The wait is finally over and we are ready for Opening Day. With this recent flurry of cold temperatures, we’re officially ready to open this Saturday, November 19th. We’ll be spinning the Gate House Quad from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, with at least 3 trails including Pushover, Slowpoke and Sugarbear Road.
For those of you who have been following the weather this month, our ability to open at all this weekend is truly a testament to both our snowmaking team and the capital improvements we’ve made recently. After an extremely mild first half of November, there wasn’t a speck of snow on any of this terrain as late as Sunday night, yet now we’ll be opening even with the 30° base temperatures.
We’re coming off a summer and fall capital improvement initiative that saw over $10 million invested back into the mountain, one of the largest capital dollar influxes in recent history. Over half of those dollars were invested in snowmaking, including over 9 miles of new snowmaking pipe. The snowmaking investment was divided into four separate projects, which are expected to significantly improve operations and the guest experience. These projects include overhauling snowmaking pipe and guns on Easy Rider and Pushover at Lincoln Peak which will enhance the beginner experience; replacing pipe and some snow guns on the upper portion of Mt. Ellen to not only improve operations now but also lay the groundwork for future improvements; replacing our withdrawal infrastructure at the Lincoln Peak snowmaking pond to allow for a more reliable and sustainable operation; and laying the groundwork for a future project realigning Reverse Traverse and installing snowmaking on it (we just received our Act 250 permit this week and will begin some of the work clearing trails as early as this spring).
In addition to these snowmaking improvements and some smaller projects including pump houses and compressors, we also added a new free groomer and winch groomer to our fleet, as well as a new 8-passenger cabin cat to be used for Cabin Cat First Tracks, Evening Groomer Rides, and Allyn’s Lodge Dinners. We will continue to keep our original cabin cat for potential excursions as well. The lift maintenance team has also been hard at work with routine maintenance and additional lift improvements like new seat backs on Super Bravo (to help mitigate wind affecting operations) and getting the Slide Brook Express Quad ready to operate again.
In addition to the investments we made in operations, we continued to make improvements off the mountain, with a new sand filter for our wastewater plant, new indoor and outdoor pool linings for the Sugarbush Health & Recreation Center, new food options at Allyn’s Lodge, continued improvements to the Mt. Ellen Base Lodge (new deck furniture and a new bag storage room located on the lowest level), and a full rebuild of the sand bunkers at the Sugarbush Resort Golf Club.
All these projects ran alongside what was a very successful summer operation that saw numerous weddings, great golf visitation, and expanded event offerings like Music on the Mountains, Brew-Grass Festival, July 4th Weekend, and Fresh Hops Fest.