Snowmaking wraps up at Steamboat Ski Area

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— Just in time for the busy holiday ski season, major snowmaking operations wrapped up Wednesday morning at Steamboat Ski Area.

“At this point, we’re right on schedule,” said Doug Allen, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. vice president of mountain operations.

Snowmaking began Oct. 26 and has been aided by 116.75 inches of natural snowfall at midmountain from Oct. 25 through Thursday afternoon.

The ski area measures its snowmaking efforts by the amount of water used. This season, the ski area has used 82 million gallons of water. That is less than the 97 million gallons of water used on average each season. Allen said that once the holiday rush is over, and depending on snow conditions, snowmakers will return to the slopes to “patch up” areas with snowmaking. That could bump water usage closer to the average.

“If we continue to get this great natural snow we’re getting, we may be able to taper that off,” Allen said.

Last season, when the ski area received a disappointing 228 inches of snow, 105 million gallons of water were used for snowmaking, which went into February.

On Thursday, after 15 inches fell in a 24-hour period, Allen said ski conditions were “as good as it gets,” and the ski area was close to being entirely open.

“We’re darn near 100 percent,” Allen said.

With snowmaking complete on Lower Valley View, Allen said the trail just needed to be groomed and prepared for skiers. Terrain park workers also were beginning to build the half-pipe.

The Chutes and Christmas Tree Bowl still might be a couple of days away.

“I’m going to leave it completely up to the snow safety team,” Allen said.

Despite avalanche mediation efforts, Allen said that there still are some issues with snow stability and that crews were considering boot-packing the area to help stabilize the snow.

“You get an army of people, and they move down the slope in their ski boots,” Allen said.

Steamboat Ski Area blasting

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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