Camden Snow Bowl delays opening, looks to post-Christmas start

Posted:  Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 3:45pm
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CAMDEN — Citing the current warm and rainy weather trend, the Camden Snow Bowl is unable to make snow; therefore, Ragged Mountain will not open for skiing on Dec. 20 as hoped.

“As soon as we get the cold temperatures we need, we’ll be hitting the trails with all the new firepower we have to get snow on the ground,” said Snow Bowl General Manager Landon Fake, in a municipal update. “We know everyone is anxious to get on snow and experience the new terrain. So are we.”

The long-range forecast is for warmer temperatures to continue through Friday. Then, night temperatures are to begin cooling into the 20s.

Generally, ideal snowmaking conditions at the mountain are nighttime temperatures of 24 degrees F or below, with colder and drier air expected through the night, when the snow guns are operating. If it get below zero with a lot of wind, it gets too cold for making snow.

Opening the mountain before Christmas is not a given in any year, and getting snow on the trails is always weather-dependent, despite the upgraded snow-making equipment.

Fake said crews at the Snow Bowl are also still putting together the new chairlifts.

“We have a lot of folks working overtime to get them up and running and are getting close,” he wrote. “We expect we can open the new Wonder Carpet conveyor lift on Dec. 26, and a least one of the chair lifts will be running before the New Year.”

The Wonder Carpet conveyor lift is for the beginners, just in front of the lodge.

The following is Fake’s report to the town:

The unseasonably warm weather, forecast to extend through at least next weekend, will unfortunately keep our snow guns quiet. As soon as we get the cold temperatures we need, we’ll be hitting the trails with all the new firepower we have to get snow on the ground.

We know everyone is anxious to get on snow and experience the new terrain. So are we! Some weather context: last year we were blessed with early snow and cold and were able to open the double chairlift before Christmas. That was only the second time that’s happened in 40 years. The chairlift was open before New Year’s Eve only three times in the last 10 years; two years in a row it didn’t open until January 20. With our new snow-making capacity, we can cover terrain much faster, but we still need dry cold (usually below 27 degrees- see the chart below).

The Big Question: When is opening day? We are still putting together the new chairlifts. We have a lot of folks working overtime to get them up and running and are getting close. We expect we can open the new Wonder Carpet conveyor lift on December 26, and a least one of the chair lifts will be running before the New Year.

We will keep you posted about opening day and what terrain is open as the chairlift work evolves and weather permits. Check the website and Facebook for up-to-date information.

Speaking of weather, it’s been a challenge, not only because it affects our ability to make snow. The rain (and 14 inches of snow on Thanksgiving) has slowed progress on everything. Stabilizing the mountain and installing erosion control measures has been an on-going focus. We have had the help and expertise of several local contractors: Farley & Sons, JBI Excavation, and for most of the past month, Ferraiolo Construction has been working almost exclusively on erosion control.

How bad was the weather? 2014 has had 65.34 inches of rain to date. By the end of the month, 2014 will be the fifth or sixth wettest year in the last 100 years.

Comparing 2014 to an average rainfall year since we began the project in April, rainfall for the nine-month period is at 51.4 inches, which is 14.6 inches above the average rainfall for the April through December period of 36.8 inches. In the last 10 weeks alone, we are six inches of rain above normal. Based on the average weekly rainfall of 0.94 inches over the course of a year and the 21.6 inches of rain we’ve seen since Oct. 1, we’ve had 22 weeks of rain in the past 11 weeks.

Central Maine Power, which is doing a lot of the new service and pole work, has been pulled off the work here repeatedly to deal with storm-related outages. Today they are finally running the power to the carpet lift, and energizing the pump house, a process that started more than four months ago.

Trail construction

All trimming of all trail edges is complete

Yesterday the 3rd volunteer day saw 8 people, led by Steve Pixley, finishing a new glade, Crow's Nest, our first "double black diamond."

The group also cleaned up several others, including Scrimshaw, which is now a "blue square" glade.

Snowmaking system

Expecting second pump any day. Welding crew standing by to install

All 46 new snow guns have arrived, been assembled, and are anxious to start work

New Rental Shop

All equipment, new and heritage, is moved in.

Heat, lights working.

Ready for skiers and riders

Old buildings

Last week we said good bye to three old-buildings that have served the Snow Bowl well beyond expectations. We loved them, but it was time. As Fitzy said, "we could keep them: all they need is new wood."

The Competition Center, aka the race shack, went to its final resting place in a construction dumpster.

The ticket A-frame was removed, just before it collapsed on its own.

The old skating warming hut, which was repurposed as storage shed next to the maintenance shop, was moved off site, almost in one piece, by David Dickey. We are nominating him for the historic preservation award.

Lifts

All lift towers flown. If you missed the helicopter, this video shows the incredible teamwork that happened at each of the 23 towers we flew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qZjTWRRFuo&list=UU11nfelXxBLXA7R5OCIGkC...

Groomers

600 and Park Bully arrived last week from their summer at the Pisten Bully spa.

Tracks installed today

Upcoming Events

December 17 we will be hosting a Chamber Business After Hours.

December 26, 9am- 4 pm: first day of skiing (assuming enough snowmaking days)

Check out the many photographs regularly added to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Camden-Snow-Bowl/146221662091


Related links:

Snow Bowl progress report to Camden Select Board continues to be positive (Dec. 3)

• One by one, 20 chairlift towers went up at the Camden Snow Bowl (Dec. 1)

 Helicopter to help raise, place 23 chairlift towers at Camden Snow Bowl (Dec. 1)

• Report: Ragged Mountain Redevelopment Project $500,000 over budget (Oct. 8)

 Camden Planning Board approves Snow Bowl lighting plan as proposed (Oct. 6)

 Camden Snow Bowl on target for Dec. 20 opening, weather willing (Sept. 19)

• Camden to contract with South Portland firm to manage Snow Bowl lodge, base area (July 24, 2014)

 Camden Snow Bowl project remains under DEP scrutiny, making progress, more work ahead (July 11)

 Vermont trail builder takes helm with Camden Snow Bowl project, new phase gets under way (July 10)

 Camden Snow Bowl prepped for more rain, assembling working group to assist with next steps (July 2)

• Snow Bowl mountain mud runoff causes headache for neighbors, town (July 1)

 Camden Snow Bowl anticipates ending season in the black; work begins on Ragged Mountain (March 19)

 Homage to Camden’s Big T (March 15, 2014)

 By wide margin, Camden voters approve Snow Bowl improvement bond (Nov. 5, 2013)

 Camden voters consider $2 million Snow Bowl bond, three zoning amendments (Nov. 3, 2013)

 Camden committee selects new parks and recreation director (Sept. 6, 2013)

 Camden considers $2 million Snow Bowl bond, ordinance amendments Nov. 5 (Sept. 4, 2014)

 Camden ready to put $2 million bond before voters (Aug. 21, 2013)

 Camden pursues federal money to help with Snow Bowl upgrade (July 10, 2013)

 Camden learns about refurbished chairlifts, woven grips and haul ropes (April 10, 2013)

 Last run for Jeff (Jan. 21, 2013)

 Stellar start to season at Camden Snow Bowl (Jan. 9, 2013)

 Camden’s Ragged Mountain loses a good friend (Nov. 7, 2012)

 Ready for packed powder? Camden Snow Bowl to make it quicker, sooner with updated snow guns (Sept. 12, 2012)