Tuesday, December 11, 2012
As I walked into our Taste of Timbers Monday evening around 5:30, it was 48 degrees and raining hard. I began to reflect on last week's weather, not unusual for December. I am not sure how much of the great snow we made since early November disappeared, but it was significant. It was not a great week to own a ski resort.
On Wednesday last week, it was in the high 40s with an inch of rain. As the week progressed, temperatures were cold enough for snowmaking only for about 24 hours so we focused on resurfacing Jester, Downspout, and Lower Organgrinder for the weekend. On Saturday, Upper Organgrinder was firm and thin. Lili and I did one run down the skiers' left and it was a good workout, but two runs were not in the cards for me (even though Lili did another). The people who were really enjoying themselves on Organgrinder were the freestyle team. They love hard moguls, and they were skiing them well. The MRG race team was on the mountain Saturday, too, and it was great to see our neighbors enjoying themselves here. With the exception of Upper Organgrinder, the conditions Saturday were springlike and very enjoyable.
Unfortunately, it did not last. Saturday night was not cold enough for snowmaking but just under 32 degrees so the snow set up late. Our groomers started early Sunday morning but had time only for a pass or two, which meant some very firm trails that morning. It was not a great day and I was surprised how many people came out. They clearly had good edges. As the day went on, the clouds thickened and a new weather pattern came into the Valley. It started with a few flurries, changed to sleet, and ended with some rain. Fortunately, we did not get the forecasted freezing rain. Monday was dreary with intermittent rain showers during the day, but the snow was soft. For the few who came out, the skiing and riding was actually quite good. Remember, there is never a bad day of skiing, just bad equipment.
So we are back to Monday evening and it is raining hard but our Taste of Timbers was well attended. Gerry Nooney and his leadership team showed off their delicious new winter menu. We are getting very nice reviews on food quality under Chef Rich and food service under Marcus Champoux. You will see a few familiar faces at Timbers this season (like Caitlin at reception and John and Kevin behind the bar) but we also have many experienced new wait staff eager to serve you. Anyway, The Taste took my mind off the rain for awhile. I was dreading the morning.
Waking up Tuesday, I turned on my iPad. Our website reported temperatures in the 20s at the summit and 30 degrees at the base. The mountain was shrouded in clouds and there was no snow at our house in East Warren, just the soppy evidence of a lot of overnight rain. Roger Hill's voice on the radio affirmed 1.25 inches of rain in twenty-four hours. I didn't want to look at the webcam. But to my pleasant surprise, we reported three inches of new snow overnight!
As I drove into the parking lot, I could see that the slopes were white and Easy Rider appeared to have kept most of the snow we had made on it. Riding up Bravo, I was able to confirm those three inches of new snow and was thrilled to see how well the grooming had turned out on Downspout. The snow was full of moisture but there were no bare spots. It was soft and edgeable the whole way down.
The ride up Heaven's Gate was magical. All the trees were white with heavy snow. Ripcord was covered. Not enough to open, but a nice base for when we begin making snow there. I took my first run down Organgrinder. Since we turned on the guns just as the temperatures were falling, it was very heavy ("Sierra Cement" is an apt description) but it creates a perfect base. With more skiing on it and drier snow on top, it will ski nicely tomorrow. I stopped and measured with my pole on the way down and found areas with two feet of depth at some places. My second run was down Upper Jester to Allyn's Lodge. Some snow guns were going, refreshing the surface, and the condition of the trail was far better than I had expected. Again, no bare spots and good cruising snow. The trail of the day turned out to be a moguled Lower Organgrinder. The new snow was fresh and soft. I took the first couple of turns carefully, fearing an icy backside to the moguls, but there were none and the run down was heavenly. When I finish writing this, I am going back for more.
This has been a long tale with a happy ending. Our dark and stormy evening brought us some beautiful new snow. Once again, we dodged a bullet. So with our Blazer programs beginning this weekend, we will not only touch-up our existing trails but also move to expand. We are going to shoot to get the Gate House lift running, with Pushover beginning the intermediate trail, and to add more trails off of Bravo as well. While you can never predict the weather with total accuracy, the weekend forecast looks favorable and models are even showing the possibility of some more new snow late in the weekend.
In addition to the beginning of our Blazer programs, we are hosting the Tell-A-Friend Tour this Sunday.
See you on the mountain. Keep doing the snow dance!
P.S. Don't take my word for it, ask anyone who has been there recently and give our new Timbers Restaurant a try this winter!