ORDA to Spend $38 Million on Lifts in ’23

Citing a tight supply chain and manufacturer consolidation, the staff of New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority today requested board approval for seven major lift projects to be completed in 2023. Three state-run ski areas – Belleayre, Gore Mountain and Whiteface – each would receive new and upgraded lifts under the ambitious plan.

At Gore Mountain, bids are already in for replacing the Hudson triple with an extended detachable quad. The lowest bid came in at $8,761,520, though ORDA has not yet released the name of the winning manufacturer. This lift would operate year round and be accompanied by a new lodge. ORDA now also wants to replace Gore’s Bear Cub Poma in 2023. A replacement fixed grip chairlift would cost an estimated $3.5 million.

Four lift capital projects are proposed for Belleayre, the largest of which is a full replacement of Lift 7. A $6.5 million detachable quad would follow a modified alignment beginning near the top of the Lightning Quad. The Belleayre Express, a 16 year old detachable quad, would receive new operator houses and electrical systems at a cost of $1.7 million. Lift 8 is in line for a $400,000 upgrade and a new conveyor would round out $9+ million worth of lift projects at Belleayre.

The largest single project is at Whiteface, the largest vertical ski resort in the east. ORDA plans to build a two stage detachable quad from the Bear Den base area to mid mountain with an angle station along the way. This lift would cost a whopping $16.5 million due to the complex nature of the alignment.

The ORDA Board nearly unanimously approved resolutions for all projects to proceed as quickly as possible.

8 thoughts on “ORDA to Spend $38 Million on Lifts in ’23

  1. skitheeast April 19, 2022 / 10:22 am

    Gore: These are probably the only projects I like. Reimagining North Bowl is a good idea to make it actually useful, and a realigned detachable lift is a good start. I really hope $8.7 million includes snowmaking because that otherwise looks like it might be an all-time record for a detachable quad, and the snowmaking needs to vastly improve here if they are going to take it seriously and keep it open most of the season. Realistically, North Bowl is the perfect place to develop a spectacular pedestrian village because the land at the base is so underutilized and includes a county maintenance center, which is something that would truly allow Gore to compete with Vermont for NYC skiers, but knowing ORDA that will not happen.

    Whiteface: The Bear Den two-stage detachable is an incredible waste of money. For starters, making it a two-stage lift at all instead of a regular lift is questionable. Also, Bear Den is great as its own learning area and Whiteface’s main base does not have the traffic to desperately need a reliever. If they really want to make them feel more connected, a pulse gondola like Taos installed would be perfect. Freeway and Mountain Run/Little Whiteface are the lifts most in need of a replacement, and Lookout Mountain needs more trails cut before anything is touched elsewhere. If ORDA is looking at ~$6-8 million per normal detachable quad, they could do all three of the projects I just mentioned with the same $16.5 million they are spending.

    Belleayre: Making Lift 7 detachable is overkill. Even realigned, it is too short, and Lift 8 and Belleayre Express can effectively serve all of the upper mountain trails. Looking at the map, it seems as though they are planning for two lifts to move into the old Highmount Ski area, which is actually a good idea given their northern exposure and elevation above ~2200 feet. I would much rather see the $6.5+ million being spent here.

    If I were a competitor to any of these three mountains, I would be so thankful that these places are so poorly run, because competent management plus absurdly high capital injections would make them unstoppable.

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    • Edwin Dubroff April 19, 2022 / 11:21 am

      The reason for the 2 stage detachable is that there is a law so whiteface can only have 25 miles of trail. that’s the reason for the 2 stage detach as it cuts less trees.That is the same reason there are not more trails off of lookout,as they are reaching there limit

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ne_skier April 19, 2022 / 3:31 pm

    My favorite part of this plan is Belleayre referring to a porta-potty as a “prefabricated freestanding restroom”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Munier Salem April 20, 2022 / 9:22 pm

    There was some really great decision-making at Gore and Whiteface from the late 90s through roughly 2010. The two new gondolas were transformational: it made Whiteface tolerable in cold weather and allowed folks to lap the truly world-class terrain and vertical better. And it better connected Gore’s awkwardly disparate terrain pods and eliminated a lot of traversing.

    The money they spent went into terrain expansions and faster service on core pods. They got creative with limited resources: when Facelift replaced a pair of lifts at Whiteface, Gore got the leftovers and created an awesome new terrain pod off of the Topridge Triple. The decisions were always first and foremost about skiing. Gore added over a dozen new glades and craggy lift-line trails … any pocket of woods or abandoned lift line was fair game.

    Then there were the big game changers: the Lookout Triple, Burnt Ridge Express, the Hudson Chair. Entire new pods of terrain, with serious vertical, ample glades, and varied terrain for all abilities. They built lifts that made sense: the Hudson Chair didn’t need to be a giant detachable, it could be a triple from Partek.

    Now ORDA’s decision-making doesn’t seem to have much of anything to do with the skiing experience. It’s just “how much money can we spend on capital projects”? It’s pork belly in its purest form, likely driven by decision-makers in Albany with little appreciation for these amazing mountains. And despite all the capital spending, they don’t seem too keen on operations. How often does the main black diamond under Lookout open? Why not go for early opens and late closes at Whiteface? When’s the last time you saw any sort of creative or compelling marketing from these mountains? Why don’t they coordinate more with local lodging providers? (near-mountain lodging is the Achilles heel of the two Adirondack resorts).

    As for Belleayre, New York doesn’t have any business owning a ski mountain in the Catskills. There are private resorts perfectly capable of turning a profit in this region (despite New York State shoveling money into the place).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark April 21, 2022 / 1:08 pm

    I’m trying to figure out how a very short, beginner chair traversing the most minimal angle terrain can cost $3.5M. This is to replace a short Poma. A surface lift is sufficient and a fixed grip double will handle the passenger load for this one trail lift.

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    • pbropetech April 21, 2022 / 1:40 pm

      Lifts have really increased in price lately, and I imagine this is the total project cost which will include surveying, grading, removal of the old lift, purchase and installation of the new lift. The equipment itself won’t be $3.5 million.

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    • Peter Landsman April 21, 2022 / 1:55 pm

      The new lift is going to be quite a bit longer than the Poma. ORDA’s RFP says 2,060′ x 253′ with a capacity of 2,000 people per hour.

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  5. Edwin Dubroff April 22, 2022 / 8:18 am

    People may hate on ORDA but Belleayre Gore and Whiteface are all open today outlasting all the competition and a good amount of west coast mountains

    Like

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