AlpineZone Challenge 2004 – Sally Johnstone of Jiminy Peak

The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Sally JohnstoneDirector of Sales and Marketing at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 4/15/2004:

Greg: What impact has the addition of the Berkshire Express 6-passenger lift had on Jiminy Peak? Have you received positive feedback on the lift? Without getting into specifics, has it proven to be a good investment? Why did you decide to go with a six pack rather than a high speed quad?

Sally Johnstone: The Berkshire Express has had a positive impact on the number of skier visits at Jiminy Peak in the years since we installed it (for the 200/2001 season). With the exception of one older season passholder (who felt that the lift would put too many people on the hill at one time) the response to the six-pack has been overwhelmingly positive. The formerly 12 to 15 minute ride to the summit has been cut to 5 minutes, and lift lines at their longest are at 7 minutes. The only downside is that no one rides the Summit Triple or the Whitetail Quad anymore. I would say that the ROI has been very good. We went with a six pack instead of a quad because the uphill capacity was the same for a lower price (with the six). Plus, it gave us a unique lift for the immediate region.

Greg: Does Jiminy Peak plan to add any additional terrain? If yes, where? Are there any other improvement plans for the 04-05 season?

Sally Johnstone: For next year, we are rebuilding the Base Area Ski Patrol headquarters (with condos on the second and third floors). In fact, the old patrol building has already been taken down. Also, we are adding new terrain – two trails off the back of the Berkshire Express, one leading to Easy Does it and thence to Left Bank, and the other running parallel to the ‘Back Chute’ of Upper Westway to relieve some of the pressure on that trail. In addition, we cleared out part of Willie’s and Riptide to make another intermediate trail, which will have snowmaking on it. And, we are tearing down the old Canteen, and will add another small park with rails in it in that area. Also, we are re-opening the trail that leads from the base of the Widow White’s Quad past the homes in Mountainside to the base area (sometimes called the Annex) which will make returning to the Berkshire Express much easier after you ski Wild Turkey, Jericho, Cutter, etc.

Greg: The groomers tend to leave sections of certain trails ungroomed which results in some nice moguls areas (e.g. skier’s right on the Foxes, skier’s right on North Glade, etc.). Are there any plans to expand this approach to other trails?

Sally Johnstone: Moguls seem like a constant battle between those who want them and those who don’t. If we have bumps, we get complaints from the people who like groomed slopes. If we don’t, we get complaints from people who like bumps. We’ll continue to let the skier’s right on Foxes, North Glade, maybe Jericho, and that middle section of Whirlaway/Lower Ex bump up as long as weather cooperates. If we have a thaw/freeze cycle, though, we have to groom them for safety.

Greg: Some Northeast mountains use standard grooming equipment to “make” very evenly spaced mogul fields on intermediate terrain. Does Jiminy Peak have the capacity to do this and is it something you’ve considered?

Sally Johnstone: We are considering it for next year. What many people may not realize is that because we are open until 10:30 PM, we have only half of the grooming time available to us that an area with day-only operations, such as Stratton or Butternut, does, so we just can’t always do everything we would like to do with the grooming machines.

Greg: What is the status on Brodie Mountain? Does Jiminy Peak still own it? Is it possible to interconnect the two mountains? If yes, is this something that has ever been considered?

Sally Johnstone: No interconnect is possible – there are too many landowners in between the two areas that would have to be bought out, and the amount of money to complete the purchases would put us out of business. We are in the process of selling Brodie.

jimme: On January 28th, 2004 there was around 8″ of fresh snow on the mountain during a good storm. At times it was snowing the hardest I have ever seen, yet the snowguns were blowing snow on some trails. Why does Jiminy blow snow during a snowstorm?

Sally Johnstone: Same reason that we blow snow when people are skiing. When the conditions are right, you have to build base depths. Natural snow has no staying power, plus if the wind blows at all most of the natural snow ends up in Pittsfield!

jimme: Where is the snow measured for the snow reports?

Sally Johnstone: For new snow, in one or more of three places – my back deck (don’t laugh – the house is a quarter mile from the resort, and at about the same elevation as the base of the Berkshire Express, and I clear the measure area every 4 hours or so during a storm for an accurate measurement), immediately outside of the Administration building and at the summit, by Ski Patrol or the groomers. That is why there is frequently a range of a few inches when we report the total snowfall for a storm. Base depth averages are measured all over the mountain, and are estimated based on those measurements.

jimme: I noticed some trees being cut just to the left where the feeder trail off the six pack meets West Way. Will this be a new ski trail?

Sally Johnstone: See above.

MrMagic: Does Jiminy Peak plan to expand its night skiing?

Sally Johnstone: Eventually.

Joshua B: How many brochures and trail maps do you print each year? Does it seem worth it when hundreds of these items are seen in your trash cans or on the ground after every day of skiing?

Sally Johnstone: 300,000 brochures and 125,000 trails maps. If people are throwing them out after reading them, that’s fine, they have served their purpose. Also, less than a quarter of the brochures are distributed on property – most are direct mailed or distributed in ski shops, at ski shows, etc. The trail maps are almost exclusively distributed on property, and we nearly run out every year, so I think that they are being used for their intended purpose.

To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: width=