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Ride Delaware ?

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About Ride Delaware ?

  • Rank
    Pow Huntah

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  • Equipment
    Burton Custom 158 Burton Custom Bindings 09' K2 Believer 159 K2 Formula Bindings 11' Burton Malolo 158 Burton Mission Bindings 11' Burton T6 159 Lib Tech TRS 159 K2 Fastplant 157
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  • Home Mountain
    Sugarbush, Elk Mountain

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  • Location
    Bethany Beach, DE, Warren, VT
  • Interests
    Snowboarding & Bodyboarding

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  1. I am told that skier visits for Killington are now back over 1 million a year, but I’m told they are still down from the all time high in the 80s when they hit 1.3 million.
  2. Some mountains give you comp tickets for the days you work in addition to your pass. Those comp tickets are often worth more than paying a patroller an hourly wage. If you consider those comp tickets to be compensation, then nobody is really a “volunteer” because we are all paid in some way shape or form. Some resorts pay their “volunteers” or hire them as part time staff instead of offering comp tickets, but the $$$ value in compensation is still about the same since both types of employees also get free passes for themselves and dependents.
  3. I am required to patrol 22 days a year. I think I logged 23 last season. I think I only rode about 30 days last year, so that would roughly be 75% of them. In good years, depending on weather and snow conditions, I’ll patrol 30-40 days, which makes up anywhere from 50%-60% of my total days on snow. I would say 50% is a pretty accurate number any given year.
  4. Our benefits are pretty nice, which is also something that could change with Alterra. Only time will tell. Lots of the larger resorts have volunteer patrollers. I honestly don’t know of a resort other than Loon that doesn’t have volunteer patrollers in New England. They have a similar setup to Jackson Hole. They basically “pay” their volunteers. Instead of offering comp tickets for days worked, they pay them $10 an hour. Honestly, with today’s prices, it’s pretty comparable compensation. Both volunteers and part time staff are required to work a certain amount of days in that situation. There are way more patrollers at the smaller mountains in Pennsylvania and New Jersey than there are in places like VT, NH, and ME. There are several reasons for that. First and foremost, there is a much larger population closer to the resort. A good chunk of our patrollers live in Boston and travel 3 hours each way to get to the mountain. In PA, you hop on I-80 and you’re at one of the mountains in PA within an hour from North Jersey. Second, the skill qualifications are much easier because the terrain is much easier. Not having to ski/ride bumps and take a sled down a bump trail like Middle Earth makes it easy for a much lower level skier to patrol. Third, the majority of patrollers, especially volunteers, are baby boomers. They no longer have a work family when they retire, so they can join a patrol family, ski for free, and not ski alone. Lastly, there are far more shifts due to night skiing, so that allows for many to work at night after work, which is a timeframe that patrollers in New England largely can’t work during because it doesn’t exist.
  5. Except Win isn’t retiring. He is staying on for the foreseeable future, and I’m sure his contract with them gives him an incredible amount of flexibility. Volunteer patrollers don’t need job security due to increased injuries. We are there to help people and by no means want anyone to get hurt. Our job security is simple economics. Skiing and snowboarding is already an elitist sport, is becoming expensive even for middle class families, and prices can’t continue to rise at the same clip they have been. Therefore, most ski areas can’t afford a fully staffed paid patrol. We have 30-40 patrollers working each weekend, and only about 10 of them are paid. Pricing would be astronomical, especially in New England where snowmaking takes up a huge part of your budget. Furthermore, I don’t think any of us want it to be any busier. At Sunday River, we sometimes did 90 calls a day during weekends and holiday weeks. At Sugarbush we do about 80 all week during those times. I’d much rather be out doing trail checks and trail work than helping injured skiers 24/7.
  6. We all just learned about it today with the rest of the world. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I fully support the rights of a business owner to sell their business, and I understand that expenses for a solo resort without buying power are much more, but we have repeatedly been told, including just a couple weeks ago, that we were dedicated to staying independent. It feels like a betrayal of sorts. I really enjoy working there, so I’ll give it this year and next year to see how things change (they insist they won’t, but we all know that’s corporate speak so people don’t freak out). If they really do stay the same, I’ll probably continue working there. If not, it may just be time to buy a season pass or move onto another resort. I would probably look at Plattekill or Saddleback. Time will tell.
  7. On my way back right now. Got the computer tethered to the phone reading leases and typing emails...
