A new ski lift at Mount Pisgah Ski Center took its first riders up the slopes on Saturday morning. The new T-bar was two and a half years in the making and was funded by a combination of state grant funding and community donations.
As Chris Knight reports, supporters say the project will help breathe new life into this small, family- and kid-friendly ski hill.
With one hand on the T-bar and the other holding his ski poles, 73-year-old Jack Fogarty of Saranac Lake leande down to his 3-year-old grandson Paul and gave him a little advice, "Keep your feet together and lean against the bar," he said. "Hold on. There will be a little jolt. ... Here we go."
Just like that, the two Fogartys - separated by seven decades, both all smiles - began the first ride up the new T-bar lift at Mount Pisgah Ski Center on Saturday morning. Charlie Martin is Mount Pisgah's manager. "It's official," he said. "We have a new lift, and it's running really well. Now we just need to get some snow so we can stay open."
A few sprinkles of rain were coming down Saturday morning, and only one trail was open at the mountain, but those who showed up to use the new T-bar, like Jack Forgarty, were grateful. "I'd like to thank all the people who donated money to make it available. The people in Saranac Lake are really supportive of the ski area, and the village is supportive and they've worked hard," he said. "They've done a nice job here. It'll last a long time."
Mike Phelabaum, who's been snowboarding at Pisgah with his brother since the late-1990s, said the new T-bar is a great addition to the mountain. "We've seen this whole process for over a decade go down," he said. "It's pretty cool. We remember riding this thing when we were 5 years old, the old T-bar. So, it's nice to see something new."
Charlie Martin said he expects the new lift will also bring some new faces to the mountain. He said some people stopped coming to Pisgah because the old lift, which had been in place since 1960 and broke down often, was just too unreliable. "I'm seeing a lot of returning people in the middle aged group coming back buying passes because they want to ski for a couple hours. They don't want to stand in line for 45 minutes to make one or two runs. This lift is going to bring serious reliability and a lot of fun to the mountain."
Martin said the new T-bar is just one of several upgrades and new offerings that are planned at Mount Pisgah, including 6 miles of nordic ski trails, a half-mile handicapped access and snowshoeing trail, and, in the future, a ski jumping hill.