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Mountain Update

The inside scoop from Mountain Operations Director, Steve Crowley.

Stay tuned for a weekly message about the snow, the base, snowmaking and upcoming events, straight from the source, Holiday Valley Mountain Ops.

Inside Scoop from Mt Ops 1-9-14

Steve Crowley - Thursday, January 09, 2014

 January 9, 2014
“They call it Stormy Monday, Well the Tuesday’s just as bad, They call it Stormy Monday, But Tuesday’s just as bad, Lord Wednesday’s worse, Thursday’s all so sad, Now the Eagle flies on Friday, Saturday I go out and play, Well the eagle flies on Friday. Lord on Saturday I go out and play, Sunday I go to church, Lord, I kneel down to pray”  (ABB ’71) 

This past week did bring out the blues with sub zero temperatures, strong winds, and most major north south roads closed. There were a few hearty souls on the slopes but it was a quiet week here at Holiday Valley. Now on Thursday night the crowd is picking up along with the temperatures. It was another big week for snowmaking and even bigger week for grooming as the crews are working hard leveling out trails and tilling up some good skiing and riding snow. It will be all grooming bringing back the surface this weekend as we have sent the snowmakers home 'til next week for some well deserved rest. Jim, Pat, and Ed are building up the Foxfire 42/78 Terrain Park with plenty of rails and tables set for the weekend. We will see racing on Edelweiss both Saturday and Sunday and NASTAR will be set up on Cindy’s. The Freestyle Team will be skiing up a mogul course on Chute Saturday morning. We have parks in waiting on Snoozer and Moon Shadow (huge piles of snow) so those trails will remain closed until into next week. There's great snow on Fiddlers Elbow, Morning Star, and all the Eagle area, so be sure to head back there first.
   The Tubing Park is open along with the Mountain Coaster. Operating hours are listed on the web page, and you can purchase discount coaster tickets if you add that to your lift ticket purchase. As always we have free shuttles operating to move you and yours around the resort. The shuttle pick up is at the Resort Services Center and on request from other locations, just ask a host or lot attendant. The snow is great and at mid-season depth all around the resort. Dress for the weather, come on out and join us for some great winter fun. See you on the slopes. 
   PS : I just heard Warren and Derek are leaving ABB at the end of 2014, now that is blue! 

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops 1-2-14

Steve Crowley - Thursday, January 02, 2014

January 2 2014
 “When you wake up in the morning and the light is hurt your head, The first thing you do when you get up out of bed, Is hit the street a-runnin’ and try to beat the masses, And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses….Now go out and get yourself some big black frames, With the glass so dark they won’t even know your name…” (ZZT ’79) 

The weatherman says we may need some shades on Saturday but time will tell.  It’s snowing hard tonight at the Valley and the temp is just around 10 degrees f. We are experiencing a good general snowfall and the cold temperatures are providing a great opportunity for snowmaking all around the resort. The prevailing winds are West/Northwest but they have been out of the East/Northeast the past 24 hours, which lets us make snow on the opposite side of the north facing trails (skiers/riders right). Snow guns and hydrants are generally placed on the western edge of these slopes, however over time we have added a lighter bank of guns on the eastern edges and the results are spectacular when the winds go east, achieving a uniform base depth all across the slope. Groomers have been busy this week leveling out trails and packing some yet to open terrain as we aim to have all our trails open by Saturday. The Wall has seen snowmaking and was groomed with the winch cat Tuesday night. Crews will make more snow there tonight and we’ll groom it out one more time Friday night. Depending on the result, The Wall may open Saturday for the first time this season. Moguls are on Shadows now and we'll start developing a field on Chute this weekend. Machine made bumps will get set on Morning Star, lower south side ( skier/rider right side) with the warmer weather coming this weekend this should start to ski in.
    Hey, the Tubing park will be sliding on 20+ lanes this weekend, a first for Holiday Valley. We now have the snow depth there to set lanes all the way across hill with our new lane setting implement. The park is open Thursdays and Fridays 4-9 PM and Noon to 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The Mountain Coaster is open Thursday through Sunday as well and is located just off the Tannenbaum lodge. Shuttle Busses and Vans are operating and you can get around the resort by requesting a ride from a Parking attendant or host at any lodge. There's a designated shuttle stop at the top of the stairs just west of the Resort Service Center.
      Now if you are confused on the east-west references and need help in following me here just go to the “plan a visit” tab on the Holiday Valley web page and open the trail map. This map is an artist’s rendering, actually quite a famous artist, James Niehues, as he has done over 75% of the ski resorts in North America.  The map is not to scale but looking at the map, West is to the right as the view is looking south because the majority of the trails face North. And when you ski or ride down a north face in January there is very little need for sunglasses because the sun angle is very low and it’s behind you. Look for it in the morning, though, on Morning Star slope as that slope faces east and the snow will soften quickly there on a sunny day, see you on the slopes!

