OKEMO THROUGH THE YEARS
1955 Okemo Ski Area was founded by a small group of local businessmen who saw great alpine ski area potential right in their own backyard.
1956 On January 31, with four inches of snow on the ground, Okemo made its debut into the ski industry with two poma surface lifts known as the Lower Lift (later dubbed the Yellow Poma) and the Upper Lift (later renamed the Red Poma) and a small log cabin which served as the base lodge. A pomalift consists of a large rubber disk at the end of a long pole connected to a cable, Pomalifts were selected for their ease of use, safety and relatively low cost
1957 The Mountain Road was extended a half mile and there was an addition to the base lodge. 1958 The Lower Poma #2 (Blue) was installed and a five-acre ski school slope was created.
1960 The Upper Poma #2 (Black) and Baby Poma (Mitey Mite) were installed. New trails included War Dance, Arrow, Bow and the Baby Poma Slope.
1961 The Lower Poma #2 (Blue) was extended 450 feet for easier access to the Upper Poma #2 Poma (Black). The first A-frames were constructed as part of an alpine village at the base area - making Okemo a pioneer in the offering of ski-in/ski-out lodging.
1962 The Papoose trail was widened and lengthened. Open Slope was expanded to 20 acres. Two racing areas were introduced. Ski School offered free half-hour lessons to beginners on weekends. The base lodge doubled in size and a sundeck was added.
1963 Okemo introduced Natur Teknik, a teaching method that eliminated the teaching of snow plow and stem series exercises in favor of parallel turns from the very beginning. The Upper Poma #3 (Green) was installed and two new trails opened: Upper Arrow and Upper Wardance. Okemo purchased its first Tucker Sno-Cat for grooming the slopes.
1964 Improvements were mostly operational: new Tucker Sno-Cat for grooming, a construction road, lift loading area refinement, a new well, offices, new garage and maintenance building. The painting of the lifts gave the area a bright appearance and changed the names of the lifts from numbers to their better-known names as colors. Ski School staff increased to eight full- and eight part-time instructors. A second Tucker Sno-Cat was purchased.
1965 Installation of Okemo's first chairlift, the Sachem Double. It serviced a new 1.5-mile novice trail, the Sachem trail, and the intermediate Lift Line trail. The F-10 Poma was installed below the new chair, to connect the lower base area with the new loading area.
1966 Snowmaking was installed on 12 acres of lower slopes for early-season skiing and to build confidence in conditions for skiers as they arrived. With the popularity of the sport, a five-year plan for Okemo included a new base lodge, expanded parking, a summit chairlift and added snowmaking.
1967 Stockholders voted to issue debentures to fund expansion. New base lodge construction started in July 1967. Wehler and Teplica Architects of Springfield designed the base lodge that was built by Connecticut Valley Construction. Two new upper mountain trails were cut: the Summit Liftline trail and the Quiver. A land swap arrangement with the state resulted in Okemo taking over parking (eliminating a parking fee) and the state ski shelter and restaurant.
1968 New base lodge was dedicated and opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 12, in conjunction with Okemo's first Hill Climb for sports cars. The Buckhorn trail opened. Although a new Riblet chairlift was purchased, a late start on installation coupled with early snows, postponed the installation by a year. The ski shelter and restaurant was converted into a teen center, known as the Mushroom Garden, with jukebox, snackbar, and dancing on Saturday nights.
1969 With a new base lodge, summer business plans saw the introduction of events and activities that stretched into the fall with Saturday night turkey suppers for $2.25. The new Summit Chair opened. The new Rimrock trail was cut and the Mountain Road was extended to meet the upper terminal, creating a top-to-bottom novice run.
1970 The Mushroom Garden was lost to an electrical fire. The Okemo Mountain Lodge hotel was also lost. Motorola wireless radios replaced the old army crank-type phone system and increased communications throughout the ski area.
1971 The Cherokee Chair, a double chairlift, was installed next to the Blue Poma. Okemo's original chair was renamed Mohawk and received some upgrades. The Summit Chair was renamed Eagle and it was lowered 8.5 feet to avoid high wind disturbances. Several new connector trails were cut and some existing trails were widened. Cross country skiing was introduced, making Okemo one of the earliest Vermont ski areas to add this to their alpine facilities. Tours were offered on a trail network that led to the West Hill Recreation area and later to the nearby Okemo Inn.
1972 Ranked sixth in the state for uphill capacity, Okemo turned its focus to trail development. Geronimo (renamed World Cup in 1983) was cut, bulldozed and seeded for $28,000. A second trail, Brave, was also cut from the top of Geronimo to the Summit Liftline trail. 1973 A severe flood in June
1973 caused tremendous damage. Recession hit and gas shortages compelled Okemo to purchase a 10,000-gallon tank and become a licensed dealer, guaranteeing gas for their skiers.
1976 After a financial rebound and a dividend of $1 per share of common stock, the stockholders began to grow anxious about the lack of capital improvement. A small group of stockholders calling themselves "Friends of Okemo," garnered enough support to replace the board and began plans for a $600,000 snowmaking upgrade, the largest in the country at the time. Okemo purchased a parcel of land on the western side of the mountain known as the Baker lot for possible ski area development.
1977 The installation of snowmaking was delayed with 26 days of rain in September. The mountain tapped into the West Hill Reservoir as a water source in exchange for installing hydrants along the pipeline for potential firefighting purposes. Inherent flaws in the design of the pomalifts required intensive maintenance and the lifts were not meeting suggested capacities. A new trail, the Ski School Slope, was added. Sno-Engineering co-founder and well-known ski authority Sel Hannah was consulted to help draw up a new master plan for Okemo.
1978 The 1977/1978 was a record season for Okemo with 176,000 skier visits. Summer maintenance work on lifts, trails, snowmaking and other improvements totaled over $100,000. Eight new townhouses were built and six were sold prior to the start of the ski season.
1979 Three Board members, bent on improving the mountain, initiated outside contacts resulting in what came to be known locally as a "hostile takeover attempt" by nearby Bromley Mountain. The lifts received extensive preventative maintenance and rebuilding. Three new gladed trails were cut on the upper "natural snowbowl" known as the Northwest Summit. A total of $100,000 was spent on improvements and the Board approved the installation of a chairlift to replace the Red Poma, that would be operational for the next season.
1980 An unprecedented snow drought witnessed a statewide drop in skier visits that equaled a third of the previous year's visits. Since snowmaking did not extend to the summit, the upper third of the mountain was skiable only five days during the 1979/1980 season. The mountain suffered a net loss of $340,000. Due to financial constraints, the planned chairlift installation was shelved. A few small capital improvements included installation of more lockers, a new game room for children, increased parking and rearranging of lift corrals. With interest rates on the rise, the Board issued bonds to finance a new chairlift. They raised $235,000.
1981 Warm weather and rain resulted in another snow drought and limited skiing on the upper mountain. The mountain reported its third greatest loss - $271,000. The Board decided to use the funds raised through the bond issue to finance increased snowmaking. Ratnik Industries was hired to engineer snowmaking to Okemo's summit and a mid-mountain pump house was built. 30,000 feet of snowmaking pipe brought snowmaking to Buckhorn, Upper Arrow, Tomahawk and Geronimo, as well as the upper part of the Squaw trail.
1982 The 1981/1982 season witnessed a rebound in skier visits with favorable weather conditions. Okemo posted a $42,000 profit. Despite the success of the season, Okemo was $1.4 in debt and banks refused to finance the much-needed new chairlift. With an antiquated lift system, financial limitations for future growth, and master plan recommended upgrades totaling $8 million, insult was added to injury when the bank pulled Okemo's line of credit. The Board agreed, for the sake of the ski area, it was time to find a buyer who could make the mountain competitive with others in the area. Meanwhile, a local attorney knew of a young couple looking for a business opportunity in southern Vermont. Tim and Diane Mueller were looking for something in the tourism/recreation industry - possibly a lodge or inn. When they realized its potential, the Muellers purchased the ski resort that they saw as a diamond in the rough. With winter approaching and no time to focus on capital improvements, the Muellers recognized that the only thing they could do to make people see improvement with new ownership was to focus on offering impeccable service - something for which Okemo has become renowned.
