Mountain Ten
Austerlitz, NY

History ~ Historical Photos ~ By The Year ~ Memories


Mountain Ten was a small ski area started by Howard Hirsch of New York City during the 1948-1949 season. 10th Mountain Division veterans also helped with its construction - which from readers we surmise how this area became named "Mountain Ten". It first operated with 600' and 750' rope tows, along with a few slopes and trails. Around 1950, the area installed two new tows near 1000' each, while the 750' got shortened to 400'. The vertical of the area was 400'.

The last listing we have for this area is 1951. Several NY guidebooks from 1955-1960 do not list the area, and those guides are quite thorough. However, we know from readers that this area lasted until at least 1975. The area closed at some point in the late 1970's (likely 1979) as the lodge was destroyed by arson.

To the right is an overhead map of the area. Notice that the slopes have grown in quite a bit. A parking lot can be seen at the bottom of the slope. According to Brad Buchan, "the rope tow was located on the left side of the slope as depicted on the map on the web page.  It consisted of a continuous rope from the bottom near the lodge, located at the lower left near the parking area, to the top of the slope.  The rope was carried down the tow path on automobile wheels mounted on trees and dragged on the ground going back up the slope or held onto by skiers going up the slope.  The tow was powered by an old 4 cylinder engine mounted in a small shack on the top of the slope.  There were safety features to stop the tow to prevent injuries."

Historical Photos

Stephen Ulmer's father took these photos of the area in 1975. Here is the rustic base lodge and ski patrol building.
Stephen Ulmer's father also took this photo of skiers in the rustic lodge.

 Mountain Ten by the Year

Year Lifts Trails/Slopes Other Info Source
1948-1949 600', 750' tow Unknown Year area opened 1949-1950 "Ski New York"
1949-1950 Same Mountain Ten - 2000' long, 400' drop, 300' wide, needs 6" of snow to ski, lighted

Howitzer - 2000' long, 400' wide, 15-35' wide, needs 8" to ski

Mule Run - 3000' long, 400' drop, 20-35' wide, needs 8 to ski

$2.00 per day. Area opened in 1948-1949. Slopes are limited to 400 skeirs Same as above
1951 4 tows (1100', 1000', 600', 400') Black Ridge - 1800' long, 420' drop, 75-150' wide, needs 6" snow

Howitzer - 600' long, 150' drop, 100' wide, lighted

Mountain Ten - 2000' long, 400' drop, 300' wide, needs 6" snow, lower section lighted

Mule Run - 3000' long, 400' drop, 20-40' wide

Located 2 miles north of Austerlitz, warming house and restaurant. Road to slope has been widened and graded, parking facilities enlarged.  1951 "Ski New York"
Mid 1970's Unknown Unknown Area's use diminishes, likely closes around this time Several Readers
1978 Likely one rope tow Unknown Last year of operation Tom Palchinis
1979 Unknown Unknown Arsonist torches base lodge, area closes permanent Several Readers


Dan Hegeman used to ski here and brings this first person perspective: I'd like to mention to you that Mountain Ten did not go out of business in the '50's. I skied Mountain Ten into the mid-to-late 1960's. The place was operating at that time as a cooperative, as I remember. (I was very young at the time and the details of ownership were of no importance to me.) As I remember it, we had a family membership. The place boasted having the longest rope tow in North America. Legend had it that there was a longer one in Russia. It was really too steep for a rope tow, and you had to have a strong grip to make it to the top. Wool mittens were not permitted, as they would sometimes freeze to the rope by the time you got to the top. The rope tow would eat through a pair of leather mittens in a day. We used to wrap our mittens in friction tape, which would be worn away by the end of the day, sparing the leather for another day. I don't think I skied there past 1968, although my memory is not really clear on the years. I graduated to skiing the mountains in the Berkshires, such as Brodie. I suspect the other members did, too.

Bill Kimok: I read Dan Hegeman's piece on Mountain Ten with nostalgic interest for a number of reasons. I bought my first pair of used skis from Dan's little brother Clint, with whom I skied at Mt. Ten almost every Sunday for two years during the late 1960s/early 1970s.

I also engaged in my first competitive skiing at Mt. Ten. Every year during that era they had slalom and downhill competitions for various age groups. These games were scheduled usually during the early spring, and without any real snow-making equipment at that place we were always at the whims of nature. I remember one year when the snow was so sticky and my skis were so pathetic that I pretty nearly walked down the slope during the downhill; no match for the couple of big fish- little pond ringers who brought expensively waxed K2s to the dance. 

Nonetheless, you couldn't beat the prices. I paid maybe $10 for a full year's membership there. Nor could you beat the ambiance. Many of us were school chums from Chatham High School--coming from neighboring villages such as Red Rock, Spencertown, Austerlitz, and East Chatham--and Mt. Ten made for a convenient rendezvous point on weekends when we didn't have transportation or couldn't afford lift prices at the Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont slopes. Moreover, there was a nice little cozy lodge and fireplace at the base of the hill, and you couldn't beat the prices on hot dogs and hot chocolate, which were sold to us by volunteer members who rotated behind the snack counter.

