Mountain Spy

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Mountain spy, Liz Eren, asks a question on finding the best snow. We’d like to give credit for this question to Arapahoe Basin’s Alan Henceroth, who told us that they get this call a lot. As a reward, we did not call A Basin, but everyone else was fair game. Send Liz Eren your questions and, if we use one, win the immunity challenge for one issue (liz@saminfo.com)!

QUESTION: I’m planning a trip to your resort this weekend. where’s the best snow on the mountain?


MOUNTAIN 1, CA

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Umm, uhhh, I mean… Um, anytime you go in the woods you’re gonna get the best snow.
SAM: OK.
Staff: ‘Cuz it doesn’t get skied as much and it just seems to kinda stay better in there. I would say you know, the X area, kinda off in those woods. Umm, maybe kinda off Y peak a little bit to the left or the right, kinda off to the edges. Z Creek always has some pretty good snow and a lot of untouched places. And then I know up off of B lift has been really popular. I haven’t been up since last week, but I mean we were really busy this weekend so I’m not sure what B lift is like anymore, but, um, I mean if you kinda stay off the main trails, kinda in the woody areas, that’s probably where the best snow is.
SAM: Thanks so much.

Rating: 5
Comment: I guess I’ll kinda head for the woody area.


MOUNTAIN 2, MT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well I have not been up myself, ha ha ha. But I have heard X area is really nice if you’re up for that.
SAM: OK, sure.
Staff: Yeah, and all the groomers are nice. I’m guessing we’ve had the warm temperatures lately so in the morning you wouldn’t want to ski the south-facing stuff because that will be firm, so you gotta wait until that softens up. So in the morning I would stick to the groomers or the north-facing stuff. And then it usually starts softening up around 11 or 12 depending on the temperature.
SAM: Perfect, I can try some of those areas you mentioned. But if south-facing stuff gets the most sun, don’t you think those areas would be nice in the morning because they get sun first?
Staff: Exactly. Yeah, if there’s sun in the morning that would be really good.
SAM: OK. Well you said to try the south-facing stuff in the afternoon though…
Staff: Yeah I was just saying, ah, yeah if it’s sunny in the morning it should be, ah, good. Sure.
SAM: Hmm. OK. Well, I’ll start with X area and go from there.

Rating: 5
Comment: Tomato, tomahto, north, south.


MOUNTAIN 3, NJ

First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well, uh, I know we’re supposed to get a storm in the next day or two and it should produce some snow so I’d say this weekend will be killer no matter where you ski.
SAM: Yeah, I heard the same. So you think we’ll get a decent amount of snow?
Staff: Yeah man, that’s what I’ve been told. Should be an awesome weekend! Silence…
SAM: OK, then, looking forward to it!

Rating: 7
Comment: Loving the enthusiasm, man, but a few more details would have been nice.


MOUNTAIN 4, WI

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Where is the best?
SAM: Yeah.
Staff: Oh I don’t know. We have a 24- to 48-inch base throughout. So um… Silence…
SAM: Well I was just wondering if any areas were particularly good compared to others?
Staff: It’s really, well we have the black diamonds, the intermediates, um… (Silence… )
SAM: OK, I would be an advanced intermediate.
Staff: Then yeah, right in front of the lodge. You can take a look at our web cam online, it’s a live feed if you’d like. And that shows you chair 8. That is a black diamond right there.
SAM: OK, and you think that will have some of the better conditions this weekend?
Staff: I really won’t know until we get there. I mean it’s Tuesday, we have quite a few days and I don’t know if it’s going to get cold enough and they’ll start blowing snow so I’m not sure.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Yeah, if you want to give us a call when we get closer we can get you over to someone in ski school who has been out there.
SAM: All right, well I guess I’ll just keep an eye on the web cam for now?
Staff: Yup, sounds good, thanks for calling.

Rating: 4
Comment: On the one hand, she didn’t quite get what I was asking. On the other, she did call me out for calling on Tuesday for weekend conditions.


