Lead Image: A pirate flag hangs from the tram at Jay Peak. Something about the rebellious nature of this image fits well with the news and idea that Jay Peak may soon be owned by one of skiing’s largest companies. Though they may be sucked into the world of multipasses, the rebellious nature of the locals will likely never die. Image: Jay Peak Resort on Facebook
#1: In Rare Triple Dip La Niña Event, Forecasters Calling for Snowy Start to Season in the Pacific Northwest:
Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the August 26, 2022 edition! Being the last week in August, we’re starting to see some of the early signs of Fall here in Vermont, with scorching hot days becoming less regular, cooler nights requiring longer sleeves, and leaves at the tops of trees starting to lose their color. As such, we thought it would be appropriate to kick off this week’s news cycle with one of the more popular headlines we came across this week: in what’s being referred to as a “Triple Dip La Niña” event, weather forecasters are expecting the pattern to appear for the third consecutive year. In a La Niña season, the combination of cooler surface waters in the Pacific and a more wave-like jetstream that brings cool air from the North down into the United States often results in a Fall and Early Winter period in which temperatures in the Northwest are cooler, while precipitation is higher. The result of which, of course, commonly results in significant snowfall. While meteorology is a science that involves quite a bit of guesswork, early predictions suggest that Pacific Northwestern states like Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming could be in for banner seasons. Ironically, further evidence pointing to this outcome can be found in the fact that over the previous two years, La Niña didn’t result in astonishing amounts of snow in these areas. For that reason, forecasters are feeling even more hopeful that this season could bring the goods as it would be exceedingly rare for a Triple Dip La Niña to underproduce snow in three consecutive years.
As for the rest of us? Well, it’s anyone’s guess really. The Rocky Mountain region in particular, specifically Utah and Colorado, are in a bit of a deadzone when it comes to the effects of La Niña. If you can think of the amount of precipitation that this weather pattern brings as a spectrum, with the North end being the wettest and the South end being the driest, the Rocky Mountain region is right in the middle, making it difficult to know what kind of impact it might have on snowfall, if any. On the East Coast, we’re likely to receive wetter weather, but the form it takes is dependent on temperatures that can vary widely during the time of year in which La Niña is most felt. As such, we’ll likely either have an incredible early season here in Vermont, or a dreadful one. As is the case with many things in life, the answer is something of a coin flip. To learn more about this round of La Niña forecasts, check out this report from Ski Mag.
#2: Vail Announces Limited Daily Pass Sales & Projected Opening Dates for Each of its 37 North American Ski Resorts:
In other upcoming season news, Vail announced this week that they plan to limit daily lift ticket sales at all of their resorts this year. Announced via a press release alongside all of their projected opening dates, Vail broke the news saying, “Lift tickets will be limited every day, across every resort, during the 2022/23 season in order to preserve the guest experience at each resort.” In other words, if you aren’t an Epic Pass holder and you plan to visit a Vail resort, it would be wise to buy your ticket online and in advance. As industry observers, this move isn’t at all surprising as it hopes to achieve two goals for Vail: increase the value of becoming an Epic Pass holder to hopefully encourage more preseason pass purchases, and to mitigate crowding issues that have infamously overcome Vail resorts in recent years. While the verdict is still out on whether or not this move will have an impact on resort crowding, it’s at least worth acknowledging the fact that they’re trying to do something. Also wrapped into this press release are projected opening dates for all of Vail’s North American resorts. Highlights of that list include a mid-October opening date for Keystone, representing the first day of operations for Epic resorts in the West. In the East, Mt. Snow is expected to open on November 11th , signifying the start of their East Coast operations. To learn more about Vail’s new lift ticket policy as well as their projected opening dates, check out the official press release.
