Kelly’s Blog: Last Day of March

It is officially the time of year that everyone in the ski industry dreams of good sugaring weather.  Because cold at night and warm during the day not only makes the sap run but it allows for the snow to set up at night for a good groom and soften to spring corn during the day…in a perfect world.

Clearly Mother Nature has other plans for us ski area operators.  She hasn’t had enough fun with us yet and all I can do is sit here and craugh (when you cry and laugh at the same time.)  Ma Nature tickled us with Spring temps and conditions on Saturday and finally the apres ski glow on Cuzzin’s deck emerged.  Without hesitation, she snatched it away and yesterday brought fog, drizzle, rain and temps hovering just below freezing around mid-mountain.  Our guests tromped around in the mashed potatoes snow at the base wondering why the Bluebird was not flying.  Some understood that the summit was iced in (3/4 inch of ice) but most just thought of Mount Snow as an evil and cruel entity.  Our lift mechanics finally finished the deicing process of the Bluebird around 2 pm and spun a bubble around a few times only to find it was still icing up at the top.  We abandoned ship and hoped for a better tomorrow.

When my car door would not open this morning and I fell on my butt navigating the luge run to the wood pile  I hummed “Just Another Manic Monday”, angrily.  Reports from the summit confirmed that there was another 1/2 inch of ice added onto yesterday’s accumulation.  And our lift mechanics did not swear once over the radio when they learned that the Bluebird was iced back in.

March 31 at the Summit 9 am.

Hoarfrost – definition – deposit of ice crystals on objects exposed to the free air. Formed by direct condensation of water vapor to ice at temperatures below freezing and occurs when air is brought to its frost point by cooling.

Chris, one of our lift mechanics, already hard at work de-icing the Bluebird. Did I mention the wind speed at the summit is 25-35 mph? Thank you Chris!

I was born in NH and I’ve lived in Vermont since 1984.  Many of our staff have even deeper roots in this state.  Despite my familiarity with the weather that can be dealt, sometimes I just have to shake my head and say, “Really?  Enough all ready!”

This is the time of year that I give up on the less important things and move into survival mode.  My stash of Smart Wool socks have disappeared to the deep dark corners of the couch cushions or my dog has deposited them in a snow bank.  Who knows?  So I do what the rest of the ski industry does, I wear the same pair 2 or 3 times in a row, covered in a beautiful layer of yellow lab fur for added warmth.

This time of year I just walk past the dead Christmas wreath on the front door and tell myself that it is perfectly acceptable to toss it during Spring cleaning.  Dinners at the Pawlak household went severely downhill about a month ago and consist of a few “fend for yourself” nights, grilled cheese and canned soup and the coveted Snow Barn pizza night.

No matter how desperate my personal life may seem, operations on the hill are the welcomed constant in my life and our staff continues to amaze me.  I rarely hear of a lift mechanic calling in sick – we usually have to send them home because they are so stubborn.  Our staff continue to rally and help out running lifts and cash registers, organizing lift mazes, assisting in the kitchens and even helping custodial and housekeeping because our international staff members have gone back to school.

I can groan and grumble because I need a day off to do my taxes and find the spot in my kitchen where there used to be a table but when I make it to work I am constantly reminded that we are in it together.  My staff repeatedly pick me up and give me the kick in the ass to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We take comfort in knowing that it will warm up and we will get the opportunity to hit soft bumps in our skimpy wind shirts (yikes, 80′s flashback!)

And just when I think Mother Nature will deal us another crappy card, as some cruel April Fool’s joke, I look at the forecast and see that the rest of the week is calling for sunny (in the upper 40′s) days and cool nights.  As quickly as the weather changes, I can feel my mood improve.  I am encouraged that this could be our week to make sweet maple syrup and sun-kissed laps on the North Face bumps!  Okay, Okay…I admit it.  I have a pretty sweet deal here at Mount Snow.

Update at 10 am.  The Grooming Dept (3rd shift – started at 11 pm) are still on the hill regrooming.  I could hear them on the radio remarking about the ice build up.  I asked them to take some photos, and Tom sent me these.

Which lift?

If you guessed, Lift #7, Sundance Triple, you are correct.

1:30 pm update:  The Bluebird is open!  Thanks to our lift mechanics and all the other staff that pitched in to get the job done!

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