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The "Sugarbush Thread"

teleo

Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2008
Messages
164
Points
18
Snowing lightly today. Every bit helps.

Snowmakers were lugging hoses at the top of valley house this morning. Said they were going to hit steins and coffee run. So we'll get some more depth for april!
 

cdskier

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
5,515
Points
113
Location
NJ
Snowing lightly today. Every bit helps.

Snowmakers were lugging hoses at the top of valley house this morning. Said they were going to hit steins and coffee run. So we'll get some more depth for april!
I saw them staging some of the snologic sleds along with hoses around the bottom of Steins and along Coffee Run. Fascinating to see them getting ready to turn the guns back on at this point. Not sure how feasible it is, but if you're going to turn guns back on, they should really consider hitting the last section of DS. That trail is a disaster right now. 8AM this morning and it was a sheet of ice already at that point in numerous spots.
 

slatham

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
2,183
Points
83
Location
LI/Bromley
Great pics. Looks like real skiing, good skiing. Amoung the reasons why CR is skiing well I am a believer in letting new snow settle and bind to hold up and eventually ski better.
 

Lotso

Member
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
77
Points
18
Complete whiteout in the Valley for the past 20 minutes...crazy.

Anyway, skied ME today and man, was I pleasantly surprised! Lapped RR off Summit, then Elbow a couple of times, then over to Exterminator via the catwalk from Elbow. Surprisingly good cover on Exterm, and Lower Exterm is one of the nicest trails that gets no love. WWay and Cruiser also really nice surface. Groomers did a phenomenal job, and the couple of inches of fresh certainly help-ed.
 

mikec142

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
649
Points
28
Win - what a great post. I wish I had read it before I wrote that blog! Hopefully that blog post helps shed some light on things for all of you. We're certainly feeling like we're in a much better position today than we were over the summer, or even earlier this winter.

That being said, I hope you don't see this until after a long day of skiing. Get out there! Things are much improved from Thursday (downright scary at 3pm when I got out for a couple runs).
Hey John,

Thanks for that blog. The one thing that I don't recall you mentioning is that there were/are a number of lift mechanics that opted for indoor jobs.
 

mikec142

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
649
Points
28
Urungus,

Great pix. Thanks for the report. Much like you, hiking over to Castlerock was an east coast bucket list thing for me too. I had heard 15-20 minutes. LOL. My kids and I did it a few years back, it took us 45 minutes with breaks. We don't have skins and we have heavier downhill boots. If there had been people behind us, I would have been mortified. Looks like it was worth it for you as those pix show some great looking conditions. FWIW, my kids and I were wrecked at the end of that day.
 

Boxtop Willie

Active member
Joined
Feb 5, 2009
Messages
115
Points
28
Excellent morning today (work calls were cancelled so went over for a few runs...well, more than a few) They got a a good 5-6 inches from the squalls yesterday. Moonshine, Mall, Sunrise, Morning Star all skied great. A couple of high speed groomers too.
They're blowing snow on Steins, Coffee run, upper Snowball and around the base area.
Bravo was down all morning, so they opened Valley House.
 

mikec142

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
649
Points
28
I saw them staging some of the snologic sleds along with hoses around the bottom of Steins and along Coffee Run. Fascinating to see them getting ready to turn the guns back on at this point. Not sure how feasible it is, but if you're going to turn guns back on, they should really consider hitting the last section of DS. That trail is a disaster right now. 8AM this morning and it was a sheet of ice already at that point in numerous spots.
CD,

In regard to blowing snow on the last section of DS, I'm rarely up there end of season, but wouldn't you need that to maintain access to Heaven's Gate? If so, would make sense to blow more snow to make sure that pod last as long as possible.
 

cdskier

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
5,515
Points
113
Location
NJ
CD,

In regard to blowing snow on the last section of DS, I'm rarely up there end of season, but wouldn't you need that to maintain access to Heaven's Gate? If so, would make sense to blow more snow to make sure that pod last as long as possible.

