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Belleayre skiers looking for advice on Hunter

trapedui

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My daughters are in a weekend program at Belleayre, so we are in the Catskills every weekend, but have never been to Hunter. In fact, now that we have season passes at Belleayre, we rarely go anywhere else. I would guess that my 10 y/o has skied about 75 days in her life. I think she has skied Windham twice and Thunder Ridge twice. Every other day has been at Belleayre.

While we all enjoy Belleayre (especially yesterday), I have wanted to ski at Hunter for years and now my wife and daughters are expressing interest as well. This year, we will be in the Catskills for Presidents' Week, so we thought we would give it a shot on Wednesday or Thursday (2/22 or 2/23). I try to avoid buying lift tickets at other mountains when we have a season pass, but I am willing to spend $200+ to add a little variety to our ski season.

We will probably end up making a gametime decision. If conditions are lousy at both mountains that week, we will save our money and just ski Belleayre. But if mid-week conditions and Hunter sound promising, we will give it a shot.

The girls are 7 and 10 y/o and are both strong skiers. They can competently ski all the terrain that Belleayre has to offer. My wife learned to ski as an adult and can handle Belleayre's single blacks, like Dot Nebel and Wanatuska, but she is most comfortable on blue trails like the bottom half of Seneca, Dot Nebel and Belleayre Run.

I have been studying the Hunter trail map and I'm not really sure how to best plan our day. Ideally, we would like to ride up on the lift together almost every time, while spiltting up occasionally on the way down.

So, based on the info I provided, does anyone have any advice for us? Do you think my wife will be OK on Hunter's single black diamonds? Are they comparable to Belleayre's single blacks? I imagine she will enjoy Belt Parkway, but she won't want to do the same run all day. How do the double blacks of Hunter East compare to Belleayre's double blacks. If my daughters enjoy Onteora, will they be OK on Clairs? Any other advice for our first trip to Hunter?
 

thinnmann

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Any other advice for our first trip to Hunter?

Have not been there this winter, of course, so this is totally from prior experience:
  • Lock your skis.
  • Expect ice on the back side.
  • Trail intersections can be dangerous.
  • $59 tickets at Liftopia.com.

If it isn't crowded or icy, your girls should be fine on everything. But doesn't that go for anywhere?

Have fun!
 

catskillman

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Jimmy Huega and Drop off are relatively easy blacks and very underutilized.

Belleayre does not offer anything close to Clairs, Racers, and Lower K27 which will be your ony double diamonds open next week.

D lift offers blue/black/and double black runs down so you can all ride the chair together.

Hunter has a day each season where passholders from other mountains can ski for free, give them a call for the details.

Enjoy
 

legalskier

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I did a trip report here on Hunter yesterday with some pics of the steepest trails, like Lower K-27, Clare's Way, Upper Crossover and Racer's Edge (http://forums.alpinezone.com/showthread.php?p=692269#post692269). Those are extremely challenging double black diamonds, especially when bumped up, which is most of the time.
The main difference between Belle and Hunter IMHO is that Hunter's black diamonds are longer than Belleayre's, and some are steeper (the double blacks). Usually they are completely bumped, but sometimes not- like yesterday. Also, because their trails originally were blown out of the side of the mountain, many trails have rock cliffs on one side and wood fences on the other. You can check out the west side by taking Way Out (a single black) to the bottom of Clare's Way, then taking the ZE lft back up. If you don't like it, just get off at the top and head back to the main mountain. One route I like is Minya Konka to Lower Cossover to either F lift going back up, or past F lift down to the Kaatskill Flyer lift. D lift is next to Flyer and takes you up to mid-station. Eisenhower reminds me of the pitch on Dot Nebel.
Yesterday was cold and icy so I suggest you go on a mild day way the snow softens up. It's much more enjoyable when the snow isn't so hard. Scope out the mountain and decide what you feel comfortable with.

[* said:
Use the Free ski check if you are concerned.
Used it yesterday- a very nice amenity. The dudes appreciate tips. ;-)
 
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JimmyPete

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Hunter during the week can be very good, even President's week , though it will be alittle more crowded, If the single blacks are groomed , as they have been all this year, your family should be able to handle them. Lower K 27 is narrow and tough and with this year's conditions probably best left alone. Clairs while steep , if they've blown and groomed , can be skied by any decent skier. This year the watch word has been get out early and get in early. Things have gotten real slick in the afternoon even with modest traffic.
 

gmcunni

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there is a free ski check but i waited in a line of 10 peeps to pick up my skis after lunch. if u have a lock already then you might find that easier.
 

holmes

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I skiid Belle all last year as it was my first year on skiis after nealry 30 years off.

This year I have a mid week pass to Huntah.

They've done a great job given the weather keeping most of the mountain open. If your family can hang on the upper half of Belleayer then they'll do well on hunter. Traffic can be concern, and the six pack lift can be a drag getting off when people are in the way.

The west side has been good this year, but Clairs was closed today. Too much Ice maybe. When it's crowded I will lay over on the F lift and get about 5-7 laps an hour. About 1000 verticle feet per run.

I prefer the feel of Belleayer as far as people and attitude, but I get a charge out of hunter. It skiis bigger.
 

oakapple

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Hunter is definitely a more challenging mountain than Belleayre. Hunter's blues are fewer and less interesting, but there is enough there for a predominantly blue or "easy black" skier to have an enjoyable day.
 

ScottySkis

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Platekill is a great family hill you can get discount tickets to all NYC metro hills through Potter Brothers ski shop, they might open during the week of president week, it might have better choices for your family then Hunter.
 

goldsbar

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Most of Hunter's trails are like the top 200 vertical of Belleayre but the steepness goes for triple the length. The initial grooming isn't as good and the crowds can get a bit insane - probably not during the week as many schools don't have off the whole week and this year is light everywhere in general. Your wife may be more of the problem. The one long run like the runs at Bell you described is Belt Parkway. It's a great cruiser but it's also where 90% of the intermediates go.

