Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mountain Mechanics: Making and Maintaining the Product at Cannon Mtn.

Head of snow making explains how the pump house works.
At 10 am our group met with the man in charge of snow making operations at Cannon Mountain. Cannon is a state run facility with the first operating tram in North America. Cannon gets their water from Echo Lake, which is located at the base of their mountain. They combine the water with a blast of air in order for the water to freeze more quickly into snow particles.

We toured the pump house at Cannon, which has equipment still running efficiently since the 60’s. If it isn’t broken then why fix it, right? The director of operations, Matt, took us through the pump house and explained to us how daily operations work at the mountain, how the equipment runs, who works for him, the shifts required to make snow throughout the year, and the conditions it requires to blow snow. Most of these guys blow snow throughout the night and then have a chance to ski/ride as the sun comes up and the resort opens. Not a bad lifestyle!

View looking back from the summit lift.

After touring the pump house, we went over to the snow-cat barn. Here we got a tour of all the snow-cats and machines that Cannon uses to groom, push, and maintain the snow on the mountain. We spoke with a man named Bill who has been working at Cannon for thirty plus years. This guy was a wealth of knowledge when it comes to snow-cats. Group members learned about the maintenance it takes to keep these machines running throughout the season. Just the bolts on one track of a snow machine can fill two five gallon buckets and cost upwards of $5,000. Just for the bolts! The mountain generally leases these machines and they upgrade usually every four years. Group members had a chance to sit in the driver seat, played some music over the stereo, and moved the machines around a bit. Nobody was hurt and we didn’t break anything.

After a few hours of riding on the mountain, some group members got to sit in on a Snow Plan meeting for Cannon Mountain. During this meeting, we heard from all the program leaders such as head of ski patrol, head of ski race operations, head of grooming operations, and head of sales and marketing. This is a daily meeting where everyone decides what needs attention on the mountain, and there is a discussion about upcoming events. The weather is important and always a key factor in this meeting.

Tomorrow we will travel north to Jay Peak Mountain in Vermont. We will stay overnight at Jay Peak, hopefully meet with their ski patrol, and discuss their international investment program. We will be staying in a slope-side townhouse, cooking family style meals, dabbling in Jay’s glades and back country, and easing our muscles in their new waterpark.

Taking a closer look at Cannon Mountain.
"Today we went to Cannon mountain. When we arrived we learned about how they make the snow. I learned that it is a mixture of high air pressure and water. After we learned about all the machines, we headed next door to see the snow cats. We got to climb inside and check all the buttons out. Finally we got to ride, the mountain was groomed and fast today, and the parks were smooth. Before we left we listened in on a meeting with some of the people that run the mountain. It was interesting to see how Cannon runs the mountain on a daily basis."

-Ben K.

Top of North America's first tram.

Tired riders are happy riders!

No comments:

Post a Comment