Mountain Spy

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In this month's Mountain Spy, we tackle what is becoming a controversial subject--uphill traffic. But this is a test of customer service. Whether the answer is "yes" or "no," it still pays to deliver information with a friendly attitude.

 

The QUESTION: Do you allow people to skin up your mountain?


MOUNTAIN 1, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, to what?
SAM:  Like hike up with my skis and ski down?
Staff: Uh, not if we’re open. No.
SAM: OK, so if you’re closed I can do it?
Staff: Ah, well, if you don’t get caught. Ha ha ha. I mean that’s something if you ask us we’re going to say no. Ha ha ha.
SAM: OK, so during the normal business hours?
Staff: Yeah, you would have to get a pass to ski.
SAM: Hmm. OK. Well let’s see if I get caught!
Staff: Ha ha ha, good luck. Thanks for calling.

Rating: 4
Comment: Well, that was confusing—can I or can’t I do it with a ticket during business hours?



MOUNTAIN 2, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: No we don’t. You have to purchase a lift ticket. Sorry about that. But pretty much anywhere else you can go. Look at any of those mountains that you can see from where we are and you can skin up all of them. Ha ha, my bosses skin just about every one you can see from Peak X. So, I mean, I’ve been told you can find routes to get out to them online, but you’ll just have to do a little research.
SAM: Awesome, I can check that out. But basically there is no skinning allowed at the resort?
Staff: No, that’s right.
SAM: Right on. Thanks.

Rating: 8
Comment: Extra info on where to go deserves bonus points.



MOUNTAIN 3, B.C.

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Uh, yes! We just ask that you stay out of the way of any equipment.
SAM: OK, great!
Staff: I know during, when the, ah, when the hill is actually open that they just request if we’ve had more than 10cm of snow that you stay off until the avy crew has gone in and done their thing. But in terms of this time of the year, nope, there are no restrictions.
SAM: Sure thing. So even in mid-winter, I could go before the mountain opens?
Staff: Um, yeah I mean I don’t think there’s anything we can do to stop you, but, um, yeah, it’s just posted on our website to not go before 8:30 because avy bombs haven’t been set off yet if we’ve had more than 10cm of snow.
SAM: No problem, that’s an easy rule to follow. Thanks so much.

Rating: 9
Comment: Personable attitude and easy explanation.



MOUNTAIN 4, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: I’m sorry…
SAM: Restated question.
Staff: Skin? You mean like hike?
SAM: Yeah.
Staff: Umm, I mean we do allow it.
SAM: OK.
Staff: However, you know you should take your own precautions. And don’t go down trails that are closed.
SAM: Sure, I can do that.
Staff: All right?
SAM: Guess so, thanks.

Rating: 4
Comment: Umm, I mean I guess I understand their policy…but a little love would have been nice.



MOUNTAIN 5, CA

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: To what up the mountain?
SAM: To skin up. Like hike with my skis and then ski down.
Staff: Um, like right now, no, cuz we don’t have much snow, but you can hike stuff in the winter.
SAM: Cool. So in mid-winter I can come skin up the hill early in the morning?
Staff: Oh, well, no, it has to be during opening hours. So 9 to 4.
SAM: OK…
Staff: Basically you can take lifts up and hike up different peaks and ski down, but you can’t just go from the bottom to the top. If that makes sense…
SAM: So I can’t just show up and put my skins on at the bottom and walk up?
Staff: Right, no. You would have to have a lift ticket and all that stuff.
SAM: Got it. You don’t allow any uphill traffic without a lift ticket?
Staff: Exactly.
SAM: So if I bought a lift ticket can I hike from the bottom?
Staff: You still have to take a chair no matter what. Like you can take a chair up and then people hike. Like to get to X area you have to hike it and same thing with Y area, you hike it to ski the chute. But you have to take any lift to get to any of the hike spots basically.
SAM: OK. So you never allow someone to just skin up from the parking lot?
Staff: Right!
SAM: Sounds good, thanks!

Rating: 6
Comment: All she had to say was no uphill traffic.



MOUNTAIN 6, B.C.

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: To what, sorry?
SAM: To hike up with my skis and then ski down?
Staff: Noo, you’re not allowed. We have to account for everybody that’s on the mountain soo…
SAM: OK, so you don’t even allow it before you open in the morning?
Staff: No, even staff isn’t allowed to.
SAM: Any particular reason why?
Staff: For safety reasons, right. We’re responsible for everyone on the mountain so everybody has to be accounted for.
SAM: OK, thanks so much.
Staff: A lot of people hike on mountains around so I would check those out.
SAM: Yeah I started to realize that, but I wanted to see if it was allowed at the resort.
Staff: Sorry, no, but thanks for calling!

Rating: 7.5
Comment: This is a perfect example of when customer service can make a difference: Even though the answer is no, a good attitude and extra tips go a long way.



MOUNTAIN 7, MIDWEST

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: To whaaat?
SAM: To hike up the mountain with my skis on?
Staff: Um, noooo. No, we don’t.
SAM: OK. So you don’t allow any uphill traffic at all?
Staff: No, ma’am, I’m sorry.
SAM: OK, any particular reason why?
Staff: Umm, it’s just their policy… (Silence…)
SAM: OK then, thanks.

