A Mountain Update Heading Into MLK

Things have continued to slowly improve, bit by tiny bit, as we’ve moved out of the Christmas holiday and into MLK Weekend. Yesterday, we opened up Stein’s Run and Cruiser, bringing our trail count to 71 and our total open acreage to 310. Both of those are near the top of any eastern resort right now. What’s even more exciting is the fact that forecasting models continue to show our first decent storm of the year set to hit Sunday night. Accumulation totals vary based on the weather service, and I always try not to get my hopes up too much, but 6-12″ is currently the most likely possibility.

If we get that natural snow, given the incredibly dense and solid base we already have, it’s probable the remainder of our terrain could open soon after. That would include Castlerock, though we’d likely open it for hiking only at first per usual. Why do we do that? Well it really helps set those trails up for season-long success, through getting it skied in appropriately by those dedicated to hiking for it before overrunning the trail system with too many bodies before it has a chance to setup.

It’s amazing to think that we’ve seen such little snowfall this season and have still been able to open up 71 trails. It clearly speaks to the hard work of our snowmaking crews, who have had a particularly tough season given what Mother Nature has (or hasn’t) provided. We love those guys and gals so much we made a video of them and submitted it to Ski Area Management’s I Am A Snowmaking contest. Do us a favor and go check out the video, then vote for our crew! They really are the saviors of the season. Occasionally I will see guest surveys or comments saying that we’re purposely not making much snow this year. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. If anything, we’ve been more aggressive with snowmaking this year than in seasons past. We’ve been taking advantage of smaller temperature windows because without the natural snowfall, we haven’t really had a choice. Historically, we would wait for a larger window of cold weather to make snow, whereas this year we were firing whenever we could. Continuing to invest in new equipment has also made it easier to do so. One interesting tidbit that many people probably don’t know is that Green Mountain Power, our electric utility, will call for us to limit what we can do on certain nights, particularly during cold snaps when electricity is in high demand elsewhere. Granted, when it gets to be that cold it’s not even efficient to make snow anyway.

Another topic that we’ve been hearing a lot of questions about is North Ridge. Unfortunately, that quad isn’t quite ready for this weekend, but we should have it up and running by next weekend . For those who didn’t know, North Ridge (as well as several other lifts) was struck by lightning earlier this fall, overloading several of its systems. Given all the work and routine maintenance that goes into all of our lifts during the offseason, we have a priority list of lifts to work our way through. With the extensive damage done to North Ridge we prioritized access to additional terrain and focused on GMX or Summit. Our team has been working on it extensively over the last few months, and you’ve likely seen all the barrels out there as we get ready for a load test. Just know we want to get it open as much as you do, and it’s looking like we’re in the home stretch.

On the events side this weekend, we’ve made a few scheduling changes based on the cold snap coming in for Saturday. While we are still planning to hold our Torchlight Parade and Fireworks, Fireworks Snowshoe Tour, Blizzard Boogie, and the Parlor Skis Demo, we’ve moved them all from Saturday to Sunday, same times. In addition there is still plenty of après music scheduled for both days.

The last thing I wanted to touch on was our snow report. As you know we moved to a new website and app and alongside that a brand new snow report for both platforms. We know how much you all loved our snow report in the past, and we’ve been working hard with Alterra Mountain Company and our developers to continue to improve our snow report product. It’s an adjustment I know. The good news is, as of today, you’ll notice a few welcome changes that just went live. When you head to the main conditions page on the website or on the “Snow Report on Web” tab of the app, you’ll see that we have reorganized the top sections a bit. We added more snowfall total information, removed some less useful information like windspeed/windchill (why remove that? Because it’s very rarely accurate, and if winds are going to be a concern we list it in the narrative), and cleaned up the mountain stats section below. It should all be a little easier to process now. And a reminder, you can switch between base/mid/summit in the upper left hand corner.

Most excitingly, we’ve been able to add formatting to our snow report narrative. We’ve improved readability through being able to add paragraphs and spacing now. We also now have the ability to hyper link, so we can easily send you to places like our Uphill Travel Policy or this blog post. These might seem like small changes, but bit by bit we’re working to improve the report. If you recall, our last snow report system was fine tuned over 7 years!

Anyway, I hope you all have a great MLK Weekend here. Stay warm, enjoy the events on Sunday, and cross your fingers for that big storm on Monday. See you on the mountain!

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