It's a good mountain for an expert - especially when they let it bump up which is far less often than what I'd like. I generally go to Belleayre as there's no way as a parent I'd let my 4 & 6 y/o ski there.

Don't take this as discouragement - it's a close second to Plattekill for the best terrain with 100x the snowmaking capability.
 
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kingslug

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Don't let Hunters rep keep you away..is an old rep and things have changed for the better. They blow the best quality snow, so it doesn't turn into a sheet of ice. yes its crowded but this year attendance is off. I usually ski Mondays have been hitting it on Sundays lately and the wait is no more than 5 minutes, this could change pres week but only on the weekend. They have terrain for ALL abilities, its a great place to step up your game. Just got back from 2 days there. They blew most of the mountain but the wind took its toll, but I am sure they will blow again as this upcoming weekend will most likely be the last time. For Pres week they will groom everything so all runs should be in good shape...It is the only place I ski in the Cats except Plattekill, and I used to have a place right next Belleayre but got bored there. Check it out.
 

Scruffy

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The conditions and the crowds (weekends only really) make the difference, especially
if your family has grown up on Belleayre. I'd pick a midweek day for your first visit. Go early, it can get "skied off " around 2:00pm, the base is solid ice and by 2:00 it's exposed as the groomed snow on top get's pushed to the sides, I'm sure Belleayre is the same, but I have not been there this year. If your looking at the map on the Hunter web site, it can be a little confusing. The Beltway is the only blue down from the top, but it does not connect you really with any other trail where you could meet half way down so to speak, except Drop Off, but that almost at the end of the Belt. Jimmy Huga is a mild black, skis Blue really unless it's a sheet of ice, which can happen sometimes. There is a big intersection of trails mid mountain on the front where you see blue trails named Broadway, 7th Av. Hellgate, the Cliff, and Jimmy Huga all meet up there in a odd way. Your wife could ski Jimmy and meet you at the big intersection, you and the stong skiing kids could see Hellgate and Cliff. From the big intersection, there are options to ski together the rest of the way to the lift - Kennedy and Gun Hill are Blue. Eiesenhower is an easy black. Racers is steep, your wife would probably not like it. If you cut skiers right past the round Summit lodge you have 2 easy blacks; East Side Dr, and Minya Konka. You can take the F lift back to the summit off these, or ski past the F lift to Kennedy or the greens on skiers right ( although Madison Av is listed as blue it's really tame, it might be closed for racing though ). These are really going to be your only options to ski together.

Lower K27 right now is skiing really tough, you better love steep pure ice bumps. I ski it regardless, but it has reduced many of my advanced skier friends to tears since it got soaked with rain and froze up. If the temps are high 40s, it may soften up, still a challange.

Upper Crossover is pretty much the same story as Lower K, except it's not as steep.

On the West side, the only option for your wife is Wayout. It is cold and dark on Wayout so it is usually icy. Clairs is always a challange for a variety of reasons, usually having to do with ice and icy bumps. It was rolled flat recently so not too many bumps yet, but the base is a sleet of ice, you better know how to carve and have sharp skis. If they blow heavy on it, it might be ok for a few runs in AM for intermedites.
 

trapedui

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Many thanks for all the responses. This is very helpful and just what I was looking for. I wasn't planning to respond to every post, but I guess I got on a roll.

@thinnmann - I'll check prices at Liftopia. Thanks for the reminder about locking equipment. I know I should do it at Belleayre too, but I just don't. I'll keep that in mind.

@catskillman - I will look into the free check-in. D lift looks like a good place to start the day. I called Hunter and the free day for season pass holders of other mountains has already passed. I will look into it for next year.

@legalskier - I saw your trip report. It was very helpful and led me to say that going to Hunter will be a game time decision, based on conditions. I am not sure I would be willing to spend an extra $200 for the conditions you described on Sunday. I don't think I will take my wife to Hunter West at all, but we may split up a bit, so I can try it with the kids. If it looks too challeging, we will bail out as you suggest.

@JimmyPete - We chose mid-week to avoid crowds, but I am sure others will have the same idea. We have been spoiled at Belleayre all year. I don't mind waiting a bit to try something new.

@holmes - Thanks for the tip on F lift. I did not really notice that at first glance. If my wife can handle Minya Konka or East Side Drive, that might work well for us.

@oakapple - yes, I expect Hunter to be more challenging that Belleayre. I have been waiting for years to give it a try. I have a lot of fun at Belleayre, but we are ready for a new challenge.

@Scotty - Plattekill is next on my list. If they open mid-week, I will definitely consider it.

@goldsbar - Thanks for the assessment. Though I have never skied Hunter, I felt that Hunter would not be a good choice for us when the kids were younger and my wife was just starting out. Now, I think we are ready to give it a try. We will see how it goes.

@kingslug - Six years ago, I chose Belleayre over Hunter for a weekend trip, because I had a baby, a 4-year-old and a wife who had never skied before. It worked well for us, so we kept going back. Now, all four of us love to ski and I think the Belleayre and its staff deserve a lot of credit for that. As you can tell, I am also eager to try Hunter. I think we will have a lot of fun there, but we will probably be back at Belleayre next year. Hunter's reputation does not scare me away, but it did make me wait 6 years to try it with the family.

@Scruffy - Thanks for the detailed post. It is very helpful and gives me a lot of ideas.

Thanks again for all the helpful posts. Is there anything I should know about parking or the lodges? Is one lodge better than the other for lunch?
 
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