Steamboat Ski Area revs up snowmaking

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— Snowmaking crews at the Steamboat Ski Area pumped out the man-made white stuff near the very top and the very bottom of Mount Werner overnight Sunday into Monday.
Doug Allen, director of mountain operations, said the crews made snow on the upper section of Buddy's Run beginning at about 10 p.m. Sunday.
The upper-mountain snowmaking operations occurred near the construction road to Pioneer Ridge. That spot on the intermediate trail is at about 9,800 feet elevation.
Near the bottom of the ski area, snow also was being made on the Right-O-Way trail near where it exits a narrow gully at the Storm Meadows condominiums. Snowmaking continued there until about 9 a.m.
Ski area spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said this marks the second time this fall the crews have made snow. Snowmaking manager Lance Miles also reported making a limited amount of snow on the night of Oct. 26.
Wiedemer was consulting a weather forecasting service the ski area contracts with and expressing optimism Steamboat would have one or two natural snowstorms this week.
Weather Bank Inc. was predicting Steamboat would receive one to two inches of snow in the lower elevations today, with a chance for six inches at mid-mountain.
After a break on Wednesday, another storm system associated with colder temperatures was expected in the area by Thursday or Friday, according to Weather Bank Inc.
Snowmaking at Steamboat typically begins in October and continues until the end of January or early February, with crews often working two shifts. Initially, crews typically make piles of man-made snow commonly referred to as "whales" because of their shape, on shaded trails like Betwixt and Between and Right-O-Way near the bottom of the mountain.
Those trails also are strategically placed in that they allow skiers to return to the base area after riding the Silver Bullet Gondola for an early-season run on a north-facing trail like Vagabond.
Steamboat employs three full-time people in its snowmaking department plus 41 seasonal employees.
Steamboat averages 334 inches of natural snow at mid-mountain, but it would have struggled to make its opening date of Nov. 20 last fall without the availability of man-made snow.

To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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