Tuesday, October 11, 2016

An Okemo Winter Preview!

Installing snowmaking pipes at SouthFace Village.


Fall is in full swing here at Okemo and we are enjoying the colors, but at the same time preparing for the winter and getting the resort ready for everyone to do some skiing and riding.

There have been some questions concerning how the lack of rain will affect snowmaking this coming winter.  I want to put everyone at ease that the Okemo snowmaking ponds are full!  While it has been dryer than normal this summer, there was pumping that was done into our storage ponds during the earlier part of the summer and we feel comfortable with what we have and are ready to go.  The weather patterns always balance out and it is likely that we will see some wet weather this fall which should raise the river level before snowmaking begins.

Snowmaking is on track and set to begin around November 1st.  This date is fluid and if we were to go earlier we would need to see some long term cold weather, but it is safe to say we will be ready to light up the guns right after Halloween.  Our plan would be to try to get open as soon as possible with our anticipated opening hopefully in early November.

I am sure there are some questions on the RFID ticketing system and the Real.Easy card and how that will be working this winter.  We understand and realize that there were some challenges this past season. And while some of these can be attributed to a new program, we also realize there were some software challenges, and we have worked hard this summer to hopefully fix these issues. The way we will distribute the 3&Easy cards will be different and the web pages for registering Real.Easy cards as well as loading tickets have been upgraded and are more user-friendly.  There has been a lot of effort this summer to make the RFID system work better and we are hopeful that you will see a difference.

This summer has been a busy one with many projects visible and some not so visible.  Here are a few we worked on:

  • Snowmaking pipe was installed on Cat Nap & the Suncatcher Trail over in the South Face Village area.  Guns were installed on Suncatcher and when we are ready to make snow on Cat Nap there will be guns brought in.  With snowmaking on Cat Nap we hope to have the trail open even more.
  • Snowmaking pipe upgrades on Lower Arrow, Open Slope as well as up to the Mid Mountain pump station.  While this work is not very visible, it is very important.
  • A large scale purchase of rental equipment was completed this summer. Okemo will have all ski and snowboard rental equipment that is less than 2 years old for use by our guests. Gone are the days of the old rental equipment. This year we are upgrading our rental fleet with the purchase of 515 new Volkl skis, 869 pairs of Dalbello ski boots, 153 Burton snowboards and 272 pairs of Burton snowboard boots.
  • Okemo is always looking to have activities for our guests to do when they are not skiing and with that we have purchased an ice mat to be used to make ice in the Jackson Gore Ice house. This glycol infused system has a compressor and chiller to make the ice and with delivery expected by early November we are hopeful for ice around Thanksgiving weekend.
  • As an added feature to our guests we have joined the M.A.X. Pass family. The “Multi-Alpine Experience” pass offers skiers and snowboarders five days at each of the 32 participating resorts with a total of 160 days on the slopes and no blackout dates. From day trips and ski weekends close to home to ski vacations at destination resorts out West, the M.A.X. Pass gives winter sports enthusiasts the ability to dream and travel to mountains they’ve never gone before.
  • We have added a new Prinoth Bison X park cat to our fleet of snow groomers this winter. This snow cat is equipped with a Caterpillar 400hp tier 4 engine. This Caterpillar diesel engine meets all the new federal emission standards with more fuel efficiency and a 40hp increase compared to the previous model.
  • We also have been painting lifts, replacing carpet and sprucing things up to great this coming beast of a winter.  We are getting more snow shovels for this winter.

I hope you are making plans, we are amped up, chomping at the bit and going to make it happen this winter so make sure you are doing the same.

I will be sure to keep you aware of what our plans are and what we are doing.  Thanks for choosing to ski and ride with us here at Okemo.

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM