Snowmaking and Grooming
The process begins at our pump house, which draws water from our lake. All that cold water is pumped through hundreds of feet of snow making pipe, straight to our snow guns. As the water arrives at the gun, it is pushed through small nozzles on the ends of the barrel of the gun, and blown into the air to freeze by high powered fans. This produces large piles, or whales of snow on the ground. To make snow, the air temperature needs to be 28 or colder, but may vary based on the humidity.
As temperatures and humidity rise, the amount of water needs to be decreased in order to create a dry, fluffy quality of snow. Snow can be efficiently made at a temperature and humidity factor not exceeding 100, and at temperatures up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Temperature 16 degrees, Humidity 50% = Factor 66 (Excellent Snowmaking)
- Temperature 25 degrees, Humidity 50% = Factor 75 (Good Snowmaking)
- Temperature 28 degrees, Humidity 40% = Factor 68 (Possible Snowmaking)
- Temperature 23 degrees, Humidity 98% = Factor 121 (Poor or impossible Snowmaking)
The main objective of snow grooming is to provide our guests with the best possible skiing and snowboarding experience.
These tasks include:
- Smoothing out bumps and moguls
- Maintaining snow depth in high traffic areas
- Reshaping and rebuilding trails
- Removing excess snow from around lift stations
- Spreading man-made snow
- Packing fresh snow
- Making interesting and challenging features in the Terrain Parks
Understand the Snow Report
The NSAA (National Ski Areas Association) endorsed a system eliminating subjective ratings and all ski reports to carry the depth and type of base and surface conditions only. Actual conditions are given and the skier can make his or her own interpretation. Skiing conditions can change with weather and skier use. Ski carefully and in control at all times. Skiers and snowboarders must be responsible and be aware of the risky elements of the sport.
Interpreting a Report
It is not necessary to be an expert in order to interpret a snow report, but you should be aware of the terminology and how to apply it. A ten-inch base can be as good as a twenty-four or forty-eight inch base if the temperature is well below freezing and has been for a day or so. However, if the temperature is on a rising trend, into the upper forty range or higher, and the base is less than eight to ten inches, skiing conditions can deteriorate accordingly. Therefore, the snow report should be analyzed with the temperatures, past, present, and future, in mind as well as the depth of base and surface conditions.
Surface conditions should also be considered. An inch or so of new snow coupled with freezing temperatures and good grooming will usually provide very good skiing conditions. A granular surface may range from somewhat slick conditions, before it is skied or groomed, to a loose, sugar crystal like surface that is very skiable. After an extended cold spell and build up of the ski base, the skiing can be very good even if the temperature shoots up into the forties and fifties during the day. In late winter these conditions are called "spring skiing" which means that there is plenty of snow. Daytime, above-freezing temperatures cause the surface to become granular, like rock salt and skiing can be from fair to good depending on the depth of the base and the previous night's temperature. Overnight temperatures in the low twenties will refreeze particles producing loose granular "snow". A report that contains the wording "icy spot" should NOT be regarded as a clear indication that skiing is likely to be poor. Some of the best ski days may be accompanied by icy spots where skiers have repeatedly turned and scraped their skis across a particular spot on the slope causing the surface to ice-up.