Okemo Salutes its Snowmakers

By AlpineZone News |
Dec 21 2011 - 02:35 PM

LUDLOW, Vt. – The superheroes of the ski and snowboard season this year are Okemo Mountain Resort’s snowmakers. Although the mountain typically receives 200 inches of natural snowfall annually, snowmaking plays a vital role in getting the mountain covered with snow at the start of the season. Okemo has spent 30 years building its reputation for superlative surface conditions through its arsenal of snowmaking guns and snow management practices. Okemo has the capability to cover 96 percent of its ski and snowboard terrain with snowmaking.

“We’re doing our best to keep snowmaking at maximum production,” said Okemo VP of Operations Barry Tucker. “We’ve brought in generators to ensure we have enough electrical power to maximize our potential through the holidays.”

Okemo covers more than 600 acres of terrain with snow-generating technology. HKD tower guns make up the majority of the 1,100 guns in Okemo’s cache. The Resort’s dedication to providing a quality snow surface is directly proportionate to the amount of water that can be stored and utilized for making snow. With the addition of Jackson Gore a decade ago, Okemo’s demand for water increased substantially. What was previously a 70 million gallon snowmaking pond is now a massive, 70-foot deep reservoir that holds 155 million gallons of water. In a typical year, Okemo pumps more than 450 million gallons of water through its snowmaking system. At maximum production, it takes two on-hill crews of 10-12 people working noon to midnight; three people at the base pump; two people at the mid-mountain pump and four people at the compressor pad. The system can pump 9,200 gallons of water and 37,000 cubic feet of compressed air per minute – requiring about 6,000 kilowatts of electricity per hour. 180,000 gallons of water yields an acre-foot of snow and, depending on the type of gun, the temperature and humidity, a trail can be covered with enough snow to make it skiable in 24 hours.

Okemo continues to win awards and accolades for its snowmaking prowess. In its most recent annual Reader Resort Survey, SKI Magazine ranked Okemo’s snow as one of the top five in the East, and second in Vermont. Okemo was ranked second in the East for Grooming – behind sister resort Mount Sunapee, in N.H., and Okemo made the top ten for overall satisfaction.

This year, Okemo added 15 new HKD tower guns, and is testing another 30 high-efficiency guns that are designed with adjustable water flow levers, nozzle versatility and new valve technology.

To help keep its most passionate skiers and snowboarders informed, Okemo maintains a blog called Wet Bulb and the Winch Cat. Okemo VP and General Manager Bruce Schmidt offers technical insight and tactical projections regarding snowmaking and grooming throughout the season.

For more information about Okemo, please call (802) 228-1600or visit www.okemo.com .