MAKING SNOW
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Snowmaking

How we got started - By Mark Herishko

It all started on the cold morning of October 27,1990. That night the temperature dropped to a chilly 20 degrees and it was to be the first night that Tom and I were ever to attempt making snow. Our system was crude, consisting of a small electric compressor, a spray gun, and a couple hundred feet of garden hose, but me being only 13, and Tom 11, we were very impressed with our little sytem. Sad to say we didn’t make a lot of snow that night but it was to be the foundation from which Polar Peak would launch into the highly technical field of snowmaking.

The original system behind guns consisted of a small gas powered pump and three electric shop compressors as well as more garden hose. This allowed us to make snow on the Beginner Novice slope directly adjacent to the shop. With the addition of the pump, we no longer used well water from the house in our snowmaking operation because when things went wrong we would pump air from the compressors back into the well. I can remember numerous mornings coming in after making some snow and turning on the faucet to get some water for a cup of coffee but hearing a tremendous whoosh of compressed air coming out instead. It was quite an experience, but it did convince dad to buy us the pump.

With a few years behind us now, it was time to move up on the big hill but (The main Peak) to do that we would need a large compressor and more pumps. Finally, in the fall of 1994 we purchased our first large compressor. For water we had one electric pump and one gas pump. This was to be the first year that we ever made snow on the main peak and things worked out very well aside from the irregular weather patterns.

After many years of expirimentation, from the small garden hose guns through our bout with glacier making, we continued to develop and build our own guns. Each gun we created was given a series name, beginning with "Peak" or "P" for short. We created a range of different guns, some worked, some didn't, others needed re-engineering but were successful. Today we have an arsenal of over 10 different snowguns used in different weather conditions, from our P-1000 which produces good snow at marginal temperatures, to our P-4000, which is used to produce a more powdery snow (smaller crystal size). The P-4000 has a 4:1 air water ratio. We also have a few old Killington K-2000's that are used occassionally. Our power house guns are Ratnik Baby Snow Giant X-2s, we have two of them that we utilize the majority of the time to cover our Upper & Lower Glade slopes as well as the Tundra Tubing area. The X-2 produces a larger crystal which results in a mor durable snow. This is visible in our ability to ski well into June and July.

Our complete system consists of 2 electric pumps and a small gas pump that we can use if needed as an alternate to the electric pumps. We have over 800 feet portable PVC piping along with several hundred feet of 1" high pressure, and of 1.5" jacketed, snowmaking hose. Stem lines and hydrants exist on the Lower Glade/Tundra and Chute slopes. There are 4 snowmaking hydrants that are used to deliver water on the hill.

Snowmaking is an expensive endeavor, we continue to dial in our system to maximum production and only focus on windows of opportunity that are ideal. Future plans include increase pressure and flow to each hydrant to maximize production.

Please continued reading up on some of the fun facts and pictures of snowmaking production. We hope this gives you some insight into the complexity and science of making snow.