MOUNTAIN 5, MI

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: The best snow, what do you mean?
SAM: Are any spots on the mountain better than others?
Staff: Um, all of it! Yeah, gosh we have a five-foot base so everything is skiable.
SAM: OK, but if there was a particular area you would ski first, what would it be?
Staff: Um, everything. Everything is great! We had some rain a few days ago, but it hasn’t touched it. And it’s actually snowing right now. We have man-made snow, which lasts a lot longer than Mother Nature so, yeah, everything at the resort is completely open.
SAM: Alrighty then, I guess I’ll start with everything.
Staff: All right, yay! Cool! Ba-bye!

Rating: 8.5
Comment: Not very detailed, but very enthusiastic!


MOUNTAIN 6, ME

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, I would say probably around the X area would be the best location. How many people do you have?
SAM: Oh, just me and a friend.
Staff: OK, so you’ll want a standard queen then?
SAM: Umm, I was just wondering around snow conditions. I don’t need a room.
Staff: Oh, OK. I see what you mean. It’s probably right down by the X area. I mean we still have quite a few trails that are open. I know it’s been a little warmer, but we still have quite a few trails. And the coverage is great.
SAM: Awesome. So just head to the X area?
Staff: Yup, if you go up toward the Y base lodge, too, the trails right around there should be good as well!
SAM: Thanks so much.

Rating: 6
Comment: Basic info with a good attitude. The hotel mention was a weird upsell.


MOUNTAIN 7, UT

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, it really just depends on what kind of terrain you like…
SAM: Well, I like everything and would consider myself an advanced intermediate.
Staff: OK. So the whole mountain is actually really good right now. It is warmer this week, so you will have that to deal with. A little more slushy snow.
Silence…
SAM: OK.
Staff: Um ... X area is always really good and you can find stuff in ... ah, all, different ... ah, levels.
SAM: OK.
Silence…
Staff: Y area is also really good.
SAM: OK, I can try that, too.
Silence…
Staff: Is there anything else I can help you with?
SAM: No, that’s it, thanks.

Rating: 1
Comment: 1 point for answering the phone. Minus 9 for answering the phone during a nap, especially when you work in Utah!


MOUNTAIN 8, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Ahh, um, probably more the north-facing stuff. But Saturday’s snow started during the day and was kind of wet, but it was good. So the temperatures were a little bit warmer, but it worked in really well with the snow that was there. Yesterday, snow was really good and conditions were nice, even on things that were south-facing because it was kind of sunny, but not so sunny. And then, like, today I skied X area, which was pretty springy, and then Y area, and they both kind of had the same exposure and X area had been groomed and it was a lot better than Y. So, and then from what I read this morning the groomers are the best thing to do until the snow softens up. So anything north-facing or runs on the Z peak side, or anything groomed.
SAM: OK. And you think it will be the same this weekend?
Staff: This snowstorm that we’re getting today did surprise a lot of people because it was supposed to be sunny and hot today. I think we are going to see more sunshine and warmer temps this weekend. So if that’s the case you’ll probably want to start out on runs that have the sun first on the X side and then follow everything around.
SAM: Awesome, thanks.
Staff: Yeah, but coverage is really good. And it’s getting to be spring so we’re in spring conditions, but it’s really fun and great coverage.
SAM: Sounds good, I guess I follow the sun this weekend. Thanks!
Staff: Okie-dokie, have fun.

Rating: 9
Comment: Thorough, with a great attitude on top!

Identity Revealed: Steamboat


MOUNTAIN 9, CA

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, it’s up at X lodge, I’d say.
SAM: OK. So just head up to that general area?
Staff: Yeah. That would be your best bet. It just gets, it gets a lot colder up top than it does at the lower parts of the mountain. Like at Y lodge for example. I’ve been hearing great stuff about it. So X lodge and then go to the backside of the mountain. I’ve heard it’s really nice back there!
SAM: Sounds good, I’ll check those places out, thanks!
Staff: No problem, enjoy!

Rating: 8
Comment: Short and sweet with a touch of enthusiasm!


