Blowing the same trail from top to bottom during the daytime
makes for a terrible ride down the mountain. Gotta spread the snowmaking
around to ease the system and make the skiing enjoyable. My most miserable run was
Cupp Run top to bottom at Snowshoe while the whole run was being sprayed. Peeled ice off my cheeks
at the bottom, and headed back over to the Basin. It's just not worth it.
Talking about when the sun sets, skiers are gone for the day, temps drop to optimum blowing conditions, is turning on all the guns a power issue and water pressure issue for resorts. Curious how the system works, load capacities. I imagine every resort is different on the max power they can produce and max water pressure. Probably why it takes time to open up all trails otherwise all trails would be open mostly at the same time.
I've learned a lot watching the videos from the I AM A SNOWMAKER annual contest organized by Ski Area Management (SAM). It's been happening for several years. For 2023, Bryce and Massanutten were finalists. The winner was Belleayre. Past years have included both large and small mountains from the U.S. and Canada.
One reason Massanutten couldn't open more trails on the upper mountain until recently is because they didn't have enough water or water pressure to expand. In fact, they couldn't run the snowguns on DJ and Paradice at the same time. The major investment wasn't just for more pump capacity and more snowguns. They built a 2.5 mile pipeline from the valley along the road to gain essentially unlimited water. Not only from a pond in the valley but they also got permission to draw from the larger stream in the valley. That's why when there is a 48-hour or 72-hour period when daytime snowmaking is possible, Massanutten doesn't run out of water any more.
Changing to automated snowguns also makes a big difference for short time windows of snowmaking. Wintergreen did that years ago and the difference was pretty obvious the first season. Wintergreen built a 5 million gallon tank for snowmaking water. However, that hasn't been enough in the 2020s. There are times when Wintergreen runs out of water and has to wait for their lake to refill from snowmelt. That lake also provides potable water for the resort, so cannot be drawn too low.
Another comment on the 100% snowmaking. I know snowshoe and many places in New England don’t permanently have snow makers on all of the trails, but they have hydrants they can plug into on most trails that don’t have permanent snow making. These trails would count as having snowmaking, but it would be used as they open trails in their operating order.
In the last few years it seems like snowshoe has only opened trails after they have around a 4’ base on them. They seem to be trying to make it so once something is open they don’t have to close it. This also allows them to move the snowmakers to get stuff open and then spread them out to just do resurfacing as needed. (Obviously a week of 60 degree temps and rain messes with plans a bit)
Numerous variables, temp and humidity are key. But, take Timberline for example. last year they replaced a good deal of piping with larger pipes. more water you can push up the mountain the more snow you can push out. What is your pumping capacity? etc etc.
Many resorts claim they have 100% snowmaking capabilities on their trails. Question is, if this is correct, why are the guns not blowing on all trails. I’m assuming that there is a power issue, a water pressure issue in order to produce snowmaking on all trails at one time. I don’t know the amount of power and water pressure it takes to cover one trail along with another dozen plus trails at the same time. Not complaining just interested in the workings of blowing snow and how much a resort can blow before they blow a fuse. I imagine if resorts had unlimited power and water pressure they could turn on all guns at the same time and cover all their trails. The art of snowmaking and answering the budget probably keeps owners up all night. Ski resort owners thanks for engaging our sport and making the white stuff fall. Best of luck for 2023/2024, can’t be as bad as this year. Future operations need to think base elevation the only way to go, in the mid Atlantic.