Wow, what a day! Especially this morning. The mountains looked stunning dressed in a fresh coat of snow, but mother nature was not afraid to give us a few challenges. We’re going to give you all the details about what happened today, and then we’ll paint the picture of what to expect through the weekend.
RECAP: Dec 2 at Palisades
When our teams arrived bright and early this morning, everything looked beautiful. Light density, fluffy snow of up to 20 inches had fallen in a 24-hour period. We didn’t anticipate any issues as we prepped for a fun powder day, but we experienced some unusual freezing due to high moisture and cold temps.
At Resort Chair, patrollers were the first ones to head up the lift, aiming to get to the top and perform avalanche control. They noticed that several sheaves on the lift were not turning. Quickly, 7 to 10 mechanics were working on this lift and they ended up having to replace 4 burned sheaves out of 7 that were impacted by ice. The maintenance crew really put all hands on deck here and got Resort Chair open by 9:35am.
Each night, we take most cabins off of the Funitel and store them in both the top and bottom terminals. Then, in the morning, we put the bottom cabins back on first. The bottom cabins must complete a full rotation through the top terminal back to the bottom before top cabins can be loaded. When we started putting cabins on the line this morning, we kept getting a fault with the conveyer that pushes cabins through the top and bottom terminals. We were able to get patrollers and some lift mechanics up around 6:45am, but then we focused on fixing the conveyer issue. As you may know, we installed a new electrical system on the Funitel this summer. One cool feature of this new system is that we can remotely connect with Doppelmayr (even though they’re based out of Europe) to diagnose, troubleshoot, and reset. It took some time to figure it out, but we ended up opening the Funitel around 10:40am.
Unsure of when we’d be able to get the Funi up and running again, we diverted an inordinate amount of resources to Wa She Shu, hoping to get an alternate route to the top of the mountain open. The Grooming team and our Lift Operators set to work building ramps while Lift Maintenance got the chair spinning. This was a humungous effort to prep this chair with little notice. Wa She Shu opened just after 10:45am.
In addition to Wa She Shu, we realized we might need to get skiers up the Aerial Tram in order to access the upper mountain. There was a ton of grooming work to be done here. We plowed and brought snow into the Secret in order to make Mountain Run accessible from the area at the top of the Tram, got machines on Belmont, Bailey’s Beach, and Mountain Meadow, and had mechanics working on those lifts, too. The Aerial Tram opened for skiing access (it was already open for sightseeing access) at the same time as Wa She Shu. Both Bailey’s Beach and Belmont opened around 11:20am.
RECAP: Dec 2 at Alpine
Hearing about the mechanical issues at Palisades, the crews at Alpine rallied and got lifts open 10 minutes early this morning. The skiing was super fun, albeit busy in some places, with near wall-to-wall skiing off Roundhouse. Parking was full by 10am, but spots started opening up again before noon. Our snow removal crews really put a huge effort into these parking lots in order to make extra space. We were able to add Meadow to the schedule, but it was down to the wire. We made snow over there all night and had to groom it out this morning. It was truly an all-hands-on-deck morning for our employees, and we’re grateful for their efforts in delivering on a great powder day.
Ski patrollers Ben Leech and Jonathan Cahill checking the storm snow depth 4:30pm. Photos taken Ski Patroller Ivan McGurk.
Bryan Allegretto of OpenSnow will keep you updated on our Weather Blog if there are new developments. Here’s what to expect over the next few days:
- Saturday: The storm will move in on Saturday, and we are expecting ridgetop gusts of 60-80mph. We anticipate that our planned and ready upper mountain lifts will be marked as “Anticipated Weather Impact.” If we can get something running at Palisades, it will probably be the Funitel, Gold Coast, and Mountain Run. Snow levels may vary and we could see rain in some places. Accumulation of up to 16 inches possible at upper elevations.
- Sunday: Snow will vary in intensity throughout the day. Ridge gusts will be in the same range as Saturday, so we again anticipate that there will be upper mountain impacts. Accumulation of up to 16 inches possible at upper elevations.
- Monday: Scattered snow showers will continue and winds should die down a bit. Accumulation of up to 3 inches possible at upper elevations.
Terrain Expansion Plan: Alpine
- The Summit ridgeline is very impacted by wind. We lost road access here and we are currently rebuilding the road while also working on the ramp. Summit is a priority lift and it is likely to open midweek next week, but we believe we need about 24 inches of snow in the base area in order to get the lift open. We also are continuing to make snow in the Summit runout area to support the ability to ski to the base area from the top of Summit.
- We are preparing Subway chair and may be adding that to the schedule starting tomorrow.
- Meadow experienced a mechanical issue in the afternoon today. It may not be repaired right away. We have the part for it, thankfully, but will have some maintenance work to do here.
- We continue to make snow all across the mountain, especially in Tiegel to support terrain park expansion.
- If we can get the 24 inches mentioned above, that will also allow us to open Treeline Cirque to the top and make the Sherwood Cliffs and Arts Knob areas accessible.
Terrain Expansion Plan: Palisades
- Mountain Meadow is groomed with several passes on each side of the lift, so it will be ready to go as soon as tomorrow, weather permitting.
- Siberia and Shirley are our next priorities. If we get them tomorrow (and weather permits) it won’t be in the morning as there is still a lot of work to do. This evening, our groomers will be working on top ramp. The top ramp is blown clean from wind and we are winching snow up from all over.
- We are trying to get ski-back access to The Village from Resort Chair as soon as possible, and we predict that we’ll have it by mid-morning tomorrow. Patrol did control work on Champs Elysee and Easy Street, so we just have some setup to do. Grooming will be doing two passes from the top of Red Dog to Easy Street and Easy Street to Homerun.
- We will asses Big Blue and Solitude after this storm cycle.
- KT-22 still needs more snow. We will give an update after the weekend storm.
- Far East will not be able to open until the Red Dog chairs are hung and cleared, so that is still a ways out.
- We ran patrol up Headwall this morning, and ended up having to replace sheaves here as well. We’ll give an update on this chair when we get one from Lift Maintenance.
Stay Safe out There!
Yes, we got tons of new snow, but it is still LOW TIDE, especially on the lower mountains. This snow is very light in density and can lead to a lot of hidden obstacles. Stick to areas with grooming or good snowpack and coverage. Plus, visibility may be low this weekend if it is stormy (like it was on Thursday, see photo) so it is extra important to pay attention to your surroundings.
Please, please stay out of closed areas. They are closed for a reason, not because we feel like being mean!
Photo by Kir Jerdev yesterday
Check Road Conditions
Driving conditions are going to be hazardous at times this weekend. Be prepared. You’ll want to check either CalTrans Quickmap or NV Roads (both have great mobile apps, too) to see current conditions. Our Mountain Ops Twitter will keep you updated if access roads like Highway 89, Olympic Valley Road, or Alpine Meadows Road experience impacts.
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