Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Most Skiing and Riding in New England.....


If you have been out skiing or riding this week, you have probably seen a little of everything…..  10 days ago we were skiing powder, then some wet granular, back to loose granular then to Machine Groomed loose granular.  The past few days have seen a real swing in temperatures. Now that the temperatures have gotten colder, the snowmakers have been hard at work. 

Resurfacing has been the main focus, but so has heading to new terrain.  We have tried to balance the attack with heavy snowmaking happening over on Tuckered Out as well as the snowmakers were working on Promenade, Ledgewood and Kettle Brook to get them all open.  We also made on the main line trails from the summit. The plan will be to go to Easy Street & Home Stretch along with going to Punch Line and resurfacing Defiance.

The weather looks like we will have a warm up for the weekend which will probably affect snowmaking.  After the weekend a new cold front will be dropping in and with that we will head toward the Super Pipe and some of the terrain parks.  There is a need for more snow on Black Out to put in some features as well as some new snow on Nor’easter to add some character in the Super Park.  Also on the list will be the lower half of Timberline, Big Bang and eventually Upper and Lower Fall Line.
Because of all this aggressive Snowmaking and the committment to snowmaking with the purchase of over $1 Million in equipment, Okemo is leading New England with the most skiing and riding. 
           Most Trails open-74 Trails         
Most Lifts open - 18 Lifts
                 Most Miles open- 28.1 mile               
    Most Acres open - 445 acres

With the New Year coming all of us here at Okemo wanted to wish you a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.  Here is to great snowmaking weather, sunny skies and lot of skiing and riding days.

Let me know how we are doing.  Email at

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowmaking info and thanks for your support of Cares and Shares


For the past 8 days Okemo continues to have the most acreage open in the East….As we head into the second full week of December let’s hope the weather change stays this way for a while and not the back and forth we have seen.  These warm spells with some liquid moisture sure doesn’t help things out on the mountain.  The mountain operations staff is working to stay ahead of these weather changes, but no doubt there are struggles.  Snowmaking came back strong starting on Friday night.  The temperatures didn’t quite get as cold as forecasted. If you skied on Saturday, you probably noticed some great and no so great.  Limelight was a little off, but by Sunday things had changed quickly. Limelight was resurfaced with the new SV-10 guns and then left ungroomed.  The skiing was noticeably different and some of the best of the season.  Upper World Cup and Sapphire were also left which made for some great turns.

The plan has remained the same with snowmaking.  With the good snowmaking temperatures forecasted, we should meet our goals of opening Sachem, Quantum Leap, Vortex, Moonshadow, Line Drive, Moments Rest, Sprint, Rimrock, Bull Run and into South Face.  At the same time we will be using some of our snowmaking capacity and resurfacing some of the existing terrain we are skiing on now.  I’m hopeful to have 55 trails and 10 lifts by the weekend.

This past weekend Okemo sponsored our annual Cares and Shares day on Saturday 12/7.  Each year Okemo offers a reduced rate ticket for those who bring in 5 non-perishable food items.  This year we took in 2,275 non-perishable food items for Black River Good Neighbors.  Also in your generosity, Okemo Skier and Riders donated $1190 to the Good Neighbors program.  All of us here at Okemo can’t thank you enough for your support and kindness with this program. One of Okemos values is community and we are proud to support and help the Black River Good Neighbors.  A little unknown fact that many may not know, any leftover food at the end of the day from the Clocktower Base café and Sitting Bull is taken to the Mountainside house in Ludlow which is a home for Teens. We truly enjoy our relationship with them and grateful that we can help in a small way.

Come on up and check out the skiing. You will be impressed…  Thanks for reading and enjoy the snow.  Let me know how we are doing.  Email at

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Where are the snow guns headed?


I wanted to thank everyone who spent their Thanksgiving and Hanukkah holiday at Okemo this past weekend.  We are so appreciative of the positive comments we have been receiving.  I can assure you that I pass them right along to our snowmakers and groomers.  The entire Mountain Operations team has been hard at work doing their part.

The weather this week has done a flip flop, so we have had to deal with some cloudy skies with some fog mixed in and temperatures above snowmaking thresholds.  It has allowed us to move some guns, make some minor repairs, give the staff some rest and be poised to go hard when it turns cold this coming weekend.  Snowmaking temperatures look to return by Friday. 

