A Lesson in Snow Management
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Written by Jack Fagone
January 11, 2020
On the surface, snowmaking seems like a relatively simple concept. Wait for Mother Nature to provide cold temperatures, send water and compressed air through the network of pipes on the mountain, and “presto;” white gold comes shooting out of snow gun nozzles and falls quietly to the trail surface ready for our enjoyment. While this is partially true, the science behind snowmaking is much more complex and fascinating, right down to the molecular level, but that lesson is for a different time. For a deep dive check out the recent Epic By Nature podcast episode The Magic of Snowmaking .
What we want to talk about today, is snow management, and our decision to stockpile snow on trails before opening them up. Think of a paper towel, sponge, or your favorite sham-wow…they all hold water, right? And when you let them sit on the edge of your sink, they eventually drain and become dry again. The same goes for snow, especially when man made. Powder days are so enjoyable because there is such a low amount of moisture in the snow. It is possible to make dry, man-made powder, yet man-made piles of snow often have a good amount of moisture in them depending on the conditions when the snow was made; temperature, humidity, etc… Therefore, if they are left to sit, they can drain and begin to dry out.
It’s no secret that Mother Nature is throwing us a little bit of a curveball this weekend with some wet weather, but we’re ready to recover thanks to the amazing efforts of our snowmaking crews. The crew took advantage of the favorable snowmaking conditions this past week and cranked out tons of snow, literally, on about 45 acres of terrain yet to be opened at Attitash, and 14 acres at Wildcat. Our plan is to wait out this weekend's weather and allow this freshly made snow some time to dry out after it passes. After that, we’ll let our groomers get after it. They’ll take their time to cut into the piles, grade the trails, and ultimately finish with a nice fresh layer of corduroy ready for the run up to the MLK holiday weekend.
A little bit of patience goes a long way and this process allows for a much more enjoyable skiing surface. In addition to these plans, looking forward to next week’s forecast includes potential for more natural snow later in the week. All in all, we’re set up to deliver the kind of snow conditions you’ve all come to expect of us here at Attitash and Wildcat and we can’t wait to see you all once Mother Nature gets done with her little temper tantrum.
Thanks for reading along!