We wear helmets when we ride. Ear plugs when we work. Glasses when we weld. But when push comes to shove, there’s no preparing for the unpredictable.
Late night late last week, a glitch in groomer fine-tuning caused fire on the mountain. A 29 cent o-ring let loose, allowing hydraulic fluid to spray onto the exhaust system, setting the cat to flames. We can’t say this was the first fire, but we can assure that no cats or misers were harmed. Fortunately, OD’s fast reaction and former training led to a quick extinguish. Come daylight, our mechanics changed the o-ring and sent the groomer out pushing by nightfall.
Rewind back to Friday night, a big fault interrupted the automation system. A broken pipe caused flooding in one of our shelters that house automated hydrants and electrical connections. Isolating the cause made for a quick fix to continue snowmaking through Sunday morning, when temperatures started to rise.
Fast forward to Winter Fest! We are now winding down, sending a big thank you to everyone that joined in the celebration. Here’s a recap of some questions from our behind-the-scenes snowmaking tours:
Q: Why do you use cooling towers?
A: The colder the water, the sooner it will freeze, the more snow we can make. When cold water leaves the gun and hits the air, it freezes quicker to make snow. The cooling towers help make the snowmaking process more efficient, taking 55 degree water down to 33 degrees.
Q: Where does the water for the cooling towers come from?
A: We use water from our local creeks in the Delaware River Basin. Come spring, the snow melts and runs back into the creeks.
Q: How many people do you need to make snow?
A: We have six snowmakers per shift x two shifts + seven groomers a night = 19 people. But, that’s just the base count. We can’t make snow and operate efficiently without the whole Mountain Ops crew. Add on the Vehicle Maintenance crew, Lift Maintenance crew, parking lot crew, clean up crew, and the Jack-of-all-Trades crew. With the full-time, part-time, and seasonal mix, we operate with 50+ people.
This Piston Bully 400 ParkPro demo might become the newest member of our cat fleet.
Post Winter Fest, we pushed the luge track shut and stockpiled the snow upwards of Summit School Hill. We will recycle the snow back into the mix when school hill needs a recoup.
Besides clean up and repairs, this week’s start has been pretty quiet. With two consecutive warm nights, our night crew snowmakers headed north to ski, ride, talk snow, and enjoy new terrain. As temperatures are set to drop this evening, the full crew will be back making snow on the home front. Current forecasts are calling for 3-10″ of natural flakes accumulating tonight through tomorrow morn. Fingers crossed Mother Nature sends a little extra love our way.
Meet, Joseph Chirico.
Better known as: Joe
Work: Part-time, Mountain Ops
Play: Ski and snowboard
A word from Papa Miser: “Joe’s a good young kid. First year with the crew. He’s doing a good job helping to park buses and cars.”
Meet, Tyler Schappell.
Better known as: Tank
Work: Seasonal, day crew Snowmaker, Mountain Ops
Favorite trail: Sidewinder because, “I like the rails and the jumps.”
A word from Papa Miser: “First year snowmaker. Good young guy, hard worker. Fits right in with the rest of the guys.”
This weekend, Sidewinder Park and Razor’s Edge will be closed from February 9-13 for the USCSA Mid-Atltantic Regional Freestyle and GS Race competition and the USASA Mid-Atlantic Skier-BoarderX. Temporary closures will re-open to the public no later than early morning Tuesday, February 14. Check out our events calendar for more details and its sister tab ‘Currently at Blue’ for daily weather updates and trail conditions.
It’s mighty cold weather, you’ve been braving. Is it more winter or is it spring that you’re craving? Since you’ve been up all night and starting to tottle, I, Punxsutawney Phil, shall not dawdle. My faithful followers, I could clearly see a beautiful, perfect shadow of me. Six more weeks of winter, it shall be!
-Punxsutawney Phil at Gobbler’s Knob, February 2, 2017
Oh, yes, let it snow.
See you on the slopes,