Workers for Gallegos Corp., of Wolcott, began this retaining wall on the new Bear River Bar & Grill deck at the base of the ski area Wednesday. It’s part of a new glassed-in outdoor dining area for skiers.

Photo by Tom Ross

Workers for Gallegos Corp., of Wolcott, began this retaining wall on the new Bear River Bar & Grill deck at the base of the ski area Wednesday. It’s part of a new glassed-in outdoor dining area for skiers.

Steamboat Ski Area snowmaking system gets added horsepower

Ski area crews won’t start piling up the powder until next month

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— Snowmaking crews at Steam­boat Ski Area will begin thinking about turning on their guns during the first week of November, and when they do, they’ll have more horses in the stable.

Ski area spokesman Mike Lane said Thursday that a new snowmaking pump house is being completed this week just off the west side of U.S. High­way 40 opposite Casey’s Pond.

The pump house will contain a pair of new 200-horsepower pumps that will increase the ski area’s ability to push water up the hill to 4,200 gallons per minute.

“We’ll see a 27 percent increase in the amount of water we can put up there, and we have a larger pipeline, too,” Lane said. “It will allow us to make snow faster.”

In addition to increasing output, the new snowmaking equipment will be more energy efficient.

“We’ll use 30 percent less energy to make the same amount of snow,” Lane said.

The beginning of snowmaking is dependent on weather. Overnight lows in the teens are ideal. Low humidity also is desirable.

Snowmaking might seem irrelevant after a week in Oct­ober that allowed the ski area to report 30 inches of natural snow at the top of Storm Peak. However, man-made snow remains crucial to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s goal of opening Nov. 24 for Scholar­ship Day. Lane said a fleet of new tower guns would allow the snowmaking crews to space them more tightly along the length of a slope — one every 75 feet instead of one every 250 feet on slopes such as See Me, Rudi’s Run, Vogue and Lightning. That will allow them to link the “whales,” as piles of man-made snow are called.

“We’ll get better consistency that way, and it’s more efficient — the (snowmakers) don’t have to drag hoses as far,” Lane said.

Snowmakers had an orientation session Wednesday, and snowcats already have been dropping off stacks of tall snowmaking guns at intervals up and down the mountain.

While snowmakers were preparing this week for long, cold November nights, construction crews were picking up the pace on turning the deck at the Bear River Bar & Grill into a glass-enclosed umbrella bar.

The work is scheduled to be complete in time for Scholarship Day on Nov. 24, Lane said. Opening Day is Nov. 25.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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