Local ski resorts adapt to changing winter weather
The depth of the base is evident at the end of One Park at Jack Frost. JUDY DOLGOS-KRAMER/TIMES NEWS
The chair lifts located between One Park and Exhibition show how the resort works to keep the snow it makes on the trails to maximize the base.
There were plenty of skiers on and off the slopes at Jack Frost during College Week this year.
Mark Daubert has been a fixture at Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Carbon County for more than 40 years, and he remembers what winters in the Pocono Mountains used to be like.
“I grew up here and I remember when we used to have real snowy winters,” Daubert said. “Now we rely on the cold arctic air to make and stockpile as much snow as possible.”
Daubert said that thanks to that blast of arctic air the area felt in the late fall, both resorts were able to make a considerable amount of snow early.
“Big Boulder was open in early November for the weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “In the meantime, we were making and stockpiling as much as we could at Jack Frost.”
Daubert said that rain has had an impact this year, but not because of slope conditions. A lot of people think that the conditions are bad as a result of the rain or they assume that the mountains are closed.
“We really hammer the main areas with snow so that we can get through the rain and still remain open,” Daubert said.
Daubert added that it is the extreme swing in temperatures that hurt the resorts the most.
“We check the temperature and there are times that we can’t make snow at the bottom of the mountain, but because it is cold enough, we are making it at the top.”
“We just hit it as hard as we can.”
Another way that the resort maintains the base is to limit the amount of grooming.
“We keep the tractors off as much as possible,” Daubert says. “We have been lucky, take a look, the conditions are pretty good.”
The base at Jack Frost is anywhere from 38 to 48 inches and the team at the resort is adding to it every opportunity they have.
Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton has a base of 24 to 36 inches and has 21 to 39 trails open. The resort was also able to open Thanksgiving weekend.
On Monday morning, Blue Mountain had 21 of 39 trails open and six of 16 lifts running.
Jack Frost hasn’t opened its tubing runs yet, but runs are open at Big Boulder Thursday through Sunday and most days at Blue Mountain.
“We wanted to get our black diamonds opened at Jack Frost first so we concentrated our efforts there while grooming the tubing runs at Big Boulder,” Daubert said. “The terrain parks are open at both resorts.”
There are currently 14 of 20 runs open at Jack Frost and 11 of 16 at Big Boulder.
“New England is like a winter wonderland this year,” Daubert added. “They are killing it at the slopes. Sales of ski vouchers are down throughout Pennsylvania this year because skiers are heading to New England.”
Daubert added that there is a lot more to offer at both resorts then just the great skiing and tubing.
“We have entertainments at both resorts on the weekends as well as a number of great family friendly events planned,” he said.
The Subaru Winterfest is coming up on Saturday and Sunday with outdoor entertainment, food and a Subaru car show.
“They always put on a great event with free food, drinks, entertainment and swag. They even have special event parking for Subaru owners.”
The Winterfest is free for guests with the purchase of a lift ticket.
Daubert wants to encourage anyone who is considering visiting Jack Frost or Big Boulder to visit jfbb.com for the most up-to-date information on conditions and events. He also noted that the resorts have some of the best high definition cameras on the slopes so that you can see in real time what is going on.
To see conditions at Blue Mountain, visitskibluemt.com.
“We are looking forward to those eight weeks between January and February,” Daubert added. “Those are our big weeks, that’s when we can really make our year.”