By Stefan Yablonski
Greek Peak Mountain Resort will celebrate its 65th anniversary year (2023-24) with more than $1 worth of upgrades.
Building on the $1.3 million investment from last season, Greek Peak wrapped up another off-season with nearly another $1 million in ski-side improvement projects.
“We just completed year three of a five-year snow-making upgrade and investment plan. Over the past two years, it’s been like $2.3 million that we have put into the infrastructure and the new snow-making equipment,” said Jon D. Spaulding, director of marketing. Spaulding was previously the publisher of The Palladium-Times in Oswego.
The snow-making infrastructure projects from this past year were key to delivering 114 ski days for the 2022-23 season versus 107 the previous year, he said.
“Last year we started the Friday after Thanksgiving. We got 114 ski days in for the season; which is good — any time you can get more than 100, that’s what we shoot for, you’re doing good,” he added.
Greek Peak has 55 trails; 44 are true ski slopes and the rest glade skiing (glade skiing, also known as glading, is alpine skiing through trees off-trail or on a defined woods trail).
“We have some of the best glade skiing trails in Central New York. That’s sort of what Greek Peak is known for,” Spaulding said.
In an uncharacteristically warm and low-snow accumulation year, ski guests marveled at how well Greek Peak was able to maintain its covered terrain, he added.
“Last year, we could fill 16.5 football fields with a foot of snow deep in a 24-hour period. With these latest upgrades that we have put in over the summer, it’s now 23 football fields,” he said. “Now imagine 23 football fields with a foot deep of snow — we can cover that in a 24-hour period as long as we have got the cold enough temperatures. That’s quite impressive. We don’t want to put the base out there just to have it melt, either. We’re looking at the extended forecast just to make sure once we get that base, it stays. You don’t want it to melt.”
In 2023-24, ski enthusiasts will enjoy new snow-making pipe and air line on Hercules along with 57 new HKD snow guns and new hydrants all around the mountain. The east mountain pump house got a new 450hp pump installed, which is able to pump 33% more water than the one it replaced. There’s a new valve hut at the top of Lower Zeus, to isolate water flow when needed to increase efficiency to run the new, high-efficiency snow guns, Spaulding explained.
“I think the biggest thing that we’ve done in these first three years is the infrastructure. We have changed a lot of the piping underground from like six-inch to 12-inch diameter piping. It essentially doubles the water that you can get to different areas on the mountain. We have also increased the amount of air lines — the kind that carry air, not like commercial flights,” he said.
A total of 57 new stick guns were delivered along with 12 HKD KLIK hydrants. In addition, Greek Peak received a new TT10 fan gun which will help produce a healthy base this season.
“You need air and water and, obviously, cold temperature to make snow,” Spaulding said. “We’ve added KLIK hydrants all over the mountain. When you spread them out you’re able to take the snow gun, which are very portable now, and plug them in anywhere on the mountain to create snow. We’re really taking advantage of the technology that’s out there.”
In addition to the snow-making upgrades, Chair 1 had a new variable drive installed, which was a big improvement, Spaulding said. It also received a fresh coat of paint in the off-season. Skiers and boarders will also enjoy upgraded trail lighting and a significant investment in new rental equipment featuring additional rental helmets, skis and snowboards.
There are a lot of things that go into the maintenance and upgrades of chair lifts that people don’t really see, “but we get credit when we paint them; people think that’s just the best thing ever — but we probably spent a heck of a lot more time in the motors and things like that to keep it going,” he said.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘hey we are open’ and people come here and we have 55 trails, but only 10 of them are open. That’s OK but it’s kind of a disappointment because when you come to Greek Peak you like to ski all the different types of trails,” Spaulding said. “So our goal would be at the end of the five-year plan to have a higher percentage of our trails open and snow covered as well. That’s where we’re going to be. You’re probably going to see from opening day to the end of the season a much larger percentage of our trails would be skiable.”
Greek Peak has a 952 foot vertical drop. “We have a brand of wine — Greek Peak wine — that we sell on site. It’s called 952,” Spaulding added.
“I think our longest run is 1 1/2 miles and we have about 220 skiable acres on site,” he said. “A special price on our tubing mountain — for $48 you can tube all year long. Snow boarding is out on our main trails. We get a lot of snow boarders. Tubing is for the people who aren’t really into skiing or boarding.
“There are also snow-goes, which are actually bikes. They have one ski in the front and two skis in the back; so it’s like a tricycle, you steer it like a bike riding it down the hill. Ninety-eight percent of people know how to ride a bike — so it’s a way to get more people interested in snow sports and coming to the mountain to give snow a try.”
A lot of the trails on the mountain are used by people mountain biking. They put their mountain bikes on the lifts, they get lifted right to the top and they can go down the trails on their mountain bike. A lot of those fat [tire] bikes are making it up here, he added.
The original dedication ceremony was Jan. 11, 1958. Greek Peak is planning to have a special event on Jan. 11, 2024.