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Adam White is Senior Manager of Resort Communications and Marketing, Northeast at Vail. (LINKEDIN PHOTO)

 

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The Sun on Jan. 3 sent a set of questions to Vail Resorts' Adam White, senior manager of resort communications, Northeast Region, and received the following responses Jan. 4 after he conferred with 
JD Crichton, general manager of Wildcat Mountain, and Greg Gavrilets, general manager of Attitash Mountain Resort.

• Why has snowmaking lagged behind other local areas?

“It’s been a mix of different equipment challenges and staffing challenges,” Wildcat’s Crichton said —  an inoperable pump that prevented water from reaching the summit, a break in a related water line, not to mention supply chains disrupted. “This community knows that Wildcat has older equipment, and that we acquired some antiquated systems. Even though we’re continuing to invest in those systems, they’re going to continue to challenge us.”

“It’s worth remembering that our base elevation is 600 feet, and the amount of terrain we are covering is significantly greater than some of the competitors we inevitably get compared with,” said Attitash’s Gavrilets. “We have 1,750 feet of vertical on the Attitash side and 1,450 on the Bear Peak side. We are up on snowmaking hours from last year – double the run time, in fact – and have more terrain open than last season at this time.”

• Why was the Attitash triple often down during Christmas week?

“We continue to correct maintenance items proactively as they come up, and are completing full repairs which lead to downtime as opposed to quicker fixes which only prolong the problems,” Gavrilets said.

• Has the low pay scale created even more of a problem in our already tight labor market in Vail's ability to get snowmakers?

“We are paying a competitive wage, however these jobs — that require specific technical capabilities in challenging conditions — have been difficult to fill,” Crichton said.

Can you confirm a rumor that Wildcat snowmakers walked off the job during Christmas week?

"Not true, there was no walk-off, wrote White. Crichton added, “We have a committed team of snowmakers that are working hard to get more terrain open. For various reasons, people have continued to apply and we’ve continued to see some attrition with staffing. Snowmaking is not an easy job — our teams get after it, every night and day, under some challenging conditions.”

• Sources say "this will hurt the valley" if people who bought Epic Passes do not return as they are unhappy with Vail for not delivering the product they paid for?

“We share in the frustration some of our guests have expressed over what has been a difficult start to the season,” White said, “but we have also received a lot of support from folks who understand how difficult things have been, and how hard our resort teams are working. The fact is that it’s been an historically mild winter thus far, and we’re all eager for one of those classic Nor’easter snowstorms so we can ski powder and forget these lean early-season days. One of the comments I’ve heard most often is, ‘I just wish it would snow.’ I think that sums up how all of us are feeling right now.”

As of Jan. 5, according to onthesnow.com, Attitash had open four lifts (Summit Triple, the Learning Center Triple, the Snowbelt and the Flying Bear) and seven of 18 beginner trails, nine of 31 intermediate runs and two of advanced runs. Wildcat had the Wildcat Express summit quad and the Snowcat Triple open of its total of five lifts and eight of 48 trails open, including the Upper, Middle and Lower Polecat from the summit.

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