Home Grown Snow

Forcast: Snowmaking  Snowmaking will be in Mount Washington Alpine Resort’s future, after a successful test run in 2015-16.

Snow making on Mount Washington, although not always needed, will help keep up the snow quality if Mother Nature isn't doing her part. Photo: Neil Havers
Snow making on Mount Washington, although not always needed, will help keep up the snow quality if Mother Nature isn't doing her part.

Pacific Group Resorts Inc. is considered a snowmaking industry leader in the United States. Its Wintergreen Resort, located in central Virginia, for example, has a state-of-the-art computerized snowmaking system that can cover 100% of its terrain, using 400 snow guns and 45 weather stations. One snowmaker can control all the snowguns in a computerized system using one computer terminal. 

Mount Washington tested two different types of snowguns from different companies over the winter. They were both placed near the Alpine Lodge and their efficacy monitored. “It proved it could be done,” said Don Sharpe, Resort Director of Business Operations. Mount Washington will start setting up a system next year, Sharpe said. “It’s going to stage in over the next five or six years. We’ll put pipes in the ground this summer and it will start somewhere in the beginner terrain this winter.”

The Resort will test some other areas midway up the slopes as well, something like the Coaster, to gauge performance at different elevations. “As it grows we’ll give it significant coverage. We want to make sure we’re doing it right before we actually go ahead.” One thing needed to make snow early in the season is water, as manufactured snow is made from water mixed with compressed air. Mount Washington has plenty of water, says Sharpe. “We have licences for water use, and that’s another thing that will grow. We have more than enough water to service us right now.” The Resort is in negotiations with its preferred company to supply more snowguns for next season.