Monday, May 11, 2009

Reflections on the 2008-2009 ski season

I'm sitting here in sunny downtown Salida at the Monarch World Headquarters, overlooking the rapidly rising Arkansas River. It's May and the lifts have been shut down for the summer. The 334 inches of snow that fell on Monarch this past season is now making it's way to the river, where it will be enjoyed by kayakers, rafters, fisher people, and fish alike. The guests are gone and most of our employees have left for other work and adventure.
It's kind of lonely this time of year. No more rushing in anticipation of the powder day, no more relishing the chance of seeing your photo on the evening news, no more inter-departmental gossip, no more driving up the hill to and fro.
I sit here reflecting back on the 08-09 ski started off eerily like last year; no snow until mid December. It then came in big! Although things were looking up in the snow department, the rumblings and eventual fallout of a changing economy were starting to be realized. The guests we were hoping for did come, (we actually had a record month of January in terms of skier visits) but they were frugal. I can't say that I blame them.
We received a much needed website makeover from our friends at the Branding Agency this season. We have a great product here at Monarch, and now our website reflects it.
I'm also thinking about one of our valued employees we lost this year. Everyone says that Monarch is one of the friendliest places to visit. It's true. We are like one big family up here and it shows. It was hard on many to lose "one of our own". RIP, Derek.
I'm starting to get the feeling like the dust storms that we experienced this season are getting worse and more frequent. Even today, you can look out towards the mountains and see parts of the Four Corners sitting there accelerating the snow melt.
One of the more entertaining events to happen at Monarch this season was "Blackhawk down". Yes, I'm talking about an Alaskan National Guard Blackhawk helicopter that crash landing just outside our boundary rope. I was riding the lift that morning in weather that can accurately be described as pea soup. First you could hear the helicopter close in and then suddenly nothing. The 3 on board were very lucky that day to be able to just walk away from the accident. The only evidence now is a clearing and some sheared off trees.
The season ended on a high note with our always popular Kayaks on Snow Boater X and last day Parking Lot Cook-off.
Well, enough was overall a great ski season and I personally can't wait for it to start again.