Guns ready to go on the Sachem trail
Jackson Gore is ready and will be opening on Thursday. The new guns have really helped us in many ways and opening of Jackson Gore with limited temperatures is just another example.  Our plan now will be to head towards Quantum Leap in Jackson Gore as well as head towards Sachem, finish Moonshadow, head towards Line Drive under the Morningstar lift, get Bull Run open as well as begin the trek into South Face.  We are anticipating winter to settle in somewhat more which should mean colder temperatures to stick around.  There is also some talk of snow early next week.  Look for some more different things done like we did on The Plunge this past weekend.  Leaving the snowmaking piles as they were made for some exciting skiing and riding and a little twist in things. There are also moguls on Sel’s choice as of today.

I know that early December is a busy time in everyone’s life, but I do hope that you can break away and sample some of this great early season skiing and riding.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the snow.  Let me know how we are doing.  Feel free to email at

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Okemo takes on Boreas


11/27/13 – 2:23pm
Have no fear, Okemo will be returning to our prior form very soon.  Unless you live in Western NY, you have been experiencing the same weather as Okemo.  It has been wet and no matter how much we try to put lipstick on the pig, it is still a pig and you only frustrate the pig making them wear lipstick.  So it is wet and then it is going to get cold.  I think there is a saying like, “it isn’t the adversity that is recalled, it is how your react to the adversity”! 

Okemo is going to come out strong with snowmaking beginning Wednesday night.  Our plan is to let the snow sit and drain out Wednesday night and not groom during the 3pm shift.  We will have the Midnight groomers poised and ready to go to smooth things out and at the same time we will be getting the snowmaking going.  We are planning on trying to resurface the trails and then ski them without grooming.  We are hopeful that the new snow guns and the snowmakers skill we can do this.  At the same time we will be moving on to some other terrain.  Sidewinder isn’t too far away from being finished and we are planning on heading towards Wardance as well as Exhibition, which we already started on.

Saturday night as the clock strikes Midnight, we will be heading into Jackson Gore and working on many of the trails over there.  Blue Moon, Sunset Strip, Lower Limelight, Inn Bound, Expresso and Fast Track are some of the first ones.  At the same time we will look to begin on Moonshadow, Bull Run and begin to head towards the South Face area once Jackson Gore is finished. That is probably the middle of next week or weekend. 

We also realize the need for us to make snow on some of the trails with lodging on them.  They area also in our viewfinder with Sachem probably being our first one to knock off and then looking towards Line Drive and head towards Kettle Brook and Ledgewood.

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday are looking to be very nice. Sunny skies and temperatures 20 - 30 or so. Thanks for your support and confidence in all of us here at Okemo as we get through Winter Storm Boreau’s.  While he did have some bite, I don’t think he was as bad as was forecasted and we will recover in no time.

I hope that everyone has an enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday and a Joyous Hanukah celebration

Thanks for reading and enjoy the snow either on your skis or board!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Friday, November 22, 2013

What is the plan once the fog clears?


We are experiencing some Vermont November weather when it isn’t quite cold enough for snow and it stays overcast, foggy and a little dreary.  The good news is that this is only temporary and colder weather is right around the corner.  Okemo is experiencing one of the better starts to the ski season we have had in a long time. Research has shown me that this is the first year, A.R.S (After real snowmaking), that we have skied top to bottom on opening day.  Before snowmaking the resort did not open until there was skiing top to bottom! I have not spoken to one person who has missed the shuttle bus ride, except our shuttle drivers.   Okemo staff worked hard to have a great opening day, there were a few bumps, but my goal was to not be skewered by the SF and we almost met our goal, but not quite.

So where are we headed once the fog clears?  Snowmaking temps look to return early this coming weekend.  The plan is to head towards the Solitude area.  Work will begin on the Lower half of Sapphire, Village Run, Heaven’s Gate, Screamin Demon & Sunburst.  The snowmakers will also work at doing sections of Mountain Road. This is being done so as we head towards Jackson Gore in 10 days or so, we have a way out of the Gore.  If the temperatures hold, the plan will be to work on Southern Crossing and into the Jackson Gore Base area.  We can make snow in the JG base area, but cannot begin making snow above the upper railroad bridge as that property is owned by the State of VT and there is no snowmaking allowed until 12/1 due to bear migration.

In talking to Eb, our Director of Mountain Operations, we will be working on moving the rails and features off of Sapphire and onto Nor’easter trail during the next few days. It may take some time, but should be done before Thanksgiving.  I would anticipate having 30 or more trails and 7 lifts for the Thanksgiving holiday.

This coming weekend we will be skiing 18 trails and 4 lifts. Instead of operating the Green Ridge Triple, we will be operating the Glades Peak Quad to give skier and riders an opportunity to round trip Defiance and Upper World Cup if they would like.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the snow either on your skis or board!

