Technology added to Meadows

Summer changes aim to alleviate crowd issues on peak winter days

Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort announced last week that a new technology will be installed and ready for the upcoming season to address what it says is the resort’s most complained-about issue.

The traditional lift ticket will be a thing of the past, as will the lift line attendant manually scanning passes each time a guest passes through the line. In their place, Meadows is installing electronic gates at all of its lifts this summer. The gates use Radio Frequency Identification technology to scan passes guests will carry either inside their clothing or on an arm band. An embedded chip in tickets and passes will trigger gates to open, eliminating the requirement for guests to present their pass or lift ticket for hand scanning

“Showing a ticket or season pass for scanning, every time a lift is boarded is the number-one guest complaint at Mt. Hood Meadows,” said Dave Tragethon, resort executive director of communications. “The RFID access gates will allow instant and consistent verification, with the card or pass tucked securely in a guests’ pocket. Guests will no longer need to fumble for their ticket, holding up others for scanning. This will improve lift line flow and the overall experience.”

To facilitate the new system, and to improve overall digital capabilities, the resort is installing fiber optic lines to update its old internet connection. Other changes for the upcoming year include two new snow-cats added to the grooming fleet, some minor “infrastructure improvements” and new efforts to help alleviate at-capacity conditions during peak winter days.

“A large initiative we’re taking is to reduce the amount of vehicles coming to the mountain on peak days,” Tragethon said. “We had six days last year and six the year before when we reached capacity in our parking lots.”

Tragethon noted two ways the resort is trying to reduce traffic on peak days. The first is by increasing the number of buses traveling to the mountain. He said there will be about four times the number of park-and-ride buses available. The second is a new pricing structure that will result in higher ticket prices on peak days.

Ticket and season pass prices for the 2012-13 season have not yet been released.

With parking at a premium on peak days, the resort is also planning on expanding its capacity with a new lot between Highway 35 and the Hood River Meadows parking lot, where an Oregon Department of Transportation gravel staging area currently sits.

Tragethon said the development is still a few seasons away and will serve as a shuttle lot.

Ongoing major construction along Highway 35 has sparked discussion of developing additional parking for the resort along the highway, as an extension of the Teacup Lake nordic area parking. Tragethon said that both ODOT and the U.S. Forest Service do not approve of having shuttle parking along the highway.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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