Thursday, December 31, 2015

Before & After

Take a look at the before and after effects of WS Goliath and the Okemo Snowmaking Crew. Amazing job at getting the mountain covered again! Video was shot on days 12-26-15 and 12-30-15.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holiday Week Update


Christmas has come and gone and Santa was a little stingy with our gift of snow or cold weather!  None the less we will stay true to the Okemo commitment and work hard to provide the best skiing experience we can.

We are doing all we can to get the snow where needed and make the experience the best we can with the temperatures we are facing.  The mountain operations staff is leaving a Snow Groomer up on the summit during the day in the event that we need to try to move some snow or patch an area. We also have a groomer on staff ready to roll if need be.  At this point the terrain on the summit is for advanced skiers and riders only.

Our multiple weather forecasts are showing that snowmaking is looking to return on Sunday afternoon into the evening.  This forecast is showing cold temperatures lasting into Tuesday.  This will be great news for everyone and Okemo will be firing up the guns as soon as we can. Our snowmaking plan at this point is to begin making snow on existing terrain. We want to get Nor’easter back on line, and patch up all the other existing trails we are skiing and riding on now. We also need to make snow around the top of the mountain near the summit lodge & top of Sunburst and Green Ridge.  Depending on the temperatures, we expect to be able to max out our system and this will mean we can go on new terrain.  Some of our objectives will be Wardance, Sweet Solitude, Coleman Brook and Southern Crossing.

There is a forecast for natural snow to fall.  While this forecast is a long way out, we are hopeful for some natural snow. Normally the first snow fall does not allow us to be able to open up any new terrain. Depending on any new snow fall, we will seriously look at some of the trails near the condominiums and ski on ski off homes and decide if we should run a groomer on them to help pack things down. The trail then at least could be used by homeowners if possible.  I don’t have to tell you that our snowmaking plan and natural snow fall forecast can be very fluid and flexible and may change quickly.

Okemo ski patrol and safety patrol will be out on the slopes with a presence to both help guests and enforce safe and in control skiing and riding.  We all understand that there is limited terrain and at times it can be crowded.  Our Ski Patrol and Safety patrol team will be visible around congested areas at different times during the ski day and will be working with skiers and riders to make everyone aware of the need to share the slopes and to do so at a speed that is with the flow of traffic.  Education is key and will be our first goal, but Okemo will take unsafe activities seriously and we feel this is best for all of our guests.

There have been questions on our terrain parks.  Okemo has been trying to balance the terrain we have with our guests needs.  For this reason we have been putting some terrain features on existing terrain.  You will notice we have been moving some around.  We will continue to do this, but also realize that getting a terrain park up and going is a priority and we will do this as soon as we can.
Guest service is important to Okemo. As a reminder to help making purchasing a ticket easier, The ticketing kiosks located at the base of the Sunburst as well Solitude will be open beginning on 12/26  Guests with Real.Easy cards who have registered them can load tickets on their cards on line and go direct to the lifts.  Okemo is also providing some other activities for guests to do beginning on 12/26.  For the latest information:

Thank you for your support and loyalty during this time.  We all are in this together and that statement sure rings true this season.  I don’t have to tell anyone about the weather. Everyone at Okemo is working hard to make the skiing and riding as enjoyable as possible.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Heading to Jackson Gore...


The Okemo snowmakers are working hard and the temperatures look like they will be cooperating this weekend.  We have a very aggressive plan to be executed. Snowmaking has been strong and many objectives were met.  Below are some highlights and information on where we are, where we are headed and the Crystal ball of the future

