Kelly's Blog: Summer Projects

Monday, October 21, 2013

I was talking to a passholder during Octoberfest and he asked why I haven’t written a blog about all the improvements we worked on over the summer.  I told him I usually save that for big projects, like a new lift.  He reminded me that a lot of our clientele are interested in all the projects, big and small.  So Barry, thanks for the feedback.  This blog is for you and all the other folks like you.  And if there is something you would like me to write about, let me know!

The largest and most important project was an extensive snowmaking pipe upgrade.  That project is described below by Dave Meeker, our Communications Manager, who wrote the following piece for a press release:


Nearly four miles of aging snowmaking pipe, was replaced, on ten different trails. This new pipe, which ranges in size from 4” to 16” diameter, will dramatically improve how efficiently the water gets to the snow guns and in turn increase the snow output.


Middle Exhibition has now been electrified with 11 new pedestals that will run portable fan guns.

*The installation of a new Anderson Moisture Separator to the air compressor system is expected to remove four to five times more moisture from the air than current technology in place at the resort.  When it’s cold moisture freezes, which in turn creates rime on the inside of the air hoses.  This reduces the amount of space air has to travel through, which results in less air making it to the snow guns.  Now, more air pressure will reach the air/water snowguns which will increase their output and allow crews to run more guns.

*A state-of-the-art airflow meter has been installed to help the snowmaking control manager understand how much air is being sent up the mountain.  This information will then be used to help make more efficient decisions regarding how much air to use and when.

*These two projects were made possible by working with Efficiency Vermont; a private non-profit company with the goal of helping all Vermonters to reduce energy costs.  Efficiency Vermont provides technical assistance, rebates, and other financial incentives to help Vermont households and businesses reduce their energy costs with energy-efficient equipment, lighting, and approaches to construction and major renovation.


Finally, two snowmaking pumps were rebuilt and we expect that maintenance will yield 200 - 250 more GPMs.

Having spent so much time and money on our snowmaking system we are very excited to use it.  We have already begun testing and we could fire up the system any day now.  This early, it will be for more extensive testing but sustained cold temperatures are just around the corner.  Let’s just say we are watching the weather very carefully.

Currently we are working with Greenleaf  Energy Solutions  to upgrade or replace over 400 lighting fixtures, across the resort. This is a $225,000 project focused on saving energy.    Again, we have to give credit to Efficiency Vermont for their help with this project and we look forward to the future when we are estimated to have annual electric savings of $50,000.

Another large project that you may not see, took place at the equipment rental shop in the Clocktower.  This summer the layout and rack system was redesigned and built to service our guests faster.  We made a big investment in new equipment too, to the tune of a quarter million on new skis, snowboards, boots and poles!

We always fit in a ton of painting – including lifts, doors, tables, trim, fences, etc.  The Cupola is the proud recipient of a new roof, siding, windows and paint.  We will also be painting the exterior of the Summit Lodge, if time allows.  Our pro shop and Fairway’s Restaurant, at the golf club, also received new roofs.  Down at the Howe Farm a new foundation was installed, after Tropical Storm Irene compromised the original foundation.

We were able to do a good amount of work to hand clear tree skiing areas including the Boonies (skier's left One More Tim), Fantastics (trees between Ridge and Uncles), Sap Tapper (skier’s right of Ego Aley), Epiphany (skier's right of Freefall, below the Wall) and Frontier (Top of Tumbleweed).  And we are trying to do a little more before snow flies.


Lift Painting Update:

Towers on Lift 10 the Outpost, and Lift 19 the Sunbrook Quad were painted.  We painted chairs on Lift 18 (new seat pads too), the Challenger Triple and Lift 14, the Beartrap Double.  The Nitro Express, lift #2 is getting new seat pads and we replaced a bunch of seat pads on Tumbleweed, Ego, the Sundance Triple and Beartrap.

We  also freshened up some golden chairs and added a newly themed chair in honor of the Olympics - can you guess which lift?

Freshly painted chair #50.  Photo by G. Bent


Chair #1 - guess the location. Thanks to Keith Anyan for the idea and Keith and Genie for painting it.  Photo by G. Bent

Food and Beverage was full of new ideas this summer and will feature two new venues for you to try out.

The Bullwheel Pub is located at the summit of Mount Snow, on the second floor of our Summit Lodge.  The idea was to create a destination worth the trip.  Expect a rustic menu paired with a fine list of beers.  We plan to open the Bullwheel 7 days a week and at select times in the summer.

The Bullwheel opened Columbus Weekend but we have a little more to do before we open for winter.  Building the Bullwheel was a labor of love for Guy Lewis and his staff.  They remodeled this space with found wood and objects and created bullwheel after bullwheel by hand.  When we worried that new tables would not fit into the budget they found a way to produce gorgeous, hand-made tables for a fraction of the price.  They worked weekends and nights to get the job done.  This is one you really have to see to appreciate.  Here's a sneak preview.

BEFORE - 2nd Floor of the Summit Lodge

 Photo by B. Ryan

AFTER - All the tables were hand made using leftover wood from the Bluebird storage barn - Yankee Ingenuity!

Installing one of the custom-built bullwheel tables, hours before we opened for business!

The menu will be inspired with a nod to the rustic, alpine experience. This cheese board was a popular choice during Octoberfest.  Photo by B. Ryan

Can you think of a DIY project that you thought would be quick and easy but ended up being a hornet's nest?  That was the Marketplace Cafeteria floor, minus the actual hornets.  No one will ever know it, but it took a while to remove all the different layers and properly lay a floor that will stand up to years of heavy traffic.  We also updated the look and feel so it would better match the new name, Market Fresh.  Market Fresh will feature more products that are sourced locally with a focus on healthier foods.  But don't worry, the french fries, cheeseburgers, onion rings, clam chowder and chicken fingers will still be on the menu!

Sometimes you try new things and they just don't catch on.  As was the case with, Go Fish, our new sushi eatery that was introduced last year.  I guess coming to Vermont for sushi is not part of a skiers expectations.  No problem, we are full of ideas around here and we quickly agreed on a candy shop, with Vermont-made goodies, bulk candy, specialty hot chocolates and more.  Dave Meeker came up with the name, Sweet Stash and Taylor Wilkins, who manages our Sign Shop, designed the logo.  Taylor designed the Bullwheel logo, too.

There are lots and lots of  projects and purchases that take time and money but are even less glamorous.  This summer we purchased a good amount of equipment including some SUV's, a van, a truck , snowmobiles and ATVs.

As soon as we closed for ski season, our lift mechanics started maintenance on all of our lifts replacing lifts belts, pulleys, electric motor rebuilds, gearbox work, sheave trains, etc.  They have recently started winter lift inspections with the state (annually process) and will be ready to spin the lifts on opening day.

Our roads and parking lots have also seen their share of work this summer with a lot of grading and material fill,  additional lighting for pedestrian traffic, culvert repair and a little paving.

That is the summary for the mountain.  There is another blog I could write (don't worry, I won't) about all of the improvements in lodging and IS.  How much does all of this cost?  A little under $2 million.

What did you do on your summer vacation?
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