If this winter had a name, it’d be “Some Accumulation Possible.” More often, the snow arrived from snowguns than from snow clouds.
The entire sesason behaved like March. Every month took on March’s mercurial temperament, with teeter-tottering temperatures, unpredictable antics and scanty snow clouds. While storms materialized to the west, east and south of us, our northern Michigan neighborhood kept waiting for a decent powder day. The season debuted on Dec. 10, after a foot of white hope fell in the first week of December to set up a decent slope base. Our chairlift bullwheels began turning daily on Dec. 16th – and the next day, we had what would be our biggest storm of the season, when 10” of snow fell, with another 5-6” falling before Christmas. New Year’s Eve dusted us with about 2-3”, so we had enough snow bridging the holiday season to be 100% open on Dec. 27th. December would later prove to be our biggest snow month of this winter, with about 34” total.
January’s first snow came on the 5th, dropping about three inches. It spit snow a few inches at a time for a week before sputtering out entirely. We had twelve days without snow (yet an avalanche of overcast) before another 3” fell on the 26th, and again on Jan. 30th. All told, about 30” fell in what should have been our best month for furious flakefests.
February trickled in one inch at a time. After two inches fell on the 5th, we had ten days without natural snowfall before another inch drifted down on Feb. 16. Then it was a seven-day dry spell before five inches fluffed up the slopes over Feb. 24-26 – leaving us with a total of about a foot of snow for February. March was of little assistance, bringing in five inches on March 2nd, followed by a dry spell until March 13-15. The last time measurable snow fell on these Buck Hills was March 15th – making it a month-long snowfall total of about 7-8”.
Weather closed the slopes three times this winter, an unheard-of phenomenon. We shut the lifts down early on Feb. 26 due to fog and lightning in the vicinity. That’s happened before (March 9, 2016). High winds forced us to shut down for two days on March 7 & 8th. That’s not happened before.
This winter was unusual in that it was driven not by snowfall, but by people. Obviously, the Herculean efforts of the 2016/17 season came from our people who made the snow and groomed the Alpine hills to sustain and maintain the product for over four months. But there were also people like our cross country groomers who took exceptional care of natural snow so that we could have a cross country season at all. Our people like the marketeers who sent out steady eblasts and pumped out promos enticing folks to take a winter trip to Crystal despite sporadic natural snow; our people in reservations whose helpfulness hopefully made it easy for guests to map out a winter vacation; our people in tickets and rental whose friendliness helped hurdle the challenges of ticket pricing and boot-fitting; our people on the front lines at the front desk, F&B outlets, activities, Peak, Spa and retail who assisted guests. And then there were YOU people, those many guests who ventured forth onto our vertical. Week after unpredictable week, you came armed with enthusiasm and energy to hit the slopes and made all our efforts worthwhile. We hope your skiing adventures were memorable ones. Thanks for skiing and riding with us – see you next season! (and hope springs eternal for a proliferation of powder days NEXT year).