Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Good Culvert Questions

Those were some great questions on the culvert project.

It did go through an extensive environmental review that included a public comment period.

There are no fish at A-Basin. Down below the bottom of Pali there is a significant waterfall that blocks fish movement to The Basin. There are lots of fish below that waterfall.

The rocks and boulders serve a couple of good purposes. 

  1) Even though there are no fish, there are other critters up here and they can now move along a more natural channel.

  2) The rocks and boulders are durable. The corrugated metal pipe of a round culvert does not last long up here. During runoff, lots of smaller rocks move down the channel. Those smaller rocks destroy the metal pipe. With a natural, rocky bottom, this culvert should last a really long time.

This new culvert has a capacity many times greater than the old one. Mother Nature can be a little prickly. This new channel will do a much better job handling her extreme events and will still be intact when she is done.

Lastly, I don't think tubing this is a good idea.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BML Moonlight Dinners -

Reservations will open for the Black Mountain Lodge Moonlight Dinners starting October 1. Book online or over the phone. We will be hosting 6 dinners this season. There will be two randonee dinners and a New Year's Eve dinner. Cuisine includes foods from France, Italy, Spain, The Pacific Rim as well as American Beef and Lobster and a Polynesian Luau. Check out the website for more details. Book early. There is no other place like Black Mountain Lodge to enjoy an extraordinary meal in an extraordinary setting.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hard To Leave Work

Sometimes it is hard to leave work when you are walking from the office to your car and the view looks like this.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dancing With The Mountain Stars

Last night was Summit County's premiere social event and fund raiser for the Summit Medical Center Health Foundation. Proceeds went to the new Specialty Care and Infusion Center. The new center will give people with cancer and other difficult diseases a chance to be treated locally. Patients can spend more time with friends and family and less time making long drives East or West. A great cause.

The event is one of our communities funnest and funniest events. I couldn't stop laughing. A handful of locals spend several months training with professional dancers to pull off the competition in a format similar to the TV show. A-Basin Rookie Ski Patroller Craig Simson stole the show winning the People's Choice Award. With all kinds of crazy lifts and other acrobatic moves Craig brought down the house. Well done.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Aspen Light

There is something really special about being in the aspens in the fall when the leaves turn. The light in there is hard to describe, but nothing feels and looks quite like that. I took these shots along Highway 6 below The Basin. The elevation at the ski area is just a little high to have many aspens. There are a few clusters down very low in Montezuma Bowl.

After a couple hours of work this morning, I rode my bike around Lake Dillon and up to Copper Mountain. The colors around Frisco and along the bike path to Copper were especially dramatic. It was a warm, bluebird, chamber of commerce kind of day. Very, very nice.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Culvert Details

Here is a better look at what was formerly known as "The Culvert". The old culvert was actually two smaller, rusted out, crushed pieces of culvert that carried the the North Fork of the Snake. They had to go. For all this time, you probably never realized the stream was flowing under the Base Area. You can see the new channel has a pre-cast concrete foundation and is lined with rocks and boulders. It will be covered with a corrugated metal pipe arch and then back-filled with native materials. It is one of those projects that is critical to operating that most people never really see.

It is kind of like taking care of your house. Some things you just have to do. They are expensive, don't directly provide much pleasure, but you need to replace them before they completely fail.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Snowmaking News

Well, not really any news yet. Temperatures are still only getting down to the mid and high thirties at night. That is not quite cold enough. Right now the forecast for the next several days is still fairly warm.

We are doing Snowmaker Training and Orientation this week. We ran some of the guns on High Noon yesterday. It looked like they were making snow, but they really weren't. So, again, we are ready. It takes some patience this time of year. It will be cold soon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Base Area Culvert Project

We have a major project going on right now in the Base Area. Stretching for a few hundred feet underneath the Base Area is a culvert that carries the North Fork of the Snake River. While I don't know exactly, I suspect this culvert is over 50 years old. It is definitely due for replacement. We are spending this little bit of down time installing a new, much larger channel with a natural bottom. It is a big deal. Since we have to divert the stream during construction we wanted to do this project in the Fall when streamflows are much lower than in the summer. When all is said and done, you probably will not notice a difference, but this is one of those really critical behind the scenes projects that has to be done.

Chris and Ali, Well Done

Chris and Ali, well done last night. You couldn't have asked for a better day. Congratulations.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Inside BML At A Wedding

This is what Black Mountain Lodge looks like on the inside for a wedding.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sundance Snowmaking

You may have noticed these four poles on Lower Sundance. Last season we had a successful experiment with stick guns. This season we bought a few more of them and will be deploying them around the mountain. The stick guns sit on these poles. When snowmaking is finished the stick guns and the poles will be removed and you won't see any snowmaking equipment.

We are putting a lot of energy and thought into making our snowmaking system more efficient. When I say more efficient, I mostly mean we are trying to get more trails open for you sooner.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Looking East

From the Black Mountain Lodge Deck here is a nice view of the top of the Argentine North Fork Trail, Black Mountain and The Tree Chutes on the East Wall.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Down below the bottom of Pali Lift we have a 5.5 acre snowmaking reservoir. Our stream diversion requirements only allow us to divert a small amount of water at a time. During the snowmaking season, we make that small diversion 24 hours a day. We store the diverted water in the reservoir. When the temperatures get cold enough for snowmaking we pump water uphill out of the reservoir at a much high rate than our diversion rate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Snowmaking Weather

A t 4 AM this morning, the air temperature at mid-mountain was 39 F. The humidity was 80+ percent giving us a wet bulb temperature of 37-38 F.

