Kelly's Blog: Renovate Trails...check!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

1.9.14  We've had our share of ups and downs this season.  It seems like every time we get the mountain into perfect shape, it warms up and rains.  And then drops to below zero 12 hours later.   I'm running out of fingers to count these reoccurring events.  Talk about depressing but I have to say that when I talk to the mountain ops team they seem to be taking the weather smack-downs well.  Or they fake it well in front of me.

Having the right tools to bounce back is very important and we have been taking out all the secret weapons to help us get the hill back into shape.  Of course, there is snowmaking and our team has been at it 24/7 since the temps dropped on Monday.  Thanks to them you will be skiing and riding South Bowl this weekend - that is a big, 22 acre trail that they have added, while they resurfed a bunch of trails like Long John, Cascade, Canyon, Freefall,  Cooper's Junction, Super Pipe, Mine Shaft and Season's Pass.

Photo of South Bowl taken 1.9 by Brendan Ryan. Dave skied it today and says we should have it open tomorrow!

Our grooming dept has a bag of tricks, too.  On Monday, before the temp dropped they cat tracked (tiller up) as much terrain as possible and then waited for it to set up with the dropping temps.  Then they went back over it with the tiller down.  Doing this gives the tiller something to grab on, something like raising the nap on a carpet.  More simply put, we double groomed many of our trails and closed trails that were not groomed.

We also have 2 renovators that we can attach to our grooming machines when the surface is hard and needs to be chunked up before the tiller hits it.

The renovator (orange) is mounted onto the front of cat #40, a Pisten Bully.

As you will see in the video, the renovator and its aggressive teeth can dig down into the snow surface about 6" and break up hard pack, making it easy to till up and recreate POWDER.

I didn't have much time to ski today but decided to put the renovators to the test.  I went out at 12:15 pm and took my first run on Exhibition to Lodge.  These trails have NOT been renovated and we have not made snow on them since the rain on Monday.  The upper section all the way to Lodge pitch uses air/water gun snowmaking technology and from the pitch down to the base we have fan gun snowmaking.  The difference from air/water snowmaking to fan gun snow is obvious if you are paying attention.  I would describe the snow as fall away corn (but not the spring wet corn) over firm, some ice.  When I got down to the fan gun area it was more fall away corn but over hard pack - more of a Styrofoam consistency.  Yes, there were icy areas, mostly on the steep sections.  I would give my first run a 7.5 rating.  It was actually a lot of fun because the skiing was very fast and I was loving a pair of skis that I had just signed out from the Demo Center - thanks Alan!!!

I had a fun ride up with this duo from CT and another duo from NJ!

Next I decided to try Cascade to Snowdance.  Cascade/Canyon was renovated last night and Snowdance the day before.  We also made snow on Cascade/Canyon since the Monday rain.  We made snow on Snowdance last week, before the rain.  Cascade was sweet - I am not sure if it was a combo of the new snow or the renovator.  A better snow surface than Ex/Lodge but in the shade so not as enjoyable from a visibility standpoint.  Snowdance had a different feeling snow surface and I was pretty sure it was the result of the renovator.  Like I described on Ex/Lodge, it was fall away corn but on Snowdance, the corn was the size of real corn.  It did not make for a chattery surface.  It was easy to turn through and a lot of fun.  The renovator certainly renovated but it did not create powder.  Maybe it needs one more session with the renovator.  Whatever the renovator did, I liked it and I am naming Snowdance my favorite of the day at an 8.5.

Look closely for the corn-sized corn.

I checked in with Dave Moulton (our director of mountain ops) and he was out conducting his own test.  He skied Ridge (not renovated) and gave it the thumbs down.  Then he skied some renovated trails and said they were a big improvement.  I bet I know which trail is getting renovated tonight!

Once again, I return from the hill amazed at what our snowmakers and grooming dept has been able to do in 3 short days.  Hang in there guys.  A little birdie told me this weather pattern is shifting and more winter-like, consistent temps are headed in next week.


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