From the Hill :: Spring Update
Posted by Mike Solimano on March 12, 2015
It is hard to believe that the East coast has the best snow in the entire country. Luckily we skipped our usual "January thaw," and instead had consistent cold, including the coldest February on record (average of 5 degrees). The very cold weather was great for snow preservation and we have the best snow coverage I have seen in a long time, so I’m expecting a great rest of the season.
I have been meaning to update everyone on all the initiatives we have been working on this year but the skiing has been so good I haven't had enough office time. Hopefully you have noticed many of them.
First off, Killington and Pico have been working hard to grow winter sports. Killington has been a leader in the past few years with our “free ski” Discovery programs where participants get a free pair of skis after four days of lessons. This year we expanded Discovery to include snowboarding through a partnership with Burton. Other resorts are starting to copy the program, which is good for the health of the sport. This season we also added Terrain Based Learning at Snowshed, which has changed the way we teach, and the way our guests learn.
We have also been working hard to make the mountain experience better for all, by focusing on skier flow and using fencing and slow signs around the resort much more than in the past. New "easier route" signs help skiers and riders navigate the resort, and skier flow is improving thanks to new "trails merge ahead" and "look uphill" signage.
I’m sure you noticed that we changed Great Northern to a blue trail. Many have asked why we did that. The idea was that we could keep beginners on the lower mountain prevent them from trying learn on Great Northern, which is steeper than most green trails around the resort. So far, the feedback I have received is that this change has had a positive impact on the flow of Great Northern, along with the seven other upper mountain trails we changed from greens to blues over the summer.
Other summer work included thinning woods around the resort in anticipation of the second year of the Natural Woods Area policy allowing guests to enjoy all 750+ acres of woods from boundary to boundary. In addition to opening up powder stashes, this Natural Woods Area policy has allowed people to spread out more on busy days and make the mountain feel less crowded. From Ramshead to Bear Mountain, the snow coverage in the woods is pretty impressive.
While the credit for coverage in the woods has to go to Mother Nature, our major snowmaking investment last summer set us up for success around the resort all season. Did you notice how quiet those new guns are? The major costs (noise and energy use) with snowmaking have to do with pushing compressed air up the mountain. Some of our new snow guns use 50 times less energy than the older technology to do the same job. This year alone, we reduced our snowmaking air use by one billion cubic feet, a significant decrease of which our team is very proud.
Not only has this investment been good for the environment, it really helped us expand quicker during the early season and make huge amounts of snow all the way through February. It seems that everyone is talking about "Mount Superstar". If you haven't yet seen it in person, you will be taken aback. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spring pile of snow so huge on top of the trail.
Between all the snow we have made and the generosity of Mother Nature, we expect this to be a spring to remember. We have already seen great demand for our Spring Pass, which, at $199 for the rest of the season, is the best deal in skiing. It turns out our decision to move the Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge one week later (since Easter is the first week in April), was a pretty smart move!
To celebrate spring we will run key lifts at both Killington and Pico on Saturdays for one extra hour, until 5:00 p.m. starting on March 28, 2015. Stay tuned for more details on that front. We have also announced that Pico will stay open one extra weekend (April 3-5), so this shaping up to be a memorable spring.
Make sure you bring your sunscreen and I'll see you on the hill.
As always, if you have ideas on how we can make your experience better, please email me at email@example.com.