Keith Sutherland came to work at Waterville Valley 40 years ago in the winter of 1970 and is now in charge of grooming, snowmaking and transportation. Here’s a quick look into what early season means to Keith.
What’s on your early season checklist list?
We call it a punch list and we’re punching things off it left and right. The mountain’s been mowed, rocks have been picked and it’s all cleaned up. Every year we do a pre-season check of all the snowmaking equipment. That includes all the pumps and compressors – several miles of air and water lines, and we have to pressure test 900 plus air and water hydrants. This month we’re setting the new tower posts and hydrants to be ready for the 40 new tower guns being set up on Upper White Caps, Sel’s Choice, Lower Periphery and the Chute. Overhauling and tuning up the entire grooming fleet, just like you do your cars. And we’ve got a new BR 350 groomer arriving in mid-November.
What’s the biggest thing on your mind right now?
When is the cold weather going to come to stay? Then we set the snowmaking game plan which is usually High Country, move to Northside and then work hard to get top to bottom. Usually training the crew is big right now, too, but we’re lucky this year. I’ve got a lot of returning employees so we’ll be up and running fast.
Any predictions for the winter?
It’s going to be cold with early snow, comparable to the last two winters but with snowfall right through March this year. (Great thinking!)