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Opening Day 2013


Opening day at Okemo is here.  I hit the slopes, while not on first chair, I at least hit the 10th chair. What a great day to open. To go along with top to bottom skiing and riding, there were bright sunny skies!  The snowmakers and groomers had done their job getting the snow laid down and groomed out. Now no doubt it was opening day as the snow was firm and some spots narrow, but all in all pretty good.  Each day will get better with the snow being skied and worked from side to side and with the groomers out each night.

Moving forward the plan is to continue to add another way down from the summit to the base. It looks like we will be making our way down Sapphire, Upper and Lower Arrow and then Lower Mountain Road.  This will also allow the Base Quad to be opened. When we do that, we would not operate the F-10 carpet or the Sachem Quad at least until we had more terrain around those lifts.  We will probably operate the Green Ridge at least during the weekend.

There will be lots happening with the Snowsports shop sporting a new look, Base 68 Café will be open and the Sitting Bull will open over the weekend.  The summit lodge will also open and both will be open every day from this point forward beginning on Saturday.  If you do come up to pick up your seasons pass, our Resort Services desk will be open.  If possible, try to leave a little extra time as there may be lines.  When possible if a guest has a seasons pass which has been purchased on line and there is a wait, we will give a pass pending ticket to get you out on the slopes.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the snow either on your skis or board!

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Won't be long........

Okemo has had a couple days of snowmaking and now we will sit tight as some warm weather comes through.  After making snow for 50 hours or so, I can say we are happy with the new snow guns.  We have been hitting our marks with pumping water and the air being used is less, just as they were advertised.  This time of the year getting some rain like we are today, Thursday, is not a bad thing.  Replenishing the streams is always good when it is as dry as it has been.
With snowmaking going full steam ahead, there has been a renewed buzz around the resort.  The lift maintenance staff worked hard this past week with some other employees and completed the load test on the Green Ridge Triple chair.  This test is required every 7 years and involves loading the chairs with 110% of expected weight.  Okemo uses water in boxes lined with trash bags. The Green Ridge passed with flying colors.  The facilities department has been helping the culinary staff moving food into the summit lodge and sugar house before the snow flies to make it easier on everyone. The paper products and non-perishables are transported in early and stored in the buildings.  The maintenance staff is also finishing up capital projects, doing some carpentry, shampooing carpet and getting things looking good.

So what does next week look like?  Cold weather is forecasted to return soon. We are going to try and make snow on Friday night and thru the weekend as we can and the beginning of the week looks promising.  We are very close to having top to bottom skiing and riding.  My best guess is that we will begin with the F-10 carpet, Sachem Quad with skiing down to the Northstar Quad and then skiing on Upper and Lower World cup.  Work is going strong on Sapphire, down Upper Arrow to Lower Arrow and the Green Ridge to.  Okemo is going to be aggressive and it looks like we won’t have any problem opening on November 16th or perhaps before?

I will work on keeping you up to speed here as well as on our FB page and

Thanks for reading and we can’t wait to begin skiing and riding with you all!

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Big Question - When are you making snow?


It is that time when we all get a little more aware that the seasons are changing. The angle of the sun is lower, there is more wind and the days are shorter.  So that must mean skiing at Okemo won’t be too far away!  I can tell you that things are in heavy duty prep mode all around the resort.  The forecast for the next 10 days looks to be true fall like.  Temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s, frosty at night and some dips into the high 20’s at times.

                                            Okemo Summit 10/24/2013 - 7:45am

The big question I get this time of the year is when will Okemo begin snowmaking?  The question is never easy to answer with certainty, as there are so many variables.  What I can tell you is that we are watching both the short term and long term weather forecast and how the patterns are potentially going to play out.  Our target date for snowmaking is sometime next week.  There looks like a few cold nights early next week, and then some moderation with colder temperatures retuning the first week of November.  Okemo is planning on firing up the guns heading into November and this may be towards the end of next week.

As we talk about snow guns, the new HKD SV-10’s are in place and about ready to be turned on.  Work is finishing up in the snowmaking pump stations as is getting all the hoses on the guns and testing some repaired water lines.  Other projects finishing up are the new seats on the Green Ridge Triple, Load test on the Northstar is done, Squeels on Wheels barbecue has been moved to the base of the South Face Quad, Lifts and carpets tested and state approved, Rental shop carpet replaced, painting done and new skis and boards unboxed and bindings set, snow plows put on the trucks, groomer tracks put back on, and the snow tubing tubes have been checked for leaks!!  Those are just a smattering of the work that is going on.

Stay in touch with the Okemo Facebook page and web site for the most up to date news on snowmaking operations and the Blog will now be updated more often to keep you informed!!

Thanks for reading and we can’t wait to begin skiing and riding with you all!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Barry Tucker - VP of Mountain Operations. After 32 Years we say Thank you.....


