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Saddleback on Tues.

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katbennett
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Posted: Mar 18, 2007 - 2:16 AM GMT

I'm skiing Saddleback on Tuesday - anybody been recently? I'm looking forward to it.
telefester
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Posted: Mar 18, 2007 - 9:09 PM GMT

No news, but please post your report, I am planning on spending next weekend up there!
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Posted: Mar 19, 2007 - 12:52 AM GMT

alpinezone trip report from today..
katbennett
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Posted: Mar 20, 2007 - 11:45 PM GMT

I think if all the upper mountain lifts were not on a wind hold, I would've had a better time at Saddleback. Compound that with my being stuck on the lower mountain double for 35 minutes when it failed. They had to run auxillary to get us off. It was very windy!

That being said, the base lodge was a thing of beauty - I was so jealous (how can I get that at Cranmore?). And the views were awesome.

Their lift network, even if it was all running, was pretty weak. I didn't realize the entire left side of the mountain was only accessible by a double and a surface lift. The new quad they put in only covers a lower mtn beginner area.

I think if their 10 year plan comes through and they install a bunch of high speed quads this mountain could be one to reckon with. But it's hard to recommend it with just t-bars running to the upper mountain.
jamesdeluxe
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Posted: Mar 20, 2007 - 11:51 PM GMT

What's wrong with t-bars?

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riverc0il
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:11 AM GMT

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Their lift network, even if it was all running, was pretty weak.

Nothing weak about their trail network. That Tbar services some of the best terrain in the White Mountain region and a decent amount of trails to boot from one lift. The Tbar alone services at least a dozen trails and the uphill capacity is more than enough to meet demand. Nothing even remotely "weak" about Saddleback's lift network. It meets the needs of the ski area and the demand of skier visits. If by "weak" you mean "no high speed quads," this is true but not something I would count against the mountain.

Quote:
I think if their 10 year plan comes through and they install a bunch of high speed quads this mountain could be one to reckon with. But it's hard to recommend it with just t-bars running to the upper mountain.

I highly recommend Saddleback specifically because of that Tbar and the terrain it services. The stuff off the Double is quite fun too. I certainly managed to have an incredible time on my first visit and rank Saddleback very highly in terms of terrain, fun, challenge, and value. Too bad they had lift issues on your visit, but perhaps you should reserve judgment until you can ski there at full operation on a better day?

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katbennett
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:16 AM GMT
Edited: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:17 AM GMT

Rivercoil, I appreciate your fondness for surface lifts, but if they are so great, why, when resorts put in new lifts, they install high speed quads? BECAUSE ITS WHAT THE SKIING AND RIDING PUBLIC WANTS.

I stood there and watched snowboarder after snowboarder fall down and many of them gave up. The snowboarder in my group completely gave up - an experienced boarder who could not get the t-bar under her hip and then drag herself up the hill. You can't ignore this audience. They are also difficult for beginners and that's why magic carpets have replaced surface lifts at many areas.

The trail network looks great - I look forward to going back.

But I stand by my comment that the lift network, by modern industry standards (and my highly qualified professional opinion) is waaaay out of date.

If you want a mountain like Saddleback to thrive and not end up on NELSAP, you gotta realize that the paying public is what is going to fund their growth and future. Surface lifts ain't gonna do it.
Davev
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:23 AM GMT

As Sly and the Family Stone once said: Different strokes for different folks
riverc0il
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:26 AM GMT

I agree with most of that and realize Saddleback is going to need to follow through on their plans for new lifts to make the area viable. The characterization of "weak" though struck a chord. Big difference between the fact that Saddleback needs to update the lift infrastructure to best service the resort crowd it is beginning to seek versus a weak lift system.

In a similar situation, I am also in favor of Burke (pretty please some day soon!) upgrading the Willoughby Quad. But I wouldn't classify Burke's lift system as week even before the Sherburne Quad was installed.

Speaking of Burke and surface lifts, one of my recent epic Burke powder days with Sledhaulingmedic and crew occurred specifically because of a surface lift. While neighboring Cannon, Bretton, Loon, and Jay either shut down or faced limited operation, Burke was able to continue operations of nearly the entire mountain via the Poma. Surface lifts have their place and I sure hope Saddleback can retain their Tbar even when they put in a chairlift to the summit. Summit surface lifts are perhaps the most under utilized customer friendly backup for high wind days that cause lift holds.

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katbennett
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:38 AM GMT

Summit surface lifts are perhaps the most under utilized customer friendly backup for high wind days that cause lift holds.


