Mild temperatures create some challenges for Otis Ridge ski area

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OTIS – It’s the hidden gem of the Berkshires, Otis Ridge ski area.

The small, family-friendly mountain makes people feel as if they are stepping back in time to the year it opened, 1946. For years, Otis Ridge has been welcoming new skiers, offering a special Beginner Day each year.

"What we do is we offer free lift tickets, rentals and lessons for anyone who wants to try skiing for a little bit," said Eric VanOosteven, general manager of Otis Ridge. "Our lessons are sold out for right now, but we are still open for everyone to try our two beginner trails."

This year, it has been a bit of a challenge to prepare and make the day happen.

"Last Saturday, there was thunder, lightning, and there was rain. We postponed it a week," VanOosteven said.

With the event moved to this Saturday, the team got to work making snow earlier this week, but Mother Nature had other plans with milder temperatures.

"We were able to make snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. As soon as the sun rose, the temperatures shot right up," he said.

The mountain relied on man-made snow, and it’s quite a process to produce it. Water is taken from a creek on the property and fed up and around the mountain through a line. Meanwhile, massive air compressors, that date back to 1912, push air through a separate line. Eventually, the two lines come together within the snow sticks, and then powdery flakes start to fly. However, it is only of the conditions are right.

"Unless it is below freezing, we can’t make snow," he said. "It is time-consuming. It uses a lot of resources, and it is expensive."

On Friday, groomers will spread out the snow that the team was able to make earlier this week.

Despite the roller coaster temperatures, Otis Ridge says they are ready to welcome first-time skiers to the slopes this Saturday. To learn more, click here.