While climate change is in the news, I thought it appropriate to share this piece from PistenBully. I’m sure many have seen or delved into to the detail of this technology but it maybe what many will begin to utilize in the art of snow farming – adding more data to make better decisions.
While Kassbohrer is an Austrian company and Steep Management is partnered with an Austrian company, SEC, Ges.m.b.H. , the developers of MountainOffice, this is not an endorsement for SNOWsat. Prinoth has a similar program and there other independents such as snowgae and PowerGIS that offer similar technologies. I believe that Diamond Peak is the first USA ski area to fully outfit there grooming fleet with this technology.
The big question here is: will this technology assist in enabling the ski industry to better manage its finite resources such as capital and water to maximize its output of manmade snow and provide the skiing and riding conditions that keep guests coming back?
SNOWsat Aids Drought-Stricken Diamond Peak through 2014 – 2015 Season
California’s historic four-year drought has correlated directly with historically low snowpack for the Lake Tahoe region of the Sierra Mountain Range. Many Lake Tahoe resorts were forced to close a few weeks early, some even at the beginning of February, due to low snowfall and unseasonably warm temperatures. Diamond Peak, which stands on the northeastern, Nevada side of Lake Tahoe was one of many resorts that struggled to keep a consistent snow base. However, with the installation of SNOWsat in the fall of 2014, Diamond Peak found itself better equipped for the hard season. Diamond Peak Groomers and Snow Makers used the SNOWsat system to evenly distribute snow, resulting in a longer season and a safe, fun surface for customers to ski and ride on. PistenBully was able to catch up with General Manager, Brad Wilson to see just how large an impact SNOWsat had on their season.
PistenBully News: How many weeks is an average ski season for Diamond Peak (provided a good snow year)?
Brad Wilson: We normally open 16 to 18 weeks usually first part of December to middle or end of April.
PistenBully News: How many weeks were you able to stay open during the 2014-15 season and what were the biggest challenges that you faced?
Brad Wilson: Even this season we could open for around 14 weeks. The biggest challenge was to make snow and get trails open when snowmaking temperatures were not optimum. The region saw the warmest and driest (snowfall) in history last winter. The shortened snowmaking windows forced us to build trails as fast as possible. The snow depth measurement function of SNOWsat inside the groomers was a huge help in this process.
PistenBully News: What contribution has SNOWsat made to extend the season 2014/15? To what extent?
Brad Wilson: The SNOWsat system provided and installed by PistenBully was extremely helpful for Diamond Peak being able to provide a quality experience to our customer. This past season brought historically low snow fall to the Tahoe region. We were so excited to have the technology for our operators to be able to understand snow depths on our slope system. This technology allowed us to be able to move snow with our PistenBully fleet to appropriate areas of slope to optimize coverage of snow. The mapping features also allowed our slope maintenance manager to print out real-time snow depth maps and provide them to our groomers and snowmakers.
PistenBully News: Was SNOWsat a good investment for your resort? Would you recommend the technology to other resorts?
Brad Wilson: I would highly recommend the SNOWsat technology to resort operators, this technology is so useful and helpful to managing the snowmaking and grooming departments. The system was new last season so we have not taken full advantage of all of its uses. I look forward to learning all aspects of the technology and introducing it to our grooming systems.
PistenBully News: Where do you see yourself with the SNOWsat technology in future?
Brad Wilson: Because of the highly technical aspects of this system, I don’t think we have even scratched the surface of what this tool will do for us in the future. Showing our snowmakers where we need to make snow and our groomers to know exactly how much snow they have to work with, will allow us to deliver the highest quality snow surface product to our customers. I am looking forward to continue working with PistenBully and your support technicians.
Here is a link, SNOWsat link, for more detail on how the SNOWsat System utilizes technology to provide the data used by the program