Tease the Season

Tease the Season

November 14th, 2018

Word on the slopes is — it’s snow time! Mother Nature set the stage with a flush of flurries Saturday morning. A mere few hours later with a slight drop in temps, we fired up our fan guns for the opening act.

snow blower

Techno Alphin fan guns fired up on Vista. 

This is what we do and what we live for: the behind-the-scenes magic making snow ride like butter. We are the snowmisers, the snowmakers. The crew that makes it possible to ski and ride a full season on east coast slopes. A collection of maintenance misfits in Vehicle, Lift, Snowmaking, Grooming, Tubing, Building, and Grounds, we are: Mountain Operations.

Returning night crew snowmaker, Jake, geared up for the first snowmaking of the season.

Since the close of last season, we’ve been in prep mode for this year’s opening day. Our goal? To be ready when Mother Nature gives the okay, when wet bulb temps linger consistently around 28 degrees F.

We’re geared up to ready, set, blow. Hoses are hooked up to air and water hydrants. Automation faults are cleared from the system. Hydrants are programmed. Benches are painted. Lights, rewired. As the Grounds and Maintenance crew fills pot holes in the Summit lot, the Snowmakers are checking valves and hydrants on the hill. Lift Maintenance is inspecting chairs and lift lines. Park crew is building out rails.  Vehicle Maintenance is meticulously changing every single bolt on groomer tracks and repairing engines and parts on trucks, groomers, and snowmobiles.

Tom tests water and air valves to prep for snowmaking.

The fan gun fire up is the first test run of the season. It’s a means to check automation communication from gun to computer without expending significant energy resources. Fan guns on Vista have their own on-board air compressor, so the main compressor can stay resting until consistent temps call for round-the-clock snowmaking.

Trailer fan guns are checked and repaired on School Hill before being moved to their seasonal home on the slopes.

The shift of energy rides like a wave when temperatures begin to dip. We anticipate long hours and seven days a week shifts. The feel of wet snow to dry, gun adjustment, pile pushing, and corduroy tracks. The frustration of wet boots, ripped gloves, broken parts, and equipment fails. We place our bets in the hands of Mother Nature. We accept the risk. We embrace the unexpected. The ever-changing everyday tasks and challenges is what keeps our job engaging and interesting. We work as a team. We climb like a winch cat.

Early morning frost in the Valley.

The first test run is just the beginning. With cooperation from Mother Nature, we plan to make snow this week in hopes of opening slopes for the first runs of the season.

Psssst… we know you’re ready to shred. Come ride with us. Hone in to blog updates for the who, what, where, when, why, and how of snowmaking. We’ll share the tricks-of-the-trade and the journey of the season, mountain updates, and events not to miss. It’s more than a tease, it’s magic in the making.

See you on the slopes,

the Snowmisers