The end of March is near, and the coverage for skiing has been great. There are not many years where we have had all the gladed trails open this late in March. Our plan will be to work at keeping as much terrain open as possible. We will be scaling back lift operations as we end March and head into April. Good Friday and Easter weekend, we will add some lifts to the list.
I know the skiing has been variable at times this spring. Director of Mountain Operations Eb Kinney and myself have been discussing this and there is no easy answer. The temperatures swings have forced us to not “mountain till” the snow as many nights as we did earlier in the winter. The challenge we have is that if we mountain till when it is forecasted to be warm, the snow will not set and then we will have soft granular snow. Once it gets to the rice state, it is impossible to get the snow back to being firm. The other side of that is that when we don’t mountain till, the surface is firm and then when the sun doesn’t come out or it doesn’t warm up, the skiing is not as ideal. This is a real quandary, and we hope that by grooming through the not so good days, we can make skiing better on the real good days.
We have announced that Okemo is looking at staying open well into April, as long as the weather cooperates and spring doesn’t happen quickly. The mountain tells us when we have had enough skiing and riding. The snow disappears and we end up closing trails. This year, we are going to try something new in regards to our April schedule. Okemo will remain open through Sunday April 12th 7-days a week. After Sunday April 12th, we are planning on going to a 3-day a week operation of Friday-Saturday-Sunday for operating days. Seasons pass holders who have a Midweek or Sunday Plus seasons pass will be able to ski and ride on Friday and Sunday. Those who have 7-day a week seasons passes will be able to ski and ride Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Our plan is to operate into April, as long as weather and trail conditions permit. Keep in mind that the services we offer will be adjusted after Easter weekend, and there will be limited skiing and riding, as some mountain areas will be closed. The Jackson Gore base area is scheduled to close after Sunday April 12th, weather permitting. We will communicate on our website, Facebook and by snow report emails to keep everyone informed as we shoot for a long season towards the end of April.
The Sunburst Six continues to be a real plus for our guests and has made the skiing and riding experience even better, especially on colder weather days. Okemo is committed to keeping our bubbles looking good. The Okemo Lift Maintenance and Operations staff have been cleaning the bubbles when they are stored in the barn and buffing out any marks on them. We are also taking a very strong stance on the defacing of the bubbles. Because of some diligence on the behalf of an employee who was riding on the downhill side of the Sunburst Six, we were able to apprehend a guest who was defacing the bubble. We are working on pursuing our legal options with this, and we have confiscated the guest’s seasons pass. Okemo takes a lot of pride in the Sunburst Six, and we hope you as guests will do too. Please help us keep the bubble looking its great bright orange color.
We are very excited to announce that lift serviced mountain biking will be an addition this summer at Okemo. Opening in July will be the Evolution Mountain Bike Park at Okemo Mountain. Mirrored after our sister Resort, Crested Butte, this new bike park will begin with several miles of mountain bike trails for novice and intermediate riders off of the South Ridge A Quad lift. These trails will begin at the top of the lift and work their way down to the base area. Work should begin on them in early May and we hope to be open by July 4th. There will be mountain bike rentals, and the main hub will be out of the Snowsports Shop.
This season has been a good one. We have had around 130 inches of snow, while 125 is our average. The skiing and riding has been great, because we did not have those freeze/thaw cycles during the heart of the winter. This made for some really good conditions, and I hope you were able to enjoy some of this season’s great skiing and riding.
Enjoy some spring skiing, and we hope you visit us this summer.