1983 During the summer, the Muellers' plans to expand and upgrade Okemo started with the installation of the area's first triple chairlift. The Northeast Summit triple chair replaced the Red Poma. In addition six new trails were added and work was done to improve others, bringing the new trail count to 54. A new pump and additional snowmaking improvements brought the total amount of terrain with snowmaking to 60 percent. A mezzanine level constructed in the base lodge increased seating capacity by 30 percent. Construction also started on the first 16 units of Kettle Brook - a 66-unit slopeside residence complex located at the top of what is now the Bull Run trail.
1984 The word that Okemo had a new look and a new attitude spread throughout New England and brought an additional 55,000 skier visits to the mountain during the 1983/1984 season. It was the third best year in the resort's history. The summer of 1984 brought major changes to Okemo. $12 million in improvements included a redesign and restructuring of the base area. Okemo's signature clock tower and skier arrival center featured a lodging reception area and a full-service 150-seat restaurant and lounge. The $5 million Okemo Mountain Lodge, 76-unit condominium project, added to the village ambience and units sold out quickly at $68,000 to $85,000. On the mountain, the new Black Ridge triple chair replaced the Black Poma. This allowed for the creation of two new expert trails, Black Out and Sel's Choice (named for Sel Hannah). Snowmaking was added to Upper Chief and Nor'Easter. Further construction included an addition to the base lodge and 32 units were added at Kettle Brook. Two used school buses were purchased to shuttle skiers from far reaches of the parking lot.
1985 The Yellow and Blue Pomas were replaced with a high-capacity quadruple chairlift. The quad chair was located next to the South Ridge double chair. The removal of the two Pomas resulted in the creation of the new Liftline Slope and the Homeward Bound trail. Snowmaking production was doubled with system improvements and 1985 marked the start of a very aggressive snowmaking initiative. Phase I of Winterplace slopeside condos was underway.
1986 Skier visits totaling 224,000 set a new record for the 1985/1986 season and exceeded the 1977/1978 record year by 48,000 visits. During the summer, the Green Ridge triple chairlift was added in the Northeast Summit area. The lift served the new Timberline trail that was built under the chair, as well as Jolly Green Giant and Tomahawk. These additions brought Okemo's trail count to 60. With additional snowmaking system improvements, 80 percent of Okemo's terrain was covered by snowmaking. The Sugar House mid-mountain lodge opened with seating for 350 and an expansive deck. Snowbridge, a small private home development started with three homes completed and seven more under construction by fall. As winter approached, season pass sales increased by 50 percent over the previous year. Favorable weather and early natural snow brought record visits for the holidays.
1987 New skier-visit records were set with the 1985/1986 season seeing a 35 percent increase over the previous record-setting season. Okemo's first "from scratch" mountain expansion took form in the development of Solitude Peak. A 5,000-foot quad chairlift serving eight new trails on 225 acres of previously undeveloped land, brought the resort's trail count to 68 and snowmaking coverage to 82 percent of skiable terrain. Snowboarders, with certification from Stratton or Magic Mountain, were welcome to access limited terrain at Okemo.
1988 A 188-foot long Poma surface lift was installed at a new learn-to-ski area adjacent to the SKIwee Center. Beginner's Basin, designed for children in accordance with the resort's master plan, became very popular. Both this lift and the F-10 Poma were made available to any skier free of charge. Three additional new trails were introduced: Village Run, Sunburst and Switchback. A $1.5 million investment in snowmaking improved the compressed air system and utilized the Black River as a new water source, increasing Okemo's snowmaking capabilities significantly. Snowboarding was expanded to all lower mountain terrain, but riders needed to sign a waiver prior to a day on the slopes.
1989 The Sachem quad chairlift replaced the Sachem double and brought Okemo's total uphill carrying capacity to 15,000 skiers an hour. 25,000 feet of new snowmaking pipeline was installed and raised the overall coverage to 90 percent of Okemo's skiable terrain. Three new buses were purchased and shuttle service extended to Ludlow Village.
