Many people not aquainted with the ski industry, and even some who are, have no idea how snow is made or the significance of having snowmaking at a resort. Over the years I have heard some pretty wild ideas out there on how we as snowmakers make snow. My favorite being that we ship in ice and shave it to make snow.
When it comes to snowmaking it's pretty straight forward. Snowmakers make snow pretty much the same way mother nature does. Nature creates snow when water vapor in clouds begins to percipitate. In a cold enough environment the water molecules freeze as they fall and collide with other falling freezing water molecules to form what we know as snowflakes. We can't do this as perfect as nature, but we do it in the same process. The snowmaking system at Park City Mountain Resort consists of: a high pressure air hose powered by seven industrial sized compressors, a high pressure water hose powered by nine water pumps located throughout the mountain, and lastly snow guns that we hook these high pressure lines into. With this system we shoot the air/water combo up into the air to fall and freeze to make snow. We also use snowmax, which is a bacteria compound that helps the water molecules to freeze faster as they fall to the ground. With snowmax we are able to be more efficient when we make snow at warmer temperatures.
It's seasons like the current one that make you fully appreciate the significance of snowmaking. Park City Mountain Resort has nine lifts open with 41 runs. Of those 41 runs, only five have not had snowmaking on them. Those five runs are off of Silverlode and have been able to open with purely natural snow. This means 87% of the runs we have open are due to the efforts of snowmaking. Although each year we make roughly the same amount of snow it's the seasons where we haven't had much help from natural snow the we reap the benefits of having snowmaking and snowmakers who work around the clock as temperature permits.
Tremendous progress is being made everyday. We have been fortunate enough to have had long streaks of cold temperatures to make snow. There are a couple more runs that are close to being completed that will lead to more lifts opening for everyone to enjoy.
Originally from the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania, Travis found his way to Park City three years ago and is now our grooming manager. When not in snowcat you can find him skiing or snowmobiling in the Utah backcountry or enjoying the skiing here at Park City Mountain Resort.
Nicole Roundy is a world class snowboarder on the US Paralympic Team. She is a cancer survivor, inspiration seeker, crossfit training, Park City riding superpower blogger. Follow her adventures right here. You can also spy her on twitter (@nicoleroundy) and Instragram (@nroundy)