December: the time of year when the quiet white mist takes over the mountains, and the winter ready cars head up winding roads to the Greene County ski resorts. Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain are two of the highest mountains in New York, and both bring something new and fresh to the scene. Both mountains contain exciting new events throughout the winter season, and extensive and upgraded trails and pipes have been cut and carved for this year. Hunter Mountain will never be lacking in the snow department, thanks to their first-in-the-world 100 percent snowmaking coverage. Windham Mountain boasts the highest vertical drop in the Catskills at 1,600 feet. These two mountains make it possible to have a world-class vacation, or at least an exciting day on the slopes.
Daniela Marino, director of marketing at Greene County Tourism, emphasizes the mountaintops’ proximity to major cities. “With one tank of gas, you can get a whole vacation coming from the metro areas. While [the loss of] disposable income will not make it a record season, if nature smiles and snows upon us, we will have a very satisfying season,” states Marino. What really makes the ski trips worthwhile is the number of elegant and unique accommodations in Greene County.
Hunter Mountain, at 4,040 feet, is the highest mountain in Greene County––and with 240 skiable acres, including 54 trails and 11 lifts, Hunter Mountain has even been dubbed “the snowmaking capital of the world.” Hunter Mountain was the first in the state to install snowmaking and first in the world with top-to-bottom snowmaking. According to Jessica Pezak, marketing director of Hunter Mountain, a gladed section was added on the east side of the mountain last year, where the trees have been thinned out so that intermediate skiers may experience more thrilling ski conditions. Forty-five new snow guns have been installed, along with a new compressor, which allows for even faster recovery times. Twenty one of the new snow guns were installed in Hunter’s second terrain park, Park Avenue, which is specifically for skiers and snowboarders who want to experiment and perform tricks. With the encouragement of the weather forecasts, Pezak expects a great season and has great faith in Hunter’s snowmakers. The Hunter Mountain Expedition and Sports Center features apparel, equipment, and gear. The Board Room snowboard shop is the stop to make for last-minute purchases. The Board Room features brands from Gyro and k2 to Skullcandy and Spacecraft. The Tuning and Repair Shop is a must-see at the mountain, whether you want to view the carving of a new board, or get a board shaped.
Hunter Mountain is also home to many events and festivals. On December 20, the mountain will host the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, a casual competition for skiers and snowboarders of all ages. New Year’s Eve festivities include a torchlight parade followed by a fireworks display.
The Hotel Mountain Brook, in nearby Tannersville, is an Adirondack-style lodge built in the 1940s that was recently renovated. This is a pet-friendly place, asking only of your notice so that they may properly prepare for your family friend. Choices include suites in the lodge, cabins, and cottages.
Windham Mountain has an elevation of 3,100 feet, with 46 trails, 265 skiable acres, and 11 lifts. A new high-speed quad lift, which holds four people and can transport up to 2,600 people per hour, was added to replace the an East Peak lift, and it is currently the fastest lift on the mountain, moving at 1,000 feet per minute. According to Joan Oldknow, director of marketing, Windham has recently undergone $5 million worth of upgrades, including several thousand new pipes and snowmaking equipment, and 45 new snow guns. So far, ticket sales are great and show a bright future for the 2008-2009 season. The Club at Windham Mountain was recently added, offering a private dining room, spa treatments, and banquet facility to members, with panoramic views of the mountain.
Windham also features a Mountain Top Adventure Park for snow tubers, featuring 15 lanes and three tows. Windham opened their trails on November 26, and you can expect an exciting event every weekend. Windham begins their night skiing and riding on December 12. On December 14, Windham hosts the Lighting of the Tree Celebration, where you can grab some hot chocolate and enjoy holiday music while counting down to the lighting of the big tree. On December 26 and 27, the Big Air Bag Bash is held for the first time in the USA. Designed as a training tool for skiers and riders, a huge air-filled pad cushions the landing for aerial maneuvers. The inflatable compression bag is 56 feet long by 33 feet wide, and will be placed near a half-pipe. Skiers and snowboarders go off a kicker jump, and plop safely on the Big Air Bag. On December 31, look up at the sky for New Year’s Eve at Windham Mountain as Firework Bobs sets off a display.
Hotel Vienna is a two-story hotel in Windham, located in the northern Catskill Mountain State Park, renowned for its indoor pool with glassed-in views of the surrounding snowy hillsides. Vienna has 29 newly renovated rooms and offers discount ski-and-stay packages. Also, every reservation at the Hotel Vienna includes a complementary wine tasting at the Windham Winery and Vineyard.
When your day is over and you’ve hung up the skis and snowboards, you may consider an interesting stop before you hit your cottage bed. Right in Tannersville is a watering hole known as the Boarding House, which claims to be the only bar in America with a backyard snowboard park. The crowd is of course, 21 and over, and the Boarding House plays hosts to daredevil events on a regular basis. The first “Rail Jam”—a terrain park competition that featured Jesus on a snowboard—took place on Halloween, and was sanctioned by the United States of America Snowboard Association/Catskill Mountain Division. The second USASA sanctioned snowboard “Rail Jam” took place on Nov 26, Thanksgiving Eve, with music provided by Chronogram’s own DJ Wavy Davy. On December 16, the Boarding House welcomes the I Love Ride Snowboard’s fifth annual Tattoo Party and Demo. The Boarding House kitchen is now open, serving pub food and pizza.
Ski and snowboard season is the highlight of the year at the mountaintop, and it’s a great way to get a fulfilling vacation without going bankrupt. Both Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain have extraordinary experiences to offer. So pack your bags and grab your kids. We’ll see you on the slopes!
Scribner Hollow Lodge
Route 23A, Hunter
Hotel Mountain Brook
57 Hill Street
107 Route 296
The Boarding House
5975 Main Street