  • Snowmaking has been going on since Friday afternoon.  The objectives are to work on some of the existing terrain while at the same time heading into new territory.  Our plan is to run as many snow guns as possible with the temperatures that we have.  With Saturday night being the coldest night we fully anticipate having up to 200 guns running across the resort.  Okemo is working hard to have the Jackson Gore base area open by Monday.  We can assure our loyal guests that the entire Okemo team is laser focused to making this happen.
  • Our snowmaking plan continues to be to make snow on trails that will be for the good of many. What this means is that we will work on trails many people can ski and ride, we will be staying away from expert trails, we won’t be working on terrain park trails, but will put out rails and hits on existing terrain, and we will work to spread out across the mountain.
  • Once we get the Jackson Gore area open our anticipated trail count will be around 25. With these trails we will have 8-10 lifts operating during the holiday week.
  • Our Terrain park features will be on the upper section of Sapphire.  Okemo is committed to having some aspects of our terrain parks on the side of the Sapphire trail so all our guests can enjoy what they want on the slopes.
  • There will be a shuttle service between Jackson Gore and the slopes until the Jackson Gore Base area is opened. This shuttle service will be operating through the day to move skiers and riders as needed.  Okemo will also be enhancing our shuttle service through the Christmas Holidays in the Solitude condominiums and Solitude Single Family homes areas.
  • The ticketing kiosks located at the base of the Sunburst as well Solitude will be opening after Christmas.  Until that time guests will need to go down to the Jackson Gore base area or the Clocktower base area for their tickets. Guests with Real.Easy cards who have registered them can load tickets on their cards on line and go direct to the lifts.  A great suggestion for those who are not near a ticket location.
  • The long range forecast if for milder weather to return after the weekend and go through Christmas Eve.  Around Christmas it is looking like some colder weather will be in place for hopefully some snowmaking.
  • Our plan moving forward with the next cold snap will be to shore up any existing terrain challenges and then heads towards another trail in Solitude, Wardance or lower Chief, and look at some lodging trails such as Sachem or some in the Solitude area.  We also will begin heading toward South Face with Count Down, Sprint, Moment’s rest on the list.  This will happen when the next long term cold spell arrives.
I know these challenges have not been easy on anyone, but a large part of the battle is remaining positive and optimistic.  Negativity is contagious, but optimism will change attitudes and bring about a vision that things will be better.

Okemo appreciates the loyalty and support that you have given us and we look forward to getting through these weather challenges and will continue to work at providing the best possible experience you can have while at Okemo.

Happy holidays to everyone and Think Snow!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Weather Perspective


Despite the lackluster start to the season, it's insightful to look back at other years for comparison. This year is actually not the most challenging seasons Okemo has had. I took the date of December 6th to compare. In 2001 Okemo was closed until December 12th. In 2009 & 2011 we had 2 lifts and 4 trails open. So things can be worse! I know that many of you, as loyal Okemo guests, have questions and I am hopeful that I can answer some and instill some confidence in Okemo as we head into the Christmas Holiday time.

  • Snowmaking will happen whenever possible. We have staff working when there is a potential to fire up the guns. There have been some inversions when it was cold in the base and warm at the summit and guests wondering why we did not make snow. The rule of thumb is that if we think we can get a minimum of a couple of hours of snowmaking time, we go for it. 
  • Our snowmaking plan is to make snow on trails that will be for the good of many. What this means is that we will work on trails many people can ski and ride, we will be staying away from expert trails, we won’t be working on terrain park trails, but will put out rails and hits on existing terrain, and we will work to spread out across the mountain. 
  • We understand the importance of trails that give slopeside access. We will be working on a balance with these, but the reality is that we won’t be able to get all of these trails covered. 
  • If anyone is going to have snow it will be Okemo. Enough said. 

The long range forecast is looking at some up and down temperature fluctuation and limited precipitation. Looking towards the end of the month we are expecting some changes to more winter-like conditions. Okemo is doing all we can to make the skiing and riding experience the best it possibly can be. Our plan is to be flexible, adjust as necessary and to look at other activities and things to do around the resort.

 Our team members are remaining positive and optimistic. It is hard to make lemonade with these lemons, but we can remain confident that, when the weather does change, things will happen fast! 

The ski season is upon us. Let’s all focus on the positive and look ahead. Thanks for choosing to ski and ride at Okemo and for spending time with us during this holiday period.

