In the past 48 hours we have received 38" of new snow, which is a great surprise this time of year. Our plan for tomorrow is to have 4 chair lifts open and the Cupsuptic T-Bar for the weekend. With wind holds the past couple of days, some have asked "Why is the T-Bar not open?" and "Why aren't the T's hung yet?" Both excellent questions. As I explained before in other posts we have a strong group of individuals in Mountain Operations led by Jimmy Quimby and Sean Welton our Lift Mechanic both long time veterans of Saddleback. Many might not realize that a snow base is key to setting certain lifts and T-bars in to operation, without a proper base (as we have mentioned before) equipment can be damaged (i.e. groomers)
Therefore as snowmaking and natural snow allows we set up the lifts in conjunction with our snowmaking plan. This year we took a slightly different approach with our snowmaking and opening, some criticized the fact we delayed our opening 5 days until the 16th rather than the 11th. This was based on weather patterns in which we received almost 3 inches of rain on December 12th. Since we had stockpiled our snow rather than spread it, we were able to layout our trails and opened as scheduled on the 16th and expanded to 22 trails on Saturday December 18th. In previous years, we focused on opening the T-bar and snowmaking on Blue Devil, Red Devil and Silver Doctor first. This year we chose to focus on Tri-Color and the upper part of the mountain to allow opening the Kennebago Quad, before concentrating on the T-Bar area. The thought was with a little luck from mother nature this would allow folks to get into the Casablanca Glades before New Years. With this new storm, we are pleased to say that strategy seemed to have worked out well, with 65 trails opening tomorrow. Many may remember that we opened Casablanca the first week in January last year, so this storm puts us ahead of that schedule by over a week.
Below are Frequently Asked Questions we have received lately in the lodge from our skiers this time of year. We hope you find the information helpful.
1. When the chair lifts are on wind-hold why not run the T-bar?- T-Bars even though close to the ground can be effected by wind. Yesterday when we had a wind hold, the T-bar line was inspected and even if the T-bar had been ready it wouldn't have run, due to the winds we were receiving T-Bars would have hit the towers which is not a desired result.
2. Why aren't the T's hung on the T-Bar, it appears you aren't ready? - We traditionally wait to place the T-Bars on the T-Bar line until we are ready to open it, because the nature of T-Bars are that they take in water and can freeze in an extended or closed position. In that situation it would require thawing out the T-Bar which can lead to further delays in opening.
3. But, without the T-Bar I can't get to (Insert Favorite Trail Near T-Bar)? From the Rangeley Chair all trails serviced by the T-Bar can be accessed, refer to the Trail Map.
4. Seems like you guys didn't plan well for this situation, why aren't you ready with the T-Bar? As stated above we open the mountain in a sequence, we hope for natural snow to expedite the opening. This storm has allowed us an accelerated opening. We chose to open the Kennebago Lift before the T-Bar, that was a predetermined plan before this natural snow boost. We finished early this week getting the Kennebago Lift ready to open, in fact Jimmy Quimby, Sean Welton and their team worked throughout the holiday weekend to insure the Kennebago Quad would be ready for Monday morning. Unfortunately the winds for the past two days have not allowed it to operate but based on the forecast we should be set for a Wednesday morning opening. Our next project is the T-Bar and as stated we plan to have it operational for Friday December 31st.
5. But the wind seems fine here at the lodge, why is (Insert Wind Held Lift) on wind hold? Placing a lift on wind hold is not something we take lightly here at Saddleback, Wind Holds are not something that are decided by looking at a weather report or making a phone call to a liftie. Sean Welton, our lift mechanic, studies the situation very carefully by analyzing all aspects and locations on a lift before determining to have it open or placing an operating lift on Wind Hold. Many times it may seem calm at the bottom of a lift but at the top it can be hurricane conditions. We plan to video capture these windy situations in the future so if there are questions we can provide the information to our skiers. We rely on Sean's expertise and overall knowledge of our lifts to make the correct decision, which in our opinion he always does. Our Rangeley Chair spans over 4700 feet with a vertical of almost 1200 feet, therefore many things can change weather wise between the base lodge and the top of the lift.