#3: The Jay Peak Bidding War is Heating Up With Multiple Suitors Suspected:
If you’re one of our dedicated summer readers, you likely remember a few weeks ago when the Jay Peak story found itself back in the headlines. At that time, Pacific Group Resorts offered to buy the ski area and its assets, which have been on the market since January 2019, for $58 million. Noting the unique situation that the resort is in, in that it’s under the management of federal receiver Michael Goldberg who is tasked with selling the resort for as much as possible in order to recoup funds for defrauded investors, we had suspicions that this wouldn’t be an open and close business transaction. This week, VT Digger published a report that likely verifies our suspicions.
In their coverage of the story, VT Digger revealed that Michael Goldberg had asked the judge overseeing the transaction to postpone the finalization of the sale in order to allow him to find additional qualified buyers. In the event that he could find at least one more buyer, Goldberg proposed hosting an auction to find the highest bidder for the resort. Under this scenario, bidding would start at $58 million, with the initial bid being $1.75 million higher, and minimum incremental bids of $250,000 beyond that. That request was approved, with a hearing scheduled for today, August 26th.
This week, Goldberg again asked the judge to delay as he suspected a qualified buyer was likely to submit a bid. Again, his request was approved, giving Goldberg until September 2nd to lock down that additional bid. If he can secure it, Jay Peak would officially go up for auction on September 7th. From there, Goldberg will be able to host the auction over the course of two days, with a hearing scheduled for September 9th, at which point the deal will be finalized with the highest bidder. In other words, one way or another, there should be an answer regarding the next owner of Jay Peak by September 9th.
Before wrapping up this highlight, we want to highlight a quote from current Jay Peak general manager Steve Wright, who said, “There are multiple potential (and incremental) bidders at this point, but not at liberty to really disclose specifics at this point.” Keeping that in mind, as well as the facts that both Vail and Alterra have previously shown some level of interest in buying the resort, and that it was recently valued at between $85 million and $121 million, there’s a chance that there could be an intense bidding war for the resort. In fact, it wouldn’t be at all surprising for us to eventually learn that other suitors were simply waiting for a company like Pacific Group Resorts to come along and submit a lowball offer, triggering a competitive auctioning process that started with a low dollar amount. As Vermonters, the fact that this six year saga is likely just weeks away from coming to an end is nothing short of gripping. We’ll follow up with more news as it’s available, and hope to be able to bring you a conclusion to this story on September 9th. Until then, get up to speed with the latest with this report from VT Digger.
#4: Andrzej Bargiel Returning to Everest in Second Attempt to Become First to Ski it Without Oxygen:
Finally, we end this week with some more adventurous news: Andrzej Bargiel, a man who is no stranger to either Top Five Fridays or high peak ski mountaineering, has announced his intentions to ski Mount Everest. The news broke on Wednesday via Explorers Web, and a day later Bargiel was on his way to Everest to link up with guided tour group Pioneer Adventure. While he’ll be sharing a permit with the group and ascending with them, Bargiel hopes to take on Everest more or less by himself. That is, he’ll look to summit the world’s tallest peak without the help of supplemental oxygen or sherpas to aid him. If he’s able to successfully summit and ski the peak, it will be the first time it’s been done without oxygen, and only the second time ever as Davo Karnicar is currently the only person to complete the feat, having done so back in 2000.
While Bargiel’s efforts could result in another world’s first descent, it won’t be his first time trying. This year’s effort comes after Bargiel tried to accomplish the same feat back in 2019. During that effort, he was forced to turn around due to a massive overhanging serac that hovered over the Khumbu Icefall, making the route to the summit too dangerous to follow. Now, taking cues from that experience, Bargiel is back with a more fine tuned plan than ever. Noting the conditions during that expedition, which also occurred in early September, Bargiel has doubled down on his decision to attempt to summit the peak post-monsoon season, recognizing that despite a more difficult climb, snow conditions are much better this time of year, increasing the odds for a successful full descent. Still, as he learned from his 2019 attempt, anything can happen. As always, we’ll be sure to follow up when the outcome of this expedition is known. Until then, check out the latest from ExplorersWeb.com.