Steamboat Resort – Headwall Area 2007

Major earthwork was completed on many trails in the Headwall Area and all pipe across the base of the mountain had to be replaced.  Over 300,000 yards of earth were moved, and 26,000 ft of VRS®-T DI pipe was installed in one construction season.

Project Background:

During the early 2000’s Steamboat Resort was developing a new Master Plan, which included major changes in many trails in the Headwall Area across the base of mountain. These trail changes would involve extensive earthwork throughout this area. As a result, all existing pipelines, on numerous trails in this Area would have to be replaced; and, installation of all new pipe had to be coordinated with many other construction projects, being completed in the same areas, during the same construction timelines.  Photos below show different sections of earthwork being completed through this Area.

Other construction being completed in this Area created new easements for new and modified lifts; and, created new utility system constraints throughout the development region.   All earthwork had to be completed during the 2007 construction season. This meant all pipe work had to be completed in an extremely short timeline, after all major earthwork and preliminary compaction operations had been completed; and, before final grading, seeding, and restoration work could begin.

Project Challenges:

Find a piping system that: would satisfy the high pressures required in all pipe sizes; would improve the longevity of the new pipe system, to reduce costly system repairs in the future; could be installed easily and quickly, to coordinate with other construction being completed simultaneously; would provide the flexibility to deal with easements and infrastructure constraints throughout the entire area, especially through regions of major utility systems close to the base area; and, would minimize environmental damage throughout the project region.   More specifically:

High Pressures:

Normal operating pressures in lower regions of the process water line are 800 psig, with surge pressures up to 950 psig.


Corrosion of any material is based on the corrosivity of the environment surrounding the material. Steel snowmaking pipe in normal alpine environments has a longevity ranging from 20 to 35 years, depending on the soil corrosivity.  Currently there are other materials available that will provide longevity that is superior to steel.

Short Timelines:

Throughout the entire project, there will be much other construction by many different parties, occurring simultaneously with the pipeline replacement.   Project coordination by all parties will be critical, and the ability to install pipe easily and quickly, on short notice, will be essential in efforts to coordinate pipe work smoothly with all other construction being completed simultaneously.


Throughout the entire Headwall Area, but especially in lower sections and adjacent to the base terminal of the gondola, new construction will create new easements, especially for new and relocated lifts and new infrastructure systems.  These will create constraints which will have to be dealt with.

Utility Systems:

Also in regions close to the bottom terminal of the Gondola, significant and complex utility system networks will be developed, which also will have to be dealt with.

Environmental Sustainability:

A primary goal with all pipe installations in all alpine regions is to select/use materials which protect ecosystems, and maximize the integrity and sustainability of the natural resources.   Ductile Iron (DI) materials from TRM have unique characteristics, not available with other pipe systems, including:

  • DI pipe is produced using +98% recyclable materials.
  • Joint design requires no welding or open flames at any time during pipe assembly/installation.
  • Joint design requires much less force to assemble; and, much smaller/lighter construction equipment for installation.
  • Easier assembly and smaller/lighter construction equipment make it possible to complete assembly/installation in much shorter timelines, providing much longer periods for terrain clean-up and restoration.

Project Solution:

On previous projects, management at Steamboat had completed product research to study, review and evaluate other pipe systems which might improve the longevity and performance of the steel system.   As part of this research study Steamboat contacted Engineers at PNP Supply, to gain additional information on the VRS®-T system from TRM, and discuss how this system would benefit this project.  Based on this research and these discussions, Steamboat Resort selected the High Pressure MDR Ductile Iron (DI) pipe system for several reasons:

Advantages of the VRS®-T System:

  • The VRS®-T joint design of this system satisfies a wide range of operating pressures from 25 bar (360 psig) to 100 bar (1450 psig).
  • The corrosion rate of steel is +3 times faster than the rate for DI; making the longevity of this VRS®-T pipe +3 times greater than the longevity of steel pipe.
  • The DUPLEX coating on all pipe provides active and passive corrosion protection, and a unique sacrificial repair mechanism for any pipe damage exposing bare metal.   These characteristics extend the longevity of this pipe even more.
  • Angular deflection at each joint, provides flexibility to deal with tight constraints caused by easements and utility systems encountered throughout all construction regions, but especially in areas through the base area, and adjacent to the base terminal of the gondola.
  • The VRS®-T joint requires ±38% less force to assemble each joint; and, with the soft flexible gasket used in this joint, alignment of the pipe is not as critical.   Both issues make it much easier to assemble this pipe in shorter timelines; very important to optimize coordination of the pipe work with all other construction being completed simultaneously.
  • The VRS®-T joint requires smaller and lighter construction equipment, making it possible to move construction equipment more easily and on short notice; also, a major benefit in being able to coordinate pipe work with all other construction site work much more effectively in a shorter timeline.

Project Team Members:

CLIENT:  Steamboat Resort
DESIGN:  Alford Design Group LLC Master Plan
CONTRACTOR:   In-house Personnel


Headwall Area 2007

DN080 High Press MDR DI Water
DN150 High Press MDR DI Water
DN150 Low Press MDR DI Air
DN200 High Press MDR DI Water
DN200 Low Press MDR DI Air
DN250 High Press MDR DI Water
DN250 Low Press MDR DI Air
DN300 High Press MDR DI Water

Steamboat Resort,
Steamboat Springs, CO

25,929 ft of pipe

Snowmaking Pipelines
Headwall Trails


Environmental Sustainability
Physical Constraints
Short Timeline
Utility Systems