On Friday August 30th, Barry Tucker will drive down the mountain one last time as an Okemo employee. Barry has worked at Okemo since February of 1982.  Being the humble man he is, he would always tell you that what was accomplished with him as the Mountain Manager and VP of Mountain Operations was because of the team. There is no doubt that is true. Barry always surrounded himself with good employees.  He always told me it is good to surround yourself with others who are smarter than you so they can do what you might not be able to.  Even though Barry always preached team, there is no doubt that the team would have never been as successful without the leadership he provided.  He knew when to lead in the front, but he also knew when to lead from behind and mentor and teach those around him.

There will be many memories shared, stories retold and all and all reminiscing about the years that Barry has been at the helm at Okemo.  He has only had two job titles at Okemo, Mountain Manager and Vice-President of Mountain Operations. To be honest, he would have been happy with no title.  Barry was never one to stand in the spotlight, but he was always been very proud of all that has been accomplished during the years.  Barry has always stood strong for Tim and Diane and Okemo Mountain Resort.  He required you to respect the company and while he would listen to concerns employees might have, he was always quick to let you know when he disagreed with you.  It was always eye opening for me when I would have a conversation with Barry about something that was on my mind or I was struggling with in my job and a few days later, he would come back with some additional feedback or thoughts. He has always been the type of guy who thought about you as an employee and cared for you as a person.

I know I speak for many of us when I say that I am the person I am because of Barry.  Many of us grew up in our families, were molded as individuals during our younger years and then we began to work for Okemo and learned so much more from Barry. Many times we never even knew he was mentoring us, it was just his way.  When we had tough choices to make, Barry would listen to us.  When we had career paths to choose, we sought out his advice.  I can honestly say that I am the Okemo VP & GM because of Barry’s support, guidance and direction. 

So we now must say goodbye and wish Barry Tucker the best of luck. He has earned an enjoyable retirement and years of doing what he wants to do with his family and friends.  We all know he will be hard at work on something and it is for that very reason that we respect and admire him so much.

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Monday, July 1, 2013

Okemo Happenings - Summer at the Big O!


Summer has arrived at Okemo Mountain Resort.  While it may not always seem like it because of the wet weather we have had, the Adventure Zone, Okemo Valley Golf Course, Tater Hill and Sawyer’s Sweep Zip line all have been open for guests to visit. 

The snow has been gone for a while so the Mountain guys have been hard at work painting, replacing parts and doing all that is done on the lifts, the buildings and the snowmaking system that we do each summer.  This year’s capital projects include a considerable amount of work being done all around the resort. A few examples include new round tables and upgraded chairs in both the summit lodge and Sugar House, New seat pads on the Green Ridge Triple Chair, New Rental Skis and Snowboards, Enhanced and upgraded software for on-line sales and inventory control in the rental shop, a new Challenge Course to enhance the Adventure Zone. (Challenge course is similar to a ropes course to some degree, but guests are attached to a cable during the entire course and there are swaying bridges, balance beams and other fun features.)This will be available for guests 4 years old and up.   Okemos Haul Back Challenge Course will consist of a beginner course and intermediate course and will have 7-9 events per course. No doubt our most visible capital project is the finishing touches that were put on the Toll Gate Wedding Garden. Here is a photo of what the new site looks like in full use.

With July 4th almost here, keep in mind that guests who stay at the Jackson Gore Inn or other Okemo Lodging properties receive a discount to visit the Adventure Zone, use the Zip Line or Segway tour as well as other discounts.  July and August are really stacking up to be busy with the highlight of the summer in August the Hops in the Hills brew fest.

Keep your ears open for some BIG news in August.  We have something planned that will enhance Skiing and Riding all season long…….. We hope to be able to announce around early August.  You heard it here first!

Summer in Vermont is fun, summer at Okemo is even better. Come and spend some time with us.  You will soon learn we provide the Okemo Difference all year round…….

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Time to put up the closed sign.........


I wanted to let everyone know that we gave it a try and we have run out of guests.  We knew this day would come, we just thought it would be a little later.

Okemo's last day that the lifts will be turning will be Sunday April 14th.  After a great run this season, a fabulous March and working at extending the season, our skier count has fallen below levels where it makes sense to stay open.  The weather for the past 10 days has been good, but even that has not brought out very many guests.  Between those who are buying a day ticket and seasons pass holders, it just doesn’t make sense for us to continue another week.

Closing for the season on Sunday April 14th will give Okemo a 158 day ski and ride season.  That is great news and ranks right up amongst some of the better ones.  If you are wondering the longest season, it was the 1991-92 season when we closed on April 26, 1992 and had 172 days on the slopes.

