By Deb Everts
HoliMont Ski Resort continues to give its members and guests the best possible ski experience in winter and biking experiences in warmer weather.
Greg Culver, marketing and retail sales director, said one of the bigger projects they did to prepare for this year’s ski season was revamp the entire beginner hill at the main area. He said the Chipmunk lift services on the Bunny slope had a tree island in it, so they regraded the entire slope and put in some needed drainage.
“The staging area is much wider now, and it’s going to offer a more gradual landing area for beginners where they come off the lift,” he said. “With that area bigger, we can also get a groomer up there and make a nicer spot for the skiers to unload and get situated before their lessons.”
Culver said 21 new Super Pole Cat Fan Guns were added to HoliMont’s ski slopes last year, but they are not adding any snow guns this year. He said they can now make snow on all of their slopes and have 100-percent coverage.
According to Culver, some of the snow guns are taken down every year at the end of ski season for repairs that are done onsite. He said their staff is intimate with this Pole Cat snow gun because it was developed right at HoliMont.
“These guys can take these snow guns fully apart — I mean, right down to the housing,” he said. “They sandblast, repaint and rebuild them. When they put them back out on the slopes, they are almost like brand new.”
Grip-testing on the chairlifts is one of the most important maintenance jobs. Culver said the grip is the part that grabs the cable. Other than the Expo lift, all of HoliMont’s lifts have a “fixed-grip,” meaning it stays on the cable while it’s working. He said on a high-speed lift like the Expo, the grip slides the cable through it; then it releases creating two different speeds.
“Those grips are very important for safety,” he said. “Our crew goes through them and takes down 20-percent. They do a ‘destructive test’ on the grips to make sure the metal is still good.”
According to Culver, the crew has developed a unique inventory system where they color code after they are done sandblasting, fixing and replacing all the hardware and parts. He said the color-coding system lets the crew know when they changed a particular grip and who did the work.
“They paint some of the parts, so the grips almost look like they have LEGO colors,” he said. “With a quick visual inspection, they know it was done last year or two years ago. They do it by numbers as well, but they like to see the process.”
There will be a new Snowsports Director at HoliMont this winter. Culver said the resort’s racing coach Travis Widger is taking over the position.
“Travis’ goal is to bring all of the snowsports programs under one umbrella, and he will manage all the different departments,” he said. “His grandfather was the general manager at HoliMont for quite a few years.”
IN OTHER NON-SKI news, HoliMont hosted its fourth HoliCX cyclocross race on Oct. 19 that’s part of a 14-race series in Western New York. Culver said there is a champion at the end, which adds a bigger draw to the events.
“HoliCX is known to be one of the hardest races in this series, and I make it that way. Ours has a little more mixed terrain,” he said. “I make the riders climb more hills, we have more rocks and more mud. It’s a bit more challenging.”
Culver said HoliMont hosted its first winter Fat Bike Race last February, which is their own solo race. He said there are a couple of other Fat Bike races in the area and there’s talk about making that a winter series as well.
Future plans include the development of more biking trails. Culver said they’ve been working on the Flow Trail for the last three years. Bikers will soon have the convenience of a chairlift outfitted with a bike rack that will take them to the top of Greer slope with their bike. He said riding a chairlift up to the biking trail is similar to skiing and snowboarding because people want to go up to the top easily, then have a fun ride down.
“We built one trail as an example to show what the possibilities are,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of demos, both in-house for our members and for the public during Fall Festival. We ran it with a three-bike carrier on a chairlift, but we aren’t doing the bikes on the lift commercially, yet.”
Culver said a professional trail company from New Hampshire did a three-day site assessment, so they have that recommendation of what to do to move forward with the biking programs. He said it’s being put into a proposal that will, hopefully, enable them to begin work next spring.
“It’s a natural fit. I mean, we’re in the business of carting people up a hill and letting them ride down. Skis, snowboards, bikes — it’s all kind of the same,” he said. “The nice part about the bike thing is we don’t have to make snow or groom it. Once the trail is built, there’s little maintenance.”
Culver said the trail itself is open to the public. If anybody wants to ride and can get to the top on their own, he encourages them to come and try it out. He said lots of local mountain bikers have done it already, and the response has been huge.
For more details on rates for memberships and daily ski passes, call the office at 699-2320, or visit online at holimont.com.