Crowds and large snowfalls create 'good' problems at Belleayre
By Joe Moskowitz
Plenty of fresh snow at just the right time. A long holiday weekend. Some people have the entire week away from work. It sounds like the perfect formula for people in the ski business. And the crowds were huge, but at Highmount’s Belleayre Ski Center on Sunday, some people thought there was too much of a good thing.
An estimated 5,000 people tried to ski or snowboard at Belleayre on Sunday. That is all the mountain can handle, but it’s not unusual for a holiday weekend. However on Sunday, the mountain didn’t handle it that well.
There were complaints that there wasn’t enough parking. There was no place to sit inside the lodges. Lines for lift tickets were very long, but the greatest problem for some was once they got to Belleayre and even paid for lift tickets, they couldn’t do anything because the rental shop ran out of skis.
Belleayre General Manager Thomas Tar says they didn’t actually run out of skis. They just ran out of the most common sizes. Nearby Jimmy’s Ski Shop couldn’t help. They ran out too.
Tar said people are always advised to plan ahead, but the lure of the conditions attracted so many who showed up at the same time that it became a “madhouse.”
He also called the situation on Sunday, “crazy.” One worker called it “bizarre.” Some skiers called it “insane” and “frustrating.”
Tar said the excellent conditions and moderate weather helped the situation somewhat because many people stayed out on the mountain much of the day. And he said the lifts and trails can handle large crowds, so that is not a problem. But he said there does need to be more parking and he said the lodges are way too small to handle crowds of that size. Those are two issues that he hopes will be resolved if a proposed expansion of the resort is approved by the State of New York.
Meantime he said he’s happy to have so much snow, and so many customers. He said it is a much better problem than not having any business.