People often wonder what goes on behind the scenes to get a ski resort up and running.Â I wondered the same thing when I came to Heavenly in 1987.
After I got my Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Economics, I said I was staying for ONE season.Â 24 years later, here I am working for one of the most experienced snowmaking operations on the West Coastâ€¦
Currently, we are finishingÂ the routine summer and fall maintenance of all of our compressors and pump systems around the mountain.
Regular and diligent maintenance to the machinery is the most importantÂ component ofÂ snowmaking (except for the environmental conditions of course). It takes about 5 guys working for 180 days to get the systems all ready to run again for the next winter.Â We have 65 fully-automated snow guns and more than 100 air and water guns around the mountain that require attention.Â Plus, the hydrants and pump houses need to be checked, as well.
Our snowmaking team usually starts firing up those systems around November 1st but sometimes we start earlier if the temperatures get really cold. It’s best to make snow when the humidity is low and the temps are below 28 degrees wet-bulb, so we are often working during the frigid midnight hours.
With the possibility of another La Nina year, we might have enough snow to open the resort without extra help from the snowmaking team!Â Weâ€™ll see!
My favorite part of the job is taking a run that is all dirt and opening it with soft, powdery man-made snow.Â I know Iâ€™ve done a good job when guests are smiling as they are skiing on gorgeous man-made snow and they can’t tell the difference. I cannot wait to get started this year!
Barrett Burghard ~ Snowmaking Manager