WEST DOVER-- Little by little, Mount Snow is opening, but torches won’t be coming down the mountain until Christmas.
"We’re hoping to have three straight days of snowmaking soon," said David Meeker, Communications Manager at Mount Snow. "The last week or so, we’ve had remarkable temperature inversions."
Although there will be no torchlight parade, due to the snow guns running through the night, the fireworks display is still on for Saturday. A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Main Base Lodge is still on, too.
The torchlight parade has been a tradition that has been going on for years. Volunteers, usually ski and snowboard pros who teach at the mountain, come down the mountain with torches in their hand, while riding down on their skis or snowboards.
"They love doing it," said Meeker. "It’s a really fun thing for them. It’s an adventure and a good camaraderie, team-building event for our pros and some other folks mixed in."
Meeker added that there will be three other torchlight parades this season, scheduled for Christmas week, Martin Luther King Day and President’s Week.
On Friday, people gathered on the mountain for a Turkey Hangover Hill Climb, where people are encouraged to wear costumes and race up the hill. The event was free to join and people of all abilities competed.
"It was really good. It’s a simple thing we did last year because we weren’t open, so we threw it together. We got a few calls this year and we weren’t sure whether we’d do it again. Then we said, ‘What the heck? Let’s see what happens.’"
Thirty people showed up. Awards were lift-ticket vouchers for later in the season and merchandise such as t-shirts and stickers.
Only one person wore a costume and won a bunch of merchandise.
With only a few trails open, people still showed up to ski and ride. The open terrain was not as wide as it usually is during the regular ski season.
Many factors affect snowmaking efforts and the strange pattern in temperatures has been a struggle for Mount Snow’s opening.
"An awful lot of snow can be put down, once snowmaking conditions are mad," said Meeker.
Since opening day on Thanksgiving, the only open trail from the summit to the base is Cascade to Canyon, which goes underneath the Bluebird Express.
There is a terrain park set up in Carinthia that has a few different rails and a jump at the bottom. To get there, skiers and snowboarders have taken either Long John or Mine Shaft, a black diamond that is actually part of the park.
The first goal for the mountain is to get the beginner trail, Long John, open from top to bottom. The groomers tried to "stretch out" the snow, Meeker said, but due to the temperature inversions, were unable to complete it.
Mount Snow is hopeful about opening more terrain in the future.
"We’re going to fatten up what we got open then expand to open some more terrain," said Meeker, adding the response to the mountain’s opening has been overwhelmingly positive. "I went around and asked everyone with ski or snowboard boots how the snow was. Every single person was so fantastically pumped about good the conditions are and just that we are opened. They thanked us for opening and said it made their weekend. It really makes it worthwhile. It’s a lot of hard work getting it open."
The festivities start at 5 p.m. on Saturday by the Main Base Lodge. The fireworks can be seen best from between the Grand Summit Hotel and the Clocktower.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org