Friday, February 15, 2013

Resort: Snowmaking is not over for the season

Baldy snow guns were turned on Wednesday night


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

A snow cat grooms a track Wednesday on Dollar Mountain. Photo by Roland Lane

Sun Valley skiers alarmed by rapidly browning hillsides around the area due to a recent warm and sunny spell should be glad to hear that the resort will not allow Bald and Dollar mountains to dry up too quickly.

According to Sun Valley Co. Director of Snowmaking Dennis Harper, the 575 snow guns on Baldy and Dollar have been on standby since the end of January. However, Harper said the Baldy guns were activated for the first time since then on Wednesday night.

“We thought we were done [making snow] at the end of January, but then it didn’t snow,” he said.

Though the Dollar guns were not turned on Wednesday, resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said the resort does not plan to keep the guns off for the remainder of the season.

“We look at snowmaking as a product we’re putting out and we’re very proud of the products we put out,” he said. “It’s for 100 percent guest satisfaction.”

Sibbach said there are many factors that the resort weighs when deciding whether to make snow.

“There isn’t one reason why we haven’t been making snow lately,” he said. “But believe me, we keep an eye on it. If we feel there’s a reason to make more, the guns go back on.”

Sibbach said the current quality of the snow product and “economic reasons” are two of the main contributing factors to the decision. He declined to elaborate.

“We don’t need to get into how much water and energy we use,” he said.

However, Sibbach did say there is “no limit” to how much snow the resort can make as long as it’s willing to pay for it. He said it would be nice to have another snowstorm, but the resort is pleased with the current snow conditions on the mountains and has been receiving only positive feedback about the quality of the snow from its guests.

“I was up there Sunday and thought it was terrific skiing,” he said. “We’re putting out a great product. We’re very lucky that our guys on the mountain do such a great job with grooming and snowmaking.”

According to a resort report on Baldy’s conditions, there’s a 47-inch snowpack at the top, and 24 inches at the base. Snowfall on Baldy this season totals 129.5 inches, about 70 inches less than average.


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

 




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