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4 months ago · by · 0 comments

Gondola up & running at Belleayre

By Victoria Levy
Reprinted from Catskill Mountain News

The long awaited Catskill Thunder Gondola opened last weekend, just in time for the holiday season. The gondola took it’s maiden voyage on Saturday December 30, 2017 at 9:37 a.m.

The gondola is a major asset for Highmount and surrounding towns as it boosts tourism, creates jobs, and gives locals and tourists an incredible experience of viewing all the beauty and nature that Belleayre offers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been committed to growing New York’s tourism industry in the Catskill region since taking office. Last year, Cuomo joined by Robert De Niro, hosted the first-ever Catskill Summer Challenge to focus on attractions and activities in the Catskills with hopes of driving tourism and boosting the area’s economy.

Cuomo calls Belleayre Mountain one of New York’s “crown jewels.” He said “The opening of this gondola is an investment which will not only boost the region’s growing tourism economy, but it will also allow New Yorkers to experience some of the best views and attractions in the world year-round.”

The Catskill Thunder Gondola opened just nine months after Cuomo added it to the 2017-2018 budget.

New experience

The Catskill Thunder Gondola begins from the lower mountain’s Discovery Lodge to the summit next to Tomahawk in seven minutes. The gondola holds up to eight people per cabin and can accompany up to 2,000 people per hour at a maximum speed of 1,000 feet per minute.

The gondola required 16 lift towers to be installed to enable transportation from the resort’s base to the mountain’s summit covering, 6,272 feet horizontally and 1,354 feet vertically.

In addition to the gondola install, the resort’s entire electrical service was modernized and expanded. A new trail was cut and a skier bridge was installed to connect the west side of the mountain and the lower base Discovery Lodge. Many locals are thrilled to have upgrades to the mountain. As the coldest of temperatures have hit the region in recent weeks, the gondola gives skiers a break from the cold wind while enjoying the sights.

Tourism employs many

Tim Maxwell, general manager of Belleayre Ski Resort, said “This had been an all hands on deck project. It’s exciting to see all of this hard work come together today. We’ve taken a tremendous amount of pride in this project and this will be a tremendous asset to not only Belleayre but to the entire Catskill region.

In 2015 the total economic impact of tourist industry in the region reached $1.83 billion. This is an increase of more then 13 percent since 2010. Tourism represents more then 15 percent of the region’s employment creating over 17,000 jobs. Making it through the winter months is vital to many businesses in the area and locals are thrilled at the expansion and traffic coming into our area.

Belleayre has made history throughout its long run. It holds a prominent place in the history of New York, as it was the first lift-assisted ski resort in the Catskills, a Roebling single chair installed in 1949. Major expansions were made in the 1960s and 1970s and eventually Life 6, a Hall double chair replaced the Roebling. The 1980s saw some expansion with lifts 1 & 2 receiving side-by-side double chairs to service lower mountain beginner terrain.

ORDA operation

In recent years Belleayre is run by the Olympic Regional Development Association (ORDA), which also operates Gore and Whiteface Mountain Ski Resorts.

Belleayre offers 55 trails (including moguls) and eight lifts open to skiers and snowboarders. With the recent renovations and innovations like the gondola, electrical modernization, new trails, and the skier bridge connecting the west side and lower base of the mountain, Belleayre continues to be one of the most innovative and loved mountains of New York State.

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