Stephen Ulmer:

I used to ski at Mt Ten as a kid well into the 1970s. It was the first place that I learned to ski well as we would go skiing in the woods going to the left side of the lift tow at the top of the mountain.
There was a gas tractor engine at the top of the mountain, and the rope was replaces with in the last couple of years before it closed. There was a hand cranked telephone that the engine keeper had and also at the bottom of the lift for communication. the lodge was small with a big round stone fire place in the center and a small kitchen that families volunteered to cook at. I remember being in the kitchen cooking burgers. Lots of rusty metal cabinets in the kitchen.
There were three named slopes, I cant remember the names but the third was very short to the right of the main slope near where we used to do the jumps however it never took off. Usually only two slopes were open.
I don't remember why the ski area closed but soon after a local teenage kid burned the lodge down and was arrested afterward as he called the fire dept and they traced the call. 

I just took a hike up there (spring 2007) and after some effort found the ski slope which has mostly grown up with trees. The stone fire place is still there along with the cook stove and rusty cabinets of the aprox 25 X 25 feet lodge as is the motor shed complete with the Leroi motor and what appears to be an old saw mill transmission that pulled the rope. The phone wire is still up as is some of the wheel rims that the rope was guided with. I remember that the trails went further up than what was offered to us in the early 1970s, we used to hike up them to ski down. The slope is very steep and I remember it took a lot of strength to hold the rope.

Brad Buchan: My family and I lived a very short distance from Mountain Ten Ski Slope during the time of its operation from the late 60's into the 70's and enjoyed a limited amount of skiing there.  I contributed to the operation by plowing the parking lot as permitted by availability from my work.  The slope was only able to operate due to the significant volunteer efforts by folks such as Clayton Lavalle of Canaan, the Gables of Spencertown, Bailargeons of Valatie, the property owner of course (who I don't recall) and numerous other local folks as well.  Many local young people learned to ski and compete at the area and it was truly a place for families to enjoy inexpensive skiing and winter activities with a great little warming lodge.

It is my understanding that the slope was created by WW2 veterans of the 10th Mountain Division from the Downstate NYC area who wanted to continue skiing after their service and so named the area after their Division.  I believe there is historical information available somewhere if one were to search hard enough.

Skiing carried on thru the mid to late 70's, but as volunteer effort began to wane and other local ski areas began to improve, Mountain Ten ceased operations.  I can remember our family returning home from an extended trip to New Jersey in the Summer of '79 to discover that the lodge had burned down from unknown causes.  It was a terrible sight to see given all the fun that families had over the years.

David Leerat: I lived in Chatham. NY in the 1970's. I had three young boys and we soon found out about Mountain Ten. I believe the "members" leased the area from a local land owner. Annual dues were about $10 per family and a small daily fee was charged. There were maybe 15-20 families that participated. The dues went for insurance and some minor maintenance. There was a small shack at the foot of the hill that had a round fire pit and a small kitchen. There were a few chairs and tables in the room. Each family was responsible for bringing hot dogs, donuts and hot chocolate on a rotating basis. I remember when it was our turn one year. We had freezing rain and I suggested that we not bother to go. However, my boys insisted that we go because they were sure that some people wanted to ski. We brought the food, opened up the shack, started the fire, but nobody showed up. We, however had a great time by ourselves and ate up the food and enjoyed the fire.  The area operated most weekends during the winter when there was snow. The adult members operated the lift. There was an old tractor that had been modified to operate as a snow cat. It was a job to keep the tractor and the tow running. In the late winter or early spring there were races. I still have a small ribbon that one of my boys won back in the mid 70's.  Sometime near the end of the 70's the shack was burned down down, I believe by an arsonist. The cost of rebuilding and insurance were too much and the ski area was abandoned.


Tom Palchanis: My wife and I moved to Austerlitz in 1977 and lived around the corner from Mountain 10. We may have been the last family to join in 1978, there was only a small group of skiers left.   As mentioned the fees were $2 to ski and you had to take turns helping out with food, wood, rope tow and only one or two members did grooming.  The grooming was done with a 1940’s, maybe early 50’s Farmall  tractor, if I remember correctly, that had been converted to use tracks with wooden oak grousers.  Seemed to work quite well !  I was lucky enough to get to help operate the 2,000 foot long rope tow once. It was powered by a 4cyl Leroy diesel with a long 4-5 foot lever that controlled the clutch to engage and disengage the rope tow. The rope tow guide wheels were from old cars and many were old spoke wheels, probably from Model T”s. The rope tow rope was fairly new at the end.  The next spring the shack burned. There were meetings trying to revive the club. The Ambergas? Family who owned the 200+ acres offered the insurance money to the club to rebuild, but there were not enough people to rebuild nor collect enough money to cover insurance for the club, and that was the end.

The new rope for the tow disappeared and I understand the old farmall snowgroomer went to Birch Hill ski area near Brewster, New York.  The slopes and trails were on Fog Hill. I went there a few years ago and it is totally grown over completely. I could find little left of the building sight. The old Leroy motor that powered NY States longest rope tow is still in the tiny abandoned shack at the top of Fog Hill 30 years later.   

Marion Ulmer:

My husband, Willard Ulmer, and I along with our boys, Jeff and Steve, skied there from the very end of the 60’s to the early 70’s. We were even on the slopes for an eclipse of the sun one of those years. The “facilities” were an outhouse. Boy was that cold! Up until the early ‘70s there had been many snowy winters and Austerlitz’ fog hills always got the most snow of any place in the area. But as the weather pattern changed, there were fewer snow storms and fewer opportunities to ski at Mt. 10. And that was about the time that the ski areas in the Berkshires started making snow.

If you have more information on this area just let us know.

Last updated: Aug 12, 2013

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