Shames Mountain trained its 60 staff last weekend and now everything is ready for opening this Saturday.
“It’s going to be our best opening-day snow level in a few years,” said Christian Théberge, general manager at My Mountain Co-op, which manages the hill.
“Last year at this time we had no snow and we were deciding whether to attempt making snow.”
With the huge snow dump on Nov. 25, the mountain got 80 cm and that’s now become 147 cm of snow at the mid-mountain base (last Sunday).
Weather forecasts look mild this weekend, but Shames Mountain will post conditions on their Facebook page early Saturday morning.
The schedule at Shames slides from opening weekend into Christmas break hours starting the weekend after. That means it’s open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day from Dec. 16 to Jan. 1 (closed Christmas Day).
It will have its annual Food Bank Day on Jan. 1, and starts Thrilling Thursdays in January, with its first Mini Races Jan. 13-14.
New this year, Shames will be renting out backcountry equipment. Things like shovels, probes, a beacon, a split board or touring skis with skins, and collapsible poles will all be on rental either as a package or individually.
Théberge explained that offering these rentals is natural and necessary at Shames.
“We’re actively promoting the backcountry terrain around our ski area… Not having the equipment would be like promoting parachuting without having parachutes available,” Théberge said.
He added that the guided backcountry ski services and avalanche skill training both should pair with the matching proper gear rentals.
Shames has ordered the equipment, but some is still on its way and may not be available opening day, Théberge said.
Shames also continues to promote the slopes to beginners, and this year is offering free lift tickets for the bunny hill, previously $15.
Théberge says it’s primarily for parents with small kids. “When you’re working with small children, sometimes the attention span doesn’t last very long,” he explained. “[Parents] didn’t want to pay $15 to be there for maybe only half an hour.
“I think this will remove a barrier for people trying the sport, to not have to pay for trying the bunny hill.”