Conversation with Emily and Mike

I had a chance to sit with Emily Stanton and Mike Pratt of Gore Mountain for an hour, on Monday January 4, 2010. We covered a wide range of topics including first tracks, epic dumps, snowmaking, grooming, parking, and the future of Gore.

In the next few days, NYSkiBlog will be publishing a piece that highlights some of that conversation.

We tried to cover the issues I think that matter most to Gore regulars and passholders. Time was limited, so both Emily and Mike agreed to answer a few more follow up questions by email.

If you have a question you’d like me to ask please post a comment on this entry before 5pm, Wednesday January 6. We’ll do our best, but no guarantees all questions will be posed/answered.

14 comments on “Conversation with Emily and Mike

  1. Why haven’t they been making more snow? What’s the deal?

    I’m bringing my group up there this weekend and we are hopeful that more trails will be opening up. Why isn’t there enough snow on Hawkeye? What about Rumor?

    I pre-bought a bunch of lift tickets for Gore this year. It is disturbing to see that they are not making more snow. We have way more snow here in Central NY…which is unusual. Plus, they have been making snow round the clock.

  2. I understand that Gore, like any business has limited resources. My question/comment is about how Gore allocates these resources. Gore is spending millions (tens of millions?) on expanding the mountain, but does not seem to have the operating budget to maintain the existing trails. Wouldn’t it be better to delay some of the expansion and use some of the money to get the whole mountain open for a big holiday period like Christmas week? Skiers will notice this and there will be additional revenue in the future. How is Gore planning to maintain the mountain after the new lift is installed? I also question the expansion of the groomer fleet. I’ve thought Gore has done a nice job grooming the mountain with the existing fleet.

  3. I’d like to know who pays (ORDA, the State, Warren County, etc) to maintain the access road, and whether or not that funding formula has changed in the past year or so. Assuming that since it is a County highway the taxpayers of Warren County pay to maintain that road, I’d like to know whether or not Gore in consideration, would consider extending Premium Parking privileges to Warren County taxpayers.

  4. Jeesh Harv, I can’t believe you actually went to the office and talked to them face to face instead of sitting on the sidelines and complaining. That’s just not the way it’s supposed to be done!

  5. After skiing both Gore and West mtns this past monday, I have to commend Mr. Barbone and question Mr. Pratt…Does the GM of Gore understand a skier’s perspective of quality versus quantity in terms of snowmaking?

    I skied numerous trails at Gore yesterday with only TWO trails having moderate snowmaking efforts. Furthermore half of the guns were blowing wet/sticky snow. At West I skied past 20 or so guns on ALL trails blowing dry talc-like snow. Both Mtns tap the Hudson for snowmaking…what gives?

  6. What is the final decisions about parents with children who are skiing single that day & need help with drop off/equipment. How will the sign in/sign out be structured? How many adults will be available to supervise the children? Will it be free? And how long will parents have to get situated and park?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to Emily & Mike… I feel the worst for Em, she’s doing the best she can with decisions that aren’t even hers to begin with.

  7. Not a question for Gore management, but is all this passholder anger a recent development (this season) or has it been building for the last year or two?

    I only pay attention to the skiADK forum when Harvey posts a link, but how are customer relations at Whiteface?

  8. Haven’t posted to the skiADK forum in a while, but I check in there frequently during ski season. I’m writing now to add my voice to those expressing concern about some serious issues at Gore this year.

    Some background, so you can understand my perspective: Been a passholder maybe 8 out of the last dozen years (did a couple years without a pass when I started a family). Been skiing at Gore close to 30 years. Tele for the past 15 years, which was when I started to get serious about skiing. This winter we made a decision to put our oldest (5 yrs old, almost 6) in the 6-week Mtn Adventure program, put our youngest (2 yrs) in the Gore daycare, and get passes for both me and the wife.

    Ordinarily, I’d be spending most of my time on the upper mountain and in the trees, but since we're doing Gore as a family this year I’ve been spending almost all of my time on the lower mountain. After skiing this past Saturday, I have to say I am shocked by the poor product Gore has been delivering. We’ve had a very nice stretch of excellent snowmaking weather for almost a month straight, yet Gore is obviously struggling badly with delivering the quality level of conditions that skiers expect. It’s not just the trail count and the snail’s pace at which snowmaking occurs and trails open, it’s the quality (or lack thereof) of the trails that are open. I appreciate that it’s still relatively early in the season, but I know what the quality level of the product should be at this time of year and with the weather conditions we’ve had, and the product is absolutely not up to par. There’s no need for me to repeat the specific trails and conditions – others have already done so, and the situation is obvious.

