Big Tupper buys a groomer, still needs snow

TUPPER LAKE – There’s a new, refurbished trail groomer at the Big Tupper Ski Area. Now the mountain needs some snow.

ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy) Chairman Jim LaValley had hoped heavy snowfalls earlier this month would enable the ski center’s rope tow to run for a weekend of free skiing on the Mighty Mite beginners’ trail before Christmas.

Temperatures in the 30s and rain prevented that from happening, but LaValley is still planning on a good ski season.

Last weekend, a refurbished PistenBully groomer arrived from Mohawk Industries. The machine cost $30,000 and is specifically designed to groom ski slopes.

LaValley said a new groomer would have cost more than $100,000 and added that the ski center already has a groomer, but it takes a lot of work to keep it going.

“We reached out to a guy we know in the industry, and he had a great deal on a used machine, and we struck a good deal,” LaValley said.

LaValley said that kind of camaraderie is typical within ski-center circles.

“We work very well with Titus; we work very well with ORDA (the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre ski centers),” LaValley said. “There’s always communication going on.”

Now all ARISE has to do is open the ski center to pay for the groomer. With no significant base layer of snow, that might not happen anytime soon.

LaValley said he’d like to see at least 20 inches of new snow fall before Big Tupper can be opened.

“Sometimes we get something off Lake Ontario that was not forecast, and that’s what I’m hoping for right now,” LaValley said. “The volunteers have put so much blood, sweat and tears into it. They’re all ready to get going.”

Contact Shaun Kittle at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or