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. Lori Cayouette, Director of Marketing and Sales at Pats Peak in Henniker, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 7/11/2005:
thetrailboss: Lori, my congrats on a record season of 146,000 skier days. Ms. Trailboss and I were very happy season pass holders at Pats and had a great time with our Girl Scout Troop at Scout Day. On that day, you had enough snow to open the Peak Double Liftline for skiing and riding and it was incredible! I enjoyed skiing that narrow section from Hurricane down to Knight Slope. Any chance you can blow snow on this narrow chute and open it again next season? How about making the Liftline an official trail? I really appreciated how your mountain ops blew snow on Vortex and the Upper Peak Liftline so that we could ski it. Thanks!
Lori Cayouette: Thanks for the acknowledgement of our record season. What a great trend for the smaller ski areas in the state of NH! We are happy to hear you are happy pass holders. In regards to our snowmaking, our General Manager loves the little funky stuff that makes New England what it is. You sure can bet on it that Pats Peak will continue to make snow under the lift lines and the glades. The Peak has always been a pioneer in the snowmaking front. We were one of the first ski areas in New England to make snow and we are always modernizing the system and leveraging the assets of the system so that we can get creative and make snow on trails like Vortex (which does not have pipe) and in the glades.
hammer: Are there any changes planned to the POP program? Not that I’d want to see any.
Lori Cayouette: Our POP Program continues to be one of the best values in all of New England skiing. I can’t tell you how many families come into our Skier Services area each and every night and thank us for keep the price of skiing reasonable. We like to keep it fun! The joke around here is that the “price” people pay is the cover charge to an outdoor party every Saturday night. Some minor changes are expected for the program this winter. We have “beefed up” some of the more popular rental equipment sizes and we need to raise the price just a little bit. We wish we could leave the price alone…but the truth of the matter is our costs keep escalating every year. Between energy, insurance (liability and employee health benefits), and capital reinvestment the expenses associated with this wonderful sport unfortunately do not go down. They go up and up and some of the increases have been over 100% in a couple of years. Look for details on the POP Program coming soon on patspeak.com.
thetrailboss: Thanks for last season’s great improvements. The bathrooms were great and the new glade was nice (especially with the snowmaking). So what is slated for this season? What is the timetable for the summit snowmaking pond project? Which trails can we expect to get lights next?
Lori Cayouette: Great questions: I just spoke with the GM and comments like yours he really appreciates. He gets excited just talking about what we are going to do next up here at The Peak. We have kind of been on a building binge the last few years and it’s hard to keep up that pace. We are looking at doing some major infrastructure upgrades (the boring stuff you don’t always see) but our GM is obsessed with giving our skiers and riders something new every year.
Here is our list so far:
- Pub Kitchen Renovations, which will allow us to get food up to the pub area quicker
- 15 new HKD Spectrum Snowguns
- 2 new SMI polecat snowmakers
- 5,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe in our Terrain Park and increased coverage on the Downdraft trail
- 2 new Snowcats: one is a brand new Kassbohrer Park Bully and one Bombardier MP 400
- Downdraft will hopefully get some lights
- All new Junior Skis, Boots and Poles
- The Hurricane Triple will have a new electronic drive that will curtail the number of stops
- Air Conditioning was added to the Valley Lodge for our Wedding Receptions and Banquets
- A $50,000 upgrade to our computer systems that will help us process information and sales even faster
There will be others as more suggestions and needs role in. It’s suffice to say we have a full plate right now!
As for the summit snowmaking pond, we are pecking away at it. Two years ago we built the electrical and pumping infrastructure. Last year we cleared all the trees and did some major stumping of the area and hauled out about 5,000 cubic yards of fill. This year we will haul some more gravel out and “screen all” some top soil and continue with the stumping. We are hoping for the pond to be fully constructed in 3-5 years.
Bob R: Do you have a seasonal night ski racing league (i.e. ‘beer’ or ‘businessperson league’)? How does it work and how could one join? We’d be interested in getting an AlpineZone team together.
