Kelly’s Blog: Focus on Snowmaking

Summer has officially started and behind the scenes of Adventure Camp, mountain biking and golfing, we are busy working on our summer capital projects.

The big ticket item this summer continues to be snowmaking.  A little history for those of you not quite up to speed on Mount Snow master planning.  Mount Snow has a master redevelopment plan to redesign and build all of the base areas to improve skier services and add more slopeside lodging.  The project is phased and long before you see the Clocktower building replaced, we will build a snowmaking pond and a new base lodge at Carinthia (Phase I.)  Most of the permitting is done to build the snowmaking pond (West Lake) and once financing is secured, we can begin.  It could be as early as next summer – time will tell.  Here is some more info on the West Lake project from our website.

What I find most exciting about the West Lake project is that Mount Snow will have the water needed to eventually supply 100% of our trails with snowmaking, if we desire to do so.   Imagine trails like Olympic, Hop and the Dippers with snowmaking…I know I have been dreaming of that day for years!

So how is all of this future planning related to our capital plans for this summer?  We are preparing our snowmaking system for the future build out and at the same time making our current system as efficient as possible.

Electrification:  This summer we will add more electric to plug in our fan guns on lower mountain trails.  This move allows us to eliminate ALL of the compressed air in the base area (approximately from the top of Drop down.)  Decreasing air loss saves a lot of electricity as our air compressors are electric.

Control Project:  We are spending approximately $200k on a customized system to control the current system and integrate into the new one.  The new system will help us better optimize how much snow we’re putting on the hill and with some help from   Efficiency Vermont we’ll learn how much energy we’re saving.  Our snowmaking department will enjoy instantaneous communication to all of our pumphouses and increased reliability – our current system is almost 30 yrs old.

More Pipe:  Like last year, we continue to replace snowmaking pipe.  This year on Charlie’s Chase and the Snowdance/Cascade line.  And sometimes you find yourself spending about $25k on an unexpected blowout, which is the case with our Snowdance feed line that blew about a month ago.

Handle Road:  We will spend about $200k to replace 1,000 ft of 18 inch pipe with 24 inch.  This is another step to ready us for West Lake as the water will be transported down Handle Rd and for increased capacity, all pipe will go from 18 to 24″.  The section we are replacing this summer is from Suntec to the crest of the hill (old Sargent’s home.)

We have a bunch of smaller items that we are working on this summer.  I will start off with the list of “drive me nuts, must have,  that no one will ever see!”  Every year we spend so much on stuff you will never see and it is one of my pet peeves.

Windows XP replacement at the tune of $150k.  Just think of the cool stuff we could have bought with that!

There is another $200k in boilers, roofs, water lines, laundry room washer replacements, electrical upgrades, fire suppression upgrades and stuff like that.  Very important but zero on the sex appeal meter.

We will continue with the food and beverage improvement theme.  Look for new selections and looks at Market Fresh, Sweet Stash, the Summit Lodge and the Station Tap Room.  Some of the money will be spent on behind-the-scenes equipment like coolers, freezers and broilers.  But some will be more obvious like furniture and salad bars.  All are to achieve a common goal of providing you with the best food and beverage experiences possible.

I know a lot of you do not spend much time at our Sundance Base Lodge but it is one of my favorite buildings on the mountain.  Did you know that Walt Schoenknecht built it just like his Mohawk Mountain ski lodge?  Yup – twins!  Our bus groups will be delighted with the face lift – new carpet, lighting, roof, chimney, etc.  Improvements are wrapping up just in time for our first Family Camp.  Here’s a tip for you.  During the holiday periods (think Christmas and President’s Week) we do very few busses so Sundance Lodge is a great spot to stop for hot cocoa, lunch or a beer.  Less crowds and always a fantastic view.

One of my favorite items on the capital list is a new website with the goals of letting us be more responsive to your needs and to give you a site that is more user friendly and has an improved storefront.  Technology costs big bucks so the website upgrade is a big chunk of our capital money.

Of course there are all the usual suspects like vehicles, paving, snowmobiles, mowers, lift parts and a tube shaper.  It all ads up to about $1.5M.  And for those of you who read the entire blog, thank you.  You get the inside scoop.  There is more to come.  We are still finalizing another project.  I will share it with you asap.  No….it is not a new lift so stop those rumors right now!

Happy summer.  I hope to see you on the mountain, at the 4th of July parade or at the Bullwheel for a summer brew!

 

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