It was a slow start to the ski season Monday at Campgaw Mountain, after a mild December weather stalled snowmaking and delayed opening day.
A Christmas storm last year left two feet of snow across North Jersey, sending hundreds to Campgaw the day after the holiday.
“You could not walk through the lodge,” said Ron Fuhr, general manager at the county-owned park, which is leased and operated by Ski Campgaw Management, LLC.
At mid-day Monday the parking lot wasn’t even half full, open tables could be found by the snack stand, and the lines for ski passes were only a half-dozen people deep.
“It’ll get busier when there’s snow in people’s back yards and they get the fever,” Fuhr said. “Right now I’m surprised the tulips aren’t up.”
The mountain had already been open for two weeks when last year’s snow arrived. But this year, the below-freezing overnight temperatures needed to make snow have been sparse.
Workers made snow when temperatures dropped over the holiday weekend, allowing three trails to open on Monday.
“The staff really wanted to see this place get open,” Fuhr said.
Opening day business at Campgaw was helped by the number of people who had off work.
“It’s something to do,” said Vanessa Correia, of Lodi who with her husband Greg brought their 4-year-old son Ayden skiing for the first time. “He’s doing pretty good,” she said.
Another draw was taking newly unwrapped snowboards and skis for a run.
“There’s definitely a few Christmas presents kicking around,” Fuhr said.
Still, the limited snow making kept the tubing slopes closed, disappointing Tiffany Chang, 5, of Ridgewood, who waited with her mom while her father and older sister skied.
“I like tubing because you go really fast,” she said, adding, “it doesn’t scare me. I’m not afraid of anything!”
The Changs sat on the newly added covered patio, with picnic tables and heaters. The area will eventually be enclosed, Fuhr said.
Additional upgrades at Campgaw this season include a new kitchen and barbeque grill and a new computer system that allows customers to purchase a Mighty Gaw PasSport and then order ski passes, lessons and rental equipment online before they arrive.
Colleen Filippis of Mahwah brought her three children to ski after getting an email from Campgaw about the opening.
“They really did some nice improvements,” she said.
Others travelled a little further to hit the sun-soaked slopes.
Ali Faulkner, 31, of Middletown and Jared Nathanson, 28, of Hoboken, bought season passes for Campgaw with plans to practice their snowboarding this season. They just took up the sport two years ago.
“The conditions are good,” Faulkner said, after two runs. “And it’s not as crowded as I thought it would be.”