Mount Snow held its annual winter warm-up luncheon on Wednesday. A variety of business people and local and state officials turned out to hear updates on the mountain’s construction projects and find out what’s in store for the upcoming winter season.
Tops on the list is the new chairlift, embodied by the massive barn being completed in the base area. The “birdhouse,” as the 7,800-square-foot building has been dubbed, will provide nightly storage for the 102 chairs on the new lift. According to Dave Moulton, director of mountain operations, the new building is so large it can not only hold all the chairs for the detachable lift, but host events as well.
Moulton said that work on the lift is progressing more or less on schedule. “The majority of the work is getting the foundations for the towers in.” That work is done, according to Moulton, and the new lift towers have been helicoptered into place, the bottom terminal is complete, and crews are working on the summit terminal.
Moulton also noted that Tropical Storm Irene had serious impact on lift construction and the snowmaking system of the mountain. “Irene set us back two weeks,” he said. “We couldn’t get equipment, materials, and concrete here until the roads were fixed.” He added that flooding from Irene left the main snowmaking pump station at Snow Lake under six feet of water. “It pumps about two-thirds of our snowmaking capacity,” said Moulton. He said repairs on the building and the equipment that powers the system should be completed by the end of the week and include numerous upgrades to the 40-year-old pump station.
New communications manager Dave Meeker updated the audience on some of the other improvements skiers and riders will see this winter. Those include a new restaurant, 1900’ Burger, that replaces the Timber House Grille on the south end of the Main Base Lodge, new video monitors around the mountain to provide real-time information, new chairs on the Summit Express quad, a new ZooHoo’s eatery at Carinthia, a new motor for the Challenger triple chair on the North Face, and an experimental recycling program at the Carinthia Base Lodge.
Meeker, who is on his second tour of duty in the Mount Snow public relations department, enthusiastically noted all of the improvements taking place at the mountain, and starkly contrasted the improvements brought by Peaks with the stagnation of Mount Snow in the last years of American Skiing Company, the previous owner.
“I can remember some years before Peak Resorts bought the mountain,” said Meeker, “that when somebody asked me what was new, all I could say was ‘we painted a base lodge.’”
The quip brought roars of laughter from the audience.
General manager Kelly Pawlak also brought the audience up to speed on other Mount Snow news, addressing what she called “the rumor mill.” Pawlak told the audience that Peak Resorts was still moving ahead with its plans for a public stock offering, that permitting for the West Lake snowmaking pond was “about 90% done,” that Mount Snow and the new owners of Haystack have reached an agreement on sharing snowmaking water, and that the search for a new marketing director was ongoing.
“I’m hoping to find the right person,” said Pawlak. “Someone who will be a good fit both for the mountain and the larger community.”
Pawlak also noted that the mountain hoped to open for skiing November 19, but that date was tentative and depended on cold weather arriving for optimal snowmaking conditions.
Locals and visitors will get their chance to celebrate the new Bluebird Express during a month-long “Bluebird Celebration” slated to start November 23.
John Redd, a forester, developer, and veteran skier, gave the audience his prediction of how much snow the area will receive this winter. Using a variety of charts and data gathered from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other sources, Redd explained that all indicators pointed to an above average snowfall for southern Vermont.
As for the staff of Mount Snow, Moulton summed up the excitement and the work still be done for the upcoming season, saying that “spending the $20 million has given us a few sleepless nights and kept us busy.”