Offering performance improvement for Mountain Operations through development of healthier organizations and deployment of process improving technology.

Well, I missed doing a December and January Steep Newsletter, and no one complained. Not sure how to take that. The 2023-2024 season ski season started well in some areas and some areas not so well, and December was a bust across the US and Canada. January proved to be decent in Northern New England and

The January/February 2024 issue of the Harvard Business Review's main thrust is about the leadership mindset.  The table of contents runs the gamut from Leading in the Flow of Work, Leaders Must React, Why Real-Time Leadership is so Hard, How to Sustain Your Empathy in Difficult Times to Lesson About Choosing a CEO.  A lot

  This is the user interface of the new control center for ARENA Slope Management, which allows you to keep an eye on the snow depth with inch precision – whether in the office or directly on the slopes. Now, the new 3D visualization with integrated orthophoto allows lanes and snow depth to be displayed in a single view. The uncluttered user

In the latest edition of Bob's Bits, it was mentioned that the new version of MountainOffice has significantly improved its functionality as a tool for Lift Operations Managers and Supervisors. With the added feature of historical trend data, lift mechanics can now easily access information on the components of a lift, making it easier for

I am thrilled to share some exciting news with you! Steep Management now represents ARENA Slopemanagement, an exceptional product from Austria that helps resorts tackle the challenges,of climate change and increasing dependence on snowmaking.   To help you understand the benefits of this product, I have created an introductory video. Although I am not an expert in

Although I have never met Matt Mosteller in person, I have seen many of his LinkedIn posts and comments. He consistently displays thoughtfulness and inspiration in his writing. Recently, he published an article titled "People Matter. Period. Does leadership have it wrong?" as a special in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. I found Matt's opening two

The ski season has begun, but some resorts are facing delayed openings due to the less-than-optimal snowfall. Others are opening with limited terrain. However, additional resorts are set to open in the coming weeks, with most planning to be open by mid-December. As we look ahead, I hope this season will be as successful as

My first experience with unions was a summer job while in college working on a county bridge repair crew. It was eye-opening. The regulars on the crew were all union members and we summer guys were not. Without going into detail, the experience made me anti-union. Admittedly that was in the late 1960s and a

I want to acknowledge that the NSAA Journal Summer 2023 issue features a lot of good input on technology in the ski industry, albeit there is no mention of operational tech except for the surveillance piece. The article by Casey Parliament of INTOUCH is an excellent guide on the procurement of technology. There are lots of

For many of you, the season starts in less than 45 days, and that means you are busy getting ready for the start of ski season. I wish you all good luck in your preseason endeavors. This newsletter is being published after two Northeast Trade shows, the NE Summit held in Portland, Maine, and the SKINY

Halfway through August and seeing ski areas post their opening days for the 2023/2024 season. Wow, where did summer go? From a Northern New England perspective, it has been one with significant water challenges, too much, making on-hill work and new construction tough. It is the weather, stupid, something you can’t control. Steep is happy to

By Maximilian Mündler MSc, Product Manager Last week I listened to the latest episode of the Storm Skiing Podcast with Alterra Mountain Company CEO Jared Smith. In the opening sequence, the former CEO of Alterra Mountain Company, Rusty Gregory, talked about how ski resorts are currently going through a transformation process that is bringing them into

Over the years, many people have asked me for an online demo of MountainOffice, but I could not provide such until recently.  As you may recall MountainOffice began serving ski areas in 1999 when online demos didn’t exist. Business was good, and improving the product was the main concern. Things like online demos were technically

It is a busy Saturday in February, and the mountain is straining under several thousand skiers and riders. All lifts are turning, parking lots are overfull, lodges are jammed, and all looks good. Then a slide happens in the North Bowl, and there are reports of people in the slide, and Lift 6 goes down

So much of what you read about ski industry-related digital tools is directly transactional with the skiers, riders, mountain bikers, and others. And this is as it should be.  The multi-touch points the ski area has with its customers are many and making that easier for the customers is logical and sound business.  The ultimate

MountainOffice has just released its latest update, version 1.4.5, but that does not stop the developers from continuing to move MountainOffice forward. After the 2023 InterAlpin in Innsbruck, MountainOffice staff reviewed the input they accumulated from existing clients, potential clients, and even competitors to check where they were at and where the input was telling

