Not Unexpected LM News
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hockeydave
November 21, 2006
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Sadly, it's official again...

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/06325/740077-287.stm

Now, more than ever, we need people to help with the co-op effort.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 21, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,935 posts
Dave:

Quote:

But the same lack of natural snow and consistent sub-freezing temperatures needed for snowmaking that had bedeviled prior operators also hindered Seven Springs' efforts. The resort lost money.






I thought Laurel was a "west of the Allegheny Front" mountain that shared the same basic microclimate as 7S?
jb714
November 21, 2006
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
Quote:

I thought Laurel was a "west of the Allegheny Front" mountain that shared the same basic microclimate as 7S?




It IS West of the AF, and it DOES share the same basic climate as 7S. All the more reason that it ticks me off every time I read the same old song-and-dance about "lack of natural snow/warm temperatures/no water for snowmaking, etc" being the reasons for LM's demise. The last time that I personally skied there was March of 2003, at the end of a winter that saw more than ample snowfall (according to the NWS State College website, LM probably had something like 189" that winter). In spite of conditions that winter, the operator (George Mowl) was not able to keep his head above water.

The single biggest factor that prevents success at LM is the Commonwealth's continued adherence to the ridiculous promises that it made to the Mellon family nearly a half-century ago.
hockeydave
November 21, 2006
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
If I'm not mistaken, I believe on average LM gets slightly more snow that 7S.

If you remember 2 seasons ago, December was OK, but a Christmas thaw occurred. LM closed the day after New Year's Day for approximately 2 weeks. 7S was barely able to keep Wagner opened.

7S operated LM very well that year (excellent staff and slope maintenance), but their collective heart wasn't in it. Why should it be? They had no long term plans to operate LM and enticing people to come over to LM from 7S was not in their business interest. I'm not sure why they operated LM in the first place.

My beef with 7S is that I just wish they would fess up and state they have zero interest in operating LM in the future. I know it makes business sense, but I get very frustrated when they just keep propagating the myth that they might one day operate LM. I really now am beginning to believe the only reason 7S ran LM for 1 year was to claim to lose money (I wish they would open their books to prove they lost money), how bad the snowmaking is, repeat this misleading information ad infinitum (see PPG article) so as to scare away any prospective buyer and therefore kill LM and any potential competition. OK, call me paranoid.

On a brighter note, I really believe LM will reopen again. I know I said that last year, but there are some things happening up on that hill that lead me to believe that it will probably open next year. The non-profit co-op is a very positive step. Also, some other parties have expressed more than just a passing interest. So, it's wait until next year yet again. I'll just have to get my Lower Wildcat fix out West 1 or 2 times this year.
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tromano
November 21, 2006
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Quote:

If I'm not mistaken, I believe on average LM gets slightly more snow that 7S.

If you remember 2 seasons ago, December was OK, but a Christmas thaw occurred. LM closed the day after New Year's Day for approximately 2 weeks. 7S was barely able to keep Wagner opened.

7S operated LM very well that year (excellent staff and slope maintenance), but their collective heart wasn't in it. Why should it be? They had no long term plans to operate LM and enticing people to come over to LM from 7S was not in their business interest. I'm not sure why they operated LM in the first place.

My beef with 7S is that I just wish they would fess up and state they have zero interest in operating LM in the future. I know it makes business sense, but I get very frustrated when they just keep propagating the myth that they might one day operate LM. I really now am beginning to believe the only reason 7S ran LM for 1 year was to claim to lose money (I wish they would open their books to prove they lost money), how bad the snowmaking is, repeat this misleading information ad infinitum (see PPG article) so as to scare away any prospective buyer and therefore kill LM and any potential competition. OK, call me paranoid.




Yep LM gets slightly mor ensow on average than 7S.

LM is a day ski area, 7S is more of a destianiton with lodging, resuraunts, etc... those are 2 differnet business models. The succesful day ski areas arround here all have, extensive rental equipment, full snow making, and much higher lift capacity (more skier visits).

