(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The 2021-2022 ski season will be the season to beat in years to come at Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant.
The weather this year hasn’t been phenomenal, said general manager Andrew Halmi. The hill aims to open the week before Christmas and hopes to operate until St. Patrick’s Day. This year, Mother Nature was uncooperative at first, but eventually she came back.
“Ideally we start in December, and we maintain cold weather and consistent lake-effect snow throughout March,” Halmi said. “We started later than we would have liked. On Christmas day it was 60 degrees and sunny. But once Mother Nature flipped a switch in January, it got cold and stayed cold. So we had 6 good weeks of winter this year.
Despite the late start, the local ski resort had an exceptional season. More than 20,000 skiers hit the slopes of Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant.
“Weather-wise it was a good year – it wasn’t a good year, but it certainly wasn’t a bad year either,” Halmi said. “From a commercial point of view, we had an excellent season. Because the weather was fine, business was going very well. We have had a record number of skier visits this season.
Last year during the summer season, the hill invested in improvements for its skiers. This included some $500,000 spent on snowmaking upgrades. Mount Pleasant purchased five additional “snow cannons” for the season. These machines convert water into artificial snow for those times when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.
According to Halmi, the hill needs 1 foot to 18 inches of artificial snow to prepare the slopes. It takes about 4.5 million gallons of water.
“We need artificial snow to open. The snow cover is really important. The five new snow cannons we purchased allowed us to open quickly and stay open throughout the year,” said Halmi.
A new snow groomer has helped Mount Pleasant maintain skiing conditions to its particular standards.
“We are always proud to have very good skiing conditions. We may be smaller, but we offer a better product than anyone else locally at all times. Adding a new groomer also helped us with that,” Halmi said.
Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant opened in December 1970. It changed hands twice in 51 years, finally landing in the hands of current owners Doug and Laura Sinsabaugh in 2005.
Halmi has been at Mountain Pleasant since 2004. Born and raised in the Edinboro area, he grew up skiing, hitting the slopes for the first time at age 3.
“Back then we had a T-bar – a lift that pulls you up when you’re standing on the floor. I remember riding between my dad’s legs on the T-bar,” Halmi said. “It’s fun to have been able to do the same with my son.”
Halmi started working at Mount Pleasant as a ski instructor in 2004 while still in high school. In 2021 Halmi went full time. He is the only full-time employee at Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant.
“I love it. I love this place and I love doing what I do,” he says. “Teaching people to ski is a unique thing to do. without equal.
With the snow clearing and summer fast approaching, Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant is about to enter hiking and mountain biking season. They sell a pass to access their 7 miles of hiking and biking trails. But it’s also the season for equipment maintenance.
“It takes us about 9 months to get ready to start (the ski season) again,” Halmi said.
All snowmaking lines will be flushed. All snow cannon air compressors require maintenance and oil changes. Three grooming machines need maintenance. The chairlift has over 100 pulley wheels that require lubrication and maintenance, and each of the chairlift’s 78 chairs are removed, maintained, greased, and inspected for safety.
Halmi is the only full-time employee, and owner Doug Sinsabaugh takes care of just about everything outside. Between them, most of the maintenance and preparation for the summer is done (they also hire part-time seasonal workers to help out during the summer).
“It’s a ton of work, but we have 9 months to do it, so that helps,” Halmi said. “It’s important for us to prepare to start again next winter.”
This summer, in addition to annual maintenance, Halmi said Edinboro’s Mount Pleasant is planning additional upgrades to its operations. This includes a new elevator in the beginners area. It will be a “magic carpet” – essentially a conveyor belt that brings skiers back to the top.
“It makes it easy for kids to get up and down the hill,” Halmi said.
Three additional snow cannons will be installed. And Halmi hinted at a major project but opted to play his cards close to the vest.
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“We’re just teasing it a bit – it’s going to be a big deal,” Halmi said.