Snowmaking update from Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, 2018

I frequently have clients tell me they want to schedule their trip only when the snow is “good.” Well, first, unless you’re skiing 70 days a year, literally anything we have here in the great Rocky Mountain West is going to be ‘good.’ Second, even if we aren’t blessed by epic storm after storm, you’re going to have a great time because baby? We MAKE snow.


Snowmaking is a reasonably simple theory, a fine mist of water sprayed across a fan = snow. But the devil is in the details; the temperature needs to be below freezing (27* is premium), generally somebody has to physically walk from hydrant to hydrant to turn the water on, it could easily take an hour to begin snowmaking on say the Payday run. Since sometimes the snowmaking window is only an hour long, frequently it doesn’t make sense to start the process.

At the luncheon with Deer Valley president Todd Shallan, former president and current Alterra advisor, Bob Wheaton, and head of Vail’s Park City Resort, Bill Rock, explained some advancements that their resorts are investing in. Bill explained that investing in automation has all but solved the issue of setup time for snowmaking; rather than walking from hydrant to hydrant, they are able to simply program their snowmaking so it takes advantage of those small windows of cold temperature. Bob, with Alterra, pointed out that snowmaking technology has advanced rapidly in the last five years. It is possible, he says, to make snow when the temperature is above freezing. They use frozen microbes (USDA approved), which lowers the freezing temperature of water. They also blow a larger particle out of the snowgun, so the snow that they’re making has a lower water content and more cubic feet of snow per gallon of water. This is mind-blowing, and I can’t wait to hear more about it.

Incidentally, did you know that for the low low price of only $699 you too can have your own snowmaking machine? I’m actually pretty excited to start seeing this topic appear in HOA meeting minutes.