 Happy holidays to everyone.

 Bruce Schmidt Okemo GM

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bruce Schmidt VP/GM takes us over to Jackson Gore to check in on the load testing for the new Quantum Four chairlift.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Behold! The NEW Quantum Four is alive and spinning! Today, the Quantum Four is being put through operational paces, as it gets ready for load testing later this week.
A HUGE shout out to our Mountain Ops, Lift Maintenance and Lift Ops crews for being the best in the business. You guys & gals are second to none, true mavericks, each and every one of you.
So, let's usher in a new milestone for Okemo with the arrival of the Quantum Four, giving us Double Bubble status -- while saying good bye to cold north westerly winds and to saying hello to the new view at Jackson Gore!

Monday, November 23, 2015


The day is here! Okemo will be opening for skiing and riding on Tuesday November 24. I wanted to give you all some ideas on what the plan is as we get the ski season up and going.

Top-to-bottom skiing and riding is the plan. Guests will ride the F-10 carpet up to the base of the Sachem Quad. From there they will ride the Sachem and then ski down Link and Lower World Cup to the Sunburst Quad.  From there, Sunburst Six will be the lift to the summit. In looking at things, I would say that we will open on Tuesday with skiing and riding on Upper and Lower World Cup with Nor’easter opening on Wednesday. 

The snowmaking plan is to get all we can, laid down before the warmer weather arrives toward the end of the week.  We will continue to make snow tonight on Upper World Cup, Count Down, Lower World Cup, Link and Nor’easter, as well as around the Mountain Road area over toward Open Slope down toward the Sachem quad.  With the temperatures that are forecasted, I also feel there will be some capacity for the snowmakers to run some guns on Sapphire and Jolly Green Giant.

As we are heading down toward the base of Sachem, we try to get over onto the grass slopes, as those are normally colder than the paved Mountain Road. We are hopeful that we can also get to the bottom of the F-10 carpet/Open Slope area so that no walking down will be required. We are not planning to use any of our snowmaking capacity from the top of the Base Quads during this short period of cold temperatures. We just don’t foresee any benefit of trying to make snow from the top of the quads yet and then not be able to complete the link. 

On day one we will have the Base 68 CafĂ©, Summit Lodge and Sitting Bull Lounge open as well as the Clock Tower Snowsports Shop. Lift access RFID cards will be sold at the Resort Services desk.  Seasons pass holders can pick up their passes at the Resort Services desk too.

The RFID ticketing system is going through the final testing and looks to be working well. There no-doubt will be some challenges, but we feel very confident that this new system will be a great step forward for our skiers and riders.

We are looking forward to getting day one under our belt and starting Okemo's sixtieth ski season.  Thanks for your support and loyalty.

Enjoy the snow.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bruce Schmidt VP/GM continues with the mountain updates as we check out the NEW air compressors, and discuss snowmaking with Ray Kennedy, Manager of Snowmaking Operations.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bruce Schmidt GM/VP gives a walk through of the new Real.Easy Card lift gates to show how they will work this season.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Clock Tower Project Update - 10/13/15

The latest news on the Clock Tower Base Lodge renovation projects from GM Bruce Schmidt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer Snowmaking Update

Another update from Bruce, this time, getting us up to speed on the Summer 2015 snowmaking projects!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sitting Bull renovation project update

VP and GM Bruce Schmidt gives a video update on what is happening with the new remodeling project of the Sitting Bull restaurant and bar.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Our busy summer is underway!


I wanted to take the opportunity to bring you up to speed on what is going on here at Okemo this summer. The July 4th weekend is upon us here at Okemo and it is safe to say it has been busy and will continue to be busy.  The great news is that the Evolution Bike Park at Okemo will be opening this weekend.  Work is continuing on the South Ridge A Quad chairlift to have uphill and downhill passengers, as well as installing the bike racks. We will be load testing on Thursday to get our certification.  The rainy weather has not been helpful, but the Mountain Operations guys and Sean and the Bike Park staff are eager to get things up and going.  It is looking like we will begin with a couple miles of trails to start off with and more added during the month of July.  The trails will be fun. Lots of twists and turns, rolling terrain and some bridges to cross.

