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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

8,000-9,000 gallons per minute!

Okemo uses a weather service, called Northwinds Weather. This weather service is used by many resorts in New England and does a really good job of forecasting hourly temperatures as well as elevation weather. Tony, the meteorologist, even visits Okemo to get to know the terrain so he can predict with more precision. Of course that means we blame him when we don’t have good, cold weather! His forecast for the next week? "Partly Cloudy with Flurries" and temps good for snowmaking.

At our morning snowmaking meeting, Barry Tucker VP of Mountain Ops, Eb Kinney, Mountain Manager, and Ray Kennedy, Snowmaking Manager, were all talking about how good things looked out on the mountain. Ray spoke of the fact that he has been able to max the system. That means we are pumping any where between 8000 – 9000 gallons a minute!

Eb spoke of how good the snowmaking was on Upper and Lower World Cup, but he was not happy with how firm things were on Saturday. Barry went out on a limb and said Solitude lifts and trails will be open by this coming midweek, with Jackson Gore by the weekend. Somewhat different than last week and for that matter last year. (If you don't recall, we opened for the season on this day, Dec 5th of 2009.)

Our plan continues to head towards Jackson Gore and add new terrain. We fired up guns on Lower Chief, and Heaven’s Gate and Screamin Demon are almost done so Solitude can open. Over in Jackson Gore, snow has been made to the base of the Jackson Gore Express and we are now headed down towards Fast Track and Inn Bound. Our plan is to work on Quantum Leap and Vortex and open them right along with the Jackson Gore lift and trail pod -- it is just so much efficient to make snow under a lift when its not operating.

These temperatures will also allow us to work in the Clock Tower base area. We expect to have the Basin Carpet and teaching area ready for the weekend as well as expand terrain around the bottom of the lifts, Open Slope and Bull Run. That will go a long way into making this place look more like a ski resort! Work will also began on the mid-mountain trails such as Wardance & Sel’s choice.

At the same time, we are going to keep some guns on existing terrain to make sure surfaces stay in top shape. Lifts operating this week will include Quad B, The Northstar, F-10 Carpet and the Glades Peak. On the weekend, we will add the lifts in Jackson Gore, Solitude and Green Ridge. For those wondering about the slopeside trails, we will be heading to them as we get closer to Christmas... we never forget them. :)

Grooming continues every night. In fact, it's time to take some of the guys off the Mountain Coaster project and get them started on their "winter" job of grooming. Lets all hope Winter is here to stay.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo Mountain Resort

'Bridging' the gap

Another major step towards finishing the Mountain Coaster was completed today. This morning at 8:30, the Mountain Ops team craned the bridge to the Jackson Gore base into position. Your loyal Okemo Mountain snow reporters got to witness this spectacle first-hand and let me say, the evidence of careful planning and solid teamwork was clear. The bridge was positioned on the concrete blocks in only 30 minutes!

The bridge contains two levels of track. The lower will connect to the 1600' uphill climb, and the top will carry you back across the river on the way down to the Jackson Gore base at up to 25 mph! This is going to be such a great ride, we can't wait to see it completed!

Stay tuned and think snow!