Source: Sherman Publications

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No snow, no problem at Mt. Holly

by David Fleet

February 08, 2012

Mike LaPante Mt. Holly manager, operates the snow grooming vehicle on Mt. Holly. LaPante drives the 400 hp German-made PistenBully equipped with an 18-foot blade on the slopes to assure smooth skiing. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
Groveland Twp.-It's all about perception so far this winter.

That's how Mark Tibbitts, general manager at Mt. Holly Ski Resort, views the mild winter season that some would view as detrimental to snow enthusiasts.

"There's no snow in the backyards of local people," said Tibbitts, who's been at Mt. Holly for more than 34 years. "It really does not matter—we make the majority of our snow in any given year. That's just the way it is in southeast Michigan—you just can't count on natural snow. Actually the natural snow when it does come just kind of sets the mood to come out skiing."

Tibbitts said Mt. Holly opened Dec.7 and ramped up to 100 percent operational on Dec. 22. Currently all 19 trails are open with seven chair lifts and two tow ropes.

"We've been grabbing every minute of snowmaking we can since December," he said. "Starting sometimes at 2 a.m. Snowmaking requires an air temperature of 28 degrees and 50 to 60 percent relative humidity."

Since the 1980s, the number of snow guns at Mt. Holly has grown from a few to about 120.

"We have an excellent base right now—anywhere from 14-36 inches is on the slopes right now. These warm days in January and February are some of the most comfortable days to be outside. Skiers and snowboarders don't need the multiple layers of clothes needed when it's frigid outside."

Tibbitts said this season is by far not the worst.

"Despite a poor December, this past January has been fairly average—those coming out to ski have been about average. This follows two spectacular winters. Generally about mid-March things wind down—very seldom does skiing go beyond that. Temperatures start hitting about 50 degrees and people start thinking about golf."