New England Snowmaking
The wild mood Mother Nature threw at us this past weekend
was a huge challenge to skiers and resort owners. Driving rain on Friday into
Saturday, then a plunge in the temps that firmed it all up would look to most
as an impossible challenge.
But not in New England. Resorts have spent the past decade
and more beefing up their ability to turn things around quickly, finding ways
to hit the reset button and just keep a great winter going. This past week was
a huge challenge, resort folks agree, but one New England resorts stepped up
and took on.
One of the strongest turn-arounds came at Mount Snow where,
in November, the final touches were put on a three-year, multi-million dollar
snow-making system designed to cover trails quickly and well. Jesse Boyd, an
executive with Peak Resorts (owners of Mount Snow), said their recovery from
those rough few days serves as proof that their investment was worthwhile.
“We ran (the snow-making system) for 52 hours over the past
days,” he said. “And we ran 385 snow guns.”
The result? Just days — hours even — after the windswept
rain and fog sucked snow up into the atmosphere and what was left froze up,
Mount Snow had resurfaced all primary and secondary trails.
How? Their new system, first, stores more water (120 million
gallons now), so they can pump more. Where in the past they were limited to
running about 50 guns at a time, which demanded they pick and choose which
trails to resurface at which time, they can now run hundreds more, getting to
all the trails quickly.
The system worked well and fast, and Boyd should know. He
was out blowing snow with the snow-making team all weekend.
“We are kind of an ‘all hands on deck’ company,” he said,
“and there certainly was a need to be out there.”
That, he said, might add to the successful resurfacing.
“I think it’s a morale booster,” he said. “It shows everyone
else that this really is important.”
While not all resorts have the snow-making power of Mount
Snow, almost all have upgraded their systems in recent years and now have an
easier time making things right again. So while early this week, skiers and
riders might see dips in trail totals, they should be back up to great totals
for this coming weekend.
New England resorts are good that way, Boyd said. Perhaps
even better than those out west. Why? “We rely less on natural snow out here,”
he said. “Plus, we have better water sources.”
Boyd feels good about the turn-around, but is also happy for
something else: There’s snow in the forecast.