Happy New Year
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Written by Win Smith
Happy New Year to all! The holiday week here at Sugarbush was really a lot of fun. Conditions improved throughout the week and the number of skiers did, as well. In fact, we experienced the third busiest day ever on the Friday after the snow storm. While the parking lots were almost full and there were a lot of skiers and riders on the slopes, a few of the improvements we made over the past couple of years allowed us to handle the crowd well. Our new Parking Lot F filled up and we moved over to Lot G on Inferno Road, but our three shuttles at Lincoln Peak allowed our guests to ride to the entrance comfortably. At Mount Ellen, I think everyone thought “It is going to be a really busy day so let’s get to the mountain early and go to Mt. Ellen to avoid the crowds.” The parking lots filled there earlier, and latecomers had to go to Lincoln Peak. However, our four quads and the Sunny-Double moved everyone up the mountain quickly, and lift lines were fast. Over at Lincoln Peak, the new Valley House Quad demonstrated how effectively it can move people out of the base area, while still keeping lines short on both Super Bravo and Valley House. We timed the Bravo line at its busiest: 5 minutes and 28 seconds. Compared to the 45-minute plus lines at some other resorts that day, we felt very good about how the base area lifts were working.
Many of you took advantage of the numerous events over the holiday week and it was wonderful to see so many smiling faces – especially the many children. I think S’Mores may have been the biggest hit, but I also heard that many enjoyed the talks by both John Egan and Robert Cocuzzo (Tracking the Wild Coomba Doug Coombs), as well as the Kids Pizza Nights, the Blizzard Boogie, VINS Birds of Prey, and other events. Personally, I thought the torchlight parade and fireworks on New Year’s Eve were the best ever and have set the standard for MLK and President’s Weekend.
My personal highlight, in addition to skiing and seeing so many friends on the hill and in the lodges, was having all of our family here at some point and enjoying times with them on the slopes and at aprés ski. My five-year-old granddaughter has blossomed under the tutelage of MA Raymond and is skiing confidently down Pushover and Lower Hot Shot. And my grandson-- who turned three on Monday-- got on skis for the first time and slid down the beginner slope by The Schoolhouse. The older ones in Blazers are all over the mountain, and my 12-year old granddaughter hiked Castlerock for the first time, which made her day.
The New Year, of course, is a time for resolutions. Mine are to focus on staying healthy by hydrating sufficiently each day, eating healthy local foods, keeping a positive attitude, and continuing to make Sugarbush better for everyone. Assisting this are the surveys that we are conducting throughout the season, and of course, hearing directly from you at any time.
A lot of people ask when we determine to run the Castlerock and Slide Brook lifts. Our goal is to run Castlerock and Slide Brook every day that we can. Ski Patrol has the total authority to determine when a trail should be opened or closed. We depend on their professional judgment completely. If you skied Castlerock, you would have seen that there is sufficient cover to open it safely, but we believed that the large number of skiers who would go there if the lift opened would cause the trails to be skied off within a day. Until we get more snow we feel that offering hiking limits the number of skiers accessing the terrain and preserves the trails longer until we received more snow. There has been a huge difference between the snow received at the summit and base and the few rain events we have had have removed the lower level snowpack on the natural trails. When Castlerock is open for hiking, patrol is stationed there to assist anyone in need. We do receive a lot of positive comments about the hiking and a number of the kids think of it as an exciting adventure and a "right of passage." This experience is part of the adventure and camaraderie that we offer to our guests. My own granddaughter experienced that last weekend. Nevertheless, we do want the lift to open for all as soon as possible.
With respect to Slide Brook, both the Tram Authority and we require that our lift mechanics on their snowmobiles can get into the 40 towers on this two mile lift safely and quickly so that people can be safely evacuated in the unlikely event of an evacuation. There are multiple work roads that need to be accessible to our machines. Again, the higher roads have ample snow cover but the lower ones have open water bars and very sketchy snowpack. After every snowfall we check all the roads and want to get the lift running as soon as it is deemed safe. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to reach out directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always open to hearing from anyone directly.
Before 2016 ended, we already had received more snow than all of last season, so our spirits are high, and we are anticipating some great skiing and riding through the month of April.
I hope you and your families have a wonderful 2017 that is filled with adventure and camaraderie.