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops Dec.26

Steve Crowley - Friday, December 27, 2013

December, 26 2013
  “ Take my hand and hold on tight, we’ll go running, running from the light, We may stand, We may fall, take a chance to lose it all, While we’re still young, While we’re still young, While we’re still young,… “ (RY p ’80)  

Winter is still young and we had a good run of snowmaking this week. We are adding lifts daily now and will have all 11 chairlifts and 2 surface lifts operational by Saturday morning with the Spruce lift being the last to open. Skiing and riding conditions are improving each day as we get more grooming time on the new man made snow. Chute slope will see some moguls develop over the next few days as the Freestyle Team builds a course for training. Edelweiss slope is groomed flat and Yodeler slope contains some snowmaking mounds for varied terrain options. We will operate holiday hours 8:30 AM to 10 PM each day through New Years Day. We have seen some lake effect snow showers and will pack the lower Cross country course on Friday. We still need more natural snow to get the Upper Cross country trails open. Check the Holiday Valley web page for the most up to date slope conditions or give Pete a call at 716-699-2644 for the daily on snow report.

The Tubing Park is open daily noon to 9 PM and the Mountain Coaster up above the Tannenbaum Lodge is operating 1 to 8 PM as well. Shuttles are operating to move you around the resort, HV lodging, Tubing Park, and Mountain Coaster. You can request shuttle service at a Lodging desk, Resort Service Center, or ask any of our parking attendants or Hosts for assistance.

New Years Eve is always a good time at Holiday Valley with our grooming crew leading off with a parade of snow cats in a grooming formation down Cindy’s slope followed by a torchlight parade and a giant fireworks display culminating with a grand finale at the stroke of midnight. Great viewing of these events can be had at The Holiday Valley Lodge. So come out and get your skiing and riding in “While we’re still young”, or young at heart anyway!!! Happy New Year!

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops Dec.19

Steve Crowley - Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013
“Is this the real life?  Is it just fantasy? Caught in a land slide, No escape from reality, Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see, I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy, Because I’m “easy come, easy go” Little high, Little low, Any way the wind blows….”  (FM “75) 

Little high little low that’s how the weather goes, we have had several nights of very low temperatures, even seeing negative 12 f on Monday night and Tuesday morning this week. We had another great run of snowmaking through Thursday morning and have several lifts and trails to add this weekend. The Chute will open on Friday along with Shadows and Firecracker. On Saturday morning we’ll open SnowPine Lift with all trails there except the Wall-headwall. We'll need another run of snowmaking there and hope to get it open a week from now. This will bring us to 9 chairlifts and two surface lifts. Eagle lift will open next week with Falcon, Hoot Owl, Raven, Woodpecker and Woodstock. We had planned to open Eagle this Saturday but with the warm temps and wet weather, it is best to postpone the grooming out of the snowmaking piles. Spruce lift should be up and running right after Christmas. The snowmakers have produced over 700 acre feet of snow so far this year on  about 225 acres of snowmaking trails. Quick math will tell you that you have about 3 feet of manmade snow AND 60+ inches of natural (which compacted down to about 12 inches), so say that's an average of 4 feet under skis or board. This is great early season insurance to ward off any warm up or liquid precip event we may see in the next couple of days. So it is no escape from reality, but be assured the slope conditions will hold up well, any way the wind blows!
Time to add the other fun activities...Our Mountain Coaster, located at the Tannenbaum Lodge will open for the season Friday, as will the Tubing Park. The boys had a grand time shoveling snow off the uphill coaster track today and riding the “plow car” on the down track to clear off the snow. Our vehicle and grooming Manager, ED has built a new grooming implement to carve tubing lanes at the Tubing Park. We currently have 12 lanes ready to slide and the Tubing Park will open Friday at 4 pm. These new lanes are much narrower than what we built previously and when the park is complete, 20+ lanes will be available.  The park also now has a huge roller in the run out area, along with tighter lanes and it will be more fun than ever before. SO open your eyes, look up to skies and see, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy all Holiday Valley has to offer you this weekend. With colder days ahead as we head into the Holiday week, come join us for some fun and we’ll enjoy the real life! Laurie and I will see you on the slopes we’ll be hiking up in the morning and I’ll need no sympathy for sure!     