Rating: 2
Comment: It felt like I was pulling teeth for not much information.



MOUNTAIN 8, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: We do. Um, there is a waiver you’ll have to sign and you’ll need to get an uphill access pass from the season pass office.
SAM: OK. Is that just a ticket to skin?
Staff: Uh huh, yeah! It’s good all year and it’s free.
SAM: Oh!
Staff: It will explain all the rules and regulations for doing that.
SAM: Great. Are there designated times or can I go whenever I want?
Staff: Um, let me double check. One second.
Staff: Alrightly there…
SAM: Yup...
Staff: It looks like you can go at any point throughout the day. Obviously it will be a little more hairy if you go during our open hours just because you’ll have a lot of people coming at you.
SAM: Sure.
Staff: Do you have a computer in front of you or do you have access to one?
SAM: I do actually.
Staff: OK. So if you go to our website, www.xarea.com and under “The Mountain” on the left hand side, and then go down to “uphill acess.”
SAM: Well, look at that!
Staff: And that will give you a lot of the information you need to know. And then when you come up just go to the ticket office and get your uphill access pass for free and you’re good to go!
SAM: Thanks so much!

Rating: 10
Comment: It’s just that easy folks. Great attitude, patient services and the detailed website directions.
IDENTITY REVEALED: LOVELAND



MOUNTAIN 9, ME

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, we do!
SAM: OK.
Staff: OK?
SAM: Great, thanks so much. I appreciate it.
Staff: You’re welcome.
SAM: Are there any rules or can I go whenever I feel like it?
Staff: Well, ah, yup, that’s what you would do.
SAM: Fantastic, thank you.
Staff: Have a great day.

Rating: 6
Comment: Perky attitude, but lack of explanation or safety precautions makes me wonder…



MOUNTAIN 10, VT

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: You can, um, uphill traffic is only permitted on our closed trails.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Not on anything that is open or that we’re making snow on or, ah, so when we’re all open the answer will be no when we’re open.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Ya know, so you have to go either before 8 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
SAM: Gotcha. So as long as the trail is closed I can go?
Staff: Right. You can’t have anybody going down. There are too many close calls.
SAM: Right.
Staff: So if it’s a closed trail they’ll permit you to go up.
SAM: OK. And if you’re open and there’s a closed trail can I go up that?
Staff: Um, yup.
SAM: OK then. Sounds good. Thanks for your help.
Staff: Yup, take care.

Rating: 7
Comment: Basic info, but slightly confusing.



MOUNTAIN 11, NH

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, we do. The only trail we allow that on is our X trail and that’s not open yet. I don’t, ah, know any more information on that yet. I mean, but you’re more than welcome to do that.
SAM: OK.
Staff: Sure, yeah, so if you just keep checking back on our website for more updates or call us, like in a week or so. I know they’re trying to get more trails open as soon as they can.
SAM: Cool. So that X trail is what you have to skin up and then you can ski down wherever.
Staff: Correct. That’s the only trail we allow the skinning on.
SAM: Perfect. And I can do it any time of the day?
Staff: Yup! Thanks for calling.

Rating: 8
Comment: Cheery attitude with clear policy instructions.



MOUNTAIN 12, MI

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: To do...what’s that?
SAM: To skin up the mountain, or hike up with my skis and then ski down.
Staff: Um, yeah, I believe so. You just obviously have to watch for people coming down the hill.
SAM: All right then, thanks so much.
Staff: Not a problem. Have a good day.

Rating: 3
Comment: You believe so? Maybe check with someone?



MOUNTAIN 13, CA

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Let me transfer you to guest services…
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Ah, we do not.
SAM: OK. Like never?
Staff: Well, um, you know maybe when we have a little more snow and all the lifts are open a little more. Just right now Chair X is open, it’s like the only thing that has snow and I don’t think they want anyone skinning up it right now.
SAM: OK, so right now, no. But when you’re fully open I can?
Staff: Yeah I mean, people skin up Y cliffs all the time. And there are no lifts over there so you’re welcome to do it.
SAM: Great, thanks!

Rating: 7
Comment: Patient attitude, with some helpful tips.



MOUNTAIN 14, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, yes we do. Which mountain are you looking to skin up?
SAM: X Mountain.
Staff: X mountain you have to be at the top by 9 o’clock though.
SAM: OK…
Staff: So you can’t skin during business hours.
SAM: Cool. So that’s the only rule?
Staff: Yup.
SAM: What about skinning up after the area closes?
Staff: Yup. Just be aware that it’s at your own risk. Backcountry rules apply. So any avalanche danger is all at your own risk. No one’s coming to help you if anything happens. Ha ha ha.
SAM: OK, no worries. Well, thanks so much.

Rating: 8
Comment: Here’s someone who knows the policy.



MOUNTAIN 15, MT

First contact: Automated machine.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yup, until we open on Friday.
SAM: OK, so once you open for the season it’s not allowed?
Staff: Correct.
SAM: Ever?
Staff: Correct.
SAM: Alrightly then, I guess I got until Friday.
Staff: Yes you do, ha ha ha. Thanks for calling!

Rating: 8
Comment: Friendly attitude with a clear answer.

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