Not sure what to think about the national weather – heat, tornados, and flooding. Thoughts and prayers go out to those suffering from the impacts of these violent acts of nature. After three years of La Nina's influence on the tropics, conditions transitioned to El Niño in June 2023. The warmth shows up first in the

Another Harvard Business Review article I thought had meaningful relevancy to the ski industry.  I have taken the liberty to make the article more ski area manager meaningful. Front-line ski area managers are given the authority to lead by the rules of ski area governance, documented or implied via practices or verbal communication governance. They gain

If you want better maintenance for your ski lifts, check out the brief video in this post. It is easy and simple to use, MountainOffice. Yes, MountainOffice has been around for 23 years in the ski area maintenance arena. But that doesn’t mean that the program that was created in 1998 is the same that is

Many of the ski areas currently using a digital incident management system made their decision to select the system because the incident management system could connect to a waiver database.  There is nothing wrong with connecting to a waiver database to attach a waiver to the incident. Unquestionably, having a waiver attached is of significant

What a beautiful stretch of weather we have had in Vermont this past week.  Even had three ski areas offering skiing the first weekend in May; two are the result of snowmaking and the third could stretch the natural snow phenomenon but snowmaking played a role. In the West on the other hand mother nature

Hopefully, the title doesn’t give the impression that this is a high-brow conversation and not something that is relevant to you. Admittedly the article that generated this is from the Harvard Business Review and is not directly about ski area management. The topic strategy and staff alignment are very much about ski area management. As a

This is a repost of a prior post. I am reposting this because I get a sense of reluctance that maybe small ski areas believe that it is too good to be true that for $561/user/year, they can have this simple and powerful tool at the ski area.  The small ski areas I have talked

One of the many things I have learned in my Steep Management experience is that mountain operation management, VP to front-line managers, wants a way of tying all the various functions together. I fully understand and agree with the want to have a live visual display of what is happening on the hill whether it

This might be Mammoth in August In the previous Steep newsletter, I commented on winter weather being split between the East and West, but now the East has a winter and the West, especially California, and Utah, is getting an overload of storms.  It is easy to blame climate change and the warming of the Earth

What is spatial technology? Otherwise known as applied geography, spatial science uses technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (RS), satellite imagery, and augmented reality. These technologies are used to visualize, manipulate, analyze, display, and record spatial data. “Spatial Computing adds knowledge of the relative location and allows machines to work

The answer for many small mountains to be able to step up and significantly improve their record-keeping. All ski areas are alike, or are they? If you compare a mid-size ski and a large ski area, they are much alike except for the number of assets and skier days. Their organizational structure is similar just with

I will rate the past holiday season a success as it seems that ski areas did well with visits no matter the conditions.  Albeit the weather was harsh no matter where you were.  However, the West faired dramatically better than the East or Midwest. The extremes were dramatic – see the photo. The extremes sure

MountainOffice is excited to announce a new offering specially tailored to small ski areas. Recognizing that smaller ski areas may not have IT departments or even departments dedicated to lift maintenance or vehicle maintenance, MountainOffice has created MountainOffice LITE. Small ski areas have the same maintenance needs and requirements as larger ski areas. The paperwork for

As I have indicated in prior posts, I wanted to represent SmartMountain because I believed it to be the best solution for incident and dispatch management. I still believe that, but I have become more impressed with the founder of Smart Mountain as I have interacted with him. Wetherbee Dorshow, the founder, is a scientist

Cycles of behavior come and go, and I am of the opinion we as a society are seeing the beginning of a new behavior as it relates to work in the industrial world. The ski area industry is not immune to this change and will have to look at itself very profoundly to figure out

Having represented four different incident management software programs designed for the ski area industry, I thought I'd share with you what I heard from many ski patrols about what makes an excellent program. I currently represent SmartMountain, which I think rates an excellent grade. Bright knowledgeable programmers developed two of the programs I repped. They each

'Tis the Season – Happy Holidays to you all. May the bullwheels spin, the snow fall, and all guests be happy! The season has begun nationwide, with many ski areas open and more coming online almost daily. The snow has been plentiful in most of the West and only teasing in the East. Snowmaking is king

