Friday, December 18, 2015

We're back!

I have to admit, things were looking pretty depressing just a few days ago.  After record warmth and rain this month, we took a good kick to the stomach last Sunday and Monday.  Things are looking a lot better now.  What a difference a few days of cold weather makes.  We had a good night of snowmaking last night and we expect a great night tonight.  Our crew is doing a fantastic job of making as much snow as possible during this brief period cold weather before the holidays.  There are some huge piles of white snow all over and our snow cat drivers are starting to blade them out and groom some trails.  Beginning Wednesday night, we started concentrating our snowmaking efforts on our "bread & butter" runs on the east and west slopes as well as the beginner area and terrain park. We are hoping to have 10 runs open by 4pm Friday and 15 runs open Saturday.  By about 1pm, our new rope tow should begin spinning in the terrain park.  Runs opening this weekend should be Dan's Dive, Twister, Coulee, Nanny's Nob, Anna's Alley, and hopefully Leapin Liz and Triple R.

Please be advised:  Expect snowguns running all weekend this weekend.  If the temperatures allow, we will be making snow on open runs while we are open.  This may be our last chance to make snow before the holidays.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We still have snow and yes...we're open

Believe it or not, the skiing is still good where we have snow. If you like good spring snow...we have it.   The terrain park setup is good and we have 3 chairlifts running and 8 runs open.  After Sunday, that could change based on the forecasts I am seeing.  We have revised our hours of operation for next week.  We will be open from 3-9pm only Monday - Thursday. Stay tuned and be sure to watch social media and our snow report because with this kind of weather things could change anytime. The good news:  colder temps and possibly snow arrive next week.  It looks like we will get some decent snowmaking weather next week and we should be back in business.  Thanks for your patience...winter is coming!

Friday, November 27, 2015

We are open!

We are open!  The 51st season at Welch Village has begun.  It was great to open the place today and see people on the chairlifts, hitting terrain features, carving down the slopes, smiling, and welcoming winter. For most of today we had Heidi's Hollow open and the Zero Chairlift.  Around 3:30pm, we were able to open Lookout and the #2 Chairlift.  Not bad for opening day after a warm fall! Thank you to all of you shared opening day 2015 with us.  We are hoping to open Fowl Play tomorrow and we are also looking forward to a clear and cold night for snowmaking. Shoul d be a great weekend to get out here and dust off the cob webs.  At this point, we still planning to close Monday-Thursday for snowmaking and re-open next Friday, probably for good.

Grandpa Leigh (age 87) riding the first chair of the season with my daughter, his great granddaughter.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Snowmaking & Opening Day Update

We started snowmaking operations late Thursday evening. Today things are looking pretty good.  There are always some challenges and surprises when we start up the snowmaking system for real the first time.  About 3 hours into snowmaking on Thursday night we lost a good size portion of electrical forcing us to shutdown several guns at the top of Lookout.  Also, the water in the river is  pretty warm right now thanks to the warm and wet November.  We also find out where we have leaks in our underground pipes once we place a good load on the system.  All of those things have happened so far but our crew is really making some magic right now.  Today and tonight should be pretty good if it clears off and the temps drop a little more.  Today and tonight will also serve as the measuring stick on when opening day could happen.  It's still too early to talk about opening day.  The "goal" is still next Friday, but we'll see.  Right now, it's not really up to us, its up to the weather.  We'll have an update for you on Monday morning.  Have a good weekend!

 My girls joined me for the walk today. They're spoiled, they get to come to work with their Dad and play in the snow today.  Our youngest pictured in the middle isn't crying, she's mad about having to be in the picture and miss snow time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 7th Terrain Park Project Update

We are happy to announce that we have partnered with the Colorado based company 4 Pine Design. 4 Pine Design is a company that specializes in terrain park design and free-style feature production & construction. We recently purchased 10 new terrain park features from 4Pine that arrive in time for the start of the 2015/16 season.  Below you will see a couple photos of just a couple of these new features will look like.  We plan to add additional new features during the winter months.  Stay tuned for more information about new features as well as our developing relationship with 4 Pine Design.  We are hoping to work with 4 Pine both for design of our park and construction of new features in the future. 4 Pine currently works with western resorts Vail, Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole, and Eldora.

We have finished the grading and erosion control portion of the project for the most part.  In some of these photos you will notice large sections of gabion rock basket walls.  We also had the entire hill above those walls hydro-seeded.  Sorry, this steep slope and walls will not be ski or rideable.

All of the footings for the new rope-tow have been poured and should be installed in the coming days.  The entire area in and around the terrain park as really changed and its hard to show the changes through photos.  Snowmaking is just around the corner and we can't wait to cover the area in white.  Stay tuned for more updates....

Looking up into the terrain park from the footing of the bottom of the rope tow

Looking northwest, the footing for the bottom terminal of rope tow to the right

One of several box features that we have purchased from 4 Pine Design

A V-rail from 4 Pine Design that you will see in our terrain park this winter

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15, 2015 Terrain Park Project Update

Most of the grading of the hill is complete and we are now in the process of finishing erosion control.  The photos of the new terrain park hill itself are very deceiving. Through the grading process, we have added quite a bit of pitch to the hill.  The grade is now a consistent 14-15% from top to bottom (ideal for free-style terrain & features).  Also in these photos, our erosion control measures include a large ditch lined with rip rap. This rip rap will only be visible during not winter months of course.  We will bury the rip-rapped ditch with snow for the winter. This was an area of the hill that has needed more erosion control attention for some time now.  This should help to channel large amounts of water on a desired pathway during periods of heavy rain.   This will also help with run-off during the spring melt, especially if we get a big rain during the melt.  Most of the soil in the terrain park area is sand.  Therefore, we have added a significant amount a of top soil material (and manure!) in order to establish vegetation growth asap. Snowmaking hydrants were also installed recently along with hundreds of feet of new pipe.  Next, the new rope tow!  Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Terrain Park Project

We have been strategizing and planning this project for several months now.  The noticeable work started this week on our latest significant improvement to Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area.  Operations have begun with a terrain park expansion project which we hope will generate a new sense of excitement in our free style and terrain park community.

