The Science of Snowmaking
How Gore Mountain’s state of the art snowmaking system works for you
We all know Gore’s snowmakers work incredibly hard around the clock making sure the mountain is in great skiable shape all season long, but what are they really doing? Learn how snow is made and how our crew delivers the amazing conditions that you love so much.
First, here’s a little history. Over the years, snowmaking has become a vital part of Gore’s operations. A snowmaking system is so important not only because of how our winters have changed, but also to extend our ski season. Believe it or not, our snowmaking system was first installed in 1976, which included four trails: Sleeping Bear, Sunway, Showcase, and Cloud. Since then, Gore’s snowmaking capabilities reach 97% of our terrain. Each year, we’ve upgraded snow guns and added to our fleet for more energy-efficient and technologically advanced equipment. Also, our ability to pump more water has significantly increased. What does that mean? More snow, faster!
So how does snowmaking work? When air, water, and cold temperatures meet, that’s when the magic happens! Imagine one hose filled with compressed air, and another filled with compressed water being shot incredibly fast into a nozzle and the two mixing in a way that atomizes the water into tiny droplets. They are then shot into the air so they can fall to the ground while forming snow crystals. The cold is a crucial part of the equation- if the air is not 30 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the process will not work. Snowmakers watch the weather so- as soon as the temps drop, the guns light up and, they are ready at a moment’s notice! If it’s raining, they stop as all the snow would just melt away.
Another piece of the snowmaking puzzle is maintaining our pipes. We have over 80 miles of snowmaking pipes that travel alongside our trails. One is for water and one is for air. In order to start snowmaking, our pipes need to be charged, meaning the air and water is compressed and distributed through these pipes to the snow guns. The snowmaking crew must drain the water pipes when they are not being used to prevent freezing.
We make the majority of our snow after hours because one, it’s typically much colder and two, we can dedicate all that energy to snowmaking. In the last two years, Gore has seen a major overhaul to its snowmaking infrastructure which includes a new modernized pumphouse with increased pumping capacity. In 1996 we tapped into the Hudson River and in 2020 we expanded our reservoir, with both improvements resulting in a significant increase in capacity.
The guys and gals on the snowmaking crew haul around hoses and guns, adjust towers, and hike up and down the steeps. A lot of groundwork goes into prepping a trail and continuously maintaining the equipment while it’s in use. New technology in snowmaking guns at Gore has helped alleviate some of the load for our crew. Our newer HKD tower guns can be automatically adjusted to temperature changes and to turn on simultaneously.
Think of our amazing snowmakers next time you’re shredding a wild whaleback, crunching some fabulous corduroy, or wiping the snow from your goggles!