Truth in Snow Reporting
Sunday, January 17, 2016
In the summer of 2009, after Peak Resorts bought Mount Snow, Tim Boyd (owner) sat down with me and asked, "Why does the northeast count one ski trail as two or three trails?" He was referring to the practice of splitting up one top-to-bottom run into upper, lower and sometimes mid sections. I couldn't really remember exactly how that happened but I was pretty sure it was in the late 80's or early 90's when competition between resorts heated up and one marketing guru had the idea to double their trail count overnight and many jumped on the bandwagon. There is also the advantage of cutting certain trails up so they are more identifiable for your guests and ski patrol. For instance, if I am calling in an injury and can say upper Lodge, it may be helpful.
All that became history because Tim asked Mount Snow to scour over our trail guide and rename the trails so a top-to-bottom run was 1 trail, not 2 or 3. Why? Because he wants to be transparent with the guest and I couldn't agree more. We went through that exercise and went from 103 trails to 80. If only it was that easy to shed pounds.
The earliest trail map that I have on file was produced probably in the fall of 1957 and boasts 12 trails and the "proposed" North Bowl area. Those first trails were:
- Beaver Hill (where it is today)
- Mixing Bowl (where tubing hill is today)
- Sap Bucket (think Lower Exhibition area)
- South Bowl (same as today)
- Lodge Run (where it is today)
- Overbrook (Think Cascade to Overbrook)
- Tyro Hill (proposed trail on the North Face)
- Somerset Road (same as today)
- Deer Run (Long John from the summit)
- Little Headwall (help me out here - it looks like a trail in the parking lot?)
1963 - 35 trails
Back in '63 there was some use of upper and lower. Four to be exact and included Upper and Lower Ledges, Canyon, Overbrook and Lodge. There was also an upper Sundance and Sundance Slope. I presume this was done based on lifts but I could be wrong. Walter Schoeknecht was quite the marketer and it would not surprise me if he was simply trying to promote his "Ski Land USA" as the biggest and the best.
1970 - 43 trails
Back then, lift 7 carried you all the way from the bottom of Sundance up to its unload today. If you skied under lift #7, you were skiing the trail named Lift Line. Once you got to the slope that we call Cooper's Jct today, the trail name was Sun Dance (two words.) In the 80's that changed to Upper Sundance and Sundance. Today it is Shootout, Southbowl and Cooper's Jct. As a skier, which makes the most sense to you?
Today's Shooting Star used to be called Coldbrook.
1978 - 50 trails
1986 - 57 trails
Where did the expansion come from? Mostly the North Face with some connector trails.
1987 - 75 trails due to the purchase of Carinthia
1992 - 127 trails with Haystack included
2004 - 145 trails I believe we added trails with about 15 tree skiing areas counted as trails and a few cut-through type trails.
2009 - 103 trails By now Haystack is sold and we announce Carinthia Parks
2010 - 80 Trails So which trails didn't make the cut? The uppers took the hardest hit. Upper Challenger, Upper Overbrook, Upper Canyon, Lodge, Exhibition, Choke and Ledge. And Upper Titanium, too. Meadow, The Flats, Bailout, Sundance and Grand Central were dropped. Do you remember where those were?
So what's your point Kelly? Ha! How easily I get carried away when I start digging into the old maps. Our point is that that we believe Truth in Snow Reporting is counting trails like you ski them. One top to bottom run is one trail. And we believe that the best way to make an apples to apples comparison is acreage. For instance, Snowdance is 23.3 acres. Today we are reporting that 18.6 acres are open. We could easily report 100% open but we feel that far skier's right still needs snow so we don't list it as skiable acres.
I am not saying our snow report is perfect every day. We know that it is best if we can give you an accurate report as early as possible. But sometimes that is hard because our staff have to wait for the sun to rise and then evaluate as many as 20 lifts and 80 trails. I can promise you that our snow reporters are trained to be truthful. To report it like it is. They are allowed to use the word rain, although they like to play with words like premature snow. If they report machine groomed, packed powder and then go out skiing and find that there are icy spots, they are told to update the report and add frozen granular (that's ski industry talk for ice.)
My best advice is to take a few minutes to read the snow report. It offers lots of great info and updates on situations like wind holds and special events. Digging through old trail maps was fun. I kind of miss some of the old trail names. Here's a few that are no longer on the trail guide but maybe you have one of these trail signs hanging on your ski house wall:
- Caved In
- Home Again
- Slalom Glade