We are working on a long-term Terrain Park Improvement Plan which will span over several seasons.  This coming 2015/16 season will serve as the first year in that plan.  Most of the investment in this first year will be spent in site preparation, erosion control, and overall infrastructure of the expansion.

Below is a brief list of what you can expect this year and the years to come with this project.  Again, our plan is to incrementally invest into this project every year for several years to come.  We will post updates on this project this fall as the new area begins to take shape.  We will keep you updated on this blog, email, and social media.

Terrain Park Plans for this year will include:

  • Construction of the new terrain park site by expanding the former site of the terrain park. The new terrain park will have increased width, length, and a more appropriate pitch.
  • Site expansion will include tree clearing, grading, excavation, and a significant investment in erosion control and the overall environmental sustainability of the area.  Our goal for the new site will include a suitable pitch for free style terrain & features with a consistent grade from top to bottom.  
  • New state-of-the-art Rope Tow lift dedicated to terrain park users.
  • Expansion of our snowmaking system into the new terrain park area which will include new pipe, hydrants, and electrical. 
  • New features for most ability levels - To be determined....stay tuned.
Plans for the years ahead:  
  • Installation of additional snowmaking units in the terrain park area. 
  • Partnership with a terrain park design & consulting company.
  • Purchase of a new terrain park specific grooming machine. 
  •  Youth free-style learning and competition programs including a free-style team, youth camps and clinics. 
  • Free-style events and competitions...and more! 
We are dedicated to improving our free-style terrain at Welch Village in the coming years.  It's a good bet that our Terrain Park Plan will evolve over the next few years in order to stay current with the ever-changing free-syle side of the ski & snowboard industry.  We are excited about what this means for the future of Welch Village and we hope that you share that excitement.  

Here are a few pictures of the work that is being done with this week...enjoy the rest of your summer, winter is just around the corner! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Our impressive partner resorts

I was fortunate enough to ski two of our three ski resort partners this past week, Big Sky & Lutsen.  I am hoping to finally make it out to Grand Targhee in the next year or so.  (I have heard nothing but exceptional things about Targhee!) 

On this the final day of the Spring Season Pass Sale, I would like to share with you my experience with our resort partners this past week.  We are proud to offer season pass benefits at our partner resorts and we hope that you are able to not only experience many days at Welch Village next season, but we are also hopeful that you can experience a ski trip to one or more of these world-class resorts as well.

My wife and I organized a group trip to Big Sky, Montana and we were joined by a combination of Welch Village dept. managers, D-Team coaches, D-Team racers, season pass holders, and friends. I have skied many of the resorts in Colorado including Vail/Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, Winter Park and A-Basin.  I have to tell my opinion, Big Sky & more specifically, Montana in general, has those resorts beat on many if not all levels.  The shear size of the mountain and the massive collection of varied terrain is unmatched.  They had a somewhat lean snow year but we were lucky enough to get dumped with 20+ inches of snow when we were there.  Besides the ski resort itself, I truly loved the Montana western skiing experience. There are no lift lines and there is so much terrain at Big Sky that you feel like you have the place to yourself even on a "crowded" powder day. Big Sky appeals to all ages and all demographics of skiers & riders.  Don't get me wrong, Colorado has some great skiing...but in this skier's opinion...Montana just went to the top of the list. We are going back....soon.

I got off the plane from Montana and drove up to Lutsen the very next day with Grandpa Leigh.  I haven't been to Lutsen since high school and I was impressed with how the ownership has continued to invest and improve the terrain and facilities.  We value our partnership with Lutsen and the value they provide to our season pass holders because it provides an exceptional experience for such a broad audience & demographic.  If you are an avid skier or rider, Lutsen provides great snow, great terrain, and great night life entertainment.  Where Lutsen shines is in providing a great first ski trip opportunity for families who perhaps are not ready for a western ski trip.  Or, better yet, Lutsen is a great ski destination for skiers who have just a few days or a long weekend to get away.

While in Big Sky, I began discussions with their sales & marketing team on the exclusive benefits they plan to offer our season pass holders in 2015/16.  We are hoping to announce those benefits late summer or early fall.  We are also in the process of discussing enhancements to the Lutsen benefits.  We have enjoyed the Grand Targhee partnership for several years now and we anticipate the continuation of similar benefits for next season as well.

Welch Village ownership and management would like to thank all of you who time to visit Welch Village this past season.  Thank you to all of you who purchased a season pass at our ski area for the 2015/16 season.  We are already busy planning improvements for next season and are looking forward to serving you for many more winters ahead.

The entire Welch Village Group at Big Sky, Montana
 Sunrise reflection on Lone Peak
Getting ready to board the Lone Peak Tram
Troy Carpenter, our ski school manager, enjoying the tree powder
 Adam and Bubba, Welch D-Team coaches

 Bubba slaying the powder on Pomp

My wife Jamie, resting her burning legs while enjoying the view
 The view of Lone Peak from the top of the Southern Comfort lift
 Grandpa Leigh (on this 86th ski day this season!) skiing Moose Mt. at Lutsen
 The riding the new 6-pack High Speed Quad lift on Moose Mt. at Lutsen
View of Lake Superior and the chalet atop Moose Mt. at Lutsen