Friday, February 16, 2018

Presidents Weekend Update



Greetings,

The presidential holiday is here and Okemo is ready to work hard to provide the best possible experience we can. This coming weekend's weather is looking good. Friday’s weather has been overcast and cloudy, but we are expecting that Saturday, Sunday & Monday will be sunny with temperatures in the mid-20s on Saturday and mid-30s or higher on Sunday & Monday.

The temperature will be dropping Friday evening and snowmaking will be starting up and running on as many mainline trails as possible. These will include Upper World Cup, Lower World Cup, Count Down, the Summit Area, Sapphire, Upper Arrow, Lower Arrow and the Base Area. Grooming will be done across the mountain on open terrain. It is expected that many of the gladded trails will end up being closed until the snow softens up.

Okemo staff will be working hard to provide an enjoyable resort experience. We will be at full operation in all our departments. This includes all our culinary outlets, all lifts & carpets, as well as our Nordic operation, Ice House, Spring House, Snow Tubing & Mountain Coaster.

There will, no doubt, be some times when there are less than enjoyable lines to access our lifts and other services. Rest assured that our staff will be doing all we can to make those lines move as fast as possible. As we all know, it does take time to get guests checked in, load lifts and answer phone calls. Our staff is committed and will try to do whatever they can to speed up these necessary interactions.

There have been questions about snowmaking through February. Okemo is committed to building base depth, as well as working to provide the best possible skiing and riding through the ski season. We will continue to make snow as needed and when it is possible. We will make “game time” decisions on snowmaking as we head into the end of February and early March. There needs to be a “need” on the trails, a good window of temperatures and a forecast that assures us that the snow will stay around. You can be assured that we are constantly monitoring the conditions and long range forecasts so that we can stay on top of things.

The Okemo Team is ready and committed to a great week and we are hopeful that you will see the “Okemo Difference” while at the resort.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out and let us know how we are doing.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Friday, December 29, 2017

Holiday Week Update


Greetings,

The Christmas week is upon us with New Years almost here.  All of us here at Okemo want to thank everyone who has been spending time with us out on the slopes and around the resort. 

We are experiencing a real winter. This is like the ones your grandmother told you about when she had to walk to the one room school house up hill -- and who ever got there first had to start the pot-belly stove to warm up the room!  This is great for skiing and riding and if you dress for the conditions it can be truly enjoyable.  

It is important to communicate with our loyal guests and let you all know what we are thinking for the future here at Okemo as well as why we do some things.
  • I’ve had many people ask me about the weather event we had last week. The weather was a mixture of freezing rain, snow and then rain in the base.  The Okemo staff worked hard to keep the lifts running but we just weren’t successful to keep them going all day.  We take the closing of a lift very seriously but safety for our guests and our staff is our first priority.  When a lift is closed we put the information up on the reader boards at the lifts and in the lodges, we also have a Mountain Update link on our web site and we post to our Twitter page.  A lot happens quickly during weather events but we work hard to communicate what we know. 
  • There are times when the Jackson Gore lifts have issues and we have to run shuttle buses from Jackson Gore.  This is never an enjoyable event for anyone.  I can assure you we will be reviewing our communication. I heard from several guests that they were unaware that the Quantum Four was not running after they had ridden the Coleman Brook Express.  Not a good situation and one we can improve on.
  • Why are we making snow around the Black Ridge triple and Base Quad A after we have gotten over 2 feet?  Okemo will remain aggressive in our snowmaking. We will continue to make snow when it is cold to keep the water flowing.  Our plan is to make snow tonight so we need to keep the water flowing and some snowguns running.  It is very hard, and at risk of freeze-ups, when the system is charged in temperatures like this so we continue to make snow during the day.  Making on Black Out is our objective to help create the terrain park as well as build moguls for competitions and guest enjoyment.  I apologize for those who were inconvenienced while riding the lifts. The snowmakers work hard to constantly adjust the snow guns,  but at times we just can’t get it right.
  • Our snowmaking plan is to make snow in the Superpipe, finish Hot Dog Hill & Black Out and then when we get out of this polar vortex, head towards the South Face area and make on Wild Thing, Punch Line & Dreamweaver.  We will also be making on Big Bang & Triple Sec to finish things up.  Some trails will be resurfaced to keep the snow texture top notch during the next week to 10 days.
The entire Okemo has worked hard in this cold weather.  From Lift operators, Culinary staff, parking attendants, Mountain operations staff, Hotel and Resort Services staff.  They all have contributed to make your experience here at Okemo and enjoyable vacation.  While we can’t control the weather, we can control the helpful and friendliness we provide.