The other projects we are doing are equally as fun and exciting.  We are putting bubbles on the Jackson Gore Express lift.  We are changing the name to the Quantum Four, to go along with Quantum Leap, and to be the perfect sidekick to the Sunburst Six.  The bubbles are POMA Leitner products and should be here in late summer.  We will be building a storage area, but it won’t be a barn. It will be open on all sides, but have a roof to cover the bubbles.  These chairs won’t be heated, but the bubbles will keep the elements out.

Another addition over in the Jackson Gore area is putting snowmaking pipe on White Lightning and Rolling Thunder.  We did this to make the area more enticing and more skiing terrain.  We know it can be somewhat limited over there so hopefully this helps.

Of course work on the South Face Village is moving along. Okemo is building the new lift and trails. There are a couple bridges over the ski trails we will need to build also. The new lift will be named the Sunshine Quad and it is a POMA Leitner fixed grip.  The new trail will be named Suncatcher.  Work is going well over there, but it could be a little dryer!

The facilities staff is working on some renovation projects in the Sitting Bull, the Clock Tower base daycare, the men’s room in the Summit Lodge and ladies’ room in the Sugar House.  The mountain operations staff is doing grip work on the chairlifts, as well as tower work. We have a legitimate company on site cleaning the Sunburst Six bubbles, and they are looking good. Who would have thought someone would have started a bubble cleaning company?  We are hopeful that we can keep them looking that way all winter. 

Make sure to check out the Adventure Zone this summer. We have a new mining sluice, called the Coleman Brook Mining Company, which will have some gems to mine, and we have moved the bungee jumping setup near the air bag, as we installed some bouncy houses for our younger guests.

So it will be busy with lots going on.  Photos will follow, and I will keep you up to speed.

Enjoy the July 4th weekend and many thanks for those who have helped preserve our freedom for 239 years….

Hope to see you sometime this summer around the resort or a Friday Night concert!

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring is upon us!


The end of March is near, and the coverage for skiing has been great.  There are not many years where we have had all the gladed trails open this late in March.  Our plan will be to work at keeping as much terrain open as possible.  We will be scaling back lift operations as we end March and head into April.  Good Friday and Easter weekend, we will add some lifts to the list. 

I know the skiing has been variable at times this spring.  Director of Mountain Operations Eb Kinney and myself have been discussing this and there is no easy answer.  The temperatures swings have forced us to not “mountain till” the snow as many nights as we did earlier in the winter. The challenge we have is that if we mountain till when it is forecasted to be warm, the snow will not set and then we will have soft granular snow. Once it gets to the rice state, it is impossible to get the snow back to being firm.  The other side of that is that when we don’t mountain till, the surface is firm and then when the sun doesn’t come out or it doesn’t warm up, the skiing is not as ideal.  This is a real quandary, and we hope that by grooming through the not so good days, we can make skiing better on the real good days.

We have announced that Okemo is looking at staying open well into April, as long as the weather cooperates and spring doesn’t happen quickly.  The mountain tells us when we have had enough skiing and riding. The snow disappears and we end up closing trails.  This year, we are going to try something new in regards to our April schedule.  Okemo will remain open through Sunday April 12th  7-days a week.  After Sunday April 12th, we are planning on going to a 3-day a week operation of Friday-Saturday-Sunday for operating days.  Seasons pass holders who have a Midweek or Sunday Plus seasons pass will be able to ski and ride on Friday and Sunday. Those who have 7-day a week seasons passes will be able to ski and ride Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Our plan is to operate into April, as long as weather and trail conditions permit. Keep in mind that the services we offer will be adjusted after Easter weekend, and there will be limited skiing and riding, as some mountain areas will be closed. The Jackson Gore base area is scheduled to close after Sunday April 12th, weather permitting.  We will communicate on our website, Facebook and by snow report emails to keep everyone informed as we shoot for a long season towards the end of April.