OK, let's do some "Snowmaking 101". Typically, when the wet bulb temperature is less than 28 F, we start making snow. When the wet bulb gets less than 25 F and, even better, less than 20 F, we start making lots of snow. The lower the humidity, the lower the wet bulb temperature. A cold, clear night with a wet bulb of 20 F is great snowmaking weather. A warm, stormy day with wet snow falling and a wet bulb of 33 F is not snowmaking weather.

So, we are still a little ways from snowmaking. That first snap of cold weather usually happens the last week of September or the first week of October. For much of October, we make snow whenever it is cold enough, not necessarily every night. Starting in mid to late October it is usually cold enough every night to make snow and during storms maybe we make snow all day. A few weeks after that, we can often make snow 24 hours a day.

Our system is ready. The equipment is in place. The crew has tested the pumps, the water lines, and the electricity. The seasonal snowmakers start next week. Stand by for cold weather. When it happens, it usually happens fast. There are lots of things for you to worry about out there. A-Basin making snow is not one of them.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

North Glade Fall

Last night the sun was just right to illuminate North Glade. "Kong Rock" is the big cliff at the top. Always one of my favorite ski runs, North Glade is a very special A-Basin run.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Riding BMX

Today we hosted another Saturday afternoon / evening wedding. I think a good time was had by all. I especially enjoyed my lift ride up in the afternoon. There is a bit more yellow to be seen on the willows. This was a perfect bluebird day with that barely crisp fall feeling.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Above Timberline

Some of my favorite parts of The Basin are the areas above timberline, summer or winter. And The Basin has a lot of areas above timberline. I could wander around up high for hours and days on end. The views are great. The hiking and the skiing is great. That special high alpine feel is what I really like. And you get to hang out with the goats.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Meet Me At "The Goats"

For the last couple of months you probably wondered what that half built platform in the middle of the base area was. Well, today we installed this bronze sculpture of an adult mountain goat and kid. Mountain goats are iconic animals at The Basin wandering the East Wall ridge lines especially in spring. We wanted to pay tribute to these absolutely beautiful animals and give you guys a great place to sit, gather, visit with friends, take photographs and soak in The Basin vibe. Tell your friends, "Meet me at the goats."

I want to thank sculptor Stephen LeBlanc for this special work. You have probably other pieces of his art; Max and Edna at River Run in Keystone, the Bighorn Sheep at Main Street and Highway 9 in Frisco, and the Elk at the Frisco round about.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Zuma Walking Tour

I had a nice walking tour along the top of Montezuma Bowl today. Beautiful blue skies with, as always, stellar views. All the snowfences are in place and ready to go along with several new sections. They are poised and ready to catch the first flakes that fall.

The Lift Maintenance crew was putting the finishing touches on the Zuma Chair summer maintenance. We will spend the next few months mostly talking about The Front Side, but I will be thinking about getting snow back in Zuma and getting this gem open.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Snowmaking guns

Yes, those are the snowmaking fan guns out on High Noon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

BML Sound Abatement

I think we all know Black Mountain Lodge is a beautiful building in a beautiful setting. We have shared plenty of good times in there. And the food ain't bad either.

Many of you, however, have told us the sound in the building is not quite perfect. In fact, it can be loud. Well this summer, we hung several panels of sound absorbing panels from the ceiling to try and take the edge off the noise in there. Throughout the summer wedding season it seems to be working. As winter rolls around and we enjoy the ambiance of Black Mountain Lodge, you will have to let me know if you think this has made an impact.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Know It Is Fall Because.........

I know it is fall because:

The aspens are turning.
The willows are turning.
The high alpine plants have already turned.
The snowmakers have an extra urgency in their steps.
I went to Denver for the big Labor Day Ski Sales and Shows.
I visited The Chili Guys and picked up three bushels of roasted green chilis.

Friday, September 4, 2015

6th Alley Summer - Last Weekend

We have had a fun summer in The 6th Alley this year. I like seeing familiar and new faces stopping by for a visit. Thanks to everyone that joined us. This is the last summer weekend until we re-open for skiing next month (next month, WOW!). 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Snowfences, When and Where

Someone asked how we make decisions about when and where we put snowfences. I should probably start with how snowfences work. Wind blows snow crystals near the snow surface. When those blowing crystals come to a fence, they tend to rise up and over the fence. The fence acts like a wind break with calmer air on the leeward side of the fence. When the snow crystals hit that calmer air, they fall to the ground causing a snow drift. The closer a fence orientation is to being perpendicular to the predominant wind direction, the more snow the fence will catch.

We build fences in places we would like to put a snow drift. This could a wind swept area or a heavily trafficed area. In most, but not all cases, snowfences are built in places that can be accessed by the snowcats. The cats first pack and then sometimes push the snow to its most preferred spot. 

Snowfences are an absolutely critical component of our snow farming, snowfencing, snow grooming, snow making program.

Below is a fence extension under construction at the Long Chute access to West Zuma. This fence in particular is used to put snow in a key hiking area. Very importantly, most of the snow drift caught by this fence is pushed down to the top pitch of Larkspur.