Many thanks to our skier and rider guests who made this a tremendous season and thanks to all our staff for your hard work this past winter.  Seasons pass sales will continue thru our deadline of April 30th.  Guests can go to or call 802.228.1600
Thanks for a great season
Bruce Schmidt
Vice-President & General Manager
Okemo Mountain Resort



Sunday, March 31, 2013

Season Extended....


Easter is here and so is spring.  March was a great month for skiing and riding.  The conditions were top notch, some natural snow and the weather was not too warm.  A real recipe for success.  Okemo has received over 10 feet of snow this past winter and this will allow us to stay open until Sunday April 21st!

Now April is upon us and there will be some operational adjustments as we finish up the season. 

Ø  Ticket pricing will be adjusted.  The best way to get an update on the latest ticket pricing is to go to Reminder that the spring fling bonus bucks can be used during the spring and we will continue to have on line deals.

Ø  In regards to lifts and trails, South Face lifts and trails pod and the Morning Star lift and trails pod will be closed midweek beginning on April 1st.  The plan will be to open up these pods for the weekend if the snow conditions continue to allow.

Ø  The Summit is closed for culinary operations Monday-Thursday beginning 4/1.  The Summit lodge downstairs will be open for our guests to use the rest rooms.

Ø  Epic is closed for the season. The building will be open for guests to use the restrooms.

Ø  Sugar House closed for the season

Ø  Coleman Brook Tavern Closed for Lunch Open for dinner 7 days a week until the 15th. Then closed Monday and Tuesday’s until Memorial Day weekend.

Ø  What is open for Culinary beginning Monday April 1:  Base Café, Sitting Bull, Round House, Coleman Brook Tavern for Dinner

Ø  Lift Tickets can be purchased at the Clock Tower Resort Services Desk and the Jackson Gore Resort Services Desk.  All Ticket windows are now closed for the season. Seasons pass sales are conducted at the Clocktower Resort Services desk, Jackson Gore Resort Services desk and the Administration office.

Ø  Ski and Ride lesson operations will continue through Sunday April 7th.  Snow stars will only be available in Jackson Gore for the weekend of 4/6 & 7.

Ø  Nastar Racing and the Amp Energy Air Bag will be closed for the season beginning on Monday April 1st. The Amp Energy Big Air Bag will be closed for the season beginning on Monday April 1st. Snow tubing is closed for the season beginning on Tuesday April 2nd. Timber Ripper Mountain weekends only thru April 14th.

I am hopeful many of you will extend your ski season and share some great times with us through April.  For those of you who can’t, thanks for your support this past season. We hope you will renew your seasons pass or purchase your first one.  Thanks for a great year and remember Okemo has lots going on in the summer too. Check out the summer activities at!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Changes in March


As I write this on St. Patrick's Day I think about how this past weeks weather is typical spring.  Warm weather, mixed precipitation and then back to cold weather, some snow, with always sun mixed in.  The word March come from the Roman God of War, “Mars”.  “Mars” was also the Roman name for Tuesday which is the third day of the week and March is the 3rd Month.  It also means change as in changing weather. The Suns angle is changing as it leaves the Southern Hemisphere and heads towards the Northern Hemisphere for our summer.  So as the sun begins to change position, there is a lot of upheaval in the atmosphere and adjustments being made and thus we get all types of weather from Mother Nature.

Speaking of change, there is a lot of discussion on the change in seasons passes offerings at Okemo this year. Namely the fact that Okemo and Stratton are not offering a joint season’s passes.  The Okemo/Stratton pass offering was an added-value benefit we offered on select season pass options.   Okemo and Stratton had a gentleman’s agreement to offer skiing and riding, but unfortunately after lengthy discussions and compromise, Okemo and Stratton could not come to an agreement and we are no longer able to extend this added-value benefit to our pass holders. I'm sure you know that this does not detract from the full experience of skiing and riding.  Okemo will continue to do what we do best.  Great grooming, snowmaking, early season opening, skiing into April, helpful and friendly staff and an exceptional resort experience. 

The extended forecast is looking good with snow on the way this week and more spring like temperatures as we head into next weekend.  Okemo is remaining committed to providing some great spring skiing with continued nightly grooming; we will be running a good selection of lifts and keeping open our facilities. 

There is a lot of skiing and riding left to be done this spring and some great events happening.  We are looking towards an end date of Sunday April 14th, but as we all know that is our target and things can change..

Thanks for your support and have a great spring skiing season.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 16 & March is here!