Lori Cayouette: Yes, we do have an Adult/Corporate Race League. The race series competes in the NASTAR dual GS format. Teams consist of seven team members and the top five best times for each night are calculated. Individual and team rankings are based on a points system to determine finishes. Races are scheduled Monday thru Thursday for seven consecutive weeks starting in January. The total cost is $600.00 per team. The cost includes weekly races for seven weeks, lift passes from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on your race evening, prizes and an awards banquet. You can sign up online at patspeak.com or by calling us at 1-888-PATS PEAK. We would love you to get an AlpineZone team together…It’s a lot of fun! The Sled Pub is open until 12:00am.
thetrailboss: In our discussions here, it has been brought up that Hurricane is one of the steepest trails in Southern New England. What is its exact pitch? Is this claim true?
Lori Cayouette: It is indeed true that Hurricane is one of the steepest trails in Southern New England. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is terrain we have but people when they first arrive think that is how you get off the top. The pitch is a consistent 35 degrees with some sustained pitches of 45. We can’t think of another trail in Southern New England that is as steep with perhaps the exception of the Jericho trail at Jiminy Peak. And we may be applying a little bit of the marketing game with that one as well by saying “one of the steepest”. So kick back and have some fun on it. Most of our easier trails are on the east side of our mountain, which is not visible from the road.
hammer: Would it be possible to change the line going into the Valley double lift? Making the turn into the enclosed area can be a bit awkward.
Lori Cayouette: This question has been forwarded to our Mountain Operations department and they have said they will definitely take a look at it. We came through the back of the building because we saw that beginners were having too much trouble with the sharp angle as a “side load” chair. They were struggling to correct their angle at the last minute so we decided to bring them in through the back and taper the angle a bit.
Bob R: What special events do you have planned for the coming season? I missed the Girls Scout Event last year. I would like to get our troop out for it next year. Do you have night skiing special events?
Lori Cayouette: We will be hosting Scout Weekend again this season. It’s scheduled for March 11 & 12. Please contact Tracy in our Group Sales department at 1-888-PATS PEAK, ext. 106 or email at Tracy@patspeak.com to be sure you receive the information to sign up your troop.
As for night skiing events, we have a party happening every Saturday Night with our POP Program, Pay-One-Price, under the lights! We have added a special POP night on Monday, January 16 for Diversity Day Goes POP on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from 3pm to 9pm. There is also a Night Slalom Race scheduled for Wednesday, February 22.
Here are some events scheduled so far for the 2005-2006 season:
Sat, December 3: Tentative Opening Day
Sat, December 31: New Years Eve Party – Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowtubing, Live Bands,Monte Carlo, Raffle, Kids Activities, Food Stations, Midnight Toast, Fireworks and lots more! Open to all ages.
Sat, January 7: Krantz Open GS Race (J3-J6)
Mon, January 16: Diversity Day Goes POP on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from 3pm to 9pm
Sun, January 22: Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge – dual slalom race, giveaways, awards party
Sun, January 22: J3 Qualifier GS Race
Sun, January 29: Sports Illustrated for Kids NextSnow SEARCH – visit nextsnow.com for more info.
Sun, February 5: MacComber Cup Slalom Race
Sun, February 5: Super Bowl Party in Sled Pub – 2pm. Complimentary Halftime Buffet.
Sun, February 12: J2 State Slalom Championships
Sat, February 18: St Anselm Winter Carnival & McConnell Division ECAC Finals
Sun, February 19: Tecnica Cup Slalom Race
Wed, February 22: Night Slalom Race
Sun, February 28: Josh Hall Memorial Boardercross
Sat & Sun, March 4&5: Hawaiian Weekend
Sun, March 5: S&W Sports Big Air Contest in Turbulence Park
Sat & Sun, March 11&12: Scout Weekend
Sat & Sun, March 18&19: Childhood Cancer Lifeline Blues Weekend
Sat, March 25: Pats Peak Spring Slalom
Sat, March 25: Pond Skim and Garage Band Party with a Beer Garden – ski or snowboard across a man made pond — hopefully without falling in!
thetrailboss: Do you have any plans to replace the Hurricane Triple? I know that on more than one occasion the lift was either out of service or not working properly. I’d imagine that is an old lift.
