Holiday Valley cranks up snow-making guns with cold snap

Holiday Valley in Ellicottville began snow-making operations early Friday morning with an eye toward opening the day after Thanksgiving. Here, automated snow guns on Cindy’s Slope are adding to natural snow Friday.

ELLICOTTVILLE — Taking advantage of a cold snap, Holiday Valley began making snow just after midnight Thursday.

“We try to open the day after Thanksgiving,” said Holiday Valley marketing director Jane Eshbaugh. “Right now we’re looking at Nov. 29, weather permitting. But stay tuned.”

There is a 21-man mountain crew overseeing snow-making operations — three seven-worker shifts.

The switch was thrown to fire up automated snow guns, which account for about half the resort’s snow-making capabilities, Eshbaugh said.

“With this cold weather, it’s a great opportunity to get things rolling,” she said. “The ground is cold, but not frozen.”

With nearly two weeks of cold weather ahead, the decision was made to start making snow.

Easbaugh said, “One of our diehard skiers took a run this morning.

While Eshbaugh held out hope for an early opening, it won’t be the earliest skiing in the resort’s history.

“The earliest we ever opened was in October, but that was a long time ago,” she said. “We’re not looking for an early record, but if the snow’s there, we can do it.”

Eshbaugh said all 13 chairlifts have been inspected. The School Haus beginner’s conveyor lift has been placed in a track across the middle of Hole 16 on the golf course. The golf course closed Sunday.

The snowfall and beginning of snow-making comes in the middle of orientation training for 1,200 employees — 600 in a Thursday night session, and another 600 today at the Yodler Lodge.

Friday night, Holiday Valley hosted a Trucks and Brews night outside Tannenbaum Lodge. Eight food trucks were lined up outside and craft beer tasting featuring Southern Tier Brewing, Ellicottville Brewing Co., Thin Man Brewery and Pressure Drop Brewery.

A giant bonfire Friday night at the bottom of Tannenbaum Slope temporarily held up snow-making activities, Eshbaugh said. The weekend continues today with a Beer and Wine Fest at the Holiday Valley Main Lodge.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)