  8. Unfortunately, we had to head home today from VT, but the silver lining is that Killington happens to be on the way and is still the only mountain open in New England. The storm had dropped 6” at Sugarbush, but the conditions report seemed to indicate that the storm underperformed the further south you got, but since options were limited, we went for it anyway. We got a later start than we had hoped, but considering we had to clean up the townhouse and pack the car, it was to be expected. Route 100 was dicey and completely snow covered from Sugarbush to the intersection of Rt. 100 and 107 just outside of Pittsfield. It cleared up there until you got to the access road. Overall, it was a slow drive, but there were no close calls, so I’ll take that. All the parking lots at the K-1 are only accessible via Vale Rd, but luckily there were far fewer people today, and we could park in the main lot just below the ticket booth. The only downside to having the parking so far from the front of the lodge, and having to walk around the gondola garage, is that parking lot booting is a must. There is no drop off at the lodge. I always PLB, but for the snobs out there who like the finer things in life, I’m sure it’s a hassle. The snow guns were going t2b including the lower fan guns on Superstar, and the mercury showed a balmy 23 degrees at the base. We had reloaded our One Pass cards the night before, so straight to the lift we went. In stark contrast to Sugarbush, there were only about 2” of new snow on the ground. We were told that there was a decent amount of freezing rain, which was obvious from some of the cars in the parking lot, but luckily it never got warm enough for it to “straight rain” and effect the base. Also much different from yesterday, was the lift line situation. Every single lift all day was ski on, no gondolas were completely full, and my wife and I never shared a quad chair with another guest. We noticed on the first gondola ride up that there was definitely some wind today. It wasn’t an uncomfortable amount of wind, but considering the temp at the top was only 12, it made it chillier, but still quite manageable with proper layering. We started the day out with a pleasant t2b run off the gondola. Conditions were firmer than yesterday due to the precip, but Killington did a great job grooming and nothing was unedgable. Our second run was down Downdraft, which I had skipped yesterday. It was man made bumps, but there was enough traffic that there was enough snow to push around and it was surprisingly enjoyable. After that, we basically alternated between Rime, Reason, Double Dipper, Upper East Fall, and t2b runs. Double Dipper was the other trail I didn’t do yesterday. It was definitely thin. They clearly only made enough snow to give it bare bones cover and then let the natural snow fill it in. However, it had the most edgable snow, so every downside did have a silver lining. I know that Killington is in expansion mode, but it shouldn’t be that obvious. All of the original trails except Downdraft, Great Northern from the gondola to Rime, Upper East Fall, and Reason, need to be resurfaced. Rime is the primary early season trail and it is really thin and down to the ice/hard pack base. Great Northern to Bunny Buster is just getting thin. It was obvious that they wanted to get t2b, and it’s not bad for November 12, but it is also obvious that it doesn’t quite have the depth they prefer to have on it, especially in 2-3 specific spots. They were running the Snowdon Triple and Snowdon 6 Pack today, while also blowing snow on both, so I expect they will open this weekend with the temps they have until then. Overall, today was a B-. If it had been all snow, it would have been a top 5 early season day. We took 7 runs off the quad today and 3 t2b. The thermometer in the car registered 19 nearly 2.5 hours later. I would have liked another run or two, but we have a 7.5 hour drive ahead of us, so we made the smart call and headed out. Not to mention, it was only my second day and my wife’s first, so it was also smart not to push too hard too early. It was significantly colder, so I didn’t take as many pics, but as usual, they are below.
  9. This morning in the MRV. About 6” and still snowing when we left about 8 AM...
  10. Main Street or bust. Unless they are just opening with Vista and Burma. Or Lazy... get that pipe fixed and those guns back online Jim!!!
  11. I’m pretty impressed with Mike Solimano. The previous GM just about ran the place into the ground and decreased skier visits from 1 million to 750k. Mike took over, extended the late season again, won back the pass holders, and re-established the reputation as the Beast. He has spearheaded the mountain bike expansion, the ropes course, and the mountain coaster to make the resort more year round. That money has been generously applied to the ski area in the form of two new lodges (peak and K-1), two new lifts (Snowdown 6 Pack and NRQ), the relocated Snowdon Quad to South Ridge, and a litany of traffic flow fixes (tunnels). I’ve been impressed with my experiences.
