Oh, yes— it’s that time of year again. Mother Nature’s mood shift moved the winds from breeze to brisk. The summit view of green lush pasture has been humbled by the reds and yellows and orange blaze of autumn foliage. Slowly, the oak trees have started to bare their naked limbs while the evergreens take stand to define the mountainscape. Snow guns have been uncovered from summer hibernation. The barn doors have opened, the hoses unspooled, and Mother Nature is already teasing temps below freezing.
We call this fall cleaning. A time to redefine our roots with the transition of seasons, a pre-season prep and mountain face makeover to what we have all been waiting for…
There’s a different groove in the pumphouse. A sense of urgency to scratch off the last checks of the to-do list. The flower pots and hanging baskets are removed and sent back to growers for next spring. The trees and shrubs are dug from summit school hill and transplanted down in the valley. Construction is underway for material storage. Tires are repaired on trailer fan guns. Tables are painted in the summit lodge. Trail to trail, trees are trimmed for gun and maintenance accessibility.
Check, check, check.
Most importantly, we have to test communications. Forget cell phones, walkie-talkies aside, we’re talking computer clicks to snow flakes. The power is back to shelters that house electronics and cords. Water hoses are reconnected to automated guns. Our Carhartt bibs are clipped and our gloves are on…
It works like this: We have three computer screens of trail maps that show gun locations and temperatures. Each dot on the map is an automated gun. We are housing one of the biggest automated systems on the east coast. Collectively, we have 328 automated stick guns, 33 fully automated fan guns, and over 800 manual guns. The automated guns are connected to the T/A (York, MyNeige) and Areco/Sufag computer system. The system allows for quicker gun start-up and constant snow quality adjustments for better snow coverage across the mountain— all from an electronic switch. Wet-bulb temp 28 degrees? Mouse click. And, just like that, we’ve got snow.
The automated system may work like magic, but not without our help. See the screen shot (above) on the left. The red blocks show faults in computer-to-gun communications. Orange blocks show complacent connection. Check! A decrease in temperature and right percentage of humidity (wet bulb temperature) turns orange to green for the snowmaking go-ahead. Our prime focus is to clear the last of the red faults, to test communications and water flow through every automated gun connection.
The good news is, we’re getting there. Last week’s dip to freezing temperatures was a good kick of motivation. And for our own tease, we tested the Techno Alpin TF10 for a quick glimpse of white.
Nick D. gives the run down on snow gun testing.
Oh, yes— it’s that time of year to wax your base and tune your edges. We’ll be ready when Mother Nature gives the green light. Will you?
See you on the slopes,