Loading the new Belleayre gondi. (Belleayre/Facebook)
Skiers and snowboarders loading Belleayre's new 60-cabin Catskill Thunder gondola can now make it from the lower mountain's Discovery Lodge to the summit in seven minutes. The eight-person cabin can move about 2,000 people per hour, at a maximum speed of 1,000 feet per minute.
The new lift is part of an $8-million investment in the New York State-owned Catskills resort that will also bring lodge expansions and the addition of modern amenities for both base lodges.
The gondola connects two distinct areas of the mountain. “We were almost two separate ski areas in a lot of senses,” Belleayre General Manager Tim Maxwell told SnoCoutnry.com. “Most people that went to the Overlook Lodge never came down to the Discovery Lodge and vice versa.” The resort plans to centralize amenities in the Discovery Lodge, where plans are in place for added skier and rider services.
“Prior to this we only had the one detachable lift on the eastern side of the mountain, so the western side was underutilized. Now we have the ability to spread people out,” Maxwell told us.
A new trail, Deer Run, takes skiers and riders through a tunnel and back to the base, so you can do laps on the gondola.
Year-round use of the gondola means lift-accessed mountain biking, wedding and private party rentals at mountain summit, and scenic gondola rides similar to sister mountains Whiteface and Gore. Plans are also in the works for cross country skiing at the expansive summit of the mountain.