Take a state known for its winters, equip it with some of the most powerful snowmaking systems on earth, and turn teams of expert snowmakers loose—and you’ve got a Vermont ski season.
Snowmaking has come a long way (even in the past few years), and Vermont’s snowmakers are on the leading edge of snowmaking technology with decades of experience and a constant desire to increased efficiency and make more with less. Whether it’s supplementing legendary snowfall with some manmade powder, or giving mother nature a helping hand between storms, Vermont ski areas have the power and expertise to keep everyone gliding on snow during the winter months.
Upgrades in tech put snow where it’s needed, when it’s needed.
Killington’s ability ski into late spring isn’t an accident—it comes from obsessive weather planning and teams of expert snowmakers wielding the latest in snowmaking tech. This season the Beast of the East continues to upgrade and improve its snowmaking system, replacing large sections of pipeline and adding more low-energy snow guns to their arsenal. Folding in the variable speed electric compressor from last season, Killington is ready to welcome guests with more efficiently-made snow that ever before.
Snowmaking Runs Deep: Killington is also adding a new Pinoth Bison X groomer and winch to their technical grooming fleet, which increases Killington’s snowmaking accuracy by providing snow depth readings, ensuring snow goes where it’s needed and eliminating waste and saving time—all of which skiers and riders will feel on the slopes.
Expanded snowmaking thanks to water feed upgrades.
A local favorite and hidden gem for lessons, Pico Mountain underwent major upgrades this summer. Most notable, Pico’s pump house has expanded its snowmaking water capacity from 1600 to 2400GPM, with higher water pressure output. With the newly upsized water feed line from the snowmaking pond combined with the 25 new low-energy snow-guns and state-of-the-art pumps, Pico will be able to run guns in more places than ever before, maximizing output across the mountain.
Boosting Mother Nature with connector trails.
A haven for natural snow, Mad River Glen makes limited snow on the lower mountain to help with trail coverage and connectors. This past summer they made upgrades to that infrastructure to boost mother nature the trails need some fresh snow.
Upgraded pipes and pressure mean more snow faster.
Water pipes may not seem all that interesting, but that changes when they bring more snow. Burke Mountain upgraded several sections of its snowmaking pipe for the 2023-34 season, allowing their pump house to operate at full capacity and deliver higher water pressure to their ready fleet of snow high efficiency snow guns. Those higher efficiency guns mean more snow with fewer resources, so skiers and riders can look forward to more terrain being opened even faster.
New snowmaking for cruisers and racers.
Nicknamed Sun Mountain, Bromley’s southern exposure requires special attention to snowmaking when bookending the season. To keep those glorious turns going through spring, Bromley put new snowmaking pipe on several trails and added an entirely new system on the race hill.
Fresh corduroy in 1/10 of the time?
With short weather windows time is precious. That’s one reason Stratton has invested in HKD’s KLIK Manual hydrant technology, adding to their existing HKD tower guns. HKD’s website states that ‘in a 12-hour snowmaking window, HKD KLIK manual hydrants can boost snowmaking production by as much as 100%...by eliminating the time-consuming step of hooking up, and unhooking air and water hoses at each hydrant.” HKD also states that “start time per gun can be as quick as 1 Minute instead of 5 to 10 min.” Efficiency is key when it comes to opening trails, and 1-minute startups mean Stratton can make snow for guests in the tightest of weather windows.
Stratton is also adding a new Prinoth Bison X to its grooming fleet to lay down the best lines in southern Vermont.
Doubled capacity for snowmaking.
While snowmaking is a largely non-consumptive use of water, having ready water can be the difference between a good day and a great day on the mountain. That’s why Magic Mountain is rolling into the 2023-24 season with a snowmaking pond expansion (and upgraded pond-to-pumphouse pipe) that doubles their water volume and capacity for snowmaking. When the cold weather shows, expect plenty of snow of Magic skiers.
The land of snow and goats.
Snowmaking isn’t as common at cross-country ski areas as it is at alpine areas, but Trapp Family Outdoor Center isn’t about being common (ask visitors who’ve hiked with goats or mountain biked through the area’s highland cow herd). For this season the Trapp Family Outdoor center expects to upgrade its snowmaking equipment and fan gun to help cover more ground and expand its winter season.
Finalizing multi-year snowmaking upgrades.
Sugarbush continues to invest heavily in snowmaking upgrades with another $3 million dedicated to enhancing snowmaking infrastructure for the 2023-24 winter season, much of it focused on Mt. Ellen. These investments cap a multiyear effort to improve snowmaking systems at Mt. Ellen (including upgrades to Northstar, Inverness, and the Summit Quad terrain) with new energy efficient infrastructure.
These improvements (combined with new pumps) allow Sugarbush to make snow more efficiently all over the mountain, allowing the area to use less energy while opening new terrain and capitalizing on favorable weather more quickly.
These improvements follow multiple other snowmaking projects completed last season at Lincoln Peak, including adding snowmaking to the newly recut Reverse Traverse (now combined with the old Heaven’s Gate Traverse to simply all be called Heaven’s Gate Traverse), installing a new weir at the Lincoln Peak Snowmaking Pond, and overhauling snowmaking pipe and guns on Easy Rider and Pushover among others.
Ski season doesn't stop at summer.
Skiing may stop when summer comes to Saskadena Six, but ski prep doesn’t. Their team has spent the off season trimming canopy overhang and widening ingrown spots on favorite trails. Glades also received a spruce-up, while a new intermediate glad has been added as a teaching tool for ski and ride instructors—and to create a better learning experience for those new to glade skiing. Saskadena has also added a new blue trail to connect the Chair 1 side with the Chair 2 side without use of Gully. To maximize the use of the revitalized terrain, Saskadena is also in the process of replacing all the snowmaking pipe in the base area with new ductile iron.