1990 Challenging weather patterns put Okemo's snowmaking and grooming technologies to the test during the 1989/1990 season. With its longest running season (Nov. 5 to April 15) Okemo logged a stellar 400,000 skier visits. During the summer, snowmaking was added to five trails and a new ski trail, Ledgewood, was created. A new quad chair replaced the South Ridge double. Snowboarders became fully integrated and were welcome to access the entire mountain with no special requirements during the 1990/1991 season. Snowboarding lessons and rentals were offered for the first time.
1991 The Glades Peak quad chairlift replaced the Northwest Summit double chair. Snowmaking was added to three trails in the Glades Peak Summit area. Vermont's first halfpipe debuted at Okemo and it was the longest halfpipe in the East at 420 feet. It was excavated into the slope and built with its own snowmaking system.
1992 1991/1992 started out poorly weather-wise and natural snowfall totaled 128 inches - well below the annual average. In spite of that, the season was the longest to date at 172 days (Nov. 4 to April 26). Skier visits totaled 446,000 - another record year. 1992 witnessed the introduction of Okemo's first detachable, high-speed quad chairlift. The Northeast triple was converted and renamed the Northstar Express. A new trail, Scooter, was introduced.
1993 The Summit Lodge and cafeteria opened. The two-level, 12,000 square-foot lodge offered seating for 270, expansive decks and modern restrooms. A snowboarding terrain park was introduced and located just above the halfpipe.
1994 With the overwhelming welcome to the Northstar Express high-speed detachable quad chairlift, skiers responded to surveys with a request for more, and the Solitude fixed-grip quad was replaced with a high-speed detachable lift. The fixed-grip quad was moved to a new expansion of terrain called South Face and renamed the South Face Quad. Seven new trails offered sunny, southern exposure on challenging terrain in the area located just below Okemo's historic fire tower. With concerns expressed regarding the withdrawal of water, for snowmaking, from the Black River during low-flow times of the year, Okemo constructed a 70-million gallon pond for water storage.
1995 With only 100 inches of natural snowfall recorded during the 1994/1995 winter season, most Vermont ski areas reported skier visit declines of 10 to 20 percent. A true testament to its commitment to snowmaking and grooming, Okemo experienced another record year with 480,000 skier visits. Of its four trails being introduced, two novice trails accessed by a new triple chair, the Morningstar, were added to the Solitude Village area. Additional snowmaking upgrades increased Okemo's snowmaking capability to 95 percent coverage of its 470 skiable acres.
1996 Okemo witnessed a major increase in snowmaking with the addition of new energy-efficient HKD tower guns. Improvements included the introduction of 15 acres of glades at the South Face area, a new Pipe Dragon for grooming Okemo's halfpipe, a new surface lift for park and pipe fans, called The Pull, and Phase II of Solitude Village to include 28 new condominiums, townhouses, and single family homes. A Base Lodge addition with 40 seats and a new Carpenter and Sign Shop were also added.
1997 The South Face quad chairlift was replaced with another new detachable quad chairlift and two new trails (one gladed) were added to that area of the mountain. Two new trails were added in the Solitude area and a new Day Lodge opened at Solitude. It included Gables Restaurant with seating for 175, a deli counter, ski shop, restrooms, and an exercise facility for Solitude homeowners and guests. In November Okemo purchased Fox Run, a nine-hole golf course located near the base of Okemo.
1998 Enhancements were made to the Base Lodge, Summit Lodge and Sugar House, The outdoor area for Snow Stars was expanded and additional snowmaking added in the Solitude Peak area. Construction of Solitude Village continued, along with the addition of 19 single-family home lots. A new access road to Jackson Gore and Solitude Village was completed. Mount Sunapee Resort, in N.H., was added to the Okemo family. Okemo Valley Nordic Center offered cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on 10 km of terrain, along with a new clubhouse facility with an Indoor Golf Center, restaurant, pro shop, locker rooms and meeting space.
1999 Snowmaking system enhancements increased the water pumping capacity by 20 percent, and 80 HKD snowguns were added. The newly constructed Okemo Valley Golf Club/Nordic Center made its debut with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on 28 km and included dedicated snowshoe trails, skating lanes and tree skiing. The Okemo Golf Academy indoor practice facilities kicked off a series of winter golf clinics.
