World Class Snowmaking in the Green Mountains
It’s not always easy to predict Mother Nature’s winter bounty but what we know is that the millions of skiers and snowboarders that come to Vermont each season are coming in search snow and conditions that make their trips worthwhile. That is where Vermont’s world class snowmaking systems and honorable snowmakers come into play. Each year, our ski and snowboard resorts invest in their snowmaking systems and snowmakers, looking for the most efficient and energy saving ways to create the best conditions for our loyal skiers and snowboards to enjoy day in and day out.
Killington boasts one of the most extensive and high-powered snowmaking system in New England, a huge factor that allowed them to host the 2016 Audi FIS Ski World Cup over Thanksgiving weekend and again this November in 2017. Thanks to a team of dedicated snowmakers who perform miracles in the face of adverse weather and build a giant glacier atop Superstar every winter, they stretch their ski season from October to June offering over 200 days of skiing and riding in 2016-17 truly making Killington the Beast of the East.
Mount Snow Resort
A pioneer when it comes to snowmaking, Mount Snow has completed $30 million in snowmaking upgrades for the upcoming season, including doubling its ability to make snow and increasing storage capacity six-fold. These upgrades give Mount Snow one of the most powerful snowmaking system in the East, meaning more trails opening faster to start the season, and better coverage all winter long. Pair that with a 100% low-energy technology fleet of over 900 snowguns, including one of the largest fleets of fan guns in North America, and you've got a winning combination for some of the most consistent skiing and riding conditions around.
Okemo Mountain Resort
It takes a special person to be a snowmaker and Okemo’s crew was recently recognized as one of six outstanding snowmaking teams in North America as finalists for HKD’s I Am a Snowmaker Award. After several years of major snowmaking improvements totaling more than $1 million, Okemo continues to upgrade its system with new pipe and additional guns to total 1,300 in its arsenal of state-of-the-art, energy-efficient HKD tower guns. Okemo also utilizes hundreds of guns of varying types. With an ability to pump 9,000 gallons of water per minute, Okemo can open more terrain early in the season and recover more rapidly from unfavorable weather events when they occur.
Ski Magic LLC is investing significant capital into upgrading and modernizing Magic’s snowmaking capabilities. The 2017-18 season will see a doubling of snowmaking trails covered from 25% to over 50% of terrain on both East and West side trails so there is always a wide variety of terrain to ski no matter what mother-nature brings. Magic has added over 50 of the latest HKD energy efficient guns to its fleet since it took over last winter, and this summer, operations is attacking Magic’s aging system by replacing over 1500 feet of American-made steel pipe in the base area to increase pressures at the top of the mountain in order to expand the use of their new energy-saving guns. In addition, new hydrants are being added to easier East Side trails in concert with opening the Green Chair Mid-Mountain lift to create early season openings and more snowmaking trails for novices and intermediates all season long.
Bolton Valley is upgrading its snowmaking system prior to the 2017-18 winter season. The pumps at the Timberline pumphouse will be balanced, allowing for more water to be pushed uphill, more quickly. The resort is also expanding its gun and hose inventory. Combined, these two upgrades will allow the resort to blow snow in multiple locations at the same time. The additional guns and hoses will also reduce down time when the crews need to change locations. The overall benefit will be more snow earlier in the season and more trails getting covered more quickly than last year.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort’s state-of-the-art snowmaking operations have been supplemented by a three-year 10-million-dollar snowmaking expansion that was completed just prior to the 2015-16 ski and ride season. Totals for the three-year project include: over 100,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe (almost 20 miles), 615 HKD SV10 tower guns, 150 Ratnik Baby X-2 land frames, 20 SMI Super PoleCat snow fan towers, 8 HKD Turbo snow fan towers and a new 3,000 gallon-per-minute booster pump house on Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. In addition to supplementing its already superlative snowmaking, the improvements allow Stowe to operate with greater energy efficiency. See the acclaimed video about Stowe’s snowmaking here.
Bromley Mountain Resort
Bromley’s snowmaking systems received major love over the last few seasons. Recent sizable upgrades include trading in inefficient ground guns and replacing them with 75 brand new HKD SV10+ tower guns and upgrading 50 SV10s already on the hill with SV10+ nozzles. Simply put, Bromley has the technology to produce the maximum amount of high quality snow using as little electricity as possible whenever the guns are on. With 85% coverage of skiable terrain (93% coverage if you don’t count woods trails), Bromley’s snowmaking team literally covers a lot of ground.
Sugarbush offers snowmaking on 70% of its terrain; reserving the other 30% of terrain for natural snow conditions. The resort completed a five-year, $5 million snowmaking upgrade in 2014. Thanks to the purchase of low-energy snow guns including Snow Logic, HKD, and Ratnik snowguns, Sugarbush has seen energy savings of close to 20%, while being able to make more, better quality snow in less time. Sugarbush has also purchased new SnowLogic guns for this season, as well as a new air compressor for snowmaking.
Jay Peak Resort
So the folks at Jay Peak are still of the mind that the 5,000 acres between their borders represent one massive terrain park, but they understand the need for focus. Which is why last season, the resort increased snowmaking capacity to its LZ and Jug Handle parks by 60%, running a new waterline up the Interstate trail and installing 20 new guns along the Interstate. The expansion not only allows Jay Peak parks to open sooner, but will also allow the resort to open learning terrain at its Tramside area earlier in the season.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
With a fleet comprised of 100% high efficiency/low energy snow guns, Smugglers’ is well-known for high quality surface conditions. Capacity currently sits at 62% and is expected to grow over the coming years thanks to the recent addition of a water intake pipeline which runs from the Resort down to the nearby Lamoille River. This season, Smuggs will see a changing of the guard on their Mountain Operations team. After 30 years, they’ve said farewell to Vice President of Mountain Experience, Steve Wry, and welcome Mike McAdoo to his new role as Director of Mountain Operations. Mike has been an active part of the Smugglers’ team for 28 years and has worked in Mountain Operations for 12. Smugglers’ Notch is looking forward to having Mike at the helm.
Stratton Mountain Resort
With Stratton’s state-of-the-art control system, snowmakers optimize real-time energy use with goals for the most energy efficient snowmaking operation. If Mother Nature takes a break on winter, over 1,200 snow guns steps in to save the day. Stratton’s snowmakers can cover Boston’s Fenway Park one foot deep in less than 20 minutes, and the entire 670 acres of Stratton Mountain one foot deep in less than a week. As Deron Clark proclaimed on Twitter, “Stratton has the best snowmaking and grooming team in Vermont!”
Suicide Six Ski Area
Suicide Six Ski area’s snowmaking provides 50% coverage on 50 acres. Snowmaking improvements continue with the addition of new snow producers, as well as pipeline and infrastructure repairs. Look for better coverage and higher quality this season, with more to come in the future.
Mountain Top Inn and Resort
Mountain Top Inn and Resort is among the few cross-country ski resorts that offers snowmaking and grooming capabilities to ensure a minimum of 2km of trails throughout the season, which typically runs late December through March.
Mad River Glen
Snowmaking is the most obvious example of what separates Mad River Glen from the rest of the industry as it is the last bastion of natural snow skiing in New England. The snowmaking system is limited not because skiers don’t like snowmaking but because there has always been precious little water available to do more. Believe it or not, Mad River was at the forefront of snowmaking and would likely have increased output if additional water had been available. As the industry changed over the years and became more reliant on snowmaking, Mad River’s lack of it helped to set the mountain apart.