MOUNTAIN 10, WI

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: The best snow on the mountain?
SAM: Yeah!
Staff: Well, they spread it out all over!
SAM: OK, well do you think any areas are better than others?
Staff: Well, it depends on if you’re a beginner or intermediate.
SAM: I would consider myself an advanced intermediate.
Staff: Yeah, well it just depends. A lot of people like X area, or if you like the terrain park, it just depends on your preference. I mean they spread it all out and make it even.
SAM: Hmm, all right. So you don’t think any one area will be better this weekend?
Staff: Um, no. I think they all spread out, make it look good.
SAM: OK. Thanks.

Rating: 2
Comment: Minus 8 for not understanding the question or transferring me to somone who did. Plus 2 for still having a great attitude.


MOUNTAIN 11, CO

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, let me send you to the ticket office, hold on one second.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Restated question.
Staff: Probably the backside. Are you familiar with that area?
SAM: Um, pretty familiar. I’d consider myself an advanced intermediate, so…
Staff: Well yeah, there’s a lot of blues back there. Yeah.
Silence…
SAM: Well I guess I’ll try the backside then.
Staff: OK, yeah, I think that’s where it’s probably at.

Rating: 3
Comment: Could have just a few more details don’t you think? And maybe throw some enthusiasm in there?


MOUNTAIN 12, NH

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Where the best snow is on the mountain, like a specific trail?
SAM: Yeah, a trail I guess or any particular areas that are really good right now.
Staff: Um, for skiing? What was the question again, ma’am?
SAM: Yeah, for skiing.
Staff: Um, I haven’t been out today. Um, I could put you on hold for a minute and ask the ski instructors what they would think.
SAM: Awesome, thanks!
Staff: Y trail is very good today they said.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Yup, after today it’s supposed to be in the 30s for highs so conditions shouldn’t really change much.
SAM: Great, I’ll try that trail.

Rating: 7
Comment: Rocky start, but at least she asked someone who’s been out on the hill today.


MOUNTAIN 13, VT

First contact: Female
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t been out since it’s rained. It rained yesterday. I mean I’m assuming the regulars like the south side where they can run the groomers on are all perfect. But it has to get a little bit colder before they are running snow and moving snow. (Running snow?) Are you just going skiing?
SAM: Yup, I’m just planning to come up skiing for the weekend.
Staff: OK, well I guess the answer is I don’t know until they run the machines. You can look on our interactive website and you are free to call us. The snow phone is on as early as 6 a.m. and we’re here at 7:30, so we’ll know more as it plays out.
SAM: OK, well then maybe I’ll give you a call back before I head up that day.
Staff: Sounds great! Drive safe.

Rating: 7
Comment: She gave some good information about where to find out more right before I headed out. Minus points for no website mention. And, hopefully they’ll start running snow and it will be killer!


MOUNTAIN 14, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: It’s all over the place.
SAM: Um, yeah, I figured. Are any areas better than others you think?
Staff: I would say probably the main side of the mountain near the X peak area.
SAM: OK, I can try that.
Staff: So, when are you coming up?
SAM: Saturday.
Staff: And you’re staying over?
SAM: Yes.
Staff: Um, yeah that’s where I would go. Just to the main side of the mountain where you can take Y lift up to the gondola. That’s where I would go.
SAM: Great, thanks!

Rating: 3
Comment: Quick to answer and get off the phone. And if I’m staying over, she should have asked whether I needed any help with lodging—I’m confused as to why she even asked. Not a lot of TLC on this call.


MOUNTAIN 15, MI

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, like, I’m not sure. I skied a few days ago and honestly everything was super fun. I don’t think I remember one area being better than the other!
SAM: Awesome. And you think that will hold into the weekend?
Staff: I hope so! It looks like temperatures shouldn’t warm up too much so, yeah, it should stay good. You can always call the morning you come up to see if anything has changed…
SAM: Definitely. Maybe I’ll do that. Thanks.
Staff: Great. See you this weekend!

Rating: 7.5
Comment: An upbeat attitude will always help compensate for lack of details.

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