Monday, January 3, 2011

Weather, Wind and What's Ahead

The year 2011 began with our first January thaw. I guess we should have expected such a "gift" since the weather has been ever changing for the past 6 weeks. One major snow storm, some mixed precipitation and a very cold December. Typical weather in Vermont. But a quick turnaround is the name of the game here, and snowmaking was back on as of last night. Our focus will be on both re-surfacing and patching existing terrain and working on new terrain.

Trails that have been open the longest will get first priority. These include Upper and Lower World Cup, Sapphire, Defiance as well as Upper and Lower Arrow and the base area. Some trails will get the full treatment and others will receive attention in certain sections, depending upon need. The weekend's warm weather opened up some thin spots on heavy traffic areas, so it will be obvious as to were we need to make snow.

New terrain to focus on will include the Pipe, Dream Weaver and the lift line trails. We will also revisit our slopeside lodging trails and do what we can to keep them open.

Now to wind. It goes without saying that our thoughts are with those who were injured in the Sugarloaf ski lift accident. Since that accident many of our guests have asked us what the wind procedures are at Okemo.

First, our Lift Maintenance department is staffed with top notch, experienced lift mechanics. Our Head Mechanic has been with Okemo for 20 years. His longevity is a strength not to be underestimated. He and his staff ride each lift everyday and focus on preventative maintenance all year long. Okemo's commitment to safety is both well-documented and respected in the industry.

Ski lifts are affected both by direction and speed of wind. Whenever there is a potential for a lift to be shutdown due to wind, our lift mechanics and mountain operations staff team up to constantly monitor the situation. Mechanics are vigilant to watch changing weather, operations staff ride the lift line on snowmobile to constantly assess conditions, and our ski patrol (riding the lifts) maintain a direct line of communication with mechanics. At any point any member of the team feels that wind is causing dangerous conditions they have full support to cease lift operations. Constant vigilance is not only very important, it is a priority.

This past week was very busy and hopefully you were able to enjoy some great skiing and riding. Receiving a snowstorm around Christmas is always a blessing and helped enhance the holiday week. The Okemo staff will now be working on making things better as we head into January. Thanks for your support and feel free to drop a note on how we are doing.



Okemo Mountain Resort said...

Local news station wcax was on site at Okemo Tuesday to learn more about lift safety. Check out the video:

Jonathan said...

Nothing but ice today guys, I would expect more from this grooming crew, Quantam Leap was ridiculous, let's chop the snow not just drive over it. Solitude was better but Jackson was pretty bad.

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. The past week has been very challenging in terms of weather - with two very warm days followed by a cold snap, and associated wind. We are working hard to get our surfaces back - making snow since yesterday and the hope of some natural snow is in tonight's forecast.