For everything we love about ski bum living, the best part is in embracing the great outdoors. Our work and play depends on Mother Nature. Her cool breath, sweet sunshine, fresh snowfall, and playful terrain. We are grateful to spend the majority of our days breathing clean mountain air. We appreciate the coral crest that hovers softly at sun’s rest. The pine trees that make glade riding more challenging. The stars that map their guide in twilight.
But, the truth is, ski bum living is more than giggles and snowflakes.
With skiing comes snowmaking and with snowmaking comes a lot of energy use. Hence, our love for skiing and riding comes at a costly price. The good news is, as we debriefed last week, tech advancements for automated snowmaking have created more efficient systems to use less energy and to save on energy costs. It’s a win-win for resort owners and, most importantly, our lady love Mother Nature.
Every ski area is trying to find the best way to save energy. That’s why we made a big investment in a snowmaking automation system. We do our best to find the sweet spot, to find the balance in the give and take. To make quality snow in great quantity where snow is needed. Across the slopes, we have a diverse set of snow guns in a mix of automatic and manual function. We choose what gun to use based on weather conditions, and we strive to use low energy guns whenever possible.
Here’s a look at some of our snow guns located across the slopes. Take me to the gun show:
The Techno Alpin T40, an Italian-made gun, makes the closest reminiscence to an actual snowflake. The flakes are small particles and a favorite for groomers to push. The T40 is fully automated. It’s our most environmentally-friendly snow gun for energy efficiency, and it uses an oil-less compressor. The give and take: this gun is highly sophisticated and technologically advanced, making trouble shooting more difficult when it needs fixing.
The Areco is fully automated and has an on-board compressor to make its own air. It’s a versatile gun and very effective in marginal temperatures. The oldest Areco on the slopes has been here since the ’90s, which is an awesome testament to its durability and use. The give and take: Areco guns are energy efficient, but sometimes they need extra attention and care.
The double Borax (B10) has two gun heads on one pole and is a fully automated system with fixed water and air hoses. Double heads make double the snow. The give and take: the B10 consumes more energy, but makes more snow, which allows quicker trail openings.
This Spray System is completely manual, and a great example of simple snowmaking. It’s an original design from Ray Tuthill, the late owner of Little Gap Ski Area to Blue Mountain Ski Area. The give and take: though it uses a high consumption of air, this system makes a lot of snow and is essential for extremely marginal temperatures.
Like the Areco, the SMI pole cat has an on-board compressor and makes its own air, but it’s a completely manual system. This is an American-made, down and dirty, work horse. The give and take: it makes its own air, but uses more power. It needs regular attention and constant monitoring to perfect snowmaking capabilities, but it can take a heavy hammer hit for adjustments.
Meet, Brian Smith.
Better known as: Brian
Work: Full time, Lead Welder & Fabricator/ Assistant Vehicle Maintenance Manager, Mountain Ops
Play: Ski. Brian took a hiatus for a few years, but plans to get back on the slopes again this season.
Favorite trail: Paradise
A word from Papa Miser: “We call him the groundhog because he’s always in the ground. He sticks his head up when he’s done welding. Brian is a real good fabricator. If we can’t buy it, Brian will make it. If it needs to be welded, he’ll weld it.”
Brian first started working for Ray Tuthill, the late owner of Little Gap to Blue Mountain Ski Area and of Riebe Construction, in the 1980-81 season. Brian has been a contractor and has worked for contractors, in a mix of business ownership, seasonal work, and employment. For the past eleven years, Brian has been an official employee at Blue Mountain Resort.
Meet, Charles Schaeffer.
Better known as: Chaz
Work: Seasonal, Day Crew Snowmaker, Mountain Ops
Favorite Trail: Nightmare/ Dreamweaver because, “let’s you shred it up.”
A word from Papa Miser: “Charlie’s a full-time truck driver and works with us when he’s off in the winter time. Does a great job as a snowmaker. He is able to do just about anything we ask him to help with. We like when we keep our family growing with other family members.”
Chaz joined our crew last season, pulled into the scene by his brother Clint, another seasonal snowmiser. Chaz is into motorcycles and cars, motors and horsepower.
Join us in enjoying— and respecting— our mountainside. A beautiful view makes for a beautiful ride.
See you on the slopes,