STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vermont — Good weather, mid-season like conditions, 30% open terrain, and a huge turnout is a good way to characterize the holiday weekend at Stratton, which some are considering to be one of the best in recent years.
“The past few days were a strong testament to our guest’s passion for the sport and our snowmaking and grooming team’s ability to create a quality product. Despite the current economic climate, we definitely exceeded our expectations for the weekend so perhaps this is a signal that winter and snow can trump the economy, confirming that skiing and riding are not only a hobby for many, but also a lifestyle.” said Stratton COO and president Sky Foulkes.
Stratton management were not the only ones happy with the conditions over the weekend. On opening day, Livingston, New Jersey resident and a local homeowner, Margo, quipped “the conditions today were better than some Christmases” while 13 year old Nick from New Canaan, CT. loved the conditions on Polar Bear and describing them as “really smooth”.
Great snow doesn’t always happen overnight and often it is man-made snow that forms the foundation of an east coast resort’s base. Stratton has been making snow since 1965 and is an industry leader due to the experience of Chief Snowmaker Lynn Capen who has been here for “too long” in his words (33 years for the rest of us), the mountain’s 16 million dollar investment in equipment (More than 800 tower, land, and fan guns) over the past decade, the ability to cover 95% of the terrain, and the mountain’s large water source which holds 220 million gallons of water in reserve. This last fact alone gives Stratton a huge advantage as the mountain’s arsenal is capable of pumping 11,400 gallons of water a minute. Putting it in simpler terms, that’s enough fire power to bury three football fields in one foot of snow in one hour.
While Stratton is set up with an efficient infrastructure, it’s the quality and hard work of the snowmaking team that makes the difference. Snowmaking guns cannot just run non-stop and unattended. Shifting temperatures require modifications to the process while changing weather and wind conditions require the team to pay constant attention to positioning and flow. When conditions are good (cold temperatures, relatively calm weather), as they were the two weeks leading up to opening day, the snow will begin to pile up in no time. If not, a snowmaker’s job may be one of the toughest around.
The last step is getting the snow groomed down, particularly after a thaw or in periods of inclement weather. The Stratton grooming team under the direction of Al Desroches do an amazing job of turning the most adverse conditions into some of the smoothest and cleanest groomed corduroy that you will find in the world. A groomer’s job begins when the public’s ski or snowboard day ends, often working through the night to ensure that Stratton’s famously groomed conditions are in place when the lifts open the following morning.
Combining these two snow farming elements, while sprinkling in some help from Mother Nature and adding a dash of skier and rider enthusiasm may help to explain the recipe for Stratton’s early season success.
For the day or for the week, Stratton Mountain Resort is looking forward to another great season of bountiful snow, gold medal grooming, and providing its guests with unforgettable memories and everything they love about Vermont in one place.