The Sunburst Six continues to be a real plus for our guests and has made the skiing and riding experience even better, especially on colder weather days.  Okemo is committed to keeping our bubbles looking good.  The Okemo Lift Maintenance and Operations staff have been cleaning the bubbles when they are stored in the barn and buffing out any marks on them.  We are also taking a very strong stance on the defacing of the bubbles. Because of some diligence on the behalf of an employee who was riding on the downhill side of the Sunburst Six, we were able to apprehend a guest who was defacing the bubble.  We are working on pursuing our legal options with this, and we have confiscated the guest’s seasons pass.  Okemo takes a lot of pride in the Sunburst Six, and we hope you as guests will do too. Please help us keep the bubble looking its great bright orange color.

We are very excited to announce that lift serviced mountain biking will be an addition this summer at Okemo.  Opening in July will be the Evolution Mountain Bike Park at Okemo Mountain.  Mirrored after our sister Resort, Crested Butte, this new bike park will begin with several miles of mountain bike trails for novice and intermediate riders off of the South Ridge A Quad lift.  These trails will begin at the top of the lift and work their way down to the base area.  Work should begin on them in early May and we hope to be open by July 4th.  There will be mountain bike rentals, and the main hub will be out of the Snowsports Shop. 

This season has been a good one.  We have had around 130 inches of snow, while 125 is our average.  The skiing and riding has been great, because we did not have those freeze/thaw cycles during the heart of the winter.  This made for some really good conditions, and I hope you were able to enjoy some of this season’s great skiing and riding. 

Enjoy some spring skiing, and we hope you visit us this summer.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Sunday, February 15, 2015

President's Day Weekend Update

There are always challenges that we face during different vacation weeks, and this year will be no different.  There is great snow all around the mountain, which is making for some great skiing and riding.  Unfortunately, there is the forecast of some significant cold weather. It is what everyone is talking about. The media is talking about how cold it will be and the wind.  It will be cold, but it is winter in VT.  Okemo understands the concerns that our guests and staff have with regard to the colder weather.  The skiing is going to be great, if guests dress appropriately.  Guests need to cover exposed skin, wear layers and take frequent breaks.  The entire Okemo staff will work hard to keep the lifts operating when there are windy conditions.  Our main concern is always safety of guests &and staff, as well as the equipment. We plan to have extra staff available to work at keeping the line moving at the Sunburst Six to help keep the lift moving.  In the event that there are lift shutdowns, we will do everything possible to communicate to staff and guests what is going on around the resort.

Okemo offers a Take 60 program, in the event that guests are not enjoying the skiing and riding. This means that guests have 60 minutes after they purchase their ticket to return to the Resort Services desk to receive a voucher for a return visit.  Those with multi-day tickets have until 10am to get their Take 60 voucher.   If guests feel they don’t want to ski, there are other options such as Nordic skiing, ice skating, tubing, mountain coaster or the Spring House, which call all be accessed with the purchase of a day or usage pass.

