Friday, September 12, 2008

Loading Carpet Installation Underway

It sure doesn't look like much - just a hole in the ground under the loading area of the South Ridge Quad B. But that hole in the ground is the beginning of a very innovative improvement to Okemo's lift service.

Okemo’s “Red Carpet Treatment”
Everyone loves the section of Warren Miller’s films when the camera positioned at the top of a chairlift catches the crashes of skiers trying to disembark. The more tangled the carnage, the louder the laughs. For beginner skiers and snowboarders, riding the lift can be a stressful part of the learning experience. Seasoned veterans grow increasingly impatient with each delay as newbies are helped to their feet and sent on their way. Lift operators loading the uninitiated must be ever vigilant to maintain safety and keep the flow.

Okemo's lift system is situation in such a way as to require all skiers, novice through expert, accessing the mountain through the original Clock Tower base area, to ride one of two fixed-grip quad chairs. As a way to make that first lift ride of the day less stressful and safer, Okemo is installing mechanized loading and unloading carpets on one of those lifts - Quad B, to be specific (the one on the left as you look up the mountain). Although familiar to European skiers, the loading carpet is a rarity in North America. Okemo’s loading carpet will be the first one in the East and the unloading carpet, at the top, will be the first of its kind in the entire country. A conveyor belt, marked with lanes and moving in sync with the chairlift, will make loading and unloading easier and safer. It will reduce lift-line lengths, minimize starts and stops, reduce ride time and improve overall lift capacity.

So, what's with the hole in the ground? Since the loading and unloading carpets must be flush with the ground, a lot of the technology must exist beneath the surface. Consider also, that snow making its way under the conveyor must be melted and drained away to prevent buildup and maintain operation of the lift. A heated, concrete chamber will contain the snow and melt it so it can drain away.
I'll keep posting photos to show you the progress. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Woke this morning to the sound of thunder

Sorry, I couldn't resist the reference. It seems like posts to this blog are always starting with lyrics to some old tune.

This morning the sun was streaming in my bedroom window, but I could here thunder off in the distance. By the time I'd gotten out of bed, walked the dogs and pulled on some work clothes, the heavens had opened and it was raining in the windows of my living room...buckets, pure buckets of water. Crazy weather this summer. And yes, until we have a deep frost (which could be happening on Wednesday night) I still consider it summertime.

The last 2 weeks of August were absolutely gorgeous weather, full of sun, no humidity and nice temperatures too. As of last Friday, things changed again. We've been experiencing the leftovers from those hurricanes which have been battering the southern United States, along with Haiti and Cuba.

The great part about all this precipitation (warm snow, snow in practice - call it what you will) is that is keep the trees all soaked up, plus it is filling the snow making ponds. With only 60-70 days (my estimate only) before the snowguns start blasting out white stuff again, it's a good thing to get all this rain.

The foliage should be coming into peak during the next 3-4 weeks and then it's all downhill into snow season. I can't wait. I've been riding my bicycle this summer and getting in shape for making turns this winter. Lots of hills and the miles have been adding up. The September issue of SKI magazine arrived last week, so I've been reading about some of the new gear that's out on the market.

Have you been getting ready? for starters, get our your videos, what some images of snow, get out and start walking and then dust off your gear. It's coming up fast. Don't Delay.

Have a good one.