TUPPER LAKE - Volunteers at Big Tupper Ski Area are dreaming of a white weekend.
ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy) Chairman Jim LaValley said Thursday that if conditions permit, the ski center's rope tow will run for a weekend of free skiing on the Mighty Mite beginners' trail.
If that happens, Big Tupper will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Rentals will not be available.
A girl helps a novice snowboarder down the Mighty Mite slope in February 2012, the last winter Big Tupper Ski Area was open.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
"They're working feverishly right now to pack the surfaces," LaValley said. "We're working hard to make that happen for the kids."
LaValley said this weekend's forecasted warm-up, combined with a temperature plummet meteorologists predict for Monday, will help give the mountain the base layer of hard-packed snow that it needs. A foot or two of snow on top of that would get the rest of Big Tupper's lifts moving.
The main problem is that snow cover on the mountain is currently inconsistent.
"Depending where you are on the hill, it seems to range from zero to about 12 inches, and that's one of the issues with operating Chair 2," LaValley said. "We have exposed ledge rock, and the type of snow that's been falling gets blown around pretty easily. If we could gain about a foot or two - a good dumping of snow will get us there."
Chair 2 accesses about half the mountain and more than a dozen trails that range in difficulty from beginner to expert. LaValley said he was initially hoping to have Big Tupper open the day after Christmas, but now he's hesitant to set a date for the grand opening. That will be up to the weather.
"If something happened where the skies opened up, we'd open everything this weekend," LaValley said. "The ideal amount of snow is about 8 feet, but the ideal minimum for us is 18 to 24 inches."
ARISE is the nonprofit group responsible for overseeing operations at the ski center. Last winter the ski center was closed due to a lack of funding and snow. Last year, ARISE sold one of the the ski center's groomers, which gave the group a little extra cash.
To help maximize revenue, the ski center will be completely volunteer-run this winter. Day passes will cost $25. In the past, there have been up to four paid employees manning the center's 25-plus trails.
For more information, visit skibigtupper.org or call 518-359-3730.