We are skiing into the 16th week of the season and heading into spring and it is looking like some great conditions.  Let’s hope that this year spring skiing will be strong. The last couple of years we have not seen the stars align which has meant a slower than expected March into April. This year is going to be different.

The new snow was welcome for all. The glades are holding up pretty good as are the natural trails.  This may change somewhat if the temperature gets to 40 or so by this coming weekend.  Ski patrol has been checking out the trails and does what they can to keep them open.  When we don’t have them open the SF checks them out anyway and gives a report on what we missed.  Okemo hasn’t put away the snow guns for good yet.  We have sent back all our rental compressors for the season.  The good news is that Okemo owns machines that can put out several thousand feet of compressed air, so if we need to touch up some areas, we will be able to do that.  The natural snow has been great to see as the surface is better and the making of it quieter.

What are our plans for the spring you ask?  Reservations are looking good as we head into the depths of March.  The next big event will be Festevol on Saturday March 16th.  This two band concert will have the doors open at 3pm with DJ Logic coming on at 4pm, OAR around 4:45pm and Yukon Kornelius around 7pm. should be lots of fun.  A new addition will be tent material walls on the side of the Ice house.  A welcome addition as the temperature drops. We also will be running some large scale warm air heaters into the building to hopefully keep things toasty.  Of course the temperature will probably be around 50, but if it isn’t, we will be ready!  Get on line and get your tickets now.  The Slush Cup will be happening on April 6th and the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge finals are on March 23rd.

As we get into March, we will be running lifts to access all of our trails.  At times there are adjustments that will be made depending on business, but with the great conditions, I am hopeful we can keep skiing lots of terrain.  Closing day on paper is forecasted to be April 14th, but Mother Nature usually has some say in that.

Enjoy the sun and fun as spring arrives. Don’t forget to spring your clocks ahead on Saturday night March 9th.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Birthday George Washington...........


Do you think that if George Washington were alive he would ski or snowboard?  I think ski, but try snowboarding as he was a man of the people and was willing to be a rebel.  We know he would enjoy winter sports after the winter he spent at Valley Forge he showed he could handle the cold and snow...

Washington’s Birthday weekend is upon us and the weather is looking good, the snow conditions are ideal and the mountain is in great shape. The staff is ready for the next 10 days and we are looking for a chance to wow our guests.  All 19 lifts will be operating each day and the lifts will open at 8am, 7:45am for those who have an Ultra Pass or are Gold pass holders.  The Big Air Bag will be open as well Tubing and the Mountain Coaster as well as Nastar.

Contrary to popular belief by some, including SF, Snowmaking will be continuing and building depth and enhancing the surface.  We plan to fire up the guns after the weekend as the temperatures permit and get after it.  The snowmakers have been helping on the lifts and shoveling decks as they wait for the go ahead.

Snowcat Excursions will be happening during the holiday week. This is a great way to see the grooming operation going on, check out the trails by going uphill and see the town from the summit. 

So this was a little update on what is happening as we head into the week.  Okemo staff is looking forward to providing the Okemo Difference. Let me know how we are doing.  Good or bad, it is always helpful to know how things are going from guests eyes…..

Happy Birthday George Washington………

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Looks like the Groundhog was wrong.........


February is here and it looks like we will begin with some snow! This year the new way we know when the storm is forecasted to be big is when the Weather Channel gives it a name. The storm forecasted for Friday/Saturday is named Nemo…..

So what are we seeing at Okemo? As you can imagine, I look at many different weather web sites and Okemo contracts with a weather reporting service. It looks like all forecasts are pointing towards lots of snow. I think it is going to be a good old fashion Vermont winter snowstorm. Nothing way out of the ordinary, but more than a few inches. My take on “Nemo” is that it is going to be slower than what they are saying and be prolonged into Saturday. I don’t believe there will be as much snow during the day Friday as they are forecasting with the bulk coming Friday afternoon and evening.
Bottom line, the skiing is going to be great. This snow is forecasted to be champagne powder. Lots of fluff! Okemo will get as much open as we can and leave as much powder as possible. Put this on top of all the snowmaking we have done since last Thursday and you have things looking good. We have gone from South Face to Jackson Gore and covered lots of acreage. Snowmaking will go on break for a few days while the storm goes on through and then we will reevaluate. We don’t want to screw up the new powder, and the snowmakers always need to help us snowplow and shovel.

Spread the word. Snow is on the way. My prediction is 10 – 16 inches of fresh powder by Saturday afternoon.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What goes on when you are not skiing.....


