Resorts welcome cold temps

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WEST DOVER — Mount Snow is flexing its snowmaking muscle by opening up somewhat uncharacteristically early this year.

A new $30 million snowmaking system is touted as the "most powerful" in the Northeast. Mount Snow General Manager Erik Barnes said the resort is excited to show off its capabilities.

"Our skiers and riders will really see the difference from day one and throughout the entirety of the season," he said in a press release.

Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Mount Snow opens for the winter season. There are no plans to close midweek.

"It's officially ski season in Vermont!" Resort Communications Manager Jamie Storrs wrote to the Reformer.

This year's opening is one of the earliest on record, according to Storrs. The resort opened on the same date in 2007. In the recent past, starting dates have been closer to Thanksgiving.

The exact trails opening this weekend will be announced soon. But three mountain faces are expected to have skiing and riding access, including a "top-to-bottom" terrain park on the Gulch at Carinthia.

This marks the first year of using West Lake, the body of water built especially for snowmaking purposes. So far, Storrs said, operations have been smooth.

"The folks who helped to design, install and test our West Lake Water Project went to extensive lengths over the past few years to make sure everything would run as it was supposed to on day one," Storrs said. "It's really been remarkable to watch such a large system fire up so smoothly and it's really a testament to the hard work and planning the crew has put in over the past few years."

Mount Snow is not the only place benefiting from the upgrades. A private resort run by the Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain is also planning to open early, but later, on Thanksgiving.

"That's right, now that Mount Snow has completed the West Lake Project, we will no longer be sharing water," a Hermitage press release stated. "This means that 100 percent of the water withdrawn from Mirror Lake and Cold Brook will be used right here on our mountain. This works out to be about 40 million gallons of water in an average snowmaking season."

A water-use agreement only allowed the resort to use 50 percent of the pumping capacity of the Mirror Lake pump house, according to the press release.

"Our pumping capacity is now effectively double what it was in previous seasons. It goes from 1,600 gallons per minute to 3,200 GPM," the Hermitage stated. "This will give us the ability to get trails open at a faster pace than previous years, increase base depths, make more cost-effective snow and deliver a better ski experience overall."

The Hermitage is "ready to set a new standard" for club members, the press release said.

Stratton Mountain Resort is set to open Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

"[We] made snow last night into today and expect a good string of snowmaking weather starting tomorrow," Myra Foster, senior manager of marking and communications at the resort, said Wednesday, the same day Killington Resort opened.

Other mountains are scheduled to open this month and December.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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