Yes...once that is gone, you can't access HG (I'm assuming HG Traverse will melt out well before DS since the traverse is only natural snow and that's typically what happens). I'm not sure what the actual depth is on DS right now. Maybe it has good depth but is just a lot of ice. I didn't look too closely at skier's left of DS this weekend, but it is also possible the hydrants are buried in snow/ice which would make further snow-making a challenge on DS. They may also not have capacity to charge the lines to DS while snow is being made on the VH side. If they're not making snow today on DS, I'm assuming there's a reason (or they think what is there is sufficient or think that blowing more on top of it won't help solve the ice issues). I know DS is always a bit problematic due to a variety of factors, but this year it is the worst I can remember it being in a long time. The frequent thaw/freezes combined with low natural snow are likely the root causes...
 

ducky

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2017
Messages
245
Points
28
Location
Waitsfield, VT
Hiked and took my time - 20 minutes and I'm in my 60s. Had to come over from Reverse Traverse and up. It was -7˚ and felt it. Found rocks and ice on the run but not terrible.
 

jdr14

New member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
7
Points
3
I debated whether to weigh in on this as I can’t be seen as totally objective. However, I am still on the NSAA Board as Past Chair and will share some industry perspective, and I have skied 82 of my 86 days at Sugarbush this year.

First, Sugarbush thoughts. If I were still the owner the comments would be “that Smith guy is cheap and not spending money on grooming and snowmaking and lift maintenance.” There is very little that has been done this season that I would do differently. While I have no financial interest in Sugarbush or Alterra, I do have a vested interested in helping where I can with thoughts or advice. But I do that selectively as there is nothing worse than a former owner or CEO meddling after retirement. Alterra does not micro-manage. They expect John and his team to create a sensible annual budget and after review and approval they hold the Sugarbush team accountable for delivering it. No different than what we did under my ownership.
- This has been about the most challenging year for snowmaking that I have seen. It was warm and the number of snowmaking hours were brief before another warm-up hit. Sugarbush started with one of the best crews in recent years and while people were not leaving for Stowe, snowmakers actually came here instead of going to Stowe. The snowmaking temps required a different plan than we have had in past years, and that it why you saw Birdland coming on later than has been the case. While fewer gallons were blown because of the weather volatility, Sugarbush‘s cost of snowmaking went up significantly as I pointed out in any earlier post. That did not deter Sugarbush from making snow whenever they could.
-The majority of the Lifts Ops management team is still here. A big loss two years ago was Jasen Bellomy, the Lift Maintenance Manager. We got him from Saddleback when they closed, but he went back with two others when they reopened. He actually applied for a job other than lift maintenance a year ago but it did not work out and he has become the Mountain Manager at Bellayre in NY, a role he aspired to.
-Labor has been challenging everywhere as you all know. Sugarbush had 91% of jobs filled at the start of the season. Not great but better than many. I have heard of some as low as 75%. John Hammond moved the minimum wage to $15 over the summer, a significant increase, and he was one of the first to do it.
-I too wish John Egan was still here. He was a respected colleague and added a lot. The Bush Pilot coaches and Adventure Blazer coaches as no longer here, but I am not aware of other leaving because of his departure.
-Yes, the new app was a step backward and very frustrating to the Sugarbush team as well as us. Fortunately, there are some important improvements.
-Slidebrook is disappointing to all of us but also to Sugarbush. On a busy day it moves people and makes for a better guest experience. But when you are down to 8 lift mechanics from an ideal 14, it is impossible to spare one for two hours to get it open. All 40 tours have to be visually seen by a mechanic. In my opinion Spencer, the current manager of the lift maintenance team, is a very able professional and is rebuilding the team. I commented in an earlier post about some of the competition for lift mechanics.
-I disagree with the comment about the language used about skinning. It was appropriately tough given what occurred. The winch incident was the final straw, but there had been multiple violations occurring before that one.
-The blazer comment is a reasonable one. Keith Paxman took over just as the season began and inherited something that he could not fix this year.
- Yes, there have been quite a few lifts issues this year. Shit happens especially in climates like ours, but I do not think it is from neglect. That said, it sucks to be stuck on a lift for 20 or more minutes and no one cares about the reason.
- I can‘t share skier visit numbers, but I do not think they will exceed those during my final two years of ownership. But, having all lifts running and the woods skiable makes for a very different experience on a crowded day.
- Grooming. This is where I might have done things a bit differently at times Like grooming Sunrise a couple of days earlier. But I am not on top of groomer shifts and other issues that impact the daily snow plan. Stein‘s on the other hand needs to be groomed when either snow or snowmaking with occur afterwards. Otherwise, it needs winching every night which then takes away from other trails.

