Win's Word

Hornets or Amusement Park

Monday, December 3, 2012

This past weekend saw two seasons of great skiing and riding. With really cold temperatures over two days, our snowguns were maximizing the water that can flow through the pipes and piles of snow were made on both the Bravo side as well as over on the Gate House pod. Both Jester and Organgrinder were opened top-to-bottom by Saturday afternoon, and we also had the Welcome Mat and the lower section of Easy Rider available for beginners. The quality of our manmade snow was really superb, and Lili and I enjoyed a number of runs in soft, dry snow.

We purposely left the mounds of new snow ungroomed for two reasons. First, our team always tries to let snowmaking product sit, if possible, for twenty-four to forty-eight hours before we groom. That allows moisture to drain, which provides a much better groomed surface. Second, with a couple of days of warm weather approaching, we would preserve what snow was made better than grooming it before a rise in temperature and rain. There is an excellent article about our mountain operations in this year's Sugarbush magazine that has more details on snowmaking and grooming.

Skiing over and around those mini-mountains was a lot of fun on Saturday, and we had one of the busiest December 1sts I can remember. Sunday was different. Since the temperatures rose, it was like a nice spring day with soft hero snow on trails like Upper Organgrinder. After a few runs you could surely feel the burn in the quads. Anyone who was out on Sunday was getting fit for winter.

I have been mentioning hornets and their behavior of building nests high this year. So far we have not seen the deep snow that those high nests predict. But remember, it is only December 3rd. November was colder than normal and that allowed us to blow a lot more snow that usual and open top-to-bottom earlier than in anyone can remember. This year we have put out nearly 50 million gallons versus 13 million last November. In order to get the Green Mountain Valley School racers on the hill early, we completed snowmaking on the entirety of the twenty-five acres on Inverness by December 1st, and they held their first slalom race of the season Sunday. Now we turn our focus to getting the rest of Mt. Ellen and the park ready for opening day in just a few weeks.

While November was colder than the norm, at times we have felt like we were in an amusement park on a rollercoaster. Just when temps are providing excellent snowmaking conditions, it warms up for a couple of days so we have to pause. That scenerio has happened again, so we will have three-plus days of no snowmaking. Temperatures are predicted to fall late Tuesday or early Wednesday, however, allowing snowmaking to continue. At that time, we will assess where we need to refresh and where temperatures will allow trail expansion. If it is cold enough at the base, we will plan to finish Pushover and try to get the Gate House lift spinning by the weekend. I think this is less than 50/50 though. If temperatures are not good enough down low, we will focus on Ripcord and try to get those upper trails open ASAP and then work down to trails like Birdland and Murphy's Glades and then over to Snowball and Spring Fling.

Some of the weather gurus are saying that a different wintery weather pattern should begin shaping up by late next week, with cold temps and some of that stuff that the hornets have been promising.

Whatever happens this week, we will have some good skiing and riding this weekend. Timbers begins weekend lunch service Saturday and we have our Sugarbash party that night in the Castlerock Pub. Mountaineering Blazers begin this weekend, too, and the remainder of the Blazer programs start on December 15th. This is particularly exciting for me this year because two of my grandchildren will be first-time Blazers.

Make sure to check out the fun holiday events we have planned. And don't forget that the deadline for SugarDirect is December 17!

Keep thinking COLD and SNOW!


About Win Smith
President & Owner

So what would you expect a former Executive Vice President of Merrill Lynch to do when he retires? Lay low in the islands? Nope. He moves north and works seven days a week right here at Sugarbush. Check out what he's been thinking.

Learn More about Win Smith >


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