“I apologize to our guests for the frustrations”
By Kendra Walker
Last Saturday, March 11, the North Valley woke up to 18 inches of snow. Naturally, skiing fresh turns in so much powder was a top priority for local community members and the visiting spring break crowds. However, the continuous snowfall wreaked havoc on the ski mountain and CBMR quickly became the target of a lot of frustrations due to delays in chairlift openings, crowded and long lift lines and webcam technology issues. The Crested Butte News reached out to CBMR vice president and general manager Tara Schoedinger this week for comment on the issues experienced on the mountain on Saturday. Here’s what she shared.
“It was a popular morning, with visitors and community members alike excited to enjoy the powder,” said Schoedinger in an email. “Due to the dense, heavy nature of the snow, the large volume of it, and the fact that we were still receiving more than one inch per hour that morning, it took our teams extra time to get the mountain ready to open. Some factors involved in preparing the mountain for the public after a large storm are manual snow removal and grooming, lift safety clearances, avalanche mitigation work and checking boundary lines of our open terrain. We allow for overtime as needed, and early snow safety mornings are good examples of when this is needed.”
According to Schoedinger, the Red Lady Express and Silver Queen Express opened to the public at 9:48 a.m., nearly an hour after the lifts were scheduled to open. “I recognize this delay, combined with high visitation for the biggest snowfall of the season, led to longer lift lines than usual to start the morning at Red Lady Express and Silver Queen Express,” said Schoedinger.” I apologize to our guests for the frustrations and appreciate everyone’s patience while we made sure the mountain was safe to open.”
The High Lift also experienced a delayed opening on Saturday, but patrol did allow guests to hike in the meantime. “In an effort to open for our guests as quickly and safely as possible, we allowed hiking up the High Lift T-bar line while our operations team worked to prepare the T-bar line, and we were able to open the High Lift to our guests at 12:07 p.m. on Saturday,” said Schoedinger.
Folks tuning online to the CBMR webcam of the base area on Saturday were frustrated to find the camera pointed at the peak instead of at the lift lines. Additionally, the webcam did not allow users “Admin” control to change camera positions as it typically does. Facebook comments expressed suspicions that Vail Resorts intentionally kept the camera from showing the crowded base area lines at a standstill.
Schoedinger explained, “A power outage in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 11 caused our base area camera to revert to its default settings. As soon as our team was made aware of the issue, they worked quickly to move the cameras back to view the chairlifts and to restore controls for the user. We are working with our third-party contractor to determine how we can prevent this from happening in the future.”
The Prater Cup was also held last weekend, and no races were impacted by the snow, lift delays and long lines on Saturday, said Schoedinger. “Last week, our competition services team leaders adjusted the race schedule due to forecasted snowfall and no competitions were scheduled to take place on Saturday. Athletes were made aware of the changes in advance,” she said.
This week, Monarch Mountain announced it is extending its season until April 16 due to “exceptional conditions.” However, despite CBMR receiving 276 inches of snow already this season with a 91-inch base depth as of Wednesday, and more snow in the forecast, Schoedinger said that CBMR will still be closing on April 2 this year as planned.
In a blog posted on CBMR’s website on March 13, Schoedinger wrote, “While some Colorado resorts, including our fellow resorts on the Epic Pass, still have plenty of spring skiing left in their seasons, Crested Butte will close as planned on April 2. I made this decision, along with resort leaders on the ground here in Crested Butte, with our employees and community partners in mind…Our community members rely on our closing day to plan their schedules. We work closely with our community partners throughout the season to ensure that our plans are aligned, and I want to be respectful of their operating plans.”
She continued, “While we are thrilled with how much snow we’ve received this season and the amount of terrain we’ve been able to make available for skiing and riding this year, season extensions are extremely uncommon in Crested Butte. Extending the season would mean a level of coordination with our community partners that we did not want to have to ask of them. We may evaluate extensions in future years. For now, let’s enjoy these final couple weeks of skiing and riding, and look forward to a peaceful mud season ahead.”