Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): The 2023 2024 ski and snowboarding season is just starting to get underway at Winterplace Ski Resort.
It takes a village to make sure this mountain is covered all season long so you can enjoy that recreational activity. General manager Josh Faber gave us a great overview of what the crew goes through from the time the season ends in March through the following winter season to ensure that that mountain is covered in snow.
Faber said, “It’s a 24 hour operation. The guys at night, they do a wonderful job. You know, it’s it’s dark, it’s white, it’s cold. And without them, we wouldn’t have skiing. So it’s really a team collaboration. And I’m very, very proud of them.”
Merrill asked, “Now, what measures does your team take during sustainable warm weather to help mitigate the snow melt?
HOW DOES WINTERPLACE KEEP SNOW ON THE GROUND ALL WINTER? Faber said, “Well, that’s a good point. We you know, it’s a year long process. So as soon as the season ends, we actually start maintenance to be ready for the next season. We take everything apart, put it all back together, make sure it’s running at its optimal performance level.
Merrill said, “I think people probably want to know that snow usually sticks around longer than the snow in their backyard, I would say, because it’s more compressed and there’s less air between the layers. So a compressed snow pack will actually last longer than a natural snow pack that just falls from a storm, correct?
Faber said, “100%. I mean, you nailed it there. So once we have that snow pack down, you know exactly the point and you get all of that air’s much of the air out of there as possible. It’ll help keep it around for us.”
HOW DO THE MACHINES PRODUCE SNOW? So the million dollar question, how do these snow guns produce efficient snowpack for the mountain? Faber said, “You know, we’re pumping a lot of water and a lot of compressed air underground. So all of the snow guns, once the water hits the snow gun, basically what we’re doing is we’re taking the molecule size and we’re shrinking that, right? We’re atomizing the water particles to very small, very small particle.”
“At that point, we mix it with air. And then that actually has a cooling effect which creates that initial water particle in the atmosphere, just like a snowflake, a snowflake creates from a very small particle in the atmosphere. As it falls, it collects more moisture and grows into a snowflake. What we do then is as we it’s called, nukizing that air and water mixture, and then we add additional air mass to it. And that particle is able to grow as it falls to the ground. That hang time is key for it to freeze before it hits the ground.”
WHAT’S NEW THIS SKI AND SNOWBOARDING SEASON? Faber said they continue to put a lot of effort and money into our rental fleet just to make sure we have quality products for our guests to rent. We have a new Snowcat this season just to help us because we’re able to make so much snow in such a short period of time. We need more machines, push it around and get it ready for guests.
They upgraded and rebuilt one of their giant 1,200 horsepower air compressors, which is needed for snowmaking. They’ve added a lot of snow making locations on the mountain, too, to maximize the trail opening as quickly as possible and the best snow quality product they can get.
They’re just trying to paint flooring, just clean everything up as much as possible.
Faber said, “You know, our guests come to expect the product and I want to give them the best product we can.”