2000 On July 22, Okemo Valley Golf Club opened the 18-hole championship facility and training center. Terrain changes on the slopes included expansion of the superpipe, introduction of a new vert wall, quarterpipe and terrain park improvements that included more than 40 hits and terrain features. A new conveyor-style lift was added at the Snow Stars facility for kids and a variety of ski/snowboard programs and retention programs were introduced. Winter indoor golf clinics, golf leagues and instructional programs were offered year-around at the Okemo Valley Golf Club.
2001 A ceremony marked the groundbreaking for construction of the Jackson Gore Inn. Several new Bombardier BR-275 grooming machines were added to the fleet of groomers. A new midweek tier of pricing and variety of new programs for kids and adults in the Cutting Edge Learning Center were added.
2002 Seven new trails debuted in the Jackson Gore Peak area, along with the Jackson Gore Express high-speed detachable quad chairlift. The Jackson Gore base area construction continued. Jackson Gore peak and the Jackson Gore Express made their debut on Dec. 6, 2002.
2003 This year marked a milestone for Okemo with the introduction of an entirely new base area that included the Jackson Gore Inn and resort base facility, seven new trails and two new lifts (including another highspeed quad). The new Jackson Gore base area opened in December. On October 29, Tim, Diane and Triple Peaks, LLC signed a Letter of Intent for the purchase of Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado.
2004 On March 1, the purchase of Crested Butte Mountain Resort was finalized and Tim and Diane Mueller officially took over the ownership and operation. The purchase of the 18-hole, Tater Hill Golf Club in Windham, Vt., took place in the spring. The new Jackson Gore area and base facility was now fully functional, and fully open with new landscaping. Two new gladed trails, Supernova and Black Hole, were introduced at Jackson Gore. The Okemo Valley Nordic Center's indoor area was expanded with a rental shop for cross-country equipment and snowshoes. A new grooming machine was added to the grooming fleet and various valve and pipe replacements were made to the snowmaking system.
2005 Two new trails at the Jackson Gore Peak added additional terrain, but with a lack of natural snowfall, the new trails were open only a few days during the season. The F-10 Poma Lift was replaced with a Magic Carpet lift and two new Camoplast Park Cats and two new Camoplast groomers were added to the grooming fleet. Site preparation at Jackson Gore's Phase II of construction began the building of the Adams House (39 vacation ownership residences), The Spring House fitness and aquatic center and The Ice House, year-round sports arena.
2006 Work continued on Jackson Gore's Phase II, with completion of the Adams House, The Spring House fitness and aquatic center and The Ice House sports pavilion. Snowmaking was installed on Okemo's two newest trails, Big Bang and Eclipse - bringing Okemo's total coverage to 97 percent of its skiable terrain. Okemo's 70-million gallon snowmaking pond was increased to hold 155-million gallons of water. Okemo purchased renewable energy certificates to offset 100 percent of its electrical needs, for all three resorts, with clean wind-generated power.
2007 Okemo added 30 HKD tower guns to its snowmaking arsenal and a second carpet-style surface lift to access the extended and re-graded Bright Star Basin trail at Jackson Gore. The 1968 base lodge is getting a retro-redo with new colors, carpet and artwork for the walls. Snowboarding legend Ross powers is named Okemo Snowboard Ambassador.
2008 The final two trails of the original Jackson Gore layout opened. Rolling Thunder and White Lightning added eight acres to Okemo's skiable acreage total (now 632 acres). Eighty energy-efficient HKD snowmaking guns were added to Okemo's snowmaking system. Okemo's grooming fleet was the first in the East to include the new Prinoth BR500 grooming machine, affectionately referred to as "The Beast" by Resort operations staff. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoth is wider and longer than any other grooming machine. Okemo added laser-guided grooming capabilities to its superpipe groomer. By affixing adjustable laser units with a vertical orientation to a stationary base at the bottom of the superpipe, and attaching a receptor device to the arm of the Zaug Pipe Monster, Okemo's groomer operators can monitor superpipe shaping for better construction, upkeep and optimal vert. Okemo installed mechanized loading and unloading carpets on the South Ridge B fixed-grip quad. Skiers enjoying lunch at Epic can enjoy the whimsical canvases of Vermont artist Donald Saaf.
