Saturday, June 10, 2017

What Goes Into The Decision To Close

While there are a few minor considerations that go into the decision to close, there is one major factor we consider. That factor is determining the quality of the snow in the future. This year on June 8 when we made our final closing decision, we were trying to determine the quality of the snow on June 16, 17 and 18. We don't just look at what the conditions are right now. We look at the weather and how the snowmelt is trending. We physically look at the snow. From June 4 to June 9, the base dropped 15". We look at runoff. The Snake River Spring runoff is climbing dramatically (that river water was our snowpack a few hours earlier). The snow is good right now but, looking forward to next weekend, we think our conditions will be such that we shouldn't be open.

There are some minor factors that didn't really play into the decision.

Consistently, when the snow is good, business is good and vice versa. Deciding to close was not a financially driven decision. This snow was and is melting quickly. In fact, we are better off financially when we stay open with good conditions. As the snowmelt continues and intensifies, we are running out of snow.

Personally, I love being open and preferred to stay open another weekend. At our May 31st staff meeting, I even told the crew it is likely we will be open June 16, 17 and 18 and they should make plans accordingly. Unfortunately, after reviewing the snow and the trends with the snow, it became apparent we were not going to make another weekend.

The Beavers expansion did not play a role in the decision. We cannot get started on The Beavers project until the snow has melted. Whether we were open longer or not does not impact the The Beavers Project. The snow has to melt to get that program rolling.

The day after we close, like we do every year, we will start plowing the service road to The Summit. The road takes a while to get clear and to dry out. We are anxious to get going on our Summer maintenance projects but, that did not impact the decision to stay open. Had we stayed open, we could have plowed key portions of the road and still be prepared for Summer maintenance projects.

So, it all came down to looking at the snowmelt trend, did we think conditions would be good enough to re-open for another weekend? We thought no. I look forward to your comments.

Lake Reveal has popped out and there are plenty of wet ski boots out there today. I hope we see you out for one final day of snow, mountains, skiing, sunshine, water, food, friends and fun.

Lake Reveal today


Anonymous said...

Is there really a lake up there?

Alan Henceroth - COO said...

A picture is worth a thousand words.

John said...

You answered all of my concerns and assumptions. Thank you. Reading this post made me smile. You are a good man.

I would love a to see a post of the snow conditions next weekend though if you could.... it's only fair that we all know the accuracy of your estimating. No hard feelings.


Zippy Roger said...

Conditions don't have to be good or even reasonable for people to be happy you are open. Recently escaped form the Poconos, there were times we got off the lift and carried our skis 200 yards to the ribbon of ice. You should err on the side of some people feeling ripped off. I remember one year in at A-Basin in the mid 80's jumping creeks to get to Exhibition, and dancing with the steam and moguls in North Fork.

Jeff said...

You must be the only COO in the industry who explains the ski area's decisions like this, and yet still gets flack about it. I really appreciate the openness of A-Basin's communications and always hope people won't give you too hard of a time about Pali closing date, area closing, which lift to put in where, how (or if) to open Beavers... and going back to the Great Pot Controversy. It's nice to get real communication from a real person rather than hype from a faceless marketing department. You guys (and you especially) are doing a great job.

See you tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Having skied today, I totally agree with Al. The snow was awesome and mashed potatoes and everything BML and above was still nice, all the runs to the base we're struggling to keep snow on them. The basin did a great job snow catting snow back onto high noon and ramrod, but all the sides were dirt and tuning into streams. Time to mountain bike and dream of snow for October.

Steve M. said...

Have a great summer Al to you, Sha and the staff...look forward to The Beavers progress. Steve

Anonymous said...

will you have uphill access open next weekend?

Spencer Adams said...

Al thank you for the blog posts!

One of my best childhood memories as a 6 or 7 year old was riding the old fixed grip lift up to mid mountain. We trudged through the mud and wood planks with skis in hand to reach the next lift to the summit. Everyone was ecstatic wearing swimsuits and sun screen. We where embracing this wonderful place on the 4th of July. It wasn't about the quality of the snow it was all about the spectacle and enjoying this magical place in the middle of summer. I urge you to consider this as a closing factor in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Al for this awesome blog. The insights you provide here make my ski life way more enjoyable and are worth more than all the winter sports mags out there! After following your blog for years I really appreciate your dedication to the sport, The Basin, and your fellow skiers.

This really helps understand the decision, though I also enjoy just being up there in any season, and a little skiing even in "poor" conditions is to me a joy! I have fond memories of skiing through TB glades when there was a stream along the bottom that we could surf over. And (somewhere out East in the 90s) memories of skiing a narrow ribbon of snow through fields with flowers popping. That is a hard to find experience, but one that I cherish and hope to share with my kids! I also understand though that isn't for everyone... but maybe some year there could be a July 4th reopening with uploading/downloading or something for us crazies!

Thanks again Al, you're the best!

Unknown said...

Awesome. Well not sp much you're closing but very complete explanation which i feel ua common folk dont deawrve. Thank u. Yes the lake is real!! Never new it had an offical name😀 we always called it the abasin pond. Seen that thing much bigger than today's pic. Much!! Its like a party watching people try to haul ass thru to the othe side without biffing. Latest i rode there was july 9th one season. Best slush in the Rockies! Thank u

Troy Layne said...

You guys,and gals,are terrific and we really appreciate all that you do. Enjoy the summer and we'll see you on on the deck of BML when the flakes start accumulating up on the East Wall again.