Thank you for your support of Okemo and on behalf of the entire Okemo team, we want to wish you a very Happy New Year!


Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Heading towards the Holidays at Okemo



Greetings,

New snow has covered the ground and it's looking white around the resort.  Winter is here.

As of the weekend of December 9th we have 36 trails which is almost 200 acres of skiable terrain. Even though we have received the first snowfall of the season, snowmaking will continue at every opportunity while we have these colder temperatures.  During the past week we added trails in the Jackson Gore area, some in Solitude -- and most likely will be adding Rimrock and trails around that area early this week.   The plan will be to work on Upper & Lower Chief, Sidewinder, Quantum Leap & expand teaching terrain in Jackson Gore as well as beginner terrain in the Clocktower base area. 

The other areas we will put some of our snowmaking capacity on will be Wardance, Sachem, Ledgewood, Kettle Brook and the Morning Star and Solitude lodging trails. The lodging trails are important to Okemo and we should be opening some of these with the weather expected this week.  Wardance has been tougher for us this year as the snowguns we have on the trail are the standard HKD variety and to use these guns the temperature requirement is below 20 degrees.  This coming week looks like that will happen.  Without Wardance thus far, we have been holding race training on Sapphire. Okemo also hosted a VARA slalom race on Nor’easter.  We understand this setup is not ideal and will work hard to get snow on the Wardance race trail.

During the past week or so there have been a couple days where the skiing conditions on some of the trails has not been ideal.  In fact it probably wasn’t good at all!  We realize this and are not proud of the initial opening on some of these trails. We realize that some of the Jackson Gore trails weren’t ideal when we opened on Friday. In order to help make the skiing and riding better we are going to let trails “sit” for 24 hours after heavy snowmaking. We will begin grooming after the 24 hours of “time out”.  This allows the snow to settle, some of the water to leach out and makes for a better surface.  Rimrock will be an example of this. We will finish snowmaking on the trail tonight and then won’t plan to open the trail until Tuesday.  We can’t do this every time, but will whenever possible.  Trails may not open as quickly but the skiing, when they do open, will be better.

Our RFID ticketing system at the lifts is working well. We appreciate your patience when it comes to working through any challenges. Most of these are quickly fixed -- and much of the time right at the lift with the gate monitors. If you are asked to go down to the resort services desk that means that the problem is more than what can be done on the phone.

Thanks for your support and as always let us know how we can improve.


Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Off and Running here at Okemo



Greetings,

The Okemo blog is returning and will be in the winter mode moving forward with more timely updates.

Skiing and riding at Okemo have been great for the Thanksgiving weekend.  The snowmakers and groomers provided 20 trails and lift operations and lift maintenance crews had 5 lifts operating. The skiing has been good with very carveable snow and, even though we have had changing weather conditions, the snow has remained pretty consistent.  This late fall/early winter pattern fluctuates dramatically, but the good news is that we have not seen a lot of melting of the snow crystals and thus, the skiing has stayed more consistent.  The other good aspect of this time of the year is that even though the sun is out, the angle of the sun is lower and doesn’t heat things up as much.  So there is your weather lesson for the week!

