Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

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Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

snoloco
I drive through Tupper Lake every time I go to/from school.  Whenever I see the entrance to the ski area, I always wonder whether it will ever be able to operate sustainably.  The most recent blog post also intrigued me.

The place looks to have some nice terrain, and it has respectable vertical.  However, with the lack of snowmaking, they can never operate consistently, or have much of a customer base.  Their location also is a drawback, as no one is going to ski there except locals.

I see the lack of snowmaking as the biggest problem facing them.  If they installed it, even if only on a few trails, they could still operate consistently, which would allow them to charge more for season passes.  Even if I lived in Tupper Lake, I would never buy a season pass there unless there was snowmaking.  The issue with installing snowmaking is that it is very expensive to do so, and ARISE doesn't have any money.  Even if they went the Plattekill route and used secondhand, but still good equipment, I don't think they could afford it.  The location also means that there is no guarantee that they could cover their costs, even with snowmaking.

One could also do RA's ideal scenario and take out all the lifts and make it hike only.  That would mean that they would not need as much snow to open, but I'm guessing many fewer people would ski there than with lifts.

I would think the best course of action would be to take baby steps towards full snowmaking coverage.  Start by renting a few HKD Super Blizzards (portable air compressor/pump units that hook up to snow guns), and try and cover one or two routes off Chair 2.  See if the benefits outweigh the costs.  If they make more money (or lose less), try and get a permanent system on the same trails for the next year.  Then expand coverage as money allows.

I've lived in New York my entire life.
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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

Benny Profane
What they need to do is build some very expensive homes at the base, along with some condos, and then use that revenue from the red hot real estate market to build up the ski area. Oh, wait......

funny like a clown
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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

endoftheline
In reply to this post by snoloco
Sno, At this point it will probably never be financially viable. Various reasons are explained in detail in previous articles on this site, look back and see. Short reasons, ACR developers are holding about $1.2M in mortgages against the mountain and owe back taxes in the range of $300K. ACR developers sold off much of the perfectly good components of the snowmaking system(Plattekill got a good share of the HKD guns) for peanuts. About the only parts remaining is the pipe on the hill and most of the hydrants.

So even if the hill was given away free someone would have to spend a lot to get it back up and running. The main chairlift(#1) is beyond rehab and would have to be replaced. As for ARISE, they were formed by the developers to give the appearance of local grassroots support of the ACR, they were never about skiing. As for making it a hike only area I don't think it would/could work for a few basic reasons. revenue stream would not make it profitable, not enough skiable terrain (good stuff would be tracked out too quickly) and just not enough reliable natural snowfall. If it was located in the Tug Hill area maybe.

It's unfortunate that the Town, who built the area and ended up selling it were so shortsighted, it could have plugged along like McCauley in OF. Sad ending to a good little feeder hill.

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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

PeeTex
If Clarkson & St. Lawrence bought it or leased it and operated it as a training hill for their ski teams that might work as a starting point. I don't recall the terrain well enough to know if they have the right grade for Slalom & GS training. They would not need to run the whole thing but it might breath life back into it.

I know - probably just another crazy stupid idea

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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

Hoser
That is the best idea I have heard yet!

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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

snoloco
I've always had a large bias against racing (for destroying my favorite terrain at Mountain Creek), which some of you might've seen on here, but it was racing that made the West Point ski area open to the public (it was previously only to be used by West Point students, military, and their families).  When they started having race teams train and race there, the family members of the competitors wanted to be able to ski around the race, so they started opening to the public during the week (when they typically have races).

Maybe it could end up working that way here.  It's a lot longer drive to Whiteface than to Tupper Lake, and they could probably train more days.

I've lived in New York my entire life.
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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

K man
When I was in college, Friday evenings were college night at Big Tupper.  Show a college ID and get a discount.  The place was packed with students from Potsdam, Clarkson and St. Lawrence.  The bar was a huge party after the lights got turned off, but the drinking age was 18 back then.  They have some fun terrain.  
I don't know much about race trails, but St. Lawrence ran some of the college races there too.  

Avitar=Left Gully, Tuckerman Ravine
No Fat Chicks, Just Fat Skis
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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

Chris
Can we put this thread over in OT to water down some of those political threads?

The day begins...  Your mountain awaits.
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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

endoftheline
It would be great if SLU, Clarkson and even Paul Smiths went in on a joint venture. SLU did used to train there and held some races. But keep in mind SLU sold the Snowbowl where they used to train Slalom and Clarkson sold their old Ski Hill, Seven Springs outside of Parishville many years ago. But it has been talked about for a while with Paul Smiths running the cafeteria and bar and what a great Internship it would be for a Business degree with the ski shop, ski school, lessons and Marketing aspects involved. Sno, see if you can generate some interest up in Potsdam for it.
K-Man, yeah those Friday college nights were something to behold back in the day, got more than a little crazy w the bar right there and the 18 yr old drinking age.

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Re: Big Tupper: Will it ever be financially viable?

MC2 5678F589
In reply to this post by PeeTex
PeeTex has a good idea, or Paul Smith's could buy it and start a Ski Area Management Program. It would go well with the Hospitality program (and Hotel Saranac operation) they already have going.

It's just another case of nobody having any money to sink into a low elevation, low snow total ski area in the middle of nowhere. The comparison to McCauly is apt.

I always say I'll buy Big Tupper if I win the powerball (missed another $400 million jackpot last week). I would be fine losing a $500,000 a year on it if I was making $5,000,000 a year in interest on my investments. But, like I've said a bunch of times on this forum, I have a nostalgic love for the place because I skied there a lot as a kid. Until I win that jackpot, though, it'll be tough to find a multimillionaire who is okay with taking a huge loss every year out of love for a pretty cool spot.

Also, I like the golf course, especially the front 9.

Also Also, I do like having it there as an unofficial backcountry paradise. The skiing is as fun as I remember it being (when there's snow), and the views from various places on the mountain are awesome.

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