Now, an industry respective. At the last NSAA Board meeting we had a “go around the table update“ from all Board members who are predominantly GMs of ski areas. They come from East and West, small and large. Almost to a person they commented on how customer perception this year was as tough as they have experienced and highlighTed many of the same comments listed above.

Bottom line:

I too have heard many of these comments
Many of the skiers are first time IKON visitors
Staffing and Covid have placed huge strains on all Sugarbush areas.
Alterra is behaving exactly as they told me they would.
Example: they followed through on the commit to VASS and added more $ to improve the lodge for all
They have not inserted anyone onto the team here, but 5-6 have been promoted to jobs in Alterra.
I personally think the Sugarbush team has done an excellent job this winter and are working their ass off.

That said I am in Big Sky and will miss the Friday powder which should change the conversation.

Win - Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts. I've always enjoyed reading your posts on here and found them to be authentic and insightful. And this one was no exception. I agree that COVID, staffing and weather have created an incredibly challenging couple of years.

Johnny B - Thank you for the blog post - lots of info in there that I was not aware of. Huge thank you to you and the entire team for all the hard work you are doing to make the best of a really challenging couple of years. I hope you'll continue to share thoughts on this forum as well - it means a lot. Would love to hear more about any plans you have for further improvements. I know a lot of people had high expectations for Alterra investment when the acquisition was announced. That was before the pandemic hit. But still hoping there are some things in the works to further enhance the on-the-mountain experience.

The skiing was great this weekend after the Friday storm. Did the hike to CR a couple times over the weekend and it was well worth it. Hopefully this refresh is the start of a snowy March.
 

Blurski

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2020
Messages
74
Points
8
Win - Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts. I've always enjoyed reading your posts on here and found them to be authentic and insightful. And this one was no exception. I agree that COVID, staffing and weather have created an incredibly challenging couple of years.

Johnny B - Thank you for the blog post - lots of info in there that I was not aware of. Huge thank you to you and the entire team for all the hard work you are doing to make the best of a really challenging couple of years. I hope you'll continue to share thoughts on this forum as well - it means a lot. Would love to hear more about any plans you have for further improvements. I know a lot of people had high expectations for Alterra investment when the acquisition was announced. That was before the pandemic hit. But still hoping there are some things in the works to further enhance the on-the-mountain experience.

The skiing was great this weekend after the Friday storm. Did the hike to CR a couple times over the weekend and it was well worth it. Hopefully this refresh is the start of a snowy March.
https://www.saminfo.com/news/sam-he...50jZ5MWeoSUpTSm70RD-r9sEX-o2UrtWXg-7BY-dNzRDg
 

Joshco0752

New member
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
5
Points
3
Ill speculate...if you cant fill positions..your not paying enough..
The issue with the labor shortage is partly not paying enough and more likely not having access to foreign workers. In years past there were many, many more people working ski areas on temporary visas. Not being political, but our immigration policies and visa policies over the past several years have hurt many service industries in finding enough people to work. Everyone in Vermont has been struggling to find workers at any price. Many of the people we work with have increased wages and increased wages, are great places to work and they just can't find bodies. Just my opinion.
 

Powder Whore

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
60
Points
8
I found a pair of googles today on the fis run-out,
if anybody is looking for them I left them in a branch skiers left towards the end of the run-out.
 

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Kingslug20

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 14, 2021
Messages
1,800
Points
113
Watched a lift mechanic ski down a rocky slope under the sensation quad chair today..wind was pretty strong..snow dumping..climbing and checking towers...
That should be a very high paying job..very!
 

tumbler

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
1,237
Points
63
Hopefully there is a few Mill set aside for the Bush & they only mention the big projects, not all $344M was accounted for in the article.
We said the same thing last year and got nuthin compared to the western areas.
 
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