Copper Mountain becomes first Summit County resort to fire up the snow guns | SummitDaily.com

Copper Mountain becomes first Summit County resort to fire up the snow guns

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

Copper Mountain Resort started snowmaking late on Monday, Sept. 29, signifying the imminent start of ski and snowboard season.

More than two inches of natural snow covered the slopes when snowmaking guns lining the Upper Andy's and Copperopolis runs began dispensing their white powder, resort officials said. The snowmaking is in preparation for Copper Mountain's opening day on Oct. 31.

At both Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland Ski Area, officials said they planned to fire up their snow guns Wednesday night.

"We're pretty confident we're going to get going tonight," said John Sellers, Loveland's spokesman. "The forecast is looking really good."

He said Loveland typically starts snowmaking at the end of September, and this year the resort has been waiting for colder temperatures to arrive.

Loveland brings in a small crew of New Zealanders, who travel the world following winter and making snow professionally, to aid its other employees. The team has been on standby.

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Sellers said the resort has 30 snow guns set up, but they all won't be fired up to start. Crews will start from the top of the resort, where it's colder, and work their way down. They will blow snow into wales, or large piles, that will help the snow stick around longer in case of a day or two of warmer weather.

Alan Henceroth, COO of Arapahoe Basin, said snowmaking depends on a wet-bulb temperature below 28 degrees. The wet-bulb is determined by the actual ambient air temperature and the relative humidity.

"The drier the air, the better the conditions for snowmaking," he said.

Wednesday night's forecast for nearby Loveland Pass called for temperatures dipping near 20, and maybe even into the teens, Henceroth said, so his resort plans to fire up all of its 19 fan guns and five stick guns spread on the High Noon run and around the base.

"We're looking forward to a great snowmaking season," he said. "Things are just about to really, really get rolling."

Keystone Resort, like Copper, will open on Halloween, and Keystone plans to start snowmaking Monday, Oct. 6, weather dependent of course.

Though perfect snowmaking weather is cold and dry, Keystone's snowmaking system can adjust to varying conditions and sometimes makes snow at higher temperatures, said spokeswoman Laura Parquette.

Like other resorts, Keystone starts by making wetter, heavier snow more conducive to building a base, she said, while crews make drier, lighter snow later in the season for the top layer.

Breckenridge Ski Resort hopes to start snowmaking Friday, Oct. 17, for its Nov. 7 opening day. In neighboring Eagle County, Vail Mountain will open Friday, Nov. 21, and Beaver Creek will open Wednesday, Nov. 26.