Saturday, January 21, 2012

A day in the Life of Okemo behind the scenes....


Guests come to Okemo for skiing and riding and we work hard to provide the best experience possible. The sun comes up, the lifts get turned on, the snow is groomed and presto, guests are skiing. While it is great if it all works that way, there are many moving parts before any one takes “First Chair” and can head out to the slopes. In an effort to give you an understanding of what happens, here is an example of an overview of 24 hours.

Grooming has been going on for 2 hours. There are normally 5-6 snowcats on the slopes who are mountain tilling and power tilling. On a normal day, the grooming will begin in Solitude and get Jackson Gore done and then head towards the middle of the mountain. Late shift Lift maintenance is taking care of lift issues from the day or doing mid-winter annual checks.

Night Manager Brian Boudro has arrived and is having his nightly phone call with Mountain Manager Eb Kinney. Discussion centers on what is happening around the mountain and anything special that needs to be done during the night. Brian, as the Night Manager, will coordinate the grooming & snowmaking and handle snow removal, lost people, fire alarms and just about anything else. If it snows and the parking lot is plowed when you get to Okemo, it is probably because of Brian.

Snowmaking Manager Ray Kennedy is probably calling his night foreman “Junior” to check on what is going on before Ray goes to bed. Many Okemo managers will check in on their operations during their off time to make sure things are going OK. It is a real team mentality to make the guest experience the best possible on the mountain.

Overnight groomers and snowmakers arrive and punch in. They will meet with the 2nd shift or “3pm” groomers and take over where they left off. If the night is normal, then the overnight team will groom from Nor’easter to South Face. Many nights are not normal and the grooming routine will be different. Snowmakers will do the same thing and get the game plan. There may be some gun moving, as well as shutting down and moving to a new trail during the night.

Water operations Supervisor Rod Miller arrives. He will begin testing of the Okemo potable water systems, perform routine maintenance as well as check all the Okemo water well stations around the resort.

The day shift staff and managers begin to arrive. This includes lift operations supervisors, mountain managers, snowmaking management, ski patrol, lift maintenance, lift electricians, terrain park, facilities operation, shuttle operations, road maintenance, vehicle mechancis and others. Snowmobiles are started, trucks get moving and the day operation begins to wake up.

Night Manager Brian Boudro heads home after putting in his day.

Overnight groomers are back at the maintenance shop,  have refueled snowcats, and have had their daily conversation with the snowcat mechanics on any issues they had last night.

Ski patrol has looked at all the trails, lift maintenance is riding their lifts (every chairlift is ridden every day), and skiing and riding is happening.

Water operations supervisor heads home.

Noon snowmakers shift have arrived and are debriefing the midnight shift. Gun locations are discussed, trails for night snowmaking are talked about and any issues are put on the board.

Afternoon grooming shift arrives and heads out on the slopes. Night facilities maintenance arrives and reviews issues with the day crew. The night facilities guys will be responsible for maintenance at the Jackson Gore Inn, Okemo facilities and many condo units.

Ski patrol begins sweep of the trails. Toboggans are put away, ropes coiled and bamboo markers put to the side of the trail.

The night cleaning staff begins working in the base lodges as well as begin to unload the food and beverage product and prepare it for transport by snowcat to the summit lodge and sugar house.

The day comes to an end for lift operations supervisors, mountain managers, snowmaking management, ski patrol, lift maintenance, lift electricians, terrain park, facilities operation, shuttle operations, road maintenance, vehicle mechanics and others. Snowmobiles are put away, trucks parked and the day operation wraps up for the day.

So there you have it, a quick overview of what goes on during a 24 hour period at Okemo. It is because of the above mentioned staff as well as so many others that the skiing and grooming is top notch, the lifts operate and are maintained, the trails are patrolled and the facilities operate.

The entire Okemo staff have been working hard to deal with the challenges this year and try to outsmart mother nature. Hopefully you, our guests have realized this effort and have not been impacted too much. Snowmaking continues as we are heading into February. Thanks for your support.

As always thanks for skiing and riding with us. If you want to follow what is going on from my desk, follow me on twitter @okemogm

See you on the slopes.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM


BG said...


I have muliple mid week passes and have been to Okemo alot this winter. You guys are doing a great job with the snow. I have been up twice (on Fridays) to run NASTAR and both times closed. (last time being today) I am trying to up my ranking before Nationals in UT, but I haven't been able to run. It seems no one at your Resort Services can tell me when it is open or not. I even called today before my commute and was told yes, Friday through Sunday 2.00 a run. Then when I get there Bull Run Nastar Shack was a ghost town. (no gates) I asked again at the desk before heading out to ski and she said they must be running late today? So I ask the lift ops person when getting on, and he said there is some training on Wardance and not enough help to do both? So I have to ask, how am I supposed to know when you are running or not? This is a little frustrating as I have a mid week and can't come up on the weekend to run Nastar. Any thoughts? Sincerely Bill Greenwood email

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

Bill - Thank you for taking the time to write, and I appreciate your comments regarding our snow. It has been a challenging winter, no doubt, but our snowmaking and grooming teams have definitely risen to the occasion.

In terms of the NASTAR course, I sincerely apologize for this lack of service. Frankly, there is no excuse. The course should have been open, was planned to open, and did not due to a breakdown of communication. Bottom line is we need to do a better job.

I can assure you the course will be open Fridays through the end of February, at which time we will evaluate conditions.

I would like to extend to you three complimentary runs through the course, and will be in touch separately via email.

Please accept my apologies,