All of us here at Okemo want to do what we can to help make the resort experience the best we can. Below are some other things we have put in place:
  • Ski Patrol staff are going to be on the lookout for guests who might be struggling and perhaps having exposed skin and not appropriately dressed for the conditions.
  • We will have Free Family movies at the Springhouse on both Sunday and Monday for guests to take a break.
  • Sunday, February 15th 
    • 1:00pm The Nut Job 
    • 3:00pm Warren Miller Ticket to Ride 
  • Monday February 16th 
    • 10:00am How to Train your Dragon 2 
    • 1:00pm Warren Miller Children of Winter
  • The Fire pits around the resort will be lit and working. These are located at the Clock Tower base in front of the Sitting Bull and the Jackson Gore Inn. There will be a temporary fire pit set up around the Sugar House for our guests.
  • Extra staff will be in the Spring House and hotel pool areas to help with guest questions and towel pick up and general monitoring.
  • Guests can purchase day passes to the Spring House, as long as they have not met the occupancy level in the pool area.
  • The Ice House will have extra staff to keep the skating and skate rental going smoothly.  An effort will also be made to Zamboni the ice quicker to keep guests skating as much as possible.
  • The indoor golf facility at Okemo Valley Golf Club is open. Guests can sign up for or get more information by calling 228-1396.
  • The front desk of the Jackson Gore Inn and the lodging department as well as the Jackson Gore concierge has a list of area activities and attractions
  • The Torchlight Parade and Fireworks that were scheduled for Sunday 2/15 have been postponed to Saturday 2/28.
The weather is looking like snow tonight into Sunday morning. We are forecasted to pick up 3-5 inches of new snow.  The temperatures for Sunday are looking to be 8 – 12 degrees with the temps falling in the afternoon.  Monday is forecasted to be mostly sunny with temperatures in the single digits around the resort.  Beginning on Tuesday we are expecting to see a warm up with Sunny skies on Tuesday some light snow possible on Wednesday.  We don’t want to dismiss or diminish the challenges that you may face or perceive when it comes to skiing when it is cold.  The snow is great with all the natural snow we have had. Regarding our children’s learning programs, we also take the utmost responsibility for your kids.  They will take frequent breaks, they will work hard to make the experience enjoyable, drink plenty of hot chocolate, and the safety of all our guests, young and old is always our first priority.  While we are offering a winter sport in the mountain of Vermont, we also need to balance this with the adjustments our guests need to make.

Here is to a safe, enjoyable and fun Presidents Day weekend.

Bruce Schmidt
Vice-President & General Manager

Saturday, January 10, 2015

News and explanations, as we head into January...


I wanted to take some time to talk about a few things here at Okemo, as we come out of the Holiday week and head full bore into January.

Okemo will continue making snow aggressively.  During this time, we most likely will make snow 5-6 days a week and take a day or two off, depending on several factors, such as weather, where snow should be made, skier traffic and planning of trail usage for the Spring.  Over the next 10 days, we are planning on making snow in the South Face area, mostly on Dream Weaver and a couple others, opening Triple Sec with snowmaking, making snow on Big Bang and finishing Timberline, and we also will be making snow in the Jackson Gore Base area to create the snow playground area.

This past week saw some different weather events, as well as cold weather.  I know there was some grumbling about last Sunday’s opening after the weather we had, which included, snow, sleet, freezing rain and then some rain.  At our 6:30am briefing, we knew there might be a few lifts that might open late, but I never expected what ended up transpiring.  The temperature never went up much and thus the trails had a slight glaze even after we groomed them.  The issue was less a lift issue and more about re-grooming.  Our staff adjusted, and we groomed and got slopes and trails open as quickly as possible. 

On Thursday, the temperature was cold, what some might call a mid-winter Vermont ski day!  Unfortunately, due to an electrical issue which may or may not have been a factor of the cold temperatures, the Sunburst Six was down for an extended period of time during the day. We had put half the chairs onto the cable and then the problem developed.  No doubt a solid inconvenience for many of our guests, and especially those participating in the in college ski race Okemo was hosting.  I apologize for what happened. We are hopeful that this was a one-time issue and are monitoring all the systems to prevent a reoccurrence. 

January brings with it many racing competitions programs, and Okemo supports these programs with the use of our trails.  There will be some times when some trails are on hold.  I want to thank you, in advance, for your support of this.  Okemo tries to not have a significant impact when we put the trails on hold for competitions. There is a balance, and we work with the Okemo Competitions department and try to not close too many trails. 

The extended weather forecast is for some nice weather with sun and winter temperatures.  This should make for some great skiing and riding.  The Amp Energy Superpipe is scheduled to open by Saturday January 17th.

Best in 2015

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM