Cannons primed to blast snow

By Geoff Lee

December 13, 2017 2:09 PM

Mount Joy Snow Resort will have certified Canadian Ski Patrollers this season. File Photo

Mount Joy Snow Resort could erupt in a cloud of snowmaking this weekend, as preparations ramp up for the season opening on Jan. 6.
“We are looking at the forecast with the expectation it’s going to cool off this week and our plan is to start making snow at that time,” said resort president Dean Peters.
The ideal trigger point is a temperature of -10 Celsius.
“That makes the best snow with the cannons we have there,” said Peters, who said they are hoping to open as many runs as they can for the opener.
“We have some snowboarders to start setting up a terrain park,” he said.
A new trail map will also be installed at the top of the T-bar.
Peters said about 15 to 20 students have already registered for ski school lessons on day one, and about a half dozen or so in the snowboarding schools.
Peters said his 15-year-old son will also volunteer with the ski school this year.
“We’ve got a couple of young guys who are keen on helping out in the snowboard school,” he said, adding they are also getting some instructors re-certified before the season opener.
Season passes and gift certificates are available from Mac’s Realty at 104-5101 48 Street.
Peters hopes recent improvements to the snowmaking system will extend the number of operating days beyond the 20 mark they had last year, with just 11 days the year before that.
“Last year, the season started and we had really good conditions and everyone was really gung-ho and then early in February we had a weekend where we had to shut down because there was a creek running through the bottom of our hill,” said Peters.
“We’re really excited to see what the season is going to bring—we’ve done a lot of work out there in case there is another mid-season lull with mild weather.”
The resort’s contractor/volunteer recently constructed a diversion near the water reservoir to reduce the amount of runoff and provide additional water for snowmaking.
Mount Joy received $15,000 in third-party ask funding from council on Dec. 4 for the installation of permanent generators on the hill to power the cannons.
“We’re really happy with that,” said Peters.
“It exceeded what we asked for and we would have been happy with whatever they came up with.”
The work includes the installation of electrical distribution panels and trenching of natural gas lines that go up the hill, which will eliminate the use of costly diesel fuel.
“It will allow our volunteers an easier path to getting good quality snow on the hill,” said vice president Ray Tatro, who noted they can’t plow the gas line this year with frost in the ground.
“So we’ll be arranging for propane —at least that will help with some of the expenses involved with snowmaking.”
The outstanding projects from last year are to construct a new water line from the well to the pump building, and a pump discharge line to the riser of the water line that goes up the hill.
Peters said the snowmaking plan for 2018 is to “hit the north side hard” for opening day and cover the south side of the T-bar as the season moves along.
“We’ve never made snow on the south side of the T-bar,” he said about previous years.
Mount Joy will start its 52nd year with a crew of certified Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) volunteers.
“We’re part of the Battle Zone with the Canada ski patrol, so the fellows from Table Mountain have been really helpful getting that going,” said Peters.
“They sent a couple of trainers up and we’ve got four people now that are certified.”
The CSP is a national organization of volunteers who promote safety of the slopes as well as provide first aid and rescue services to skiers in need.
The ski patrollers will also be use a second hand evacuation sled acquired for this season.
The resort also hosted a first aid training session Saturday and Sunday for 12 of their volunteers   funded by a $4,000 training grant donated last year by Devon Energy.
Peters said the two day course was a way to thank volunteers for coming out and making the effort while putting more people on the hill with first aid skills.
“They will be people jumping all you if you happen to fall down or some misadventure,” said Peters.
“We should have all kinds of first aid people there.”

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