Inside Scoop from Mt. Ops 12/12/13

Steve Crowley - Thursday, December 12, 2013

 “I went across to Switzerland, Where all the Yodelers be, To try to learn to yodel, With my yodel-oh-ee-dee, I climbed a big high mountain, On a clear and sunny day, And met a yodelin’ gal, up in a little Swiss chalet…”  (F I ’62).

Winter’s here, so its a good time to learn to yodel. We’ve seen some lake effect snows this week and our snowmaking system has been running at 100% capacity all week as well. We’ll have 7 chairlifts and 2 surface lifts operating Friday thru Sunday while making snow in the other 4 lift pods. Our goal is to have the whole resort open by December 21st and we are well within that target. Earlier this week we tested out our new tubing lane cutter and saw good results, the implement was designed and built in-house by Ed, our head of grooming operations and vehicle maintenance. This lane cutter makes narrower lanes and will double the downhill capacity at the Tubing Park, shortening the wait time up top considerably...more runs, more fun!

Our lift maintenance crew has been very busy bringing more lifts online and prepping the remaining 4 to get operating a week from now. The lift maintenance team works very hard year 'round preparing each lift, greasing, testing, rebuilding and double checking each operating system to keep all lifts running with exceptional reliability. It is a feather in their caps that Holiday Valley has been voted number one in lifts in the East for 2 years in a row. Now there’s something to yodel about! 

The Mountain coaster will open for the winter season Friday Dec 20th. We’ve installed a ticket kiosk on the entrance walk over to the coaster from Tannenbaum Lodge to make purchasing tickets more convenient. Coaster ride tickets can also be purchased at any ticket sales point and you can save 25% on a coaster ticket when purchased with your lift ticket as an add on. The Tubing Park is scheduled to open on Friday Dec 20th and snowmaking has been operating all week up there building a big sliding base.

Grooming crews have been moving snow and tilling up fine surfaces each morning. Our new active boom Pisten Bully winch cat is performing well and we can now move more snow UP hill than ever before. Most of the terrain we have scheduled to open this weekend has already been winched or pushed earlier in the week so getting a second or third night of tilling the surface after being pushed provides a more uniform corduroy finish. We'll be listening for the yodelers out there and I’ll see you on the slopes.

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops 12-4-13

Steve Crowley - Wednesday, December 04, 2013

“If you share the road with me, I’ll walk along with you, We can go anywhere we want, Do whatever we want to do, We can run and laugh or hide and seek… it’s all up to you “ ( JD-NRPS ’68).

You will want to ski and ride this weekend as we are opening 7 chairlifts and two surface lifts. The snowmaking crews have produced a massive amount of snow and grooming has been working hard all week tilling up a great packed power surface. We experienced a very unusual cold snap right before Thanksgiving and put the snowmaking system in operation earlier than we have in a long time. Our automated snow guns are located on Mardi Gras, Yodeler, Punch bowl, Morning Star, Edelweiss, Sunrise, and Foxfire slopes. We’ve also installed the newest generation of high efficiency snow towers and Cindy’s run as well.

Our base is being reported at 10 to 25 inches and we have several areas with over 50” of man made snow. This gives the ability to move snow around to keep a good surface depth even after these upcoming warm ups and liquid precipitation events. Our snowmaking crews are at the ready to fire up the system in every opportunity coming later this week and another shot of arctic air due in here next Monday. We will be making snow in the lift pods that have not opened yet, as we strive to get the whole resort open by mid month. The Mountain Coaster is scheduled to open Thursday December 12th and the Tubing Park on the 20th. Skiing and Riding has been outstanding this week and will only get better as we open more terrain. Check the snow report on our web site for the latest, or better yet give Pete a call on the snow phone 716-699-2644. Everyone in Mountain Operations has been working hard to provide the best to you our guests, so come on out and share the slopes with us. I’ll see you out there!!   

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops 11-18-2013

Steve Crowley - Monday, November 18, 2013

Looking at the weather we have favorable snowmaking temps coming in on Tuesday night, November 19. Jeff is calling in the snowmaking crews on Tuesday and we will have the snowmaking system operating overnight. It looks like just a one night run, but it is a good opportunity to shake down the system and crews.

The next snowmaking night looks to be Sunday or Monday next week (November 24-25) and we're predicted to have favorable weather through the week. Snowmaking will start on Yodeler then the Candy Cane loop, Mardi Gras, School Haus as resources permit. Once those slopes get a good coating, next up would be Cindy’s, Sunrise, and Morning Star. It's exciting to be able to use our snowmaking automation on all of these slopes, as the system can be activated all at once, while making the best of temperature and humidity variations.

