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The Art of Snowmaking...


It takes at least 6 inches of snow to operate a Snow Cat without pulling up dirt or grass. 
We need temps to 26 degrees or colder to make good snow. We will make twice as much snow at 16 degrees versus 26 degrees but we won't make twice as much from 6 degrees versus 16 degrees. We need different depths of snow based on the grade of the slope. The steeper the slope the more the snow base needs.

One foot of natural snow compacted for skiing makes 1-2 inches of base depending on moisture content. One foot of man-made snow compacts to 7-10 inches. Man-made snow is denser, and with less air space in between snow crystals -which is the big difference.

We always get asked, “You must get really cold out there when you make snow.” While this may sound crazy, just the opposite is true. You actually get too hot and start to sweat a lot when making snow. Snowmakers are constantly on the go by chipping ice off the guns or thawing out frozen nozzles. Their jobs are to make sure those snow guns are running to their full potential no matter what the temperature. That involves constant checking; they stand in the plume of the snow gun and check the snow quality. If it bounces off of their coats then they are making good snow. If it sticks to their coats, then the snow is too wet and water needs to be adjusted. When we get really cold temps, snow guns can act up in a matter of minutes and cause major problems, i.e. guns icing up, compressors not working, fans shutting off, any leaks in the hoses, etc... numerous guns keep these guys moving day and night.

 All of our snow guns have a “nucleus”. This is the combination of compressed air and water both under high pressure (approx. 300psi). When this happens the water is broke down to fine droplets that freeze instantly. As it travels out the air stream it is mixed with “bulk” water coming out the nozzles surrounding the gun. The fine droplets mix with the big droplets and freeze thus making a big “snow” particle that floats to the ground. Add millions and millions together and we will have skiing this season.

The ski hill acts like it own refrigerator in that it keeps itself cold. When we put down a 3 foot to 8 foot base of man-made snow, it causes a temperature drop on the hill that keeps everything consistent.

After we get the ski hill open and terrain parks built, it takes us 9 hours to groom all the runs, jumps and hits to make them “new” again for the next day.


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