A New Set Of Pipes
By Andrew, on Wed, Aug 17, 2016
New water and air lines mean earlier (and easier) opens for our lower mountain learning areas.
As we move closer to lifts opening for another season, it's good to see on-mountain improvements underway with projects on both sides of the resort. To learn more about all the hillside action and current developments, we snagged some time with our Mountain Operations insiders.
The Interstate will be a point of focus, as the crew preps to add 20 permanent snowgun fixtures onto the trail, according to Snowmaking Supervisor & Head Welder/Fabricator, Corey Guillette. Mountain Operations is laying a new pipeline through the top, center portion of the Interstate in a more direct path to reach the Jug Handle terrain park and more area on the skier's right side of the trail.
"In the past, we were always fighting the wind and hoses would get buried in the process", explains Guillette. Portable snowguns were also hauled out as temporary solutions. With the ability to make snow directly on the Jug Handle, the Parks Crew can produce quicker turnarounds, use less push time and focus more energy on placing features.
"We won't have to push it over 200 feet. We'll make snow where the features are going to be," states Guillette.
Terrain Parks Manager, Nick Rushmeyer, looks forward to the season ahead and plans to get creative with the extra pump capacity.
"What this means for us is earlier park openings with more features top to bottom and a better early season guest experience overall," says Ruschmeyer.
Strategic positioning is key for the new snowgun locations, says Director of Mountain Operations, Walter Elander.
"Additional hydrants and towers will increase our snowmaking capacity by 60% on the Interstate," Elander says. "Adding more hydrants and towers is only part of the process though." Elander continued that the increased capacity also means the resort will be able to open learning terrain at Tramside earlier in the season; something that they haven’t always been able to do.
The placement of 6 new permanent guns along the skier's left of the Jug Handle, working with the wind, will drastically improve accuracy and save several man hours for years to come, Guillette adds.
"We're basically doubling up all our guns", says Guillette. "Hopefully we'll have a park before Christmas," he laughs.
On the other side of the hill, Stateside's beginner zone imporovements include the installation of a new valve station near the Taxi Quad unload, to help cover more of the surrounding area in the early season. Trails including Lower Can Am, Boulevard, and Upper Queen's Highway will open as soon as the lift spins, states Guillette. He continued that Lower Can Am is an excellent beginner trail to learn on, which often get overlooked in the early months.
"We'll be able to hit those trails at once and give lessons earlier," Guillette explains. "People will have a place to be while we get the park ready," he adds.
Elander explains that in past seasons our lower mountain snowmaking operated on two independent loop systems that had to run at separate times. The same upper mountain lines used to spray snow on Goat Run were used to cover Upper Queen's, which resulted in longer wait times to finish Queen's Highway. Now, Elander says all lower mountain lines will run on one loop system and work together, allowing us to cover the lower mountain in a unified effort.
"By consolidating to one loop system on our lower lines, we can focus all of our firepower on the lower mountain at once," states Elander. This will help us connect the two sides of the resort faster and more efficiently than before, he says.
All in, including projects on both Tramside and Stateside, roughly 75% of the project's materials come from existing supplies, but new valves and piping will be purchased to complete the lower mountain snowmaking upgrades.
Additionally, Mountain Ops. is reversing the direction of pipe flow from the green valve station (VS2 located on the intersection of Lower Goat Run and Lower Quai). VS2 initially feeds down to Queen's Highway, but thanks to the new Taxi Quad valve station, we can focus those higher resources uphill, says Guillette.
"Reversing the flow to an uphill feed on these lines gives us much more control of the pressure being fed through the pipes, and makes our job easier," stated Guillette.
As we aim to work smarter, we'll continue to keep you updated on our upgrades and their progress.
Watch Moutain Ops. relocate this valve house to the top of the Interstate. *Supporting photos and video courtesy of Corey Guillette*