Well, it’s official: the winter of 2012-13 has unofficially begun. Our snowmaking team jumped into action to make snow on Saturday, October 13 – the earliest we’ve ever fired up the guns at Loon. We’ve got a little ways to go before we’re all skiing and riding, but I think it’s safe to say that everybody’s pumped to see snow again on Loon Mountain.
Earlier this fall, we had a chance to chat with Ken Mack, Loon’s snowmaking manager. He talked about what it takes to make
snow at Loon, and he even gave us the insider’s perspective on how Loon’s snowmaking saved us all last winter. Read on for an excerpt of our chat, which will appear in full in this winter’s Loon Magazine:
“…As Loon Mountain’s snowmaking manager, Mack goes to bed every night knowing that the fate of each and every winter rests on his own shoulders, not Mother Nature’s. Just last winter, Mack and his crew of 40 snowmakers saved the season from the clutches of unseasonably warm weather by wielding a complex network of snowmaking pipes, hydrants and hoses across 97 percent of the mountain. Mack knows that Loon’s investment in snowmaking (the resort spent $1.5 million on high-efficiency snow guns in advance of last season) was well worth the price.
“We make the most of what Mother Nature deals us,” Mack says. “As long as she’s giving us the proper temperatures, we’re going to provide great snow.”
Providing great snow over Loon’s 322 snowmaking acres is a big responsibility, but it’s a job that’s become considerably easier in recent years. In 2010, Loon purchased 428 new HKD high-efficiency snowmaking guns, adding an additional 170 tower guns in 2011 – giving Loon the largest arsenal of the most efficient snow guns in the US. With more than 600 new guns, Mack can exert greater control over when and where he’ll make snow. Today, Loon’s snowmaking system is more powerful, nimble, and efficient than it’s ever been.
“We used to look for a good 12 hour window before we’d make snow,” Mack says. “Now I don’t mind making snow in a six hour window. We can start guns up faster, and we can shut them off faster.”
“The windows are very small in October or November, but then they get larger,” Mack says. “Winter is never cold. It’s just a series of cold windows. You’d think you can make snow any time you want to, but you can’t. You have to wait for the right window.”
To hear more from Ken Mack, and to learn what it was like to make snow during the infamous winter of 2011-12, visit the Loon Mountain booth at the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo in Boston, Nov. 8 – 11. You can get your free copy of Loon Magazine at the expo, or you can pick one up at Loon this winter.