The Mountain Times

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Okemo launches Operation Snowburst

Nearly $1 million to be put into snowmaking improvements
LUDLOW - "This is one of our biggest snowmaking projects and one that could change the way Okemo skis," said Okemo Mountain Resort Vice President and General Manager Bruce Schmidt.
Operation Snowburst is a nearly $1 million investment in Okemo's snowmaking system that includes the purchase of 225 HKD SV tower guns and significant upgrades to pumps and pipeline. This capital improvement is the largest snowmaking investment Okemo has made in three decades. Utilizing energy-efficient, state-of-the-art technology will allow Okemo to maximize its water-pumping ability and snowmaking potential from the very start of the season. Under favorable conditions, Okemo will begin the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season with more skiing and riding on opening day than ever before.
This investment brings Okemo's HKD tower gun count to 1,025 mountain-wide. Okemo also utilizes another 320 snowmaking guns of varying types, but it is the HKD SV series of guns that will be making a big impression on early-season skiers and riders this winter - allowing Okemo to open more terrain early in the season and improving Okemo's ability to recover more rapidly from unfavorable weather situations throughout the season.
HKD's variable flow snow guns raise the bar for low-energy snowmaking technology. The multi-chambered, modular tower gun utilizes a double valve configuration with advanced variable flow nozzle design. The rugged frost-free valve allows the operator to achieve four levels of water flow, making the tower gun capable of a smooth transition from low-flow, high-temperature performance to high-flow, low-temperature production without the need for changing nozzles.
"This takes us to the next level," said Okemo Mountain Resort Snowmaking Manager Ray Kennedy. "With the efficiencies these snow guns provide, we will maximize our potential, and with ideal snowmaking temperatures we should be pumping 7,000 to 9,000 gallons of water per minute on day one. This puts us in a position to provide our guests with a better skiing and riding experience early in the season and throughout the winter."
In the mid-20-degree range, due to required air-to-water ratios, Okemo historically has only been able to pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute through its snowmaking system at the start of the season. With some cooperation from Mother Nature, Okemo plans to eliminate early season shuttling and downloading of skiers and riders.
Strategic placement of the new HKD SV snowguns will allow Okemo to open with several top-to-bottom routes along some of Okemo's most desirable trails: Countdown, Upper World Cup, Lower World Cup, Sapphire, Rt. 103, Upper Arrow, Lower Arrow, Lower Mountain Road and fairway. Additional early season snowmaking efforts will focus on trails that link to Jackson Gore's Lower Limelight, Fast Track and Inn Bound, where new HKD tower guns will be installed as part of the snowmaking upgrade. This strategy should allow Okemo to open for the season with terrain for all ability levels and provide early season access to the mountain from both base areas.
"Based on average November temperatures, Okemo typically opens with limited terrain on four to six trails," said Bruce Schmidt. "This year, if we get some good snowmaking weather, Okemo plans to launch the season with nearly 100 acres and the ability to increase that number quickly as the start of the season progresses."
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