Mount Snow selling $12 limited tickets

Here’s a deal worth  jumping on: $12 lift tickets for Mount Snow on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

The southern Vermont area has a 1,000 limit on the heavily-discounted tickets. The regular price of a midweek ticket is $75.

But tickets need to be purchased in advance.

A check this evening showed the cheap tickets are still available, but I’m sure they won’t last at that price. To purchase $12 tickets, go here.

It’s a great opportunity to cash in that remaining vacation/sick/”mental health” day and grab a early 1960s-priced lift ticket that doesn’t come around often. Call some buddies and make it an great, one day escape before the madness of the holidays kicks in. On the way home, spend an hour in small, downtown Willmington to buy some holiday gifts from merchants still trying to come back from the Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

Why is Mount Snow doing this? To celebrate Founder’s Day on its 58th birthday.

Walter Schoenknecht

Mount Snow has deep Connecticut connections. Its founder, Walter Schoenknecht, was a New Haven native who opened Mount Snow on Dec. 12, 1954. He also opened Connecticut’s Mohawk Mountain in 1947,  the Cornwall ski area still run by his family. The “Mighty Mo” plans to open Saturday, Dec. 8, a week later than originally planned. Probably, a smart move so it can offer more trails for the price they intend to charge.

Schoenknecht, who died in 1987, was one of the first people to use machine-made snow on ski trails. He, along with three people from the Milford-based Tey Manufacturing Company, helped develop the first snowmaking system. The company had manufactured an aluminum ski, but a snowless winter in 1949 pushed the company in a new direction: making snow.

Their first snowmaking system was a combination of a spray paint compressor and insulated garden hoses. It essentially atomized the water into a fine mist that was shot into below freezing air. It worked, but would take years of tinkering by other inventors to make the process more efficient and worth the investment.

Unfortunately, Tey did not aggressively pursue its snowmaking technology and later sold its patent.

Because there were other people making early snowmaking machines no one person or company gets full credit for “inventing” machine-made snow.

Schoenknecht, however, does gets credit for promoting it and introducing new features to the ski experience.

Often called the “Walt Disney of Skiing, ” Schoenknecht installed airborne cable cars connecting a Mount Snow  hotel to the mountain. He also introduced a mono-rail ski lift, an outdoor swimming pool for skiers, a tropical garden in the lodge and a frozen geyser that skiers skied off in the spring.

After four years 0f poor snowfall and an oil crisis, Schoenknecht’s Vermont resort was taken over by a bank in the mid-70s. Schoenknecht would live another 10 years running his first ski area – Mohawk Mountain.

Before he passed, I had a few opportunities to talk to  Walt,  who gladly shared his stories and experiences of running ski areas. Walt was so valued in the ski industry he was asked to check out if one location in Colorado … Vail …  could be successful. Think you know his answer.

But sadly, at many ski club open houses in Connecticut in the early Eighties, few had an an idea of how this tall, lanky guy with a crewcut changed so many things.

Today at Mount Snow, there is a trail named after Schoenknecht named Thanks Walt.

And with $12 lift tickets, it’s time to say thanks again to Walt!

Jim Shay