  12. As always, I started off the morning with grand expectations of getting to the mountain at opening, which is currently 9 AM. Unfortunately, I slept like garbage, so I slept in until about 8 AM. I wasn’t too concerned, because I knew that it would be busy due to the holiday, that lines would decrease throughout the day, and that the storm would begin around noon, so conditions would ultimately be refreshed. I may be in the minority with this statement, but I would rather have slightly worse conditions than wait in a lift line to get fresh cord first thing in the morning. After snagging a coffee at our local market, I drove down to Killington and arrived in the parking lot at 10:30. Flurries were in the air and the temperature hovered around 28 degrees. All early season base operations are still out of the K-1 base lodge, but due to the construction of the new base lodge in front of the old one, a good chunk of the parking lot there is inaccessible and you can’t drive up the main road. I parked just off the access road on Vale road where there were shuttles waiting to shuttle us up to the base. Since the ticket booth is in the front of the old lodge, which is currently blocked by new construction, Killington setup a temporary ticket booth and stairs just below the new gondola cabin storage garage with a very nicely paved walkway all the way around it to the now heated K-1 Gondola lift corral. They really went above and beyond to make the temporary experience enjoyable. Since I already had a One Pass (Killington’s RFID card), I reloaded it online the night before and went straight to the lift. The K-1 lift corral was about halfway full, but I hopped in the singles line, and there were only about 15 people in front of me. Unfortunately, this happened to coincide with the same time they decided to remove a cabin from the haul cable, so the gondola was stopped, and the entire corral filled up behind me. After a ten minute wait, the gondola started back up and I was finally able to get through the gate. I was a little wary since it was the first time I had ever reloaded a lift ticket online, but I went right through without any issues. After unloading the gondola, I checked the thermometer at the peak, and it also registered 28 degrees. There was snowmaking ongoing at elevation, but it must have been about as marginal as it gets. There were intermittent snow showers and some freezing fog, so humidity had to be close to 100%. Killington was advertising 10 open trails today, but it is really only 5 distinctive trails at the top along with the Great Northern/Bunny Buster runout to the bottom. Downdraft was open, but since I didn’t walk around the unload at the top of the gondola, I missed it. Double Dipper was also open, but coverage was very shoddy and I didn’t want to beat my gear up unnecessarily. I mostly stuck to a combination of Rime, Reason, Upper East Fall, and Great Northern. I was pleasantly surprised that coverage was decent enough that they didn’t need guns on open terrain, which really helped visibility, since I’m sure the guns were running quite wet. Rime and Upper East fall had very similar conditions. Slick down the middle, but tons of packed powder on the side with some small bumps. Reason is the new Woodward park and looked to have a great setup. There were tons of jibhonks. I usually don’t mind, but the bottom feature is basically at the intersection of Great Northern/Upper East Fall/Reason, so there were tons of jibhonks blocking the trail off the gondola so they could watch their buddies hit the last feature. Great Northern/Bunny Buster was probably the best run of the day. It’s the widest trail, is slightly flatter, and it has the freshest snow, so it had the best conditions by far. I was pleasantly surprised that Killington made the unprecedented decision (since the World Cup started) to suspend snowmaking on Superstar to get t2b. They knew they could finish the course with the cold weather coming this week, and they have an extra week for course prep, so they went for it. Kudos to them. Overall, I mostly stayed at the top of the mountain off the brand spanking new North Ridge Quad. The singles line was basically ski on all day. I think I had to wait twice. Once was a line of 7 and once was a line of 3. I made the mistake around 1 PM of switching it up and going t2b, and despite the NRQ being ski on, the gondola was mayhem. The entire corral was full and the singles line was about 15 minutes long. After 6 more runs at the top, I asked a skier how the line was down at the bottom. He told me that it was only 5 minutes long, so I decided to go down again. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no lift line and I was able to walk right on. I took two more runs up top and finished my day with another run to the bottom. Overall, I finished my day with 14 runs. 10 off the NRQ and 4 t2b. It was a great first day and my entire body is exhausted. My legs were really starting to feel it at the end. I really wanted run #15, but my turns weren’t crisp and I knew I was on the verge of pushing it too far. It started snowing in earnest around 1, but it only amounted to about an inch by the time I left. I would grade today as an overall B+. I have yet to have a bad early season day at Killington, and I’m glad that continued. I still think the North Ridge pod of trails is one of the best early season offerings in New England, especially if it’s not t2b. There is solid tree skiing, some good bump runs, and a good cruiser. I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow. As usual, pictures are below (I’m sure GSS skipped right to them):
  13. I’ll post a pic here from the MRV shortly. I’m on my way back to DE after a morning session at Killington. There’s not supposed to be a changeover here at Sugarbush, but Killington is south of the full snow line, so tomorrow AM conditions will be a tossup.
  14. Awesome news for you guys. I’m glad to see you’re going to get a decent amount of “bonus” skiing and riding in this year. I just got back from a session at Killington. If I can stay awake, trip report to follow.
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