    When you add the serious snowmaking issues on top of the paid parking controversy (maybe I’ll add my 2 cents on that to the forum) and the issue of mid-week lift and trail closures (this was a significant issue discussed on the forum last season – and still a major concern), the result is that Gore management has alienated one of its most important constituencies: its passholders and other frequent skiers. In this age of online forums, facebook, etc, an enterprise can no longer get away with that kind of alienation.

    My questions for Mike / Emily:

    1) What are you doing to bring the conditions up to the quality level customers expect and deserve? I’ve made a significant commitment to the mountain, my family deserves better.

    2) What adjustments will be made to the Paid Parking policy in response to the poor reception it has received and the lack of use? Will Gore re-evaluate replacing the 200-car lot with a valet service or relocating the paid parking to a new dedicated, much smaller lot (for example behind the lodge). Both suggestions have been already proposed by others.

    3) What is Gore’s policy with respect to mid-week trail openings and lift operations? A significant portion of the mountain was taken offline for mid-week skiers last season, that pattern seems to be repeating again this year. I paid for a season pass, I don’t want half a mountain.

    Harv, thanks for your time and involvement.

  9. Thanks Harv for doing this. Questions around NASTAR such as:
    – will NASTAR open this year?
    – if yes, when and why the delay, if not, why?
    – either way, when will NASTAR passholders be refunded full or partial fees ($75-$100) based on late or non opening?

  10. Thanks for doing this Harvey. My question is what is Gore’s long term plan for providing sufficient snowmaking on the mountain while trying to provide additional coverage due to the opening of the North Creek Ski Bowl. As mentioned earlier in the above posts, Gore will need to have a significantly increased operating budget and personnel to make this expansion work. They can’t expect to provide a quality product if they are trying to use the existing funds and resources to open up huge amounts of new terrain. I would hope that Gore Management has a five year funding and staffing plan that will be supported by ORDA. Otherwise, the snow and services will be spread too thin.

    Also, to reiterate the point made many times…I think that Gore should SERIOUSLY consider building an additional parking lot behind the lodge for paid parking. That would make everyone happy and I’m willing to believe that the capital investment involved wouldn’t be too great. That would make everyone happy while increasing the amount of available parking spots on busy days. I hope that Mike takes our suggestions seriously. As I have said before, I love Gore and am not bashing it. I would just like to see it run as well as possible.

  11. I was at Belleayre Monday and it was fantastic, they had made tons of fresh snow using the cold weather to great advantage for snowmaking. It was dry powder everywhere. I can’t understand how Gore could be skimping on snowmaking at this crucial time of the season. New Lodges are fine but skiers want snow.

  12. Harv, Could you ask Mike why the lifts (Jamboree, Top Ridge – non detachable) need to stop so much. Lift operators seem to stop lifts to load and slow lifts are even slower and not operated properly the way they were intended. It would help if lifts operated at the designed speed. With weather as cold and windy as it has been the Top Ridge lift stopped 12 times in one ride to the top, this puts more people at risk of frostbite, or maybe it is a plan not to have anybody using the minimal snow available.

  13. I haven’t been up there since before Xmas, and the skiing was pretty good then and improving. It is such a shame to hear this about the recent trail conditions. We have stellar conditions on our hill here in Central NY and even with the lake effect, they are making substantial amounts of snow and nearly all the trails are open. I bring a group from CNY every year in January, typically on the MLK weekend to accommodate all the teachers and others who have the long weekend. We decided against MLK weekend this year because of the huge crowds we experienced in years past. But about a dozen of us are coming up, excited about skiing a bigger mountain with interesting terrain. Sadly, I am thinking if it is this bad, we may only ski one day (instead of 3). We’ll spend the other 2 days on xc skis or maybe head over to McCauley or Snow Ridge on our way back. It saddens me to hear that the ski area has been managed so poorly and it is showing in the quality of experience people are having there.

    In the last few years I’ve heard people saying all kinds of negative things about management on the lifts, in the lodge and in the gondola, and this was before the conditions got so bad. Now I’m reading all this stuff on the internet. Is this what they mean by More Gore?

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