Snowfactory at Boreal
Boreal California, on the top of Donner Summit has been running their first in North America Snowfactory for almost a month. The results have been quite spectacular. The Snowfactory has produced big piles of snow that photos don’t do justice to because they are not only tall, they have breadth. In conversations with Shaydar Edelman, Mountain Ops. Director and Matt Melilli, Snowmaking Manager, both agreed beside volume, the snow quality and the “shelf life” have been a pleasant surprise. They attributed the quality to the fact that the flakes are 100% frozen, unlike traditional machine made snow where almost always, some percentage is unfrozen. That of course helps with shelf life, but also the very large size of the flakes seem to resist melting more than natural or traditional machine made snow.
Boreal will continue to make Snowfactory snow well into August to host Camp Woodward Tahoe, which opens June 13 and runs through the end of August. The goal is to offer campers a lift serviced, top to bottom park with good quality snow surfaces. Boreal is also pushing and stockpiling its traditional machine made snow above the Snowfactory. It was a great snowmaking and natural snow year for Boreal this winter but stockpiled snow tends to concentrate dust. This accelerates melting by absorbing heat and looks like death warmed over. Snowfactory snow is pure white.
Boreal positioned the Snowfactory near the bottom of the park. In discussing the location, both managers agreed it was the right place because the bottom is the hardest to hold through the summer. Snowfactory is assigned to defend this critical link. Snow cats have pawed into the piles enough to know that it grooms out beautifully but better after a couple of days. It is almost too dry right out of the chute. Speaking of chute, Boreal has added several extensions to the delivery pipe without affecting the throw and will continue to add sections. European resorts think 600 feet is a safe bet.
Matt reports maintenance has been routine and minimal. He says he visits the inside a couple times a week to make sure snow has not built up on the many safety switches. Matt acknowledges he may have been the one who nick-named the Snowfactory the “Antichrist” because it is the opposite of ordinary snow guns. It does not need cold temperatures, human intervention, or any infrastructure. Its mere presence on the site brought a wrath of natural snow from the heavens like Boreal has not seen in years. Your results may vary.