But, the crews have not just been sitting around all summer and fall waiting for cold weather! We've been busy installing the new auto-hydrants and HKD Impulse guns on Sunrise, Cindy's and Foxfire and installing more guns on Bear Cub, Hoot Owl and Spruce Lake. We spruced up a few of the glades and other popular woods skiing areas, painted several lifts, installed new water lines and a whole host of yearly maintenance projects. Our seasonal lift operators, lift maintenance, snowmaking and grooming crews have been hired and trained.

While we can't say for sure yet when we'll be opening for the 2013-14 season,  with this "good old fashioned fall weather" our target date of November 29 is a real possibility. Get ready for another great snow season!!

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops July 2013

Jane Eshbaugh - Thursday, July 18, 2013

Talk about tropical living! So far this summer has been plenty warm and humid...but we're not complaining! It is likely to lead to a colder and snowier winter, and that's great news.

No easy living for the Mountain Crew this summer, we've been hard at work with tons of projects to improve the resort, plus our yearly summer maintenance of the 13 lifts and 58 slopes.

Installation of additional automated snowmaking is going well on Foxfire, Sunrise, Cindy's and Edelweiss. We're also replacing the pipeline on Lower Woodstock and installing new hydrants. This makes a total of 11 of our major slopes with automated snowmaking. End result is the ability to make more and better quality snow in short windows of cold temps so we can get more slopes open quicker while using less energy.

Several glades and woodlots have been getting attention with clearing of downed trees and general cleaning out - Devil's Glen on both sides of the Morning Star chair, Ego Glades and the trees between Morning Star and Moonshadow. Just remember, skiing/riding in the trees is for experts and there may be stumps, logs and roots under the snow so always use caution and ride with a friend.

We're purchasing a new "Active Boom Winch" Pisten Bully 600 Groomer. What that means to you is when grooming our steeper headwalls the boom allows the groomer to travel straighter up the hill with more even pressure on both tracks, resulting in a more consistent surface. Good stuff!

We've built a storage area for the rails at the top of Foxfire which cleans up the top of the hill and makes the rails more accessible for the 42/78 Park. We've painted the terminals of several lifts plus added lettering on the top terminals of Tannenbaum, Mardi Gras and Moonshadow...easier to know where you are when you get to the top. The chairlifts have a rotating schedule of maintenance and with 11 chairs that's a lot of work! All in all, the crew's had a good summer so far, but we're anxious for the temps to drop and the snow to start falling. See you on the slopes in just a few months!

Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops April 11, 2013

Steve Crowley - Thursday, April 11, 2013

       “Well I told you once and I told you twice, That someone will have to pay the price, But here’s a chance to change your mind, Cuz we’ll be gone a long long time, Well this could be the last time, This could be the last time, Maybe the last time, I don’t know, oh no…” (RS ’65)

The snow cover is holding well after the deluge yesterday (April 10) and we have plenty of grooming work to do. The plan is to move snow Friday during the day time, then groom Friday night. We will open Chute and Yodeler lifts Saturday morning at 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with 12 trails and operate the same on Sunday. This may be the last time, so get on out there! For just 25 bucks it will be the most fun you'll have in all of April.

The Inside Scoop from Mountain Ops March 28

Steve Crowley - Thursday, March 28, 2013

“Grandmas sit in chairs and reminisce, Boys keep chasing girls to get a kiss, The cars keep going faster all the time, Bums still cry Hey buddy can you spare a dime, And the beat goes on, Drums keep pounding a rhythm ti the brain, La de da de de  La de da de da……..(S&C ’67) 

The skiing and riding are great, and the beat goes on. We’ll be adding Tannenbaum lift and trails Friday, Eagle and Chute are on tap for Saturday. The snow depth is above average and surface is still very much a packed power. We saw a little hardening of the surface on Wednesday mostly from moisture collecting through evaporation and freezing in overnight. Thursday morning saw a couple inches of fresh dry snow and the groomed underneath has softened some because of warmer temps overnight.

We’ll keep Cindy’s and Sunrise spinning until 9 PM Friday and Saturday nights for one last ski and ride under the lights! Terrain parks are looking good and the park crews are working hard every day to keep them in good shape. Check for the spring session to be held on Foxfire on April 13...Looking ahead to next week we will have 5 lifts operating and we plan to extend the season to April 14th. The beat goes on… get your shades and sunscreen on I’ll see you on the slopes!