Totally agree about their being great on windy days. That was the only way I was able to ski what I could ski today!
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:43 AM GMT

Quote:
I stood there and watched snowboarder after snowboarder fall down and many of them gave up. The snowboarder in my group completely gave up - an experienced boarder who could not get the t-bar under her hip and then drag herself up the hill.


Rookies

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JerryG
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 1:28 AM GMT

People that ski Saddleback don't want, nor do they expect HSQs. The 10-year plan will help in terms of updating lifts for those who don't want to deal with t-bars, but part of the owners vision includes keeping overhead and lift ticket cost down by not pouring money into lifts that the mountain doesn't need.

Yes, t-bars are tough for some people and not that skier-friendly, but they are great on windy days. A prime example if the Bateau T-bar at Sugarloaf.

Saddleback's new owner said when he bought the mountain, that he would not install any HSQs as he didn't want the trails to be overcrowded. He is NOT trying to make money off of the skiing, instead is adding the skiing as a bonus to one's vacation home. Will it work, who knows, but people in those parts are mighty happy with the guys and businesses that rely on snowmobile traffic throughout the winter were sure glad they had a ski area with snowmaking through January.

It is too bad you didn't get to ski the upper mountain and to be honest; I have always thought it was odd that that particualr t-bar gets wind holds, but Saddleback has always been known to be a cold, windy mountain.

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telefester
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 10:07 AM GMT

Thanks for the reports. It sounds like conditions should be great this weekend at Saddleback. I've never been, so very excited.

FYI, was at Sugarbush on 3/20, and all but two lifts at Mt Ellen were on wind hold. Lincoln was completely open for most of the day, with great snow everywhere.
katbennett
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 10:43 AM GMT

Yes, the conditions, what I could get to, were awesome. ANd when I came back to Cranmore in the late afternoon, the snow looked spectacular there as well.


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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 11:58 AM GMT
Edited: Mar 21, 2007 - 12:28 PM GMT

Quote:

That being said, the base lodge was a thing of beauty - I was so jealous (how can I get that at Cranmore?). And the views were awesome.
.


Not being closed with thousands of tourists a few minutes away in the summer might be a good start. Not very many NE ski hills have such a situation, why not try to tap into it?

Saddleback is in financial distress. They have not been able to sell many of their new lodging units. A summit surface lift might be great for some but I agree with Kat in that to be successful that needs to change. Until the real estate thing improves I don't see that happening.

They do have a nice X-C center in that they just hosted the NE interschool nordic championships which Vermont, of course, won.

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katbennett
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 4:45 PM GMT

Quote:

Not being closed with thousands of tourists a few minutes away in the summer might be a good start. Not very many NE ski hills have such a situation, why not try to tap into it?


If you mean by this, why isn't Cranmore open in summer, I would reply that we have, for literally decades, tried a lot of different activites during summer, none of them have been profitable (excepting the late great skimobile, of course, which was open all summer0.

We have a nice summer camp program, a year-round fitness center, and will host concerts all summer. That's our "off season" plan.

Offering summer activities like chairlift rides doesn't make any money. To do anything meaningful (like an alpine slide, water park etc.) would require capital investments in the millions and frankly that money would be better spent on improving our winter operations. It's not as easy or simple as you might think.

And what we have learned from our sister resort, Loon, the customers that come in summer for things like gondola rides are NOT the same demographics of your skiing and riding public. Totally different audience and not a hell of a lot of overlap, believe it or not (this is based on our market research and customer surveys).

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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 8:12 PM GMT

Burke's Poma rocks.

As for the summit quad, it gets you there. But when you ride the HSQ at the bottom, you see a huge difference....and those trails get much more traffic than they used to...
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Posted: Mar 21, 2007 - 11:13 PM GMT

Convenience skiing - uggghhhh - Today, Sugarloaf lifts are totally in the hands of the wind. When they replaced 2 of their surface lifts (wiffletree tbar and #5 king pine tbar) with quads, they lost the ability to open their MT on windy days. Yes, they still have #3 Bateau T bar, but you need chairs to get to it. March 2nd N'easter, for example, all chairs closed at 11:20 due to wind, #3 Tbar stays open but no one can get to it. I've come to realize ski areas should install NEW surface lifts - especiaaly in the NE. Uphill capacity is maxed out when HS chairs are running as it is now - you put in surface lifts and you have bought yourself a cheap (relatively speaking) insurance policy for selling lift tickets when the wind blows. BTW, my trip to Saddleback this year was spectacular and my 15 yr old snowboarder mastered the Kennebago T bar after his 1st trip up.
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Posted: Mar 22, 2007 - 3:16 AM GMT

I went to Rangeley with my brother just after Christmas. We skied Saddleback and it was decent for the lack of snow. He got some prize for going to look at one of the condos being built.

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