Snowblowers working overtime as a new era opens at Mt. Crescent

6 News WOWT Live at 10
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST
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HONEY CREEK, Iowa (WOWT) - Even before there were chairlifts and Sno-Cats, locals found their way up and down the slopes of Mt. Crescent.

Heading into 2023, the new owners are preparing to deliver on the promise to locals that the winter snow getaway will be everything they’ve been asking for. And a little help from the skies midweek wouldn’t hurt.

“The best advertisement that we can possibly receive is a gift from the clouds, natural snowfall,” Mt. Crescent Ski Area manager Chris Andrew said as they prepare to open for the season Wednesday, Dec. 21. “We do expect our opening weekend [and] opening week that we will we will see more people out here, so we’re gonna try to open up as much terrain [as possible] and do that as quickly as we can so they can have access to everything we have to offer.”

After taking formal ownership at the first of 2022, Pottawattamie County Conservation began the process of getting feedback from the community and taking stock of how they could improve their facility and experience right away.

Some changes will be obvious, with food prices and quality expected to improve dramatically. Upgrades in all areas are being done starting with the lodge, while on the mountain itself, some changes will be seen while others will be felt in the experience.

“We’re trying to give it a fresh face, of course a nice clean coat of paint but also little things that we’re adding,” Andrew said. “One little thing we did this year, we purchased [new] pads for all the lift poles and electrical poles out there. We had padding on them before but we went out and got what the industry standard is for padding so the look is a little bit different, and now we can look across other ski areas and we’re gonna resemble what you’ll see in another ski resort.”

There were upgrades to power access and water delivery, as well, which allows them to build and maintain a broader, deeper base of snow for those days when Mother Nature does her part.

“This year is actually looking to be incredible,” Andrew said. “We got a week of very, very, very cold weather (coming), and we’re gonna bang out well over two feet of snow on most of our main runs inside of a week or so.”

Mt. Crescent’s snowmaking team lead Dan Borgaila took the 6News crew up and down the slopes to see why they’re able to do more in terms of extended snowmaking.

“These machines, they’re new, TR-8s, they’re new this year, they got better power,” Borgaila said. “Then there’s all the renovations we’ve done on the lodge and we’ve done a lot of work on the Sno-Cats that groom and push the snow.”

“We’ve Increased our snowmaking pond so we have more water available at one time to make snow which is going to extend our snowmaking sessions,” Andrew explained. “So when a cold stint comes up, and a cold stint stands for five days in a row, we are hoping that we can just keep blowing snow for five days in a row, increase that base and once we get all our main trails open, we can expand snowmaking down to the south trails and start pushing snow and getting snow made over there, which is something we haven’t done.”

Using those south trails is just one repeated request from the public. They also will add Wednesday and Thursday night skiing after the first of the year, which is good news to season ticket holders. On weekends, visitors can expect some midnight skiing opportunities for adults, alternating with the oft requested family sledding nights on Saturdays. As always, it’s critical to check social media or call the resort office for dates and times.

“We’re in business still, come on out, it’s a little bit of a new face now with the county ownership,” Andrew said. " We’re gonna try to really deliver to the customer what they they expect to see, you know, with the south trails being open and actually snowmaking on them, that is something that people have asked us for for a long time and we’re gonna get that done.”

And while they are working to offer better pricing for all visitors, locals are the focus of efforts to get them to come home and play.

“One of the great things that we did is anybody that resides in Pottawatamie County can get 25% off of the lift tickets at Mt. Crescent Ski Area, season passes or lift tickets, which is huge, so we really lower the cost of entry to come out and play and have some fun for all the residents.”

6 News videographer Dylan Hall shot and edited this story.