Grad creates asset map for Marble Mountain

Gary Kean
Published on June 27, 2014

It was something Tony Abbott had been envisioning for years, so when Alex Hynd wanted to do a project digitally mapping out all of Marble Mountain’s assets, the ski hill jumped at the opportunity.

Abbott, Marble Mountains operations manager, was more than impressed with the final product.

Hynd just graduated from the geographical information systems (GIS) program at the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook. As part of that program, students must complete a major project in which they apply the skills and GIS techniques they’ve learned to a real-life scenario out in the community.

The students usually partner with a sponsor such as a business, a municipal government or some other organization.

An instructional assistant at the school told Hynd that Marble Mountain could use an asset management map and suggested he approach the ski hill management about the idea. A skier himself, Hynd thought it was a good idea too and set about working on the project this past winter.

“My background isn’t in forestry or natural resources or anything like that at all, so I was looking for something a little bit away from the direct path into GIS,” Hynd said of why he chose the Marble Mountain project.

After a tour of the ski hill with Abbott in early February, Hynd began in early March to collect all the data he needed. In the following weeks, he logged nearly 37 hours navigating the slopes on skis and on foot, locating every bit of significant infrastructure owned by Marble Mountain.

His project also included the Marble Zip Tours business located at the base of the hill.

Using an aerial photograph of the entire site, Hynd mapped out the exact co-ordinates of every ski lift, building, water flow valve, valvehouse, electrical box, transmission pole, building and anything else of importance.  In all, the final map identified the precise location of 431 assets.

The final product also provided Marble and Marble Zip Tours the capability to measure the exact lengths of their ski slopes and zip lines.

“I’ve got to give him credit,” said Abbott. “He did more than what I expected he would do. I’m totally impressed with what he did — and it takes a lot to impress me.”

Hynd said the map can be used to help run the outdoor operations more efficiently and maybe even to explain why some decisions are made at Marble Mountain. For instance, some runs do not have water valves installed on them, so it’s easier now to explain why artificial snow cannot be made on them.

“Tony knows, and maybe a few others know, where everything is, but it wasn’t actually marked down anywhere where things exactly are,” said Hynd. “If Tony retired tomorrow, instead of him having to drive around showing someone where everything is, they can use this to show where it all is.”

The map is a work in progress too since Marble Mountain can add any new assets to it as the ski hill evolves. In fact, Abbott asked Hynd to include the locations of a series of water valves that will be constructed on the Cruiser run in the near future.

“That’s the beauty of it,” said Abbott. “Any time we work on Marble Mountain now, it will all be plotted with GPS (co-ordinates) on the map.”

The asset map won’t just be a benefit for Marble Mountain’s management. Abbott said the hill intends to have the map produced by Hynd displayed at various locations on the hill and throughout its buildings as a way to educate the public about the facility.

Hynd has also created a web application for Marble Mountain that will allow the resort to highlight slopes that are open or closed on any given day throughout the season.

While Abbott had nothing but praise for the job Hynd did, the map’s creator said he couldn’t have done it without Abbot’s input too.

“Tony helped a lot with this project,” he said. “Whenever I needed him, he could always point me in the right direction.”