2009 Okemo added a second Prinoth BR500 grooming machine and 30 new HKD Ranger snow guns. A reconfiguration of the HKD tower gun snowmaking system focused on enhanced resurfacing response time. The Ross Powers Superpipe's vertical pitch was increased 12 feet. Broken Arrow, an all-natural gladed terrain park quietly opened as a new trail. The Sunday One-Day Season Pass was introduced.
2010 The Okemo Mountain Coaster, a four-season, family attraction will offer an exhilarating ride through alpine forests at Okemo's Jackson Gore, starting Thanksgiving weekend. Okemo continues its commitment to superlative grooming this winter with the addition of a third Prinoth BR500 grooming machine. The Snow Star Poma, located in the Galaxy Bowl Learning Area at Okemo's Clock Tower Base Area, is being replaced with a180-foot, magic-carpet-style surface lift.
2011 Okemo constructs a summertime Adventure Zone to complement its popular mountain coaster. It includes an 18-hole miniature golf course, a four-station bungee jumping attraction, a snack bar, picnic area and gift shop arcade. Wintertime improvements include additional Genesis snowmaking tower guns and $125,000 in new alpine and Nordic rental equipment. Okemo introduces a new mascot, Calvin the Catamount. Nastar racing returns to Bull Run and the Timberline Progression Park is replaced with a new terrain park running the entire length of Black Out.
2012 Okemo's Adventure Zone sees the addition of a zipline tour, climbing pinnacle and the Amp Energy Big Air Bag moves from its winter location to Jackson Gore, where thrillseekers jump off a 30-foot tall platform into the inflatable stunt bag. Winter witnesses the addition of three new introductory glade areas, two new grooming machines, including a new Prinoth Bison Park Cat, plus an additional Waffle Cabin location at Jackson Gore. The new Millennial Pass is introduced to 19-29 year olds for $599.
2013 Summertime saw the introduction of a new outdoor wedding venue at the site of the old Ranta farm at Jackson Gore. The Toll Gate Garden is an expanse of green lawn surrounded by a fieldstonestone fence and traditional perennial borders. The Haulback Challenge Course was the newest addition to Okemo's Adventure Zone. This selfguided treetop course offers 23 features of varying difficulty. Winter brings nearly $1 million in snowmaking improvements, a new intermediate glade and a new partnership with Killington that created 4.0 The College Pass and a multi-day ticket agreement.
2014 Okemo's Northstar Express Quad was removed and trucked to sister resort Mount Sunapee, in N.H. It was replaced with a new six-passenger bubble lift with heated seats and named Sunburst Six. Operation Snowburst Part 2 follows a $1 million investment in snowmaking last winter. This year's upgrades include snowmaking pipe and the addition of another 100 new HKD tower guns. Okemo signed a three-year contract with Snow Park Technologies to redesign the resort's terrain parks with a goal toward better flow between parks and a focus on progression.
2015 Okemo becomes the first resort in North America to have multiple bubble chairs with the installation of Quantum 4. This retrofit of the Jackson Gore Express coincides with the construction of a new fixed-grip quad chair linking SouthFace Village to the base of South Face. The Sunshine Quad also serves the new Suncatcher trail that returns to SouthFace Village. Snowmaking is installed on White Lightneing and Rolling Thunder at Jackson Gore. RFID lift access cards are introduced with RFID readers and gates installed at several key lifts. The partnership with SPT continues and Homeward Bound is renamed to honor Gordon Robbins, Okemo's first director of snowboarding.
2016 Optimism is running high after one of the worst winters in recent memory. The entire winter of 2015/16 was unusually warm and natural snowfall totaled only 54 inches. Snowmaking is added to Catnap and Suncatcher - both at South Face. This expansion includes 18,000 feet of pipe. Okemo also spends $30,000 on new snowmaking hose. This winter marks the third year in the partnership with Snow Park Technologies and the addition of a new Bison X park grooming machine. A rental equipment upgrade includes 515 new Volkl skis, 869 pairs of Dalbello ski boots, 153 Burton snowboards and 272 pairs of Burton snowboard boots.
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Contact: Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations
Okemo Mountain Resort | 77 Okemo Ridge Road | Ludlow, VT 05149
802-228-1947 | email@example.com