Snowmaking Report: Day #2

Last night was another very nice night of snowmaking. We started at around 10:30 last night and shut the guns down around 8:45 this morning before our second shift crew headed home for some much-deserved sleep. After two nights of productive snowmaking, we're beginning to see some serious piles take shape - some as high as five feet tall. We're creating these piles in areas with the most shade (mostly to the skier's right). This year, our strategy is to group as many guns together (as opposed to stretching as many guns from top to bottom of our mountain) so we focus on the coldest spots. It is, after all, still mid-October, and our goal is to not only make but preserve as much snow as we can. We've discovered that this strategy has its challenges: we have to un-bury snowguns with every gun check! We're moving guns around a bit to help aleviate that.

Today's shut down was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The fall colors against the snow are spectacular. Much of the 6" of natural snow we got earlier this week is still sticking around.

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The snow and the fall colors are amazing.

Tonight's low is projected to be around 18 degrees, so we'll be making snow again tonight.

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Left: snow around Lift #4. Right: photo of our snow stake showing the 6" of new snow yesterday.

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Snowmaking Report: Day #1

I'm pleased to report that our first night of snowmaking was a huge success. Thanks to our diligent servicing this summer, all of our equipment ran really well, right out of the gate. This is always particularly nerve-wracking the first night of snowmaking: you can test and practice during the summer months, but you don't don't how the system will work until you're actually making snow. And when it came time to make snow, our guns performed well.

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Gun checks - we enjoyed a full moon, which gave us some nice, natural light.

The lows dipped down to 22 degrees - that, coupled with our gun placement and the lack of wind gave us good hang time. What this means is this: snowguns push tiny water droplets into the air. Given the right temperatures and the right conditions, the water particles freeze before they touch the ground. When we give those droplets plenty of time to freeze, we're making quality snow - which is what we did for nearly 14 hours starting just before 9:00 last night. The guns worked tirelessly, and we had most of the system shut down by 10:30 this morning.

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Our snowmakers also worked tirelessly, and there were smiles all around.

Last night marked the earliest "official" start to our snowmaking season (last year, we fired up the guns on October 8 to test our system. We didn't begin snowmaking operations until much later that month) - and Sipapu was the first ski area to begin snowmaking in New Mexico. We've never made snow this early before, and none of us can ever recall making snow on natural snow for our first night of snowmaking. A lot of firsts last night, all worth celebrating.

We expect to be making snow again tonight, and again throughout the week. The projected lows tonight are two degrees colder than last night's projected lows, so we fully expect another productive night. We'll continue to keep you updated here.

It's good to be making snow again.
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Snowmaking Begins

The 2013-2014 snowmaking season has officially started. Our snowmakers turned on the snow guns just before 9:00 tonight. More details to come - in the meantime, we'll be making snow.

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Snowmaking has started at Sipapu!

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Guns to Mountain

Yesterday we moved our snowguns to the mountain. Earlier this week, we saw there was a good chance for snow for Tuesday night, so we decided to get our guns into position before the storm hit. We need trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles to transport our guns from the base area to our mountain trails, and when our slopes are covered with snow, it makes driving on them nearly impossible. We beat the storm by a few hours...

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Guns in position on Loose Caboose - photographed 10/15/13.

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Guns in position on Thumper - photographed 10/15/13.

Once the guns were on the mountain, we did one final task: we put the snow stake on the mountain. We position this in an area that consistently gives us good, solid measurements of natural snowfall. We knew that the storm could produce anywhere from 1-6" of snow, and we were ready to start updating our snow report.

Mother Nature did not disappoint.

We expected to see the biggest impact from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., although it began snowing before 9 p.m. The storm - which was expected to blanket much of southern Colorado - pushed south, and we reaped the benefits.

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The snow began on Tuesday night.

This morning, we woke up to this:

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A snowy morning on October 16, 2013. Click here for more photos.

For the first time this season, we cleared the snow stake, and it read: 6". Like you, we are really excited to see the snow return to our mountain. A few powder hounds have even asked if we're bumping up our Opening Day (currently scheduled for November 16), and we would need a significant amount - we're talking feet, not inches - of snow to be able to open.

That being said, we're looking to start accumulating more snow with the aid of our snowguns. Our guns are in position, and our snowmakers will be on standby. If we can make snow with this natural snow on the ground, it will help temperatures stay cold, which will help us create quality snow. We're looking at a variety of elements: current temperatures, future temperatures, the wet bulb and more. Once we get the right window of opportunity, we'll start making snow. And once we start our snowmaking operations, we'll let you know here!

Let the countdown begin.

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