I think you are wrong, 7S should be praised for trying with LM.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
November 21, 2006
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I believe that 7S operated LM the previous year for one reason and for one reason only...a Slots License. They were trying to curry favor with the State by rescuing LM. And it worked, except the spent their $5.0 million for nothing since Nutting can't operate a gambling business because of his connection to Major League Baseball.
I believe who ever gets ownership of the developable real estate AND the ski area will be the one to operate the resort. The bank wants to unload this pig big time. They are not in the skiing business. I wish you guys luck with your coop and I would love to see that kind of operation, but the bank wants to gets its' money back and that's the bottom line.
As to the rumors that a certain person from Hidden Valley management was interested in Laurel Mountain, let's hope not!
hockeydave
November 22, 2006
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
Quote:

I think you are wrong, 7S should be praised for trying with LM.




Actually, I'm grateful that 7S operated LM for that year, but there is only One entity worthy of praise.

I believe there were ulterior motives, 7S just didn't operate LM out of the goodness of their heart
Leo
November 22, 2006
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
LM does get quite a bit of natural snow as systems move up the mountain. However, one difficultly I have always understood that they have is that virtually all of their terrrain is a south/southwest facing slope. This type of terrain is naturally exposed to more sun and higher temps, thus making it harder to maintain natural or manmade snow.

With that said, an upgraded snowmaking system and a larger budget would clearly solve any issue related to snow cover. I also think the state needs to reconsider some of the restrictions regarding food, lodging, etc. I know there are plenty of times in the summer that I would stop after a bike ride for a beer and burger if that was an option -- it could be a year round resort, there are plenty of visitors to the state forest. LM is much too nice of a resource in our area to continue to sit idle.

Happy Thanksgiving all.
Taylormatt
November 22, 2006
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Leo, burgers and beer after riding LM? Head out of LM to Rt 30 and make a right, about 100 yds on your right is Wallats bar. The biggest, bestest, cheapest bugers you can lay your hands on...trust me
jb714
November 22, 2006
Member since 03/4/2003 🔗
294 posts
Quote:

I have always understood that they have is that virtually all of their terrrain is a south/southwest facing slope.




Actually the slopes at LM have either N or NW exposure - take a peek at Topozone.com and you'll see it.

I think the exposure, coupled with the fact that most of the timber has been left intact, would clearly make very good use of an upgraded snowmaking system, which is sorely needed.
Leo
November 22, 2006
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
279 posts
I stand corrected...I do a lot of mt biking up there and in my head it seemed like the slopes would be S/SW (this is also something I have heard in the whole "why LM can't stay open" discussion), but I checked out topozone and the forbes state forest map and clearly it is a W/NW facing slope. All the more reason it should be viable as an operation. Sorry for the misinformation!
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
November 23, 2006
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,859 posts
LM is on the same mountain ridge as 7S and HV, the Laurel Ridge, it is a north/northwest facing slope. Remember Laurel was developed in the days before snowmaking, a north facing slope was more essential to holding snow back then.

Laurel has the same snowmaking system as 7S, tower mounted HKD's, all fixed and lining their trails from top to bottom, all state of the art when installed 6 years ago.

Unfortunately, LM and all PA ski areas have been hampered by fluctuations in temperatures. It is true that snowfall has been near average or even above average, there hasn't been a continuous, winter long snow pack in the Laurels for a great number of years.

As to a lack of water, I can't say for certain but there shouldn't have been a lack of water during that melt down hockeydave wrote about above. A lot of the melt would have been collected in the mid-mountain pond and pumped back up to the main summit lake. The decision not to remake the mountain had to be an economic one, not a weather or water based decision.

All that being said, Laurel needs to cover all of its existing terrain in snowmaking and to do so, must develop more water resources and more ponds to catch more run off. There is little flowing water there and that source is rightfully of limits for legitimate environmental reasons, not because the neighbors downhill do not wish it so.

