Wait, what? Winter weather wallops with wonderful whiteout wildness! Bear Creek is finally receiving the stuff we all pray for. I am looking out my office window at the blizzard like conditions and can’t wait to boot up for the first time this season. I know, we have been open for more than two weeks, and conditions have been outstanding, but something about the fresh stuff, just makes it… what it is. Pure, wonderful, a magical, mystical, divine thing, that glorious frozen moisture from above. Thank you, heavens for dumping down on us your cold fluffy love. This is probably the fluffiest thing I have ever written, but I guess you can tell, I love this snow. I appreciate the mandatory exercise that comes with a big snowfall. It gets everyone off the couch and breathing in the cold air. Bear Creek seems to be in a great spot for this storm to hit us just perfect. We are already measuring over 15 inches deep and still piling up. Tomorrow should be an absolutely amazing day to hit the slopes, and I am predicting a lot of sick days Monday and Tuesday as well. This week ahead would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the great deals with a midweek ski and stay. I can’t wait to see all the likeminded snowboarders and skiers finally getting what they asked for. See you at the top of the mountain!
Winter is my favorite time of year, usually... Don’t get me wrong, I love this season no matter how the temps are but I live in Pennsylvania, not Louisiana, so hopefully the jet stream straightens out, the stars align and winter hits us hard. With January on the horizon and the weather pattern about to change and a baby on the way, I am very excited for the new year to start. As a lifelong snowboarder, and a PA native, I have always loved every part of the winter; snowball fights, shoveling, snowmen, building back yard jumps and rail set ups, base layers, fire places, hot chocolate, and chili. From sledding and snowshoeing and walking on ice, to lift rides and flat light and powder and ice. Winter, ahhh. I have been a Bear Creek employee since that first day, and even worked at Doe Mountain before that, so as far as wanting snow, well I think I want it more than anyone. Actually it is pretty cool that some of my good friends have also been at Bear Creek since the earliest days of existence. Anyway, now that winter is very past due, I hope the change will come in quickly. Our Snowmaking team is tired of waiting, the pumps are primed, the groomers are on standby, the sleds are still shiny, so please winter, come to Bear Creek tonight! Help us celebrate the new year, get cold, like you always do.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Every year beginning November 1st, I would start to feel the anticipation build. I would start getting my equipment ready, find all the lost winter items from the past season, and begin to watch the forecast on a daily basis. In those days, not too long ago, but before websites and social media, there was an 800 number that you could call to get all the updates regarding snowmaking. I would begin by checking that number once a week, and as the weather cooled, I would increase my efforts to 3 or 4 times a week, and eventually on a daily basis. The 800 number would tell all of us anxious winter enthusiasts how long we would have to wait for the upcoming season, as well as when our favorite trails would be opening. Needless to say, years like this had my patience tested, as I am sure you are feeling.
I have been lucky enough to work in this area that I love for the past 10 years. With this time in the industry, I have seen the operational efforts Bear Creek has made to get ready for the winter season. I wanted to share a few of these efforts and share some of the information I have learned regarding snowmaking.
Snowmaking is based upon the wet-bulb temperature at the resort. The wet-bulb temperature is a combination of ambient temperature (temperature you see on the weather forecast) and humidity. For example, if the ambient temperature is 32 degrees and humidity is 100%, the wet-bulb temperature is 32 degrees. If the ambient temperature is 32 degrees and the humidity level is 45%, then the wet-bulb is 26 degrees. We attempt to make snow at a wet-bulb temperature of 28 degrees or lower. Anything above a wet-bulb of 28 degrees creates a difficult environment for the water particles to freeze. Below is the wet-bulb temperature chart for reference.
Bear Creek has made numerous snowmaking upgrades over the past few years. The biggest change in snowmaking technology has been the automation of the snowmaking machines. Currently, 86 out of our 130 snow guns are automated. These 86 automated snow guns have on-board weather stations that communicate real-time data to the snow guns, and automatically adjust the water levels to the equipment to ensure the most efficient snowmaking possible. Other snow guns without this technology require the manual adjusting of the water levels, resulting in less than 100 percent efficiency.