(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The 2021-2022 ski season will be the season to beat in the years to come at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro.

This year’s weather wasn’t phenomenal, General Manager Andrew Halmi said. The hill aims to open the week before Christmas and hopes to operate through St. Patrick’s Day. This year, Mother Nature initially was uncooperative, but she came around eventually.

“Ideally, we’re starting in December, and we’re maintaining cold weather and constant lake-effect snow all through March,” Halmi said. “We started later than we would have liked. On Christmas Day, it was 60 degrees and sunny. But once Mother Nature flipped a switch in January, it got cold and stayed cold. So we got 6 good weeks of winter this year.”

Despite the late start, the local ski hill had a standout season. More than 20,000 skiers took to the slopes at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro.

“In terms of weather, it was a good year — it wasn’t a great year, but it definitely wasn’t a bad year either,” Halmi said. “In terms of business, we had a great season. Because the weather was good, business was very good. We had a record number of skier visits this season.”

Last year during the summer season, the hill invested in improvements for its skiers. That included some $500,000 spent on snow-making upgrades. Mount Pleasant purchased five additional “snow guns” for the season. Those machines convert water into man-made snow for those times when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.

According to Halmi, the hill needs anywhere from a foot to 18 inches of man-made snow to ready the slopes. That takes about 4.5 million gallons of water.

“We need man-made snow to open. Snowmaking is really important. The five new snow guns we purchased allowed us to open quickly and to stay open throughout the year,” Halmi said.

A new grooming machine helped Mount Pleasant maintain the skiing conditions to its particular standards.

“We always pride ourselves in having really good ski conditions. We might be smaller, but we offer a better product than anybody else locally at any time. Adding a new groomer helped us with that, too,” Halmi said.

Mount Pleasant of Edinboro opened in December 1970. It has changed hands twice in 51 years, ultimately landing in the hands of current owners Doug and Laura Sinsabaugh in 2005.

Halmi has been at Mountain Pleasant since 2004. Born and raised in the Edinboro area, he grew up skiing, first hitting the slopes at the age of 3.

“Back then we had a T-bar — a lift that pulls you up while you’re standing on the ground. I remember going up between my dad’s legs on the T-bar,” Halmi said. “It’s fun that I’ve been able to do the same thing with my son.”

Halmi started working at Mount Pleasant as a ski instructor in 2004 while he was still in high school. In 2021, Halmi went full time. He’s the only full-time employee at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro.

“I love it. I love the place, and I love doing what I do,” he says. “Teaching people how to ski is a unique thing to do. The thrill and enjoyment people get out of it is second to none.”

A look at the chairlift without its usual snow.

With the snow gone and summer right around the corner, Mount Pleasant of Edinboro is about to roll into hiking and mountain biking season. They sell a pass to access their 7 miles of hiking and biking trails. But it’s also the season of equipment maintenance.

“It takes us about 9 months to get ready to do it (the ski season) again,” Halmi said.

All of the snowmaking lines will be flushed. All of the snow gun air compressors require servicing and oil changes. Three grooming machines need maintenance. The chairlift has more than 100 sheave wheels that need to be lubricated and maintained, and each of the 78 chairs on the chairlift are removed, serviced, greased and inspected for safety.

Halmi is the only full-time employee, and owner Doug Sinsabaugh handles just about everything outside. Between the two of them, most of the summer maintenance and preparation gets done (they hire some part-time seasonal workers to help through the summer as well).

“It’s a ton of work, but we have 9 months to get it done, so that helps,” Halmi said. “It’s a big deal just for us to get ready to do it again next winter.”

This summer, in addition to the annual maintenance, Halmi said Mount Pleasant of Edinboro is planning additional upgrades to its operations. That includes a new lift in the beginners area. It’ll be a “magic carpet” lift — essentially a conveyor belt that carries the skiers back to the top.

“It makes it easy for kids to get up and down the hill,” Halmi said.

Three more snow guns will be installed. And Halmi hinted at a major project but chose to play his cards close to the vest.

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“We’re just teasing it a bit — it’ll be a big one,” Halmi said.