There are no restrictions on the mountain when it comes to food service. In fact, George Mowl lost a good bit of his operating capital trying to run the mountain in the summer for mountain biking and mountain boarding with rentals for both and lifts operating on the weekends and the bar and kitchen open too. I thought the bikers were only interested in power bars and red bull. At any rate, Taylomatt is right, Wallats can't be beat, even the ski school would drive over there for lunch.

As for lodging restriction, once again that was a part of the agreement when the Rolling Rock Club gave the land to the state. We've been told that this restriction is negotiable but there is limited wiggle room. I believe the intent was to preserve Ligonier as the commercial base of the mountain much like Stowe is to the ski area that is also known by that name on Mt. Mansfield, Vermont.

I was surprised by the tone of Larry Walsh's article. My hunch is that he is as frustrated as we are about the problems Laurel has faced. He owns a place in the Village so I doubt he is part of a conspiracy to keep Laurel closed. Perhaps he is going out of his way to prove he's not biased. Upon further review, Larry was quite objective. The only comment that stung me was the "...only has four top to bottom runs..." At 900 vertical feet, four top to bottom runs at Laurel is equal to, in length, to nearly 11 or 12 top to bottom runs on the front side of 7S.

Speculation about 7S's past action or future intent is non-productive, out of our hands. There must be a cold, realistic assessment of recent shortcomings, a clear plan based on existing restrictions and an attainable goal for Laurel to ever comeback. I think Laurel will only be a 'destination' because of the challenging terrain. Expert skiers will lodge down mountain if the goods can be had on the hill. If you want a resort, go to 7S or SS. If you want more affordable resort living, help revive HV or buy into a place like Bryce. If you want to ski long and challenging slopes then come to Laurel. Perhaps I'm really wrong and there is no market for just plain skiing/boarding. Perhaps Blue Knob fills that niche for DC/Baltimore skiers and there just aren't enough skiers in Pittsburgh for Laurel to work.

This question will be answered in the next few years because that is the window of opportunity. If nothing is done, I think what has been developed at Laurel will be lost to the passage of time and the course of mother nature. Snow sports in the Mid-Atlantic will be poorer because of it.
JCHobbes
November 29, 2006
Member since 09/12/2005 🔗
94 posts
There was an article in the Daily American today about Somerset Trust continuing to "entertain" multiple interested parties.

Link and commentary can be found on Laurel Lift-Lines.
Mountain Masher
December 7, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
It's really unfortunate that LM isn't operating this Winter. LM has a rich ski history dating back to the 1950's; my father skied there in the early days. In fact, you can still see some of the old T-bar towers in the woods. A few Winters ago I skied there on several occasions and had some awesome times. Unlike several other ski areas, LM has lots of legitimate tree skiing. Also, Wildcat is one of the best expert trails in the area. To be sure, Extrovert at BK is good, but I think that Wildcat is superior because (unlike Extrovert) it doesn't have 2 lift-lines and 2 ski slopes running across it (including the often icy High Hopes ledge). Also, LM receives a bit more natural snow than any other ski area in Western PA. Granted, the snowmaking water supply needs to be increased, but I think that the existing pond could be enlarged and deepened. And, perhaps a water source might be located at (or near) the bottom of the mountain where deep wells could be drilled. With the right owner, I still think that LM could make a go of it; it's definately a special place with a unique atmosphere.
hockeydave
January 9, 2007
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts
I spoke to Tyson Cook from Somerset Trust this morning. If anyone is interested in what he had to say, PM me.
JCHobbes
January 14, 2007
Member since 09/12/2005 🔗
94 posts
Tom Tangretti, a member of the state legislature from Westmoreland County has just been elected the chairperson of the house's Tourism & Recreational Development committee.

I'll hopefully be meeting with him sometime in the near future to discuss a few issues, including Laurel Mountain. I'm sure a few letters to Mr. Tangretti from LM Lovers might be in order.
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