Have you ever wondered how the mountain gets going every morning? It is a process that flows like clockwork, although every so often there are a few wrinkles that need to be worked out but for the most part, the team work of the different department’s means guests are ready to ski and ride on time. There are many players on the team which make things happen. The team leaders who are out there every day & night include Barry Tucker – VP Mountain Ops, Eb Kinney - Mountain Manager, Brian Boudro - Night Manager, Greg Carter - Lift Maintenance Manager, Dave Thompson -Lift Operations manager, Jim Seiberling-Patrol Director, John Conway – Skier Services Manager, Ray Kennedy-Snowmaking Manager and then the grooming supervisors who include Art, John & Bill. On any given day, the work for the next day begins actually in the afternoon when around 4pm the groomers head out to prepare the slopes and snowmaking is on the trails.
Art coordinates with Eb to discuss where snowmaking is happening, special requests, trails to not groom etc. At around 8pm of so, Brian will arrive for work and speak with Eb at home to discuss anything special. Brian will be the go to person during the night and coordinate the dance between snowmaking, grooming, snowplowing when needed, and anything else. At midnight the new grooming crew will arrive and John and his crew will head out. Around 5am, the day mountain ops staff will begin arriving. There will be meetings with Eb, Barry, Ray & John who will then communicate with lift operations, lift maintenance, & ski patrol.

From then on things happen in sequence, get the grooming done, check the trails, ride the lift lines, run the auxiliary engines of the lifts, check the detachable lift tires (those are what keep the chair going through the terminal at the top and bottom when off the cable), mark the trails for hazards and then begin loading guests when the time comes (Ultra and Gold pass holders can get on 15 minutes early). After opening Lift maintenance will ride every chairlift and check every carpet lift for any issues. The groomers will finish up and then head into the maintenance shop where they will be brought into the garage, sprayed off with a power washer to remove the ice and snow and looked over for wear and tear and then the process begins all over for the next day.

It is because of these behind the scene guys and gals in all the mountain operations departments that there is an Okemo Difference and while you are asleep at night or catching a few extra winks, all these Okemo Team members are getting things ready for a great skiing and riding day. Snowmaking will be continuing as we head into February.

This past week saw Okemo snowmaking being done on most of our trails and we added several new trails. Thanks for Skiing and riding with us and think snow

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Q & A with the GM....


I figured it was a good time to pull out the mail bag and answer some questions……  Between myself and, we get a few questions as you can imagine.  I will try to answer a few inquiries the best I can.

How come the Amp Energy Big Air Bag is not in place??   If I told you it is on a boat would you believe me?  The skinny is that the big air bag was shipped to Europe to be repaired under warranty.  It had some tears and the grommets were ripping that hold the bag down.  After the Adventure Zone closed, we packed up the bag and sent it on its way.  The rest of the story is how slow the company has been in getting us back the bag, clearing customs, holidays, etc. The good news is we are expecting the bag to be at Okemo next week!

What is the deal with the Amp Energy Superpipe?  The Superpipe is right now a quarter pipe! Well basically one side is done and cut, but we can’t use it yet.  Snowmaking will be working on the pipe tonight and Friday and we then will cut the other side. The reason for the delay has been a couple things. We probably bit off a lot when it came to trying to get the Superpipe, Black Out Terrain Park and the Nor’easter Superpark already at the same time.  There were only so many hours our groomers could work on the parks and Superpipe and the Superpipe requires a little more experience. Since the Superpipe needed more snow made in it, we finished the other two. We are hopeful to have it up and going by maybe Sunday.

Is Okemo aware of the I-91 interstate bridge delays in Brattleboro?  This construction project and delays have been very frustrating for our guests. I have heard from many of you. I have been speaking with the President of the Vermont Ski Areas Association who is our liaison with the State of Vermont as well as I have spoken with our legislators.  The stock answer was the work needed to be done and they were working as fast as they could. The good news is that both southbound lanes are now open and I have been told that both northbound lanes will be open by Tuesday 1/22/13…Finally…

How come there are no picnic tables at the Waffle Cabin at Jackson Gore? I know guests like to sit and enjoy a fabulous Waffle Cabin Waffle, but the space in that area just doesn’t allow a lot of lingering. We feel that since there are tables near the Round House, that guests who do want to linger, can use those tables. For others who want to grab and go, they can get right on the Coleman Brook Express.  Hopefully you will agree that this small inconvenience is ok as long as there is a Waffle Cabin.  Did you know that this Waffle Cabin will be moved to the food location for the Adventure Zone and will be selling summer fare and waffles all summer here at Okemo!

Tell me the snowmaking plan with this cold weather coming? Snowmaking will be going heavy while it is cold. Our plan is to resurface as many trails as possible before the weekend and also work on some new terrain.  Wild Thing and Easy Rider have been opened and we are heading towards the Plunge and Ledges at some point.  We are also going to be building base depths to get our mainline trails into the spring time. Another snowstorm will allow us to open up some more of the natural trails.

