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snow conditions 
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:11 pm
Posts: 68
Location: Burlington vt
Post Re: snow conditions
This is an important issue, and I encourage more share-holders to engage. And non shareholders. Last weekend was great, even though we had less than great snow cover, it was better than a mountain that relies on machine made snow that ices up, then gets scraped off by knuckle draggers! Sunday was really a good day on the hill. I do like the concept of a top to bottom run, with snow making, maybe on the double to start, not sure how I feel about doing so on the single. It seems like an intrusion to the 1950's schtick of the single…and yes, lets keep it civil, and not turn it into a finger pointing/comparison shouting match. many good points are being raised


Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:51 pm
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:21 am
Posts: 26
Location: West Newbury, MA
Post Re: snow conditions
The comment on the MRG website about how today was "a perfect day to re-load at midstation" got me thinking again ... what about snowmaking only on Broadway (from midstation down) and certain trails served by the double. This would allow the mountain to open top-to-bottom when there's elevation-dependent snow/sufficient base above the midstation i.e. after some snowfall events and later in spring (if there should be much of crowd there may need to be liftline management on the Single e.g. load every other chair from the base, leaving chairs for skiers lapping the top). And at times when the tide is too low up top there still could be limited skiing on snowmaking trails off both the single (to midstation) and Sunnyside.

Like Steve M. I too greatly prefer natural trails even when they may be thin, though I'll also say state-of-the-art snowmaking + grooming can produce a pleasing enough surface, especially on slopes that aren't too steep or crowded. I still think most people would buy MRG passes mainly banking on natural snow; if you want to count on much higher trail count come hell and little snowfall, you're still probably going to look somewhere else, and that's fine. But some who are on the fence about an MRG pass may buy one if they know the mountain is more likely to have more than just the Practice Slope open during some lean times. So (and I shock myself to be typing the words) maybe a limited expansion of snowmaking would make sense for MRG, without wrecking the feel of the place.


Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:57 pm
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:11 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Ashland, NH
Post Re: snow conditions
Let's also not forget that MRG does make snow. :D Okay, it isn't much and only at the base area, practice hill, slopes leading into the base area, etc. Is it possible that updating the snowmaking system to modern technology would actually save more money in the long run? I can't imagine the current system is very efficient. Ultimately, I think any upgrades would have to be limited by the amount of water that could be drawn. MRG is never going to have a massive snowmaking pond or a reservoir to draw upon. I like the idea of having a route from the top of the double and from the Single mid-station. It wouldn't be massive, it would keep the mountain open in bad times, it would let the mountain open sooner and stay open later when things are good up top, we'll never need to put shovels on the side of the trail and ask folks to pitch in (though that was cool).

Regarding base area vs. snow making... base area for sure. Anyone questioning the base area plan needs to check out the ski patrol building first hand. Expansion of food services and retail seems like a no brainer, low cost and good long term revenue. The base area upgrades aren't designed to add lip stick, it is all very practical with important reasons that will enhance everyone's experience.

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TheSnowWay.com
"Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs


Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:19 pm
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:21 am
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Location: West Newbury, MA
Post Re: snow conditions
This may be mentioned in Trustee minutes or somewhere else online or maybe it's proprietary info but I'm curious what is the capacity of the current MRG snowmaking pond. From http://www.snowmakers.com/snowmaking-basic.html (this company built the very impressive & efficient snowmaking system at Crotched in SW NH, among many other projects, currently including the Sochi Olympics):

Quote:
Snowmaking requires relatively large quantities of water, for example, to cover an area of 200 feet (61 meters) by 200 feet (61 meters) with 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow, one would need 20,000 cubic feet (566 cubic meters) of snow or 1,000 cubic feet (283 cubic meters) of water. This is 82,000 gallons (310,000 liters) of water or 11 truck tankers full.


I also note from the application for National Historic Register status that Easy Way has top-to-bottom snowmaking coverage. So one question is whether there would be enough water from the existing supply (avoiding costly/uncertain Act 250 activity?) to expand coverage up from the top of Easy Way to Broadway up to the midstation, assuming the requisite bylaw change. That seems to be the shortest expansion that would allow main mountain operations at some times when that currently is not possible. Only adding Broadway would not allow the double to spin without sufficient natural snow but, having given this all of a half-day's thought, I'd think the priority should be to maximize availability of the Single, as it's MRG's signature lift and at times would enable truly top-to-bottom skiing with prime natural conditions above midstation.

For cost and aesthetic reasons it also might be an easier sell for a shareholder vote if additional snowmaking is kept to a bare minimum, just on Broadway.

I agree that base area improvements are critical and some should ultimately pay for themselves. But assuming those are done in phases, perhaps a modest but high bang-for-the-buck snowmaking expansion could be woven in too.


Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:36 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:27 am
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Location: Bradford, MA
Post Re: snow conditions
Unless I'm mistaken, we draw water directly out of Mill Brook from behind the small dam to the left of the Practice Slope chair's base station.

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Dave Stein


Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:49 pm
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:58 pm
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Post Re: snow conditions
Maybe there is a flow rate in the existing water source that would limit our ability to expand without having to change sources?


Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:13 pm
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Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:23 pm
Posts: 54
Post Re: snow conditions
Snow making is on the agenda for tomorrow's board meeting.