Answer from Pats Peak General Manger Kris Blomback: We aware that the Hurricane is getting older but truth be told the old girl only had 20 hours of down time for the whole seasonal according to our maintenance records. I agree that at least two of the times (or 8 of those hours) were at a very inopportune time. Paging Dr. Murphy???? Anyway we overhauled the gearbox two years ago and this year we are installing a state of the electronic drive system that will “give that behind scenes” thing a whole new look. Regarding replacement? It’s still a few years away. Right now our lift capacity is over 9,000 per hour and I think anyone who skis here will agree they don’t spend too much time in line.
thetrailboss: In the 2003-2004 season, we found that the trails were all groomed a bit too much. Last season it seemed like many trails were not groomed at all (e.g. Hurricane and Tornado). Hurricane was pretty much glare ice all season and not skiable. We also noted that Twister was icy all season long (maybe due to western exposure?). Why was this? Can you offer a good medium, say, groom one side and allow the other to bump up? Did the weather get the best of you?
Lori Cayouette: Ahhh the double edge sword of customer service. We are in the proverbial betwixt and between. We have had over the years a number of people tell us they sure would like us to let some stuff go “au natural” and let it be. Well we took a conscientious effort and decided that we would not groom at all – Tornado – Hurricane – or Vortex. Is there room in their for some compromise…probably….but in all honesty – judging feedback- we got more letters of support for not grooming those trails then letters saying they wanted them groomed. Now our GM skis a lot and he gets out on the hill and the ski area is very aggressive with snowmaking. I just spoke with him and he says that on more then a number of occasions the ski area lit up the guns to top coat the moguls on Friday nights in anticipation of the weekend business. In fact we blew 2′ of machine made powder just before the long presidents vacation on Hurricane and Tornado. These trails were mobbed with powder freaks all weekend long.
Regarding Twister being icy: It’s a tough trail that gets blasted by what our snowmakers call the “Montreal Express”. The trail faces due northwest and then you can literally be standing at the top of the trail sometimes and the wind wants to push you back up the mountain. On days like that the wind generally subsides as you get about a 1/3 of the way down. We will make a conscientious decision to re-evaluate that trail for conditions but it is a tough one to tame with all the race gate practicing, corporate racing, and the like. We coordinate our snowmaking with the race clubs and corporate leagues because those guys hate it when we top coat with powder. So we try and sneak in there on a Friday night of weekend where there is no racing. The other nights (Mon-Thurs) the trail is used for our Corporate Race League.
thetrailboss: OK, now time for something completely different. Can you tell us more about when Pats Peak hosted the US Ski Team and other ski teams for the 1977 World Cup Slalom events? Who were some of the famous skiers who came? What were the repercussions of this event? Can we hope to someday see another big race on the slopes of Pats (besides the great youth and college races we see)?
Lori Cayouette: Another great question….hey someone remembers: The U.S. National Slalom Championship races were run at Pats Peak, NH, on February 21-22, 1974. The first five places in, respectively, men’s and women’s events were:
1. Cary Adgate 92.72
2. Geoff Bruce 92.87
3 Bob Cochran 92.88
4. Karl Anderson 93.84
5. Neal McNealus 94.67
1. Susie Patterson 94.40
2. Cindy Nelson 96.08
3. Abbi Fisher 96.24
4. Margaret Crane 96.95
5. Debbi Tarinelli 97.55
Look at some of those names and you will surely see a number of Olympians. There was the huge challenge to get the race pulled off that year according to the old-timers here at the Peak. The race was originally going to be held up north at a “bigger” ski area but they didn’t have any snowmaking and you will recall that Pats Peak had about 75% of the mountain covered then. The decision was made to move the races to here but then we had to do a mad dash to get the trails “homologated” or FIS certified (kind of like the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval from the racing authorities). We got it done in the last minute and the races went off without a hitch. Did you know that Pats has two FIS homologated trails? Not many ski areas can claim that. It reinforces our position that Pats Peak is very dedicated to racing and wants to see the sport continue to flourish. Another big race at the Peak? Pats never says never…we will see.
Thanks for the great questions. We are an open door facility so please drop us line, stop on by and tell us what’s on your mind. Tell us what improvements we can make here at the Peak to give you a better experience. My e-mail is Lori@patspeak.com and our GM’s e-mail is Kris@patspeak.com. We would love to hear from you!