West Mountain Ski Area
During the winter season, West Mountain offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ski and snowboard rentals, professional tuning, and numerous racing events, as well as a fully-equipped retail shop.
In summer and fall, West Mountain offers treetop adventures, mountain biking, a spectacular wedding venue, and great place for your kids’ birthday parties.
The Bar & Eatery is open during the winter and summer, and there are a growing number of special events – see their website for details.
Opening in 1961, West Mountain evolved as a place for fun for generations of families. In 2013, West Mountain embarked on a plan to upgrade the entire ski area. Major capital improvements have included replacing the original chairlifts, adding lighting, increasing snowmaking, adding and upgrading existing buildings, and offering many new services and experiences. During this upgrade, it became apparent that West needed to make investments to enhance their infrastructure in order to keep pace with all that the mountain has to offer. Over the years, West Mountain’s information technology (IT) had grown only as was necessary, and usually took a back seat to investments needed to keep the mountain operating. Critical to the mountain upgrade was updating their IT. The goal was to simplify and modernize.
How Did Tech II Update West Mountain Ski Area’s IT?
After considering multiple firms, Spencer Montgomery, the Co-Owner/Operator of the West Mountain Ski Area, selected Tech II Business Services for the extensive technology project they needed to undertake. Tech II’s expertise and reputation for technology builds, telecommunications, carrier services, network infrastructure, video surveillance, local backup facilities, and managed services (MSP), made them the right fit.
At the start of this project, West Mountain was working through multiple vendors with many iterations of technologies layered on top of each other and, because of this, there was no cohesive overall approach to technology. One of the first objectives to be addressed was cleaning up the existing infrastructure and evaluating what could be salvaged – saving time and expense. To maximize the return on their investment, it was necessary to repurpose and retrofit as much of the existing infrastructure as possible.
To this end, Tech II completely overhauled the Main Distribution Frame (MDF) and server room and updated and performed maintenance on existing equipment. The second area of technology to be upgraded was the wireless network, which was causing difficulties for both staff and guests. There were initially six different types of wireless services installed, with years of cable cluster and little reliability.
In decommissioning all of the disparate wireless solutions, Tech II was able to repurpose most of the original wiring and bring in a commercial grade Wi-Fi solution with all of the benefits of current Wi-Fi technology. Currently, the upgraded Wi-Fi already covers most of the mountain’s face, including the Tubing, Race, North Face, main lodge, race hut, rental shop, and out to the Melon Patch.
The reliability and stability of connectivity, along with a new 100 Megabit fiber connection (provided by FirstLight), allowed 1000 users to be hosted on the guest Wi-Fi with no reported issues during the largest event of the year (Cambar Festival).
Next was network security. With no UTM (Unified Threat Management) and an antiquated firewall lacking next generation firewall capabilities (deep-packet inspection and intelligence), West Mountain was at risk. Installing a Meraki firewall that provided security and reporting capabilities safeguarded West Mountain’s investment in their new technology solutions, brought added online security to their guests, and provided further information to integrate into execution of the vision.
Arguably the largest piece of the project for Tech II was upgrading camera coverage of the mountain’s many hot spots. There was an older analog video surveillance system already in place, but with resolution varying between 0.2 to 0.4 megapixels – they provided very low specs by today’s standards. Extensive cabling was required to facilitate the addition of dozens of new cameras, but Tech II was able to integrate existing cabling into the project, keeping costs down, and increasing the picture depth from 2 to 8-megapixel video feeds. The increased image resolution adds crucial evidentiary information for following up on internal and external issues.
Often when people hear about video surveillance installation in a workplace, the first thought is that it’s to be used for nefarious ends. That’s an unfortunate fallacy that doesn’t take into account the numerous benefits outside of simply looking for theft, vandalism, or catching people in other criminal activities. Some benefits include being able to:
In West Mountain’s case, the cameras make maintaining the mountain a much more manageable task. They are able to inspect gear and equipment, assist in trail grooming, and keep an eye on snowmaking operations – just to name a few. In one case earlier this season, a snow gun began malfunctioning.
After the completion of the infrastructure upgrades, Tech II implemented ongoing performance management and monitoring, including a managed backup & recovery solution. Prior to the MSP services rollout, most assets on the network weren’t being monitored, and when IT services were required, the individual responsible would need to physically work on the system between their other responsibilities at the mountain. Spencer Montgomery recounted several times after the technology project that the Tech II services team responded to alerts that the MSP systems reported before he or his staff were even aware there was anything wrong, saying, “On several occasions my staff would work with a tech who would be connected remotely to assist or troubleshoot anything from desktop and server, to video surveillance, to POS, to the wireless network. Overall, I’m glad we chose Tech II. From the onset, the CEO, Dan Bardin, was onsite himself, working with me directly to design a customized solution, and then proceeded to personally oversee the installation. Today it seems all too common that companies overpromise and under deliver. That just wasn’t the case with Tech II, and for that, and many other reasons, I recommend their services.”
As West Mountain continues to expand the services and activities it offers, their technology is staged to move and expand with them. Having this solid foundation for their technology is critical to their facilities all year long, with the additions of their zip line, treetop walk, mountain biking, and top of the mountain services.
With something for everyone all year round, and a focus on providing its guests with the best possible experience, West Mountain is worth the trip!