Thursday, December 9, 2010

When are we opening Sachem, and other snowmaking objectives

People ask me if I get out skiing at all. The answer is somewhat. I try to get out on the slopes 2-3 times a week, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. Tim and Diane [Mueller] encourage managers to get out and experience the snow so we can better answer guest’s questions and concerns. Barry Tucker and Eb Kinney, our VP of Mountain Ops and Mountain Manager also try to get out the same each week so they know what is going on. I haven’t gotten out this year yet, but plan to this weekend.

Besides "when will Sachem open", the most frequently asked question I get right now is what is the snowmaking plan?. Our goal right now is to get as many different types of terrain open as we can before December 26th. That means beginner, intermediate and expert trails. How we make that happen is essentially based on the weather forecast.

The forecast for the next 48-72 hours is usually the most accurate forecast, and the one we look to constantly. If the forecast is showing winter temperatures in the teens or below, the tendency is to go after the larger trails with more acreage that require more snow. If the temps are not as cold, we may look towards the shorter trails. At any one time, we have trail objectives for the lower mountain, mid-mountain and upper mountain so when the temperature is right, we are ready to move.

By this weekend we are hopeful to have Upper and Lower Chief open as well as Sidewinder. Nor’easter will be very close behind (BTW don't forget to get your P.S.P Pass, now required for entry into Nor'easter). Being 16 days from Christmas, we are also making sure that some of our snowmaking fire power is directed toward maintenance of trails that have already opened. Maintaining the surface on those trails, while at times challenging, is very important.

Another important objective is to make sure we get snow made on the trails with slopeside homes. Sachem will definitely be the one we head to as our mid mountain objective with the Kettle Brook and Ledgwood areas being our lower mountain objective. We complete the loop by heading over to the trails in the Morningstar/Solitude area.

Bottom line is that every single trail is important to us as well as you. We do our best to prioritize and balance what we feel will make the best skiing and riding experience possible. Please continue to let us know about your skiing and riding experiences and Happy Holiday’s.

Bruce Schmidt
VP and GM
Okemo Mountain Resort


meccc1 said...

I'm 46 years old and paid north of a $1000.00 for a pass and now I am told I need to take an online test to go on Nor'easter. Okemo just continues to become more of a joke!

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

meccc1 - i am sorry you feel that way. we take the safety of our guests very seriously and this program is our way of helping spread the word on terrain park safety. keeping all our guests safe is priority #1

Anonymous said...

So the most common question is "when is sachem opening" means that is it IMPORTANT to MANY of YOUR customers. Obviouslyy you DON'T really care about your customers as Sachem is not open this weekend. I now see that Okemo no longer cares about it long time pass holders that have supported this mountain for a VERY long time. You no longer GET IT

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

Erikim - if we didn't care about our guests' experiences, we wouldn't ask - or listen- to your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to write. I too wish Sachem could have been open for this weekend.

Brian J. said...

I read the "When are we Opening sachem" blog, but it never actually said, a) when you are opening Sachem, or, even, b) when you are HOPING to open Sachem. And I have two gripes.

First, I think most people can understand that Okemo cannot control the weather and that the best laid plans etc. Yet, at the same time, you presumably have some idea as when you'd like to open Sachem if conditions permit, and also as to the worst case scenario. So, given that the people who own or rent on Sachem would really like to know so that they can make plans, what's wrong with sharing your best approximations as to best case and worst case?

Second, I think most people can understand that some trails are easier to cover than others, and also that some trails (e.g., a way to get to the Northstar) are indispensable. Yet, I don't understand the logic behind making Wardance, or other non-essential trails like that, a priority over Sachem and the other trails that access the condos. If you cover Wardance, you have a trail people can ski. If you cover Sachem instead, you still have a trail that people who don't live on Sachem can ski, but you additionally have saved everyone on the trail from having to drive or hike to the resort. Further, while this is obviously a matter of taste, I don't see Wardance as being any better than Sachem for the mass of skiers and riders who don't live on Sachem. I mean, is there really anyone out there who would say, "Damn. The resort is just not the same without Wardance. I wish they done Wardance before Sachem."

So, not to pick on Wardance, which is a nice trail, why would you ever prioritize a non-essential trail like Wardance over Sachem? And I don't quite get the point about providing a variety of trails. Wardance is pretty much like Lower Arrow (also open), and nothing that is now open is anything like Sachem in terms of the ambiance (houses/condos) and the skiing (lots of curves).

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

Brian - sorry for the delay in responding.

I apologize if I was vague about when we would open Sachem. I just didn't have a date - and was not sure how long it would take us to recover from the mild temperatures early in the week. My goal was to layout our tentative plan - giving general direction as opposed to specific dates.

As of this morning our intention is to have Sachem open by the weekend.

As for Wardance, the focus there is really for race training. We have about 300 racers that rely on that terrain for speed and gate training purposes. The priority exists to give them a safe place to train away from the general skiing public.

One final note on Sachem. What makes this trail so attractive to so many people is it's good ol' New England atmosphere. It is very wooded with tree canopies that provide quite a unique ski experience. We have tried to maintain that, but unfortunately that means no HKD guns for snowmaking. To cover the trail, we actually need to drag the ground guns in. It's a bigger project, a longer process... but one that is worth it in the end when we drop the ropes.

I hope that helps answer some of your questions.

darrin said...

I will have to chime in for the management. Good answers to the Sachem questions. As a skiier who never wants to drive I have also been watching keenly for Sachem posts. A little bit of pre-emptive disclosure might have alleviated some of these concerns.