If you skied, thank mountain operations
November 23, 2016
Some have used this mild weather to extend their mountain biking season and bask in the warmth. Others would have preferred snow in August and have been waiting in angst for ski season to begin.
For Winter Park Resort’s snowmakers, this fall has consisted of patiently waiting for temperatures to drop so they can do what few us can claim to have done: play God with the weather. Snowmaking is of vital importance to any ski resort. So what happens when we have an unusually warm fall like we have had this year and snowmaking is a difficult task? According to Bob Holme, Director of Mountain Operations for Winter Park Resort: a lot of time on standby waiting for just the right moment.
Holme said this fall was unseasonably warm and dry compared to past years. “It felt more like late September,” he said. Winter Park’s snowmaking crew, a team of over 30, has had to work with limited opportunities so far this season. Holme said the crews were on standby, ready to pounce on the opportunity to make snow as soon as temperatures dropped low enough. The snowmaking team is fully staffed for the 2016/17 season, and Holme praised the employees for sticking with it, even when things were slow. Holme said the crews were able to keep themselves busy by doing prep work around the resort. They had been mowing and trimming to be ahead of the game for when the time to blow snow came. The crews also made upgrades to the snowmaking equipment after analyzing the snowmaking system to allow for optimum efficiency, according to Holme.
Winter Park originally began blowing snow the week of October 17, and continued for a few days, but had to be shut down when warm, dry weather moved back in.
It took a lot of hard work from the mountain operations crews to get the resort open on time. Winter Park was supposed to open on November 16, but like many Colorado ski areas, had to push opening day back a week.
Holmes said the current weather patterns seem to be changing and are more on track with normal for this time of year.
Though work has been slow, Holmes said the terrain park crew has been able to keep busy as well. Opening day featured a small terrain park in Sorensen Park, which is typical for early season Winter Park. The crew has been able to stay busy by dropping features in whenever possible.
Snowmaking is usually finished by January 1 of each year, but Holmes said he wasn’t yet sure if that would be the case this year as it could be an extended snowmaking season depending on Mother Nature. Colorado ski season has had a slow start, but if the next few months stay on track with normal weather patterns, we will probably forget all about the fall weather delays.