Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Ins and Outs of Cannon Mt.

Day 2: Cannon Mt.

Back on I-93 North this morning again at 8:15am, but today we drove past Loon and up through Franconia Notch, to Cannon Mt. The anticipation was high as we approached the mountain, especially for those who had not been to Cannon before. Snowy, rocky cliffs towered on either side of the mini-bus as we wound through the notch and excited for Cannon.
Our first meeting at Cannon was with the Manager of Snowmaking Operations, Matt. Matt explained to us that all of the water Cannon uses to make snow comes from the small lake at the base of the mountain, Echo Lake. Matt shared with us the process of pumping the water from Echo Lake up the mountain, eventually turning it into snow.

Echo Lake at Cannon Mt
Pump House at Cannon Mt w/ Snowmaking Manager, Matt.
These machines pump the water from
Echo Lake.
Some knowledge gained from Snow Making Operations:
  • Cannon uses enough electricity from making snow to power 2,000 residential homes!
  • The wet bulb is the most important factor to consider when making snow.
  • If a pipe bursts on the mountain, it can send water hundreds of feet up into the air.
  • The oldest equipment they have is from 1967.
  • The most expensive piece of equipment they have is nearly $750,000 and has 1,750 horsepower.
  • Snowmaking works around the clock; 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

After snowmaking, our group headed over to the Maintenance garage. We met Mike, the Maintenance Supervisor, and Jason, who was working on Bode Miller’s Cadillac for an upcoming auction! Mike is a retired Army technician, who spent twenty years working on heavy artillery equipment. He was organized, to-the-point, humorous, and detailed a lot of information for the boys. He primarily works with the groomers, but has problem-solved nearly every piece of equipment that Cannon owns. The students even had a chance to sit in the seats of the groomers.

Pump House

Maintenance Crew and Grooming Operations

Some knowledge gained from Cannon’s Maintenance Department:
  • Groomers work during the night in two shifts; from 4:30pm-midnight, and midnight to 8:30am.
  • Maintenance leases their fleet of Snow Cats and exchanges them every four years.
  • The groomers run on diesel and can hold 78 gallons, enough for an 8-hour session of heavy grooming.
  • The groomers are not necessarily “social people”. They have a lot of time to think to themselves alone on a mountain at night.
  • Although you are just sitting in a groomer throughout your shift, it is very taxing on the body and mind.
  • The groomer’s blades spin at 1,200 rpms and a human body would be chopped to bits if stuck underneath.

Mike setting the boys straight in Maintenance.
Bode Miller's truck getting a tune up
before being auctioned.
Operations Manager and General Manager of Cannon Mt.
After our time with maintenance, we met with George and JD. George is the Operations Manager and JD is the General Manager of Cannon Mountain. They explained to us the budget struggles associated with the mountain over the past decade, how Cannon Mt. is a part of NH State Parks, budget logistics of NH State Parks, department responsibilities, strategic planning, and their overall passion for the skiing lifestyle and how it can translate into a career.

Some knowledge gained from Cannon’s Operations Department:
  • NH State Park is the largest self-funded park in the country.
  • In the past five years they have renovated Mittersill Mt., which used to run in the 1980’s but closed due to low funds.
  • Mittersill will now act as a training facility for the U.S. Ski Team, while also acting as challenging terrain for the recreational skier.
  • The majority of the money made with the NH State Park comes from either the Flume Gorge, Cannon Mt., or Hampton Beach.

"We had a chat with Matt about how the pump house works, which was located just next to the lake, and he basically said that they get the water and make the smallest particles possible in order to make the snow benefit from his equipment. There is a dam that controls the amount of water to handle with the equipment, so there should not be any problem during flood days.

At the groomers garage, I was able to see the real giant groomer, and I knew that people work there really contribute for skiers and riders who enjoy themselves every day. They go out at 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM on a daily basis after operating hours of the mountain for skiers and riders, and they groom the slopes with high technology grooming machine. With the newest technology they have, they can handle minor issues that they are faced with. For instance, if the fuel is low while grooming, they get indications to fix the issue by returning to the the garage and refuel the grooming machine.

In the operations, JD and George said that in order to operate a resort, they need to buy land to design slopes and install facilities like new lifts, grooming machine, and more.

Also, as the time goes by, they find places to work on for customers to be satisfied at the mountain, for instance, if there is not much space at the lodge and it gets crowded, they expand the size of the lodge by having two stories lodge, allowing customers to have more spaces to enjoy themselves more comfortably."

-Seung Won

Looking Down at Mittersill.

“Today we went to Cannon Mountain. It was another nice day and the temperature was over 50 degrees. We met with the maintenance crew and learned how the snow cats work, we met with the snowmaking team and learned about pumping water to make snow, and we also met with the business office to learn about how the mountain is run. The rest of the day was used to go skiing.”

“Today I had a great time at Cannon Mt. It was the first time I had ever been there and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I learned the way the Mt. gets their water from the lake and they use over a million gallons a day, which I find crazy. I also never thought of how Cannon Mountain competes with the Patriots on Sundays and video gaming systems. When people aren’t doing these activities, the mountain will do well, and they can make money.”

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