Although Mad River Glen is known primarily as a natural snow mountain, snowmaking has played an important role in supplementing our natural snow since the 1970s. Coverage on the Practice Slope area is essential for the race and youth programs, and to provide a backup for the main mountain. Snowmaking on the high-traffic arteries of the lower main mountain provides more reliable access to our natural snow terrain. Improvements to our snowmaking system have enabled us to blow snow much more quickly, open the mountain earlier, make the most of our limited water supply, and improve the efficiency of our operations.
Since 2016, we’ve used campaign gifts to purchase five new energy-efficient fan guns, increasing the number of snow guns to seven, up from only three guns a few years ago. The additional guns reduce the time needed to move guns between locations and allow us to maximize output when the temperatures are right to make snow. The guns help make our small snowmaking system more effective and efficient, creating consistent skiing surfaces and helping us to better withstand the fluctuations in winter weather.
In 2016, the campaign demonstrated the ability to complete a project under budget and in an aggressive timeframe with the completion of Phase One of our snowmaking system replacement. After safety concerns with the existing snowmaking electrical system came to light, the system was replaced one year ahead of schedule, helping Mad River Glen open on December 10, the earliest opening day in many years. In the summer of 2018, eight new additional electrical outlets and 850’ of new electrical wire were installed, further improving operational efficiency.
Pump, Piping, and Hoses
In 2018, a new high-pressure pump was installed and a new pump house was built. The new pump has sped up our snowmaking operations and boosted output at higher elevations. Mad River can now operate all seven fan guns at once. The pump will also enable eventual restoration of snowmaking to the 2300' elevation, which has been out of service for many years due to inadequate pressure. New piping and hydrants were installed in the Base Area and Birdcage area, improving operational efficiency. New larger diameter hoses, purchased in 2017, allow our fan guns to operate more effectively.
A majority of the piping in the system is nearly 40 years old and needs replacement to ensure the continued reliable operation of our system. Piping and electrical outlets will be returned to the 2,300’ elevation level above the Birdcage, restoring this lost snowmaking capability, and providing better access to the natural snow terrain on the upper mountain. Coverage will be extended a bit higher on the Bunny to reach areas that are currently susceptible to washout.