problem in the past.
"We don't want to be the Gestapo, but we don't want to be giving passes away," he said. "This is a village mountain and it takes taxpayer money to run it."
On the mountain, crews have been designing new elements for Pisgah's terrain park.
"We've opened up an upper ramp, probably about 300 feet long, that leads to a set of jumps that will be new this year," Martin said. "The terrain park will also be in a dedicated area this year. We plan to keep the main face in good shape for all of our recreational skiers."
Martin said ski teams from Lake Placid and Saranac Lake schools, Northwood School and the New York Ski Educational Foundation will be training and competing on the racing hill this year. In February, Mount Pisgah will be hosting snowshoeing competitions as part of the locally run Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid.
Asked about marketing the mountain, Martin said they've been working on radio and newspaper advertising, upgrading Pisgah's website (www.saranaclakeny.gov) and creating a Facebook page for the ski center that had 275 friends as of mid-day Wednesday.
The biggest project Mount Pisgah has seen in years won't come until June, when work begins on a new T-bar lift. The village recently awarded a $374,769 contract to build and install the lift to Doppelmayr CTEC. A state grant and funds raised by the Friends of Mount Pisgah will be used to pay for it.
Meanwhile, Martin said his crews have put some work into the old T-bar, which will have to survive one more season.
"It's in really good shape," Martin said. "I think we'll get through the year better than we ever have."
Pisgah will be open for skiing Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The mountain will be closed on Mondays, and the tubing hill will be closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Discounted season pass rates have been extended to Dec. 30.