If you have a specific question, send it along. I will answer what I can and periodically feature some in the blog.

Thanks for Skiing and riding with us and think snow

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Terrain Parks and Lift Mechanics



Through the years, there has always been talk of the January thaw. Of course last year it was all year, but that is in the past. We have been experiencing the January thaw for the past week and the good news is that it looks like it will be ending soon.  Colder temperatures are on the way next week and Snowmaking will kick in quickly. 

Speaking of snowmaking, the past 10 days has seen a massive effort in the terrain parks.  The effort began on Black Out, moved to the Superpipe and finished on The Amp Energy Superpark.  The end result was great. There are numerous features all over the parks. Some are made out of snow and some are rails.  The Okemo Parks and Pipes crew has put countless hours in designing the terrain parks and the groomers have put in many more hours pushing the snow, sculpting the jumps and setting the rails. Lot of hard work by everyone. As you can see from the photos, the finished product looks great.

Next up for snowmaking is to finish Wild Thing & Dream Weaver over in South Face as well as begin a resurfacing program on existing terrain.  We are also looking to finish the Superpipe.  One side of the wall needs more snow and then it can be shaped and the Zaugg Pipe Dragon can do its job.  The plan is to also make enough snow for the ant hill and Igloo in Jackson Gore.

I want to take some time and mention all the work that goes into the “rides” at Okemo.  The lift operations and maintenance crews are the ones who keep things going on the lifts.  The operators do so much to prepare and run the lifts. They are the front line people for all of our guests. The behind the scene guys are the lift mechanics. They are the ones who are up before dawn and work behind the scenes to keep the bullwheels turning. Last week they worked on the Quad B seat pads and got those all repaired and we are heading towards some of the other lifts that need some help. They also ride every lift every day to make sure that things are looking good.

The weather pattern is changing, so be on the lookout for some colder weather and snow on the way. Thanks for skiing with us and we hope you enjoy the slopes.

Bruce Schmidt

Okemo GM

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Snowmaking in the real cold.........


It has been some time since the last Blog.   Lot’s has happened since then.  Cold weather, great snowmaking, sunny skies and a good first week of January.  The New Year has brought good fortune to Okemo and all our skiers and riders.

Snowmaking has been moving full force during the past 10 days or so.  The weather has been ideal for snowmaking and we have been working hard at getting the terrain parks, Superpipe and other trails covered in snow.  Tuckered Out, which is one of our longer snowmaking trails, opened up this weekend.  Snowmaking in the cold weather is always a challenge. While the basics of snowmaking are to keep the water moving, it is even more prevalent and important when the temperatures are hovering near below zero.  Okemo has many of our snowmaking pipes above ground. This is done for a couple reasons. One, the mountain terrain of ledge outcroppings would require blasting to get the pipes underground. Two, the price of installing snowmaking underground is much higher.  So having the pipe above ground means that between the temperature, wind and steel pipe, the water needs to be mobile!  The snowmakers know that sitting water is not good.  The system is built to have loops where the water will drain at the far end. Another trick for the snowmakers is to run a gun very close to the end of the loop. This keeps the water moving even more.  On cold nights you will see snowmakers carrying their propane torches with them all night in the event that there is a problem, they can get some heat on the pipe quickly.
Another concern with making snow when the temperature is real cold is the snowmakers themselves.  Now these guys dress for the conditions every night, but below zero brings out additional concerns. The guys are always watching out for each other, checking for exposed skin, making sure guys don’t go out alone and in general working as a team to take care of each other.  Decisions are made with the guys in mind as to where we might make snow.  During real cold weather the plan is usually to stay on the lower mountain trails and stay off of the summit. This is to keep the snowmakers safer as well as protect our equipment from potential freeze ups.  As you can well imagine, in the event of a power failure when it is cold, things need to happen fast to drain the pipes.  It is a real fire drill!

If you have been skiing in the past few days you have seen the construction begin on the terrain parks. Black Out Progression Park, Hot Dog Hill and Broken Arrow are all now open.  Rails and features are coming off of Sapphire to move to the other parks.  Construction on Nor’easter will be next and then the Superpipe.  It will probably be a week until we see the Superpipe ready. Lots of work is needs to be done before the lasers are set up to cut the Superpipe.

Long range weather is looking favorable for great skiing and riding. Snowmaking will continue as the weather allows us to, which looks like into early next week.  Thanks for spending time skiing and riding with us. 

Someone asked me my favorite trail…………..I like them all, but Defiance is right up there………

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo General Manager