Many of the topics raised in this thread will be addressed.

Hope you can make it.

Jim Elkind

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Jim Elkind


Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:31 pm
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:48 am
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Post Re: snow conditions
It is too bad more people weren't at Saturday's board meeting. Jamey made a very good presentation regarding what snowmaking at the mountain would entail, if it were even possible to make it work. I can't regurgitate all the data he had accumulated in his research, but I am convinced snowmaking is not a realistic possibility for our mountain. We have no place for a pond large enough for all the water that would be needed; the ongoing electrical costs would be astronomical; permits required would be extremely difficult to attain, if not impossible, and we would not have enough water, looks like to me, in any event. Lift ticket and season pass prices would need to be increased dramatically.

For some reason, the gods are not shining on us. It has been snowing all around us, but we've been in a bad cycle. I fear for the mountain if we do not get some consistent winter weather, too. I fear the costs involved in providing snowmaking, if it COULD be done on the scale we would need, even more. THAT would surely bankrupt the mountain. never mind , making our slogan "Ski it if you can" irrelevent.

The base area master plan, in some form, will not be easy, but I believe it is critically needed. I know it is a lot of money, but by approaching the work in stages, I have faith it can be done over time. It is not as sexy a project as the single chair was, but it will be a beautiful improvement to the area. Did any of you who thought it was unimportant to 'spiff up' the area when we were having the conversation three years ago, NOT like how the basebox and the birdcage looked after having some rotted boards and windows replaced and repainting the buildings? That was more of a cosmetic fix, I grant you, although the maintenance factor was an important part of it.

Let's face it, the patrol room and ski school boot room are a shambles!! Our ski school earns the mountain a lot of money and the ski patrol is legendary. The lockers are way too small and underpriced with a waiting list of about 100 people. Once the new locker room is built, we're looking at easy money for dozens of years. The basebox needs a serious re-do inside and hopefully it will looked like there was a PLAN involved, with the reorganization of several areas and new access and egress that will make for comfortable movement to, from, and inside the building. The evolution of how the basebox grew shows all too well and then there is the stuff you can't see. I'm thinking of wires, lots and lots of wires; phone wires, electrical wires, wires to hold THEM together.Can you imagine how many fingers have been in that cluster#%*?!!

Many of us feel like we are at home when we're at MRG. Would we ever let our real homes get to this point without putting some money into making improvements? This is where your cost effectiveness lies when you have a business that is frequented by the public. We all will see it, as well as people who visit our mountain for its great skiing experience and its facilities. It will be SO worth it.
Vivian


Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:25 am
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Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:21 am
Posts: 26
Location: West Newbury, MA
Post Re: snow conditions
Sorry I could not make the meeting but thanks Jim & anyone else responsible for connecting this forum to the board meeting, and thank you Vivian for your summary re snowmaking and other issues.

Aside from what ends up in the minutes, could there be an online version of Jamey's presentation - at least a list of bullet points, or a FAQ - on the snowmaking issue, so there is a resource to point to in the future? I appreciate what sounds like a lot of research and think it should be documented.

As someone who started out dead set against expanded snowmaking and then became a bit more open to it as this thread progressed, I must say I subsequently skied MRG twp days in "low tide" conditions early in President's Day week and couldn't see how it would have helped then; it might have meant a deeper base on some main routes but that wouldn't have improved the experience and could well have meant a poorer quality skiing surface compared to thoroughly tilled natural snow. (Funny that "get first tracks on natural corduroy" should be a first-run strategy at MRG but that was a good time too!) Aside from cost and logistical issues and the critically important "Ski it if you can" ethos, even in an ideal world of limited strategic snowmaking expansion I've come to see there would be extremely limited circumstances in which it would make a difference between the mountain being open or closed. And I doubt many skiers would pay more to ski MRG on machine-made snow.

A somewhat related question though - is downloading possible from the midstation on the single? I.e. if early or late in the season there's only skiable snow on upper mountain, can there be lift-served that way? I vaguely recall there being an issue with patrol needing a way to get a sled to the base, although having skied Sunday River as early as Oct. 15 one year (on machine-made, yes) with downloading from a midstation (a triple chair), I'm pretty sure there was no snow route to the base then. Would there be some other way for an emergency transport on potentially wet but not snow-covered main routes that wouldn't chew them up?

Finally, re "the gods are not shining on us" - sometimes they do (late December), sometimes not so much (as the upslope "sweet spot" went north of 89 last month). There have been some very poor winters in the past; this year we snatched a gangbusters Christmas week from the jaws of being closed altogether, and the latter part of Presidents Day week got good too. I'm not sure we're in that bad a cycle; maybe I'm just a glass-half-full kinda guy, though of course I do fear potential longer-term trends.


Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:03 am
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Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:07 am
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Post Re: snow conditions
MRG Forum viewers:

Attached is the presentation on snowmaking at MRG 3-2-13 board meeting. In short MRG has very limited water supply or a place to store it. Capital cost would be extensive but more importantly the annual operating cost would sink us with our current business model. Vivian, thanks for the kind words.

Jamey Wimble
President/GM


Attachments:
snowmaking 3-2-13 meeting.xlsx [17.41 KiB]
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Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:15 pm
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