Kelly's Blog: Snowmaking Update

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Around my house, I called it the “summer of the hummingbirds” because we had a lot of visitors to our feeder and they were ravenous!  At one point I was filling the feeder twice a day.  When the cold weather blew in over the weekend the hummingbirds packed up and left and we’ve fired up the woodstove twice – that is early in our book.  Mount Washington had snow already (not early in their book.)  Everyone has quickly switched over to winter-mode and  there is a lot going on but nothing as exciting as our snowmaking projects.

The summer has consisted of 5 big snowmaking projects and lots of little ones.

1)  Continued last summer’s project of replacing several miles of snowmaking pipe in the following locations: Charlie’s Chase, River Run, Cascade & Discovery Center/Snowdance.

2)  Electrify Launch Pad, Charlie’s Chase and the Farm (Park at Carinthia below Nitro), which will allow us to use fan gun snowmaking technology.

3)  Snowmaking control system upgrade – We are in the process of installing Smart Snow, a $200,000 state-of-the-art snowmaking control system that provides constant data on the performance of the operation – think air traffic control for snowmaking.  Without it, you can miss some efficiencies.  Worst case, you start blowing up pipes and pumps.

4)  Purchase of 645 new low-energy snow guns – many have already arrived.  This means ALL of our snowmaking equipment is now 100% low energy technology.  For all of you snowmaking nerds (it’s a good thing), here is the breakdown:  241 HKD Impulse snowguns , 195 Snow Logic 4-Step snowguns and 209 Ratnik Baby Snow Giant X2’s.  Most will be mounted on towers but there are a good amount on tripods for portability and those tricky trails.

The new inventory is impressive but the exciting part of this project is the fact that the new snow guns will require as little as eight cubic feet per minute (CFM) of compressed air, compared to 200-300 CFM that the older technology required.   In marginal temps, you use more air to make snow and when the temps drop, it is just the opposite, you use more water.  Thus, we can expect more snow in a shorter span of time, even in marginal temps.

5)  Replace about 1,000 ft of snowmaking pipe on Handle Road.  This is an upgrade to 24″ pipe, which is the size the entire line will be upgraded to when we build West Lake and start withdrawing water from it.

The bulk of our capital money this year was spent on all of the above.  If you throw in last summer’s pipe replacement, we have spent about 2.5 million on snowmaking in two summers. Thankfully, Mount Snow qualified for some incentives provided by  Efficiency Vermont , which made our expansive project list attainable.

Pretty soon we will get to test our new and improved system.  Any guesses on opening day?  Or when we will fire the system up?

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