Wednesday, February 22, 2012
It was great to see so many people here over President's Day weekend and it is wonderful to see so many still around this week. Our groomers really set-up the trails well. And a few Nor'inchers last week covered the mountain will some nice soft snow.
I think my favorite run was Ripcord on Saturday morning, although a newly groomed Stein's on Monday was a close second. I know that Ripcord was Lili's favorite. My Valentine to her was for us to get on the Heaven's Gate lift five minutes ahead of the official opening (I rarely do this) and ski down together on a groomed Ripcord with a couple of inches of fresh snow on top. It was heavenly.
On Saturday morning, trails like Twist, Moonshine, The Mall, Tumbler, Exterminator and FIS were skiing great with the new snow, as were all the groomed trails. We had 7,500 guests that day, so understandably by the end of the day a number of the most frequented trails did get scratchy. But our groomers worked hard overnight and everything was once again in excellent shape early Sunday morning. That day turned out to be the busiest of the year with nearly 8,200 visitors.
Our mountain absorbs skiers. The lift lines were short and people were spread out over both mountains. There were even places where good tree skiing could be found. Mt. Ellen was the busiest I have seen it in years, which is why the mountain seemed so uncrowded despite our near-record number of skiers and riders.
Murphy's Law was partly responsible for this. At 9:58 AM, we had a mechanical issue on the Bravo lift. Scott, our lead mechanic, got there immediately and quickly diagnosed the problem. One of the anti-collision sensors at the top terminal had failed, causing the computer to shut down the lift. He manually overroad the sensor and got all the people already on the lift off safely. As I arrived to see what was happening, Scott confidently said, "We already have the part in the terminal and it will be repaired in thirty minutes once everyone is off." Thus, we were able to let everyone know exactly what was happening and tell them which other lifts to take to access all our trails. You can take the Gate House lift to Castlerock and the Valley House to Heaven's Gate, so you can access all the trails that you could have gotten to taking Bravo. When people heard that Bravo was down, many made a mad dash to take the Slidebrook Express over to Mt. Ellen. This turned out to be a good unintended consequence because people were really spread out all day.
Thirty-three minutes after Scott's team began the repair, Bravo was operating again and ran smoothly thereafter. Monday was also a busy day. Overall, President's weekend turned out to be busier than last year. I think that people are finally realizing that, indeed, there is snow in the mountains and really good skiing and riding.
While many had to return home, a good number of families have stayed around this week and we continue to have fun events and activities each day. Our groomers are again aggressively working their blades and tillers to soften everything up. We groomed Upper Organgrinder on Monday and Tuesday nights and it is skiing beautifully. We also groomed Sunrise on Monday evening along with Birch.
Now the forecast for the upcoming weekend. Tony, our weatherman, is normally a conservative guy when it comes to forecasting. This morning he said that we should expect a dusting tonight, 1 to 2 inches tomorrow, and 3 to 5 inches Thursday night into Friday with flurries over the weekend. I don't want to jinx things by telling you this. But it is looking like a good weekend to be here. Keep your snowdances going.
Finally, a reminder that we are having a new and really fun event on Friday night called Canvas and Cocktails. Lili, a professional artist, will provide instruction to artists of all abilities as they create a unique painting while enjoying their favorite drink. Sip your way to a personal masterpiece beginning at 6 PM in The Schoolhouse.
Hope to see you this weekend.