Monday, February 24, 2014
And so it began on Monday, February 10th. Sunday night's snowfall allowed us to open the Castlerock chair for the first time this season. It snowed again that Monday. Then at the end of the next week we got the dump we had been waiting for all winter – 29 inches of perfect powder.
Thursday and Friday were two of the best days I have enjoyed here, and good conditions continued through the President's holiday week. On Valentine’s night, Lili and I joined some friends for dinner at Allyn's Lodge. As we were getting ready to ski down, the clouds parted and the full moon shone. Skiing down on fresh smooth corduroy under the full moon was an incredible experience. Of all the nights I have guided a group down, that Friday was the most special.
Saturday, February 15th, was our busiest day ever. With all sixteen lifts running and the woods skiing well, people were dispersed everywhere so it really didn't feel crowded on the mountain. We used every possible parking spot that morning, but by 11:00 AM the early birds had called it a day and parking spots opened up for latecomers. Fireworks that night were really nice. Northstar Fireworks has done a great job for us this past year and each show brings some new surprises, like the red hearts this time. We had a fun family dinner in the Gate House prior to the fireworks and the Pairing of the Passions all day in Timbers.
We were also pleased to have Rebecca Armstrong from Ski Portillo visiting Sugarbush. She set up a table in the Owner's Lounge at Clay Brook and then in Timbers to talk about her fabulous Chilean ski resort. As many of you know, Sugarbush and Portillo have a wonderful history of partnering. Peter Estin, Stein Ericksen and Sigi Grottendorfer all were directors of the ski schools at both Sugarbush and at Portillo in prior years. Last summer, my son Win and I spent a week there and got in our first eight days this season. I highly recommend a journey there this summer.
Unfortunately, that weekend ended on a downer when a unit at the Mountainside Condominiums caught fire at 1:30 AM Monday morning and one of the three buildings was totally destroyed. Our hearts really go out to our neighbors there who lost their homes. Although these condos are not owned by Sugarbush Resort, the owners are season passholders and a number of our employees lived there and we had resort guests renting there as well. I am very proud of how our team responded to the fire. They immediately jumped in to help. We opened Timbers and provided shelter, food and beverages to those who were evacuated from Mountainside. And we ran shuttles back and forth to get people there. Our Mountain Operations and Mountain Water teams enabled the fire department to connect to our snowmaking system so that they had ample water and additional velocity to fight the fire. A special shout out to Hardy Merrill who was on scene early that morning and worked with the firefighters throughout that day and into the next. Fire engines from Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown, Waterbury and Stowe were on scene and were able to contain the fire so that it did not spread elsewhere. Fortunately, no one was injured. All the residents, their pets and all the firefighters are safe. Scores of people have already reached out to help our Mountainside neighbors, and a website has been set up for donations at www.mountainsidefire.org.
This past weekend was another nice one, after we recovered from the rain/freeze event on Friday. After eleven days of wonderful conditions Mother Nature threw some rain and ice our way, but it was a brief storm. Temperatures did not allow the groomers to get on the mountain until after midnight, but they did a terrific job making the mountain skiable (although a couple of areas opened a bit late to allow them to finish).
Ice is a lift mechanic’s worst nightmare, and our team did a great job of getting all the lifts operating Saturday morning. Sunday was a better day still, delivering blue skies and relatively warm temps. After a rain-and-ice event, the second night of grooming works wonders. I thought the picks of the day were Birch and Sunrise. Nearly 70 participants competed in our Mad River Valley Mountaineering Race, including our Mountaineering Blazers, and the first to finish did it in under two hours.
Our perfect conditions may be lost for a few days until we get some new snow, so you may want to stick to the groomed trails. But our base is deep and we still have potentially over two months of skiing and riding at Lincoln Peak since March is historically the second snowiest month of the year. In a prior Win’s Word, I reminded you of the Valentine’s Day storm seven years ago and we got another one this year. Seven years ago, we also had fabulous snowfalls on St. Patrick’s Day and on Easter late in April. Could this year be a repeat of 2007? Sure hope so!