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Waterfall - April 14 2001


Since the Coop purchased the ski area, there has been some confusion as to what are the decision making factors in deciding to open or close the mountain. The following are the guidelines that management will use to make these important decisions.


These guidelines will primarily apply to periods outside the normal operating season. (Dec 15 to the second weekend in April) The mountain will remain open inside this time frame as long as there is sufficient snow cover and the mountain is deemed safe to ski by mountain personnel.


This document is a guideline for management to use. Management needs flexibility to make sound business decisions when deemed necessary for the well being of the mountain.


Factors to Consider:


1. Skier Safety

Skier safety is not well defined; management and some skiers might have very different opinions as to what constitutes skier safety. Management considers the mountain safe for skiing when there is adequate snow cover to ski top to bottom without risking skier’s safety. Safety concerns include water bars and large stumps or rocks and that adequate turns can be made on a trail in order to maintain skier control. It is also important to remember that Vermont Tramway code requires that anytime a lift is operating there has to be enough staff to evacuate a lift in two hours if the lift becomes inoperable. Mountain transportation is a critical part of this.


2. The well being of the mountain terrain

The well being of the mountain relates to what damage the mountain may suffer from ski or equipment traffic on the terrain. Trail surfaces should be frozen so tracks do not tear up the ground. Snow depth has relevance in this category; 8” is significantly different then 3”.


Another aspect of the well being of terrain criteria is whether the trail system support multi-day skiing with the snow cover in place and forecasted weather. This relates to opening more than closing but is a criterion which has to be evaluated.


3. Season Pass Holders

An important criterion is the season pass holder who has paid in advance for a season of skiing. The mountain wishes to give pass holders the highest number of ski days for their loyalty and commitment. This is much easier to address in early season as there is pent-up demand. In the late season, the same level of demand may not exist and management will monitor pass holders’ usage of the ski area.


4. Financial

Financial is a straightforward criterion - Will enough revenue be generated to cover the cost of operations?

The cost to ski the main mountain per day is:


Wages $1,428

Fuel $300

Maintenance $260

Total $1,988


Number of tickets required to break-even @ $35.00 (Early & Late season rate) = 57


This does not account for any losses that may be being encored in the ancillary departments. The figure also does not account for variance in ticket yield, which would likely be less due to junior and senior tickets, half day tickets and other discounts.


5. Staffing

Staffing relates to the availability of staff and the ability to give staff proper notice so they can plan their work schedules not only at Mad River Glen but the jobs they are leaving or going too.


It should be remembered that in early season the mountain operations staff could be on split shift for snowmaking, meaning some of the staff might be working 12-hour night shifts, unavailable for lift duty.


Early and late season, all services would run with the exception of Ski School


How the Decision Will Be Made:

Management states that the factors of skier safety, well being of terrain and staffing be left to their judgment in accessing early season opening or late season closing with the following guidelines:

  • Top to bottom skiing required
  • Skiing has to be sustainable, lasting for a period of days
  • Groomers have to be able to travel the mountain safely and without damage to the terrain (This is a safety issue in that an accident or maintenance issue may require a groomer on the mountain.)
  • Financial, recognizing that a dollar for dollar return is unlikely, management will use a benchmark of 50% of the cost has to be covered, 28 paid day tickets. This partly judgmental in that the decision to open or stay open assumes a level of activity. If that activity does not materialize then management may reverse its decision.

If management believes skiing is sustainable, it will open the mountain anytime after Thanksgiving. It will keep the mountain open in the spring as long as there is demand to meet half the cost of operating.


Notification of Decision:

Being that the decision to open or close will be made almost on a moment’s notice, the following avenues will be used to notify skiers of the mountain’s opening and closing:Post to ski report, faxed and snow phone

  • Post to Website, www.madriverglen.com
  • Post to list server, all lists
  • Posting at mountain at base of lifts and in Basebox, works well with closing
  • Press releases – faxed