Safety is a critical component of our maintenance culture, or it should be if it isn’t.  However, sometimes the importance of safety gets pushed to the back of our minds as we work under pressure to get things done.  Maintenance folks in a ski area should be the leaders of a safety culture, especially lift

  Here is a reprint of an article that clearly articulates what company culture is, why it is important, building and improving your culture, hiring for cultural fit, examples of health culture, and how to identify a toxic culture. This may be an article you want to save as there are lots of links to additional reading. Company

Last month, I listened to a podcast shared by the PNSAA executive director, Jordan Elliot, and I was blown away by what I learned. The short story is Oregon State University, OSU, has secured substantial funding to fund The Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy, CORE, led by Lee Davis. "The Center for the Outdoor Recreation

Time to begin checking the boxes on the list of preparations for the start of the winter season.  One of my goals, which I never achieved was to come into the season without the last-minute scramble to open for the season. So, I know how hard it is to avoid that scramble and it is

Ski Area Late Summer Check List for Mountain Ops departments As I commented in Bob's Bits for Aust 2022, a simple checklist can possibly make your time between now and bull wheels turning for the public a bit less stressful.  I am sharing my generic checklist with you in hopes that it will assist and incentivize

Being someone who promotes and sells digital products, I found this article from inductive Automation on What is Digital Transformation to be a perfect explanation for what taking the step from paper to digital means. The article puts things in perspective for any ski resort, no matter what stage you are in of your digital

In paraphrasing, an article from STRATEGY+BUSINESS NEWSLETTER, in this unsettled time of labor shortages doing it the old way may not work anymore. "As organizations shift from command-and-control leadership to more decentralized decision-making, the "frozen middle" is melting—and managers have to step up."   What does this mean? The referenced article utilizes the issue of determining whether people should

Data and Information

Database of record: Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Rapid, intuitive retrieval of current and historical data (accessible on or offsite) improves decision making at all levels of management.

Simple report generation.

Reduces risk and potential lawsuits.

Supports visualization of current and future mountain infrastructure (e.g. Gazex explosives locations, forest thinning, designing new runs, parking, etc.).

 

Please click on the images to learn more

Ski Patrol

  • Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).
  • Use of common language allows for consistent communication and information sharing.
  • Increases safety by minimizing accidents through pattern analysis of incidents.
  • Accident Investigation and Risk Management.
  • Snow Safety (Ski Patrol) Training.

The web and mobile application suite will provide editing and data collection tools for mapping incidents (wrecks, accidents) of any kind.

Please click on the images to learn more.

Avalanche Module

 

Ability to document, track and analyze slope conditions with one tool.

Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).

 Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Provides detailed current and historical weather patterns for visualizing/predicting.

Saves money through more precise use of explosives. 

Please click on the images to learn more.

Dispatch

The dispatch and risk module leverage Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, providing an intuitive survey-form, data-driven workflow for point feature collection and reporting. Data collected with SmartMountain Survey apps, which are available for both web browsers and native desktop and mobile apps for standard operating systems, are integrated with one or more SmartMountain modules, providing real-time or disconnected and later synchronized workflows for data collection and integration.

Each ski resort decided what they wish to display on the Dispatch Dashboard including on-hill incidents, walk-in incidents, on-hill refusals,  missing persons, work details for different departments, ski patrol rosters for the day, clearances, and sweeps.

Please click on the images to learn more.

OPERATIONS LOGBOOK

  • Logs for Lift Maintenance, Lift Operations, and Groomer inspections, as well as building inspections.
  • Logs can record data and signatures, can record stops, station assignments.
  • Logs are tracked by calendar.

INFORMATION

  • Management review made easy through the use of Excel – reviewing a major grouping of assets or a single component of an asset such as a drive or a gearbox.
  • All information related to a system(asset) is in one place whether it be a lift inspection report, a manual, oil analysis, a service bulletin, or a letter from a vendor.

DASHBOARD

  • Every user has a unique dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be customized to reflect a user’s specific needs.
  • Quick access to the status of work and cost .

SCHEDULE/ WORK ORDERS​

  • The schedule function in MountainOffice provides for detailed instructions by task, recording of data such as the temperature of a gearbox, and service bulletins.
  • All schedules can have a time or counter trigger.