As the ski season marches on, Okemo will continue to make snow when we can.  Don’t be fooled by looking at your thermometer and saying, “Hey Okemo must have made snow --  it is 30 degrees this morning”!  When we talk about making snow at every opportunity what we really mean is that there is a window to make snow, not just that the temperature dropped to the high 20’s late at night.  Always keep in mind the old saying, “It is always coldest before the dawn”. Okemo snowmaking needs temperatures below 25 and we need a “temperature window”.  2-3 hours is a minimum most of the time, as it doesn’t even make sense to get the system charged unless we will have some consistent snowmaking time.  It takes between 90 to 120 minutes to charge both the air and water system to make snow on the Summit area, Jackson Gore, Solitude or South Face so we want to be sure we are getting a good window.

So what is the plan?  Snowmaking this week we will be working on Jolly Green Giant, Defiance, Coleman Brook & Mountain Road. We also will put some guns on some of the existing terrain to keep the surface up to snuff.  Our plan is to head towards the Jackson Gore area by the end of the week if the weather cooperates. We can only begin snowmaking after December 1st in the Jackson Gore area because of wildlife permit conditions.  Looking at the weather it looks up and down this week but there does look to be a pattern change the first week of December which hopefully be positive for winter weather returning and staying around.  We also have Wardance on the list and will be heading toward some of the lodging trails like Sachem, Ledgewood & Kettle Brook.  No promises can be made but we fully understand the need to get those open as soon as possible for our loyal guests.

As for grooming, we have our groomers hired and most are working now. We have a lot of returning staff which is great as they know the product that our skiers and riders are looking for.  The groomers are working at night to get the skiable terrain done and most importantly to set up the snow so it is ready for the morning. We also have a couple who come in at 5am and take care of any snowmaking or other small projects.  The Mountain Operations staff are always looking to make the on-mountain experience even better than the day before.

Thanks for your support and as always let us know how we can improve.

 

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Season End Approaches



Greetings,

April has arrived and the snow and colder weather stayed with us.  This spring has been an unsettled one, no doubt.  It is looking like the warm weather and bright sun will now be with us for a while and that will make for some great spring skiing to finish up the season.

 
When the season ends on Easter Sunday, April 16th we will have skied and snowboarded 144 consecutive days beginning on November 23.  The weather had its ups and downs but all and all we had some great snow, wonderful ski & ride conditions and a strong season.  There is always the question about why end the season now vs keeping it going as we have open trails.  This is always a debated question amongst some of us here at Okemo.  In the end, we look at the long-range weather, look at the what we feel the conditions will be and we look at business levels.  This week is beginning a warm period that is looking to be extended into next week and this will no doubt change the look on the mountain.  I know we cannot please everyone with the decisions we make on closing day but it is important to note that there is plenty of discussion.

 
This coming week skiers and riders will see some changes in operation which will include the closing of the Jackson Gore area during the week and reopening on Good Friday, April 14th and remaining open through Easter Sunday.  This is a good balance and will allow some consolidation of operations on the Clocktower side for most of the week.  We will be operating Base Quad A & The Sunburst Six beginning on Monday April 10th. There will also be ticket pricing changes when this begins.

 
I want to thank each and every one of our guests who spent time with us here at Okemo this past winter.  We appreciate so much the confidence you have in committing to ski with us if for a day or the entire season.  I understand there is a certain amount of trust that is needed when you drive to the mountain, walk to the lodge, get your ski gear on and head out on to the slopes without really knowing what to expect.  Hopefully the entire Okemo team has proven to you that you can trust us and we will continue to provide the best possible mountain experience each and every time. I also hope that if we do stumble, that we do what we can to make it right for you and show you that we want you to return.

 
Okemo is not just winter and our summer operation opens soon.  The Okemo Valley Golf Club and Tater Hill Country Clubs will be open the links soon for all you golfers out there and the Okemo Adventure Zone will be opening on Memorial Day.

 
Thank you so much for your support this season. We know you have choices and really are thankful and appreciative that you choose Okemo!

 

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Snowmaking in March





Greetings,

If you weren’t on the mountain this past week, you missed some great skiing and riding. Yes, I know you are going to say it was warm, but that made it even better! The weekend was much better than was forecasted, with no inclement weather until after the lifts closed on Saturday. Sunday's snow was firm, but the surface was edgeable and guests shared some positive comments on their experience.

Did I tell you that we will be making SNOW IN MARCH???? Cold weather is arriving ... we are expecting sunny skies and temps in the teens to low 20’s during the day. In an effort to extend spring skiing, SNOWMAKING has started again this week. Sunday night our snowmakers were very busy and are scheduled to come back Thursday afternoon. We plan to focus our snowmaking efforts on the main line trails and up around the summit area. We are also heading into the Clock Tower base area to build some depth. Snowmaking in March is a serious commitment to a long spring season! 

The efforts of our Snowmaking Team, along with almost 100 inches of natural snow, has given the distinction of the most acreage, most miles and most open terrain in Vermont to Okemo!  We are skiing and riding on 612 acres and over 40 miles of trails. That, along with snowmaking in March, means a long season. 

We plan to monitor midweek lift usage as well as our other operations. We may make some adjustments, but we will keep everyone up to speed through updates to the Snow Reports page of Okemo.com. My goal is to be up front;  everyday I try to make decisions before the resort opens, in the hopes of making it easier for our guests to make decisions. Without a doubt though, the best laid plans don’t always come together. Sometimes we end up making adjustments on the fly. We will always let you know through the web site, Facebook and Twitter.

March is here, snowmaking is going to happen as temperatures permit and we have the most snow!  It doesn’t get any better than that! Enjoy and thanks for your support this season.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Late February Update





Greetings,

The month of February has brought plenty of snow, sunshine and warm weather. Okemo guests have been treated to great ski & ride conditions and we expect it to continue into March. 

This past holiday weekend was a good one at Okemo. While there were no records set, skier visits were very strong and I can’t thank all of our loyal skiers and riders enough. There were some operational challenges, including longer lift lines, slower than normal food service, and some muddy parking lots, but Okemo continues to work on all aspects of our operation and we strive to provide the best experience possible for our guests.

I have been asked about how this past week's weather pattern has affected the skiing conditions and snow. There's no doubt that the snow has been more edgeable and carveable. Grooming has been happening every night and the groomers have been changing their patterns to mix things up. The grooming begins in Solitude each night, since it is closest to the Maintenance Shop. As soon as ski patrol finishes their nightly sweep, the groomers head to either Jackson Gore or the South Face area. Switching things up allows for each area to set up differently. The area which is groomed first is always firmer and on sunny days, can be the best place to start your day of skiing or riding.

Snowmaking will continue, even as spring approaches, whenever temperatures permit and we will remain aggressive in keeping our trails open and lifts operating. The snowmakers have been cleaning up some of their hoses and guns, but are poised and ready to go as needed. We are increasing snow depth for high traffic areas and working on some of our main line trails. Heading into March, we are expecting some great spring skiing and riding!

Okemo is stoked to host the Volvo Sponsored Sugar Daze concert in the Jackson Gore Courtyard. This free concert is scheduled for Saturday March 11th and goes from 3:30 – 8:30pm. A local warm-up act will take the stage at 3:30. MAGIC! will dazzle the crowd with their catchy fusion of reggae, pop and R&B, starting at 5:45. Then at 7:15, two-time Grammy and World Music Award nominee Paul Oakenfold will perform. Sugar Daze is always a great time for everyone!

This week, Vail Resorts purchased Stowe Mountain. Okemo has congratulated Vail on their purchase and we welcome them to Vermont. Stowe is a great resort and we are sure that Vail will continue the great skiing and riding experience that Stowe is known for. Having Vail in Vermont may result in Okemo adjusting some of the ski experience offerings available, but that will come with time.  Presently, we are in wait-and-see mode and we'll continue to concentrate on the positive energy Okemo has going, as well as focus on what we can offer for our guests.

Here is to a long winter and a great spring skiing experience. Thank you for your continued support and for a great February vacation week!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM