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The "Sugarbush Thread"

Hawk

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So I can verify that up until about a couple months ago, they did have a real shortage of lift machanics. I heard something like 8 left. I assumed is was to better paying jobs or something like that. I can not say if they left in protest. I can also confirm that a large group of the Bushpilot, adventure blazer crew left. This includes most of the Vermont North crew. Not sure of the numbers but in my opinion it was substancial. I also know of a few other people that have been here for years left. I can understand the article entirely. I personlly know that a good portion of the long time regulars are pissed. I ski and bike with a lot of these guys. For someone that is not invested in the community, is woudl be hard to understand the impact. I for one feel it is a big disapontment. Those people and those programs were something that made Sugarbush different and better than other places. Just ask any person or parent that was involved.
Will it stop me from sking here no. Do I think things are better...absolutely not. We lost part of our identity and to some extent, our soul. But that is just my opinion. Like everything there are two sides.
 

WinS

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I will comment on lift mechanics. For a number of years this has been the most challenging position in the ski industry to fill, especially in the East. Tough job, dangerous and often long hours. Imagine climbing towers after an ice storm and chipping ice. Almost every resort I knew has been advertising for lift mechanics the past few years. There is a shortage of trained mechanics especially with electrical backgrounds. Sugarbush lost some this past summer to employers like Darned Tough Socks and Global Foundries. Good pay, 40 hours, indoors. Even after leaving, however, they helped in the transition. I know one experienced mechanic who returned to Sugarbush this summer after a few years at Cooper. This lift mechanic issue was a discussion at a recent NSAA meeting I attended. My understanding is the summer maintenance and State inspections stayed on schedule.
 
Last edited:

Cobbold

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These early snowmaking discussions are indeed “deja vu all over again“. I don’t plan to post a lot or offer opinions But I might occasionally attempt to clarify some things based on my experience these past 20 years. I am available to advise Sugarbush if asked if asked but am not part of any management meetings, don‘t attend snow plan and don’t see the daily weather report Sugarbush receives which forecasts important details such as temperatures, humidity, wind, snow. That said here are a few thoughts.

Sugarbush has and I suspect will continue to turn snowmaking on immediately after the meter is read in the first days of November and temperatures allow. As many of you know, it is not just the ambient temperature that matters. Humidity is a big factor and one looks at what is called the wet-bulb temperature. The lower the humidity the lower the wet-bulb and better for both quality and quantity of snowmaking. It is very inefficient making snow above 28 degrees wb, and it really only starts to get efficient below 25wb. Snowmakers loved it in the the low teens. As you can observe there can be a 10 degree or more difference between summit and base and this time of year we can also experience inversions when base temps are higher than summit temps. Thus, each day a snow plan meeting is held and based on the forecast the next 24 hour plan is put into place. But audibles often have to be called on a moments notice when reality becomes different than reality.

Because Killington is making snow for an FIS event and racers love “ice” they will push the limit even is the snow is glop. Doing that on other trails can create lousy condition that last all season. I would also add as many of you know it is best to let the whales sit for 48 hours to drain. It makes for much better conditions.

The new low efficient equipment means that only compressor is needed at both LP and ME. In the past the mountain was short of air, now the limitation is the amount of water that can be moved those the pipes. LP will peak around 3,800-4,000 gallons per minute (GMP) while ME‘s peak is around 2,500. Elevation can make a difference too as more pressure is required the higher you go. It takes approximately 180,000 gallons of water to make one acre foot of snow. Sugarbush‘s plan has been and I think still is to try to feet three feet of snow out down before moving on. That creates sufficient depth to do and continue to groom well. Take a trail like Inverness which is twenty five acres. That requires 13.5 million gallons.

We had a long-term plan to increase the snowmaking capacity at LP to get more water through the system, but this is a multi-year permitting process and a very large investment. I have not heard anything that this has changed.

There was a comment about wasting energy in marginal temps. Once a compressor is turned on it is the same cost whether one gun is one or 75 are. Guns may run at the summit and halfway down Organgrinder for example but may not be able to go lower. It makes sense to do that because when temps fall the top can be finished and you can continue marching down the slope.

It looks like snowmaking resumed overnight on the lower portions of Jester and Downs and maybe lower Organgrinder (but the app is not showing accurate temps so I am really guessing having coffee over in East Warren). The big issue is going to be wants happens on later Sunday and Monday. It looks like a good window of opportunity until then.

Hope this was useful. My skis are tuned and I am eager to get out and see you all,on the slopes.
ot , but in my younger years I worked three years with Bart Hendricks, a wonderful man, he owned the land and was part of the original group of skiers who started jiminy peak, he would pop into my office from time to time and talk about jiminy, one time he talked about the cost of snowmaking, it shocked me how expensive it was to lay down a foot of snow over a one acre location, but his exact words were ,where are you without it. Warren Miller in his film, many moods of skiing, shot in 1960, showed in 61, spends a lot of time on bousquet’s snowmaking expertise and mentions one acre snowmaking cost is 20 dollars can’t remember whether that was one inch or a foot, watched this movie about 6 months ago.
 

WinS

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So I can verify that up until about a couple months ago, they did have a real shortage of lift machanics. I heard something like 8 left. I assumed is was to better paying jobs or something like that. I can not say if they left in protest. I can also confirm that a large group of the Bushpilot, adventure blazer crew left. This includes most of the Vermont North crew. Not sure of the numbers but in my opinion it was substancial. I also know of a few other people that have been here for years left. I can understand the article entirely. I personlly know that a good portion of the long time regulars are pissed. I ski and bike with a lot of these guys. For someone that is not invested in the community, is woudl be hard to understand the impact. I for one feel it is a big disapontment. Those people and those programs were something that made Sugarbush different and better than other places. Just ask any person or parent that was involved.
Will it stop me from sking here no. Do I think things are better...absolutely not. We lost part of our identity and to some extent, our soul. But that is just my opinion. Like everything there are two sides.
As I recall there were 8-10 Bush Pilot coaches who alternated weekends. Several had shop commitments on the weekends. The program was on Saturdays. The program was John’s idea to to create a few years ago, and he recruited the Vermont North team for the program. Bush Pilots did not happen last year due to COVID, so they obviously were not at Sugarbush, and I would guess without John they would not come back.The total instructors in Ski & Ride usually run around 450 as a I recall. I have no idea who will be back this year, but the several veterans who have been here decades and whom I have seen recently said they will be back this year. I guess we will see. I have heard that a few are reluctant to get vaccinated which is a requirement for ski& ride, patrol, rentals and employee housing. That was announced recently. I did hear that Blazers are sold out with a waiting list.
 

Castlerockrisk

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As I recall there were 8-10 Bush Pilot coaches who alternated weekends. Several had shop commitments on the weekends. The program was on Saturdays. The program was John’s idea to to create a few years ago, and he recruited the Vermont North team for the program. Bush Pilots did not happen last year due to COVID, so they obviously were not at Sugarbush, and I would guess without John they would not come back.The total instructors in Ski & Ride usually run around 450 as a I recall. I have no idea who will be back this year, but the several veterans who have been here decades and whom I have seen recently said they will be back this year. I guess we will see. I have heard that a few are reluctant to get vaccinated which is a requirement for ski& ride, patrol, rentals and employee housing. That was announced recently. I did hear that Blazers are sold out with a waiting list.
Win thank you for jumping back in and providing input and your local knowledge to this forum. Your stewardship is missed, and We all hope that you can use your influence to try to get someone on the current management team to be more transparent and open with the community. I know John H, and he is a very hard worker, being a COO can be a burdon and tough decisions and chnges are always embraced. He needs to get someone on his team to take over what you perfected- which is great transparent community dialogue. I realize that it sometimes takes someone with thick skin to do what you did with class for many years at ML and for the mountain.
 

WWF-VT

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Latest snow report:

Good news! We have a new projected Opening Day planned for Wednesday, November 24th. We plan to open with Heaven's Gate spinning 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM and Super Bravo loading 9:00 AM - 2:45 PM (with downloading running later until all trails are cleared). Join us for the first turns of the season on Jester, Organgrinder, Allyn’s Traverse and Downspout. Snowmaking will continue as temps allow, and we will begin moving down the mountain to hopefully open top-to-bottom as soon as we can.
 

Hawk

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They are currently blowing snow all the way to the bottom this morning. Temp is headed upwards. It is 35 right now at just above the base.
 

cdskier

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They keep doing little tweaks here and there to the website/trail report. All the glades now say "Not Patrolled" instead of the "Closed" listed on the other trails which makes sense with the way SB handles glades. I see the uphill routes are now listed too so you can see the status of them easily. I still think they need to refine which "area" some of the glades are listed in though...for example how can "Lower Snowball Woods" and "Eden" be on Lincoln Peak when the trails you enter/exit those glades from are listed on "Gadd Peak"? Realistically Grandstand is probably the only official glad that should be listed under the "Lincoln Peak" section. Little details like that bug me...

I also see another "bug" on the app... (or perhaps just a missing feature). It doesn't show the snow-making status of trails on the trail list in the app. The website shows several trails with snow-making active, yet looking at the trail report on the app you can't see that same info.
 

Newpylong

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ot , but in my younger years I worked three years with Bart Hendricks, a wonderful man, he owned the land and was part of the original group of skiers who started jiminy peak, he would pop into my office from time to time and talk about jiminy, one time he talked about the cost of snowmaking, it shocked me how expensive it was to lay down a foot of snow over a one acre location, but his exact words were ,where are you without it. Warren Miller in his film, many moods of skiing, shot in 1960, showed in 61, spends a lot of time on bousquet’s snowmaking expertise and mentions one acre snowmaking cost is 20 dollars can’t remember whether that was one inch or a foot, watched this movie about 6 months ago.

At the small ski area I ran we figured it cost us 2-3 grand to make snow for a 24 hour period. That's a single pump, a single compressor (sometimes we would augment more air with a rental), and labor. That is a lot of money for a small hill to swallow so every snowmaking window has to be productive. Multiply this cost by the higher energy and labor costs of a large mountain and the number is astronomical.
 

WinS

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At the small ski area I ran we figured it cost us 2-3 grand to make snow for a 24 hour period. That's a single pump, a single compressor (sometimes we would augment more air with a rental), and labor. That is a lot of money for a small hill to swallow so every snowmaking window has to be productive. Multiply this cost by the higher energy and labor costs of a large mountain and the number is astronomical.
The good news is that the low energy equipment allowed Sugarbush to reduce the Kwhs used over a season 30% or more. Good for the environment and the bottom line.
 

mister moose

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At the small ski area I ran we figured it cost us 2-3 grand to make snow for a 24 hour period. That's a single pump, a single compressor (sometimes we would augment more air with a rental), and labor. That is a lot of money for a small hill to swallow so every snowmaking window has to be productive. Multiply this cost by the higher energy and labor costs of a large mountain and the number is astronomical.
Run these numbers the other way - when it snows, what's it worth? That's where you get a really astronomical number.
 

mikec142

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As I recall there were 8-10 Bush Pilot coaches who alternated weekends. Several had shop commitments on the weekends. The program was on Saturdays. The program was John’s idea to to create a few years ago, and he recruited the Vermont North team for the program. Bush Pilots did not happen last year due to COVID, so they obviously were not at Sugarbush, and I would guess without John they would not come back.The total instructors in Ski & Ride usually run around 450 as a I recall. I have no idea who will be back this year, but the several veterans who have been here decades and whom I have seen recently said they will be back this year. I guess we will see. I have heard that a few are reluctant to get vaccinated which is a requirement for ski& ride, patrol, rentals and employee housing. That was announced recently. I did hear that Blazers are sold out with a waiting list.
Win and Hawk,

I very much appreciate all the insight you provide about Sugarbush. It helps provide much needed context.

I've never met John. I'm sure he's a huge presence in the skiing world and at SB. But I find that articles like the one that was quoted upthread are usually written from a POV that the author wants to get across. In this case, it felt like the author wanted to stir up controversy. There very well may be something there as I'm sure that his departure hurts, but I highly doubt its as significant as the author tries to make it by using words like most and many. I also find that people are looking for convenient ways to make a decision, so in the case of instructors who weren't willing to get vaxxed, it's very easy to say, we are quitting in support of John.
 

Hawk

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They stopped blowing on Downspout and they started blowing on Spring Fling. The question I have, is there enough snow on Donwspout to ski down to the lift? The bottom camera makes it look a little thin. Just wontering.
 

flakeydog

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I can only assume they are taking advantage of the cold and making as much as they can down low. Low 20s at the base now so production should be decent. They can always pull back up the hill if it warms up to marginal territory. Also, maybe there is some snow to push from Downspout to the HG base area? or they will cover this afternoon. Who knows? Looking forward to seeing in person tomorrow in any case.
 

KustyTheKlown

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dunno when it was last cleared but there's 3" on the stake and looks like a nice squall on other webcams right now
 
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While I understand about making snow lower on the mountain when possible, I'm surprised they're focusing on SF instead of lower DS and Coffee Run to get TTB skiing?
 

Hawk

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The guns and piping on snowball/spring fling are new and have a much better output. They will have top to bottom Jester>Allyns Traverse>Snowball>Spring Fling. If you chose to ski Organ Grinder you just have to go back up HG lift or if the line is long, just take off your skis and walk up DS about 50 yards.
 

Hawk

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FYI last year it took them at least 4 or 5 days to get enough coverage from HG chair bottom down to the bottom. Snowball / Spring Fling took 2 or 3.
 

flakeydog

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Maybe they are looking at Snowball/Spring Fling as TTB route? Though prob not tomorrow, perhaps by the weekend?

There have been years where they under-promise and over-deliver on opening days. I don't mind one run down lower jester under the guns so